This is big news for the green building revolution, because a solar farm like this could power roughly 190k homes in California. Referred to as the Topaz Solar Farm, this $1 billion, 550-megawatt plant would cover roughly 9.5 square miles, and if constructed, would be the world’s largest photovoltaic solar farm. Hayward-based OptiSolar is developing plans for the project as we speak. According to their current time line, OptiSolar will apply for a conditional use permit in May 2008 and begin construction in 2010. Topaz Solar Farm would then be completed over three years.
In the process of digging the huge Diamond Valley Lake Reservoir in Southern California, some significant fossils were discovered. The fossils have been sitting around for several years waiting for a super-modern museum to call home, so The Center for Water Education Foundation and the Western Center Community Foundation commissioned Lehrer Architects to design such a place. The result is the Water + Life Museums, a complex that just so happens to claim a right to being the world’s first LEED Platinum certified museum.
I realize that by blogging about this, I’m risking some criticism as to whether a parking structure can be green. I think it can, but I’ve heard mention from others that the term "green parking lot" is an oxymoron of sorts. After giving it some thought, I just can’t imagine a world, or a city for that matter, with absolutely no parking lot. They’re going to exist, so they might as well be super green and zero energy, to the extent possible. This building, which is the Santa Monica Civic Center parking structure, has a solar array that provides all the building’s energy needs.
But it’s not just energy efficient, it’s green, too.
So I stumbled upon the iT House construction blog and was completely blown away by the documentation they’re posting. It’s an incredible little home that was designed by Taalman Koch for a five-acre lot in the high desert. It’ll be a model home and completely off-grid. There’s an on-site septic tank, 2500 gallon domestic water tank, and eight solar PV panels by Evergreen — and the home is just the right size, too.
There was a fantastic article in the NY Times on a positive energy home dubbed Solar Harvest. Solar Harvest generated more electricity in 2006 than what it took from the grid, so Xcel Energy sent the owner a check for $8.45. Nice! Solar Harvest was built by Eric Doub and his company, EcoFutures, in Boulder, Colorado for $1.38 million, including land.
If you haven't noticed, Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill have been showing off some seriously green designs since leaving SOM* — this building is another such example. One of their newest projects, Clean Technology Tower, builds on principles of biomimicry and utilizes technology and building systems to interact with the surrounding environment. As you'll notice from the renderings below, wind turbines are located at the building's corners to capture wind at its highest velocity as it accelerates around the building. The number of turbines in the structure increases as you climb up towards the apex, where there's a veritable wind farm! Also at the top of the skyscraper, where winds are at a maximum, is a domed double roof cavity that captures air for the wind farm. The dome itself is also clad in photovoltaic cells that harness the sun's energy.
Located near public and private transportation, Clean Technology Tower will house roughly 1.8 million sf of office and 300k sf of hotel space. Although I'm not sure of the green skyscraper's precise location, Smith + Gill promises unparalleled views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River from the dome atrium. Imagine working in a building where you can take the elevator to the top, watch the turbines whirl away, and see the entire city. It doesn't get much better than that.