Skip to comments."Green" design, what do you think
Posted on 05/05/2002 7:32:07 PM PDT by Andrewksu
What are your views on what "green" design/lifestyle means and requires. As an architecture student, this is a major topic these days, but I wonder what everyone else thinks of this topic and it's importance. I am a conservative in a field of liberals, especially on this topic, and am interested in green design without the eco-freakishness. Comment away, and I will reply later with a little more on where i am going with this.
It's the same old story, isn't it? What's the bottom line for the next quarter, or the fiscal year? That's the picture in the entire business sector, real estate being just one part of it.
You have to put yourself in the "Guccis" of a developer. He gets a prime piece of real estate, in the latest "boom" section of town, so he wants an "out of the box" building design, he doesn't want to wait 6 months for a full blown architectural design. He wants a ground floor with retail space, a fairly snazzy lobby, and X floors of office space, with Y elevators, etc.,etc.
McBuildings, but what can you do? He has to get Return on Investment as fast as possible.
The only exception I can think of to this is design for Government buildings. There you can cost overrun to your heart's content, and the taxpayer's anguish. Send your resumes to companies that specialize in that, if you can find them.
I have a complimentary theory: Without a chicken there wouldn't be an egg and without an egg there wouldn't be a chicken. See how much progress we have made? Now to your theory: Words are symbols for thought. With no thought, no words. However, I think that the existence of Helen Keller and others with similar problems, easily proves that thought exists without words. I advise you to go back to the drawing board.
If You mean built to last, simple and inexpensive to maintain, then You've got my vote.
Here's a few things I consider important.
1. Site selection.
I see too many housing developments being built on "bad ground", prone to flooding, or ground displacement due to soft or landfilled ground, also resulting in settling of the foundations, etc.
Trees for shade, proper grade for runoff, proper groundcover to eliminate erosion.
2. No design for the climate.
Someone else mentioned proper shading for the sun. Solar heating can reduce costs in winter, but proper overhang of the roof / eaves, can also reduce cooling costs in summer.
Designing roofs/eaves for latitude allows sunlight to enter homes in the winter but not in summer.
Proper walls can conserve energy.
Since moving to the Kansas City area some 30 years ago, I have seen numerous homes with NO Insulation!
How the (heck) do You save on energy costs when the house isn't insulated?
3. Energy Management
Homes do not utilize energy efficiently.
Aside from Major Utilities like Kitchen stoves, air conditioning, furnaces, most appliances and electric/electronic items run on 110v./120v power, and most are available in 6v.,9v.,12v. versions.
Many, if not most, electronic devices are transistorized today, and actually use step down transformers that provide the low voltages required to run these devices.
The simple step of removing electrical power losses due to transformers could result in 5% or 10% reduction in community energy consumption in this country.
Likewise, incorporation of solar energy for general low power consumption items, like outdoor night lighting would save millions every year.
Ever since the Arab Oil embargo, the means to use alternative energy, incorporated into homes and offices has been available.
Granted, it would not replace oil, but sustained research and development since the Carter administration could very well have put a dent in our nation's energy bills.
Of course, personal energy independence is anathema to the Energy and Power industries, thus legislation promoting alternative energy use is killed in congress on a regular basis.
I spent some time in Germany while in the army.
I was singularly impressed with many of the old homes there, some of which were more than 800 years old.
I was also impressed with the new homes being built.
Solidly framed, built to last, every window containing solid, insulated shutters, warm in winter and cool in summer.
Europe pays a lot more per BTU than Americans do. They have learned to conserve quite a bit over there.
Enough said, I hope my "opinion" is worth something.
If nothing else, it gave me a chance to rave a bit.
Transformers are not wonderfully efficient, but ohmic losses at low voltage can be devastating. If a device only requires a quarter watt, ohmic losses at 12 volts wouldn't be much of a problem, but even a 50% efficient transformer wouldn't waste much energy. Products that require real power, however, are another story.
Consider a product which requires 112 watts, is located 100 feet from the power supply, and is connected to a 12-volt supply with #6AWG cable (that's like booster-cable wire!). Such cable has a resistance of about 0.0004 ohms/foot, so the total resistance would be 0.08 ohms. With 10 amps flowing through it (as would be the case with a 112-watt load) the wire drops 0.8 volts. Despite the large cable, over 8 watts gets wasted in the wire!
Now consider a 119.75-watt device powered 100 feet away from a 120-volt source. Such a device may be powered with over 98% efficiency using 18-gauge wire (0.0063 ohms/foot, or 1.25 ohms total). The wire would drop 1.25 volts, wasting only 1.25 watts.
As a couple of additional points of comparision, using #6 cable would result in less than 100mW of loss; if 5% loss were acceptable, 24-gauge wire would suffice.
If you can show that your green design will return savings then you have a good economic argument. If it shows you that it is not the least expensive system, the you are wasting scarce resources. It is foolish to waste scarce planetary resources in the name of a fashionable fad such as sustainable design.
I don't know many designers who know how to perform a cost-benefit analysis.
There's nothing that says conservatives shouldn't care for the environment. In fact, WE should be the protectors, not the liberals. For decades humanity has built and built and built without considering the consequences. We can and should take responsibility for our environment without being "eco-freaks."
Although your question of "green design" is based in architecture and construction, it applies in many other fields. My opinion about the "green design" debate is simply - let the market decide.
Around my industry, the supporters of green design, in general, want this type of design imposed by governmental or industry code. If "being green" were such a good idea, consumers and businesses would convert to green design of their own free will because of the overwhelming benefits of "being green". There is a shift towards energy and raw-material conservation that is market driven because some consumers and business already see the return on their green investments. If there is a marked advantage in green products and services in the open market, these goods will eventually dominate over those that are not green. Borrowing from the environmentalists' vocabulary, I would say that current green-market trends are a "natural" and "evolutionary" process.
If government or industry imposes green design codes on products, this act is an "artificial" process in the market. Typically, these regulations are out of step with the needs of consumers and business. The impacted products and services do not fare as well as their predecessors and their costs are driven up due to compliance issues. In the end, the consumer pays more for something they did not necessarily want.
In the end, the green design movement must come to terms with the market. If green designs can make it in direct competition with other products, they will survive. Otherwise, they will go the way of the dodo.
One mans trash the manure produced at Tinedale Farms in Wrightstown, Wisconsin can be another mans treasure electricity and fertilizer generated from that manure. In short, that was the story shared at a media conference held at the dairy in August.
Carl Theunis, an owner of Tinedale Farms, and several of his environmental partners announced the formation of Ag Environmental Solutions LLC (AES) and its objective to demonstrate how to convert manure into renewable energy and value-added products. These products will enhance the environment and provide an economically viable option for U.S. dairy operations. Theunis reported, "The primary focus of AES will be on anaerobic digestion, with a stated goal of maximizing solids conversion to methane." This project is based on the principle that if life hands you lemons, make lemonade.
The first AES project will be constructed at Tinedale Farms with engineering services provided by STS Consultants Ltd. Even though his neighbors dont complain about the odor, Theunis realizes its a problem. This manure-to-energy operation will eliminate the odor and produce a nonoffensive sludge for land spreading. Plus, it will produce electricity for 200-300 neighboring homes. Eventually, Theunis also plans to market fertilizer. "Itll be very high value, Class A sludge," he stated. Hell target gardeners, landscapers, golf course managers and crop producers in his marketing efforts.
Terry Stebor, an engineer with STS Consultants, defined anaerobic digestion as the biological oxidation of organic matter by microbes in an environment in which there is no molecular oxygen. The organic matter (manure) is a food source for the microbes, which convert it into gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide.
Manures consistency is an advantage
Compared to other waste-generating sources, Stebor said manure offers several advantages. "Its very consistent," he commented. Stebor credited cows relatively static diet for this consistency. Also, manure flow varies little from day to day. "This is a big benefit for dairy producers, compared to municipalities and other businesses, such as canneries and paper mills." Anaerobic digestion can occur at 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit or 120-135 degrees Fahrenheit. At the higher temperature, degradation occurs faster. Consequently, an operation uses a smaller reactor, which costs less. Plus, theres better control of bacterial and viral pathogens. The disadvantage, however, is that more heat must be added to the system.
Biogas (methane, carbon dioxide, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide), the product of anaerobic digestion, can be burned in boilers to produce hot water, in engines to power electrical generators, and in absorption coolers to produce refrigeration.
Utilities need renewable energy sources
Alex De Pillis of the Wisconsin Energy Bureau said that Wisconsin power companies are required to sell a certain amount of energy produced by renewable energy sources. The anaerobic digestion of biomass, including animal wastes, appears to be a logical choice in Americas Dairyland.
Tinedale Farms received funding from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, Brown County Revolving Loan Fund and Wisconsin Focus on Energy for this environmental stewardship project. A full-service environmental business, it has the potential to create 20 new jobs in the areas of facility management, biosolids marketing, labor management, public relations and financing. Theunis anticipates a four to five year payback for the project.
The goal is to cram everyone into small apartments in high density urban areas, while preserving huge tracts of greenspace with access only to goverment biologists and those with an "in". This is nothing new. The Left's war on suburbia and the private automobile have been going on for decades. They're not even sneaky about it. As I say, it's in the newspaper every day. You just have to connect the dots.
Landfill Gas Processing
During the past three years CFS has developed a landfill gas processing system that is capable of producing high quality LNG (or pipeline quality gas) from landfill gas.
The novel LFG processing system uses multiple stages of purification to reach the final high quality state. First, the critical removal of corrosive and troublesome trace impurities is accomplished through the use of phase separators, coalescing filters and impregnated\non-impregnated activated carbon adsorbents.
Next, a zeolite adsorbent removes remaining polar molecules (specifically water) to a concentration of a few ppm. Oxygen must also be removed at this point if present in more than trace quantities.
The resultant gas then enters our cryogenic purifier where the carbon dioxide is separated out leaving a high grade LNG product consisting of 90%-97% methane. The remainder of the LNG is dissolved nitrogen. If desired, the nitrogen may be removed with additional CFS equipment at modest incremental costs.
The high value of LNG relative to the raw landfill gas and the capital cost of the system create excellent returns on the capital investment. Because our LFG processing system is based on the same mid-sided liquefier used in our refueling systems they can make good investments for small and medium sized landfills. Our LFG processing system is ideal for landfills that are big enough to require gas collection systems but too small to attract larger capital projects.
What do you feel about tax incentives for using techniques and technologies that reduce your energy consumtion and environmental impact?
The difference between First Cost and Life Cycle Cost is certainly always worthy of analysis. The Net Present Value of money, the capitalization costs and similar calculations must be taken into account to have a sensible analysis however. If you want to be able to sell the benefit, you better take an accounting course, or audit one, to do the financial analysis and expalin it.
Even when it is expalined well, many who make the buying decision for new structures, have their finacial interests shaded by either their Ownership Horizon (Developers or others with resale in mind at some point) or cpitalization mandates by their job dictates (Corporate Buyers effected by internal Cap limits). Even when a proper study shows that it is in the financial interest of the project, it may not be in the finacial interest of the buyer.
Tax incentives are really tax burdens shifted and the accompanying inefficiencies of Government Planned Economies. These have been the things that Conservatives have fought against accross the board. Sure there is the Humane Market of a Roepke that doesn't require the full blind hand of the von Mises, or even short of the Hayek approach, but do we want to give an inch where Leftists want to take a mile.
Do your thinking, and your promotion, outside of government programs. They can change overnight and often should, to be eliminated. Sell on the merits and desirability or not at all.
There are a lot of people that will buy something Sensible, without undue consideration to the bottom line or government largess. Find them.