Earlier this week, GM announced that they were adding the world’s largest, rooftop, solar photovoltaic power installation to its car assembly plant located in Zaragoza, Spain (a factory that manufactures Opel vehicles for sale in Europe). When the project is completed in the fall of 2008, the solar installation will have 85,000 solar panels covering about 2,000,000 sf of roof space. Bloomberg further reports that the $78.5 million installation will avoid about 7k tons of emissions per year.
It’s clear our country is reaching what future generations will see as a watershed moment as it relates to our current energy situation and how we handle it. In the U.S. alone, buildings account for roughly 70% of electricity use and 39% of energy use, so any discussion of our energy future naturally implicates the built environment. The current state of discussions on our energy future has brought together some incredible minds and one of those is the great T. Boone Pickens, an expert in recognizing scarce resources and future energy trends. Just today, he announced his efforts relating to the PickensPlan — a plan he explains himself in the above video.
Now, I think Mr. Pickens is definitely probing one of the better ways to alleviate our dependence on foreign oil, but I also think he’s skipping over an important aspect of this discussion on our country’s energy mix.
The team at Diseño Earle was kind enough to pass along some info and images of their stunning design of The Eco Home — a knockout that’s aiming to be the first ‘zero carbon’ footprint home in Andalucia, or even Southern Spain for that matter! D Earle designed the home with two objectives in mind: (1) zero carbon footprint, and (2) reduce operating costs to almost a self-sufficiency level. The 6995 sf home, which is absolutely enormous, will be built with 75% less waste than a traditional design and operate 80% more efficiently than a similar sized home. And although the home design was constrained by the narrow, non-flat site, you can tell there was no restraint in creating the ultimate, luxury, green pad.
Atlantic City Convention Center has just signed a 20-year agreement with Pepco Energy Services to have a 2.36 megawatt solar roof installed on the building. When completed by the end of this year, the project is projected to be the largest single-building solar energy project in the United States. That’s 13,321 photovoltaic panels covering roughly two-thirds of the building AND a savings of roughly $4.4 million in electricity costs over the 20-year deal.
Conserval Engineering just announced the release of their newest product, SolarDuct PV/T, which is a rooftop solar PV system that goes beyond generating renewable energy from on-site solar power. With the SolarDuct PV/T system, solar panels are mounted on metal collector panels that channel excess heat from the solar array into the building’s HVAC system. As a result, this system, which is part photovoltaic and part thermal, can generate electricity and put heat to use when heat is needed in the building.