Sunday, January 29, 2012

Energy Plus Buildings and Net Zero Homes a Thought Experiment with a bit of Industriial Ecology

Energy Plus Buildings and Net Zero Homes a Thought Experiment with a bit of Industrial Ecology

Sometimes I get inspired for no reason to write about ideas that have to do with technology. I am in one of those moods right now.  I have no engineering background.  I just like the ideas.  They are a way to distract me from the every day world.  I am no expert on this.  I just have read a lot about it.

This is another exercise in blue sky thinking.  I am making things up for my own enjoyment.  It is the same reason I wrote the other pieces: Inflatable Space, A Turbine Powered Future, and The Turbine and the Battery..

A Company has started building Factory Made Net-Zero Homes in California. What is important about this is that is possible to standardize energy efficiency and alternative energy into a house so it can be mass produced.  This standardization could lead to a standard model for retrofitting existing homes so that they use little or no energy.

There is a second part of this picture.  It is also possible to build energy plus office buildings.  In Germany there already are office buildings that are energy plus.  The Solar Settlement is one of these.

In France, there is a much larger planned building which is supposed to be energy plus.  Even if it is never built, it opens up a different model for development.

Combining housing communites that produce energy with office buildings that produce energy opens up interesting possibilities.  Residential and office properties could be used to help power local manufacturing and urban agriculture in addition to power plants.  This would allow a much denser and at the same time greener city center.  Every building at some point could be designed to fit into a much smarter grid for energy.

In my imagination, I could see a very green city with rooftops with greenhouses and urban gardens.
Part of this greater density would include aquaponics farms and urban agriculture.

A system like this could be described as a form of industrial ecology where energy flowed between homes, offices, urban agriculture, and light manufacturing.  Industrial ecology is an emerging field.

When I am thinking of light manufacturing, I am thinking of emergent processes based on highly efficient lean, local manufacturing and advanced recycling systems.  Already, the beginnings of this are taking shape.

There is no advantage of shipping long distances with 3D Printing. The 3D printing process has already made possible things like the Urbee

I could imagine the light manufacturing centers as an extension of the spaces like the modern Hackerspaces , the MIT Fab Lab, or even the commercial systems called Tech Shops.  The Maker Movement plays into this in my imagination as well.  Part of this is purely a little imaginative and utopian (that wonderful no place).

I like to think that there could be highly efficient green cities focused on local manufacturing.  I can imagine a green tree lined city with urban greenhouses, alternative energy powered office buildings, net zero homes with well tended gardens, community gardens, light manufacturing centers, libraries, parks, small shopping districs, wide boulevards with room for walking and light transportation.  A livable place.

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