Green Building Takes Off

March 23, 2014

Green Buildings which use 70 to 80 percent less energy than normal construction, or are even “net energy positive”, producing more than they use – are part of a 100 billion dollar global industry, expected to double in the next 5 years.

CitiesofTomorrow:

Equipped with their own energy sources alongside the city’s green energy networks (biomass and others), new buildings will be positive-energy they will be micro-producers of renewable energy. They will cover their own needs and, thanks to their connection to smart grids, will be able to adapt their consumption to the energy available and sell part of their production to electricity operators (“load shedding”).

  • Tailwind for wind turbines
    Individual wind turbines will be a major source of energy. And although they are less efficient than their conventional counterparts, spiral wind turbines have the benefit of requiring little wind to operate and can make more effective use of fluctuating urban air flow.
  • Photovoltaic panels will provide another important source of energy, with use varying by kWh price and country.
    Quite a number of technologies are commercially available: polycrystalline silicon, monocrystalline silicon, amorphous silicon, CIS (cesium, indium, selenium), CIGS, CdTe, etc. in many forms (rigid modules, flexible film, glazing, tiles, etc.). Solar panels can be attached to roofs and facades, and to supports that follow the course of the sun, etc. From one system to another, and depending on weather conditions, the number of kWh produced varies considerably. Solar cells will even be built directly into the windows of buildings…
  • Thermal panels will be used to produce hot water. This technology involves making water flow through a tube array. This is a worthwhile contribution since demand for hot water, which represents on average 15 to 20% of a home’s consumption of energy, is hard to compress, whereas with good insulation and latest-generation boilers it is possible to reduce the amount of energy required for heating.
  • Thermal panels can also be used to produce cold by coupling them with an absorption system.
  • Shallow geothermal energy.

    Where the subsoil lends itself, buildings can also use shallow geothermal energy for heating and cooling: water injected into the subsoil (sometimes mixed) can recover heat from deep hot rocks. Shallow, low-temperature geothermal power harnesses the heat in the subsoil. Below 4.50 meters, the ground temperature is constant year-round, on average 12°C depending on the latitude and geothermal flows.

Inhabitant:

Milano Santa Monica is a lush green super city that is scheduled to sprout up just outside of Milan. Envisioned as a stacked series of high-rises overflowing with flowering terraces, the self-contained development will employ principles of bio-architecture in addition to photovoltaic panels and solar-thermal water heaters to cut down on energy use.

13 Responses to “Green Building Takes Off”

  1. cyhalothrin Says:

    “Quite a number of technologies are commercially available: polycrystalline silicon, monocrystalline silicon, amorphous silicon, CIS (cesium, indium, selenium), CIGS, CdTe, etc.”

    OK, go ahead and shoot yourself in the foot by arguing that CdTe (cadmium-telleruride) is “green.” Yeah, I know we’ve been over that before. Cadmium is nearly as poisonous as plutonium, tellurium nearly as bad as cadmium, but when these two toxic metals are used to make solar panels, they suddenly become “green.”

    I keep wondering what you’ve got against silicon, that nontoxic element that has been used to make solar panels for the past few decades.

    My great hope is that, since tellurium is a very rare element, we will soon run out of it and the CdTe manufacturing industry will collapse. I just hope that happens before these toxic panels get spread all around our cities and countryside, eventually winding up in landfills where they’ll pollute the groundwater for the next few thousand years. Of course, we know that those highly responsible manufacturers in China will collect the panels and recycle them – it says so right there on someone’s Facebook post, so it must be true.

    • daryan12 Says:

      Yes, and you forget how much heavy metals and toxic carcinogens are released by the equivalent level of fossil fuel burning. Even the worse case scenario carbon footprint for solar energy (Varun etal 2009 is a good example) or any other measure (including heavy metals emissions) is tiny compared to the impact of fossil fuels. So unless you’re advocating a full stop to this thing called “civilization” this is a contrarian argument.


    • It is rather ironic for people to be paranoid over plutonium locked up inside cladding, welded within stainless steel and shielded behind concrete while putting cadmium on their houses, isn’t it?

      Oh, and NiCd batteries probably power all their solar garden lights.


  2. […] Green Buildings which use 70 to 80 percent less energy than normal construction, or are even "net energy positive", producing more than they use – are part of a 100 billion dollar global industry, …  […]

  3. cyhalothrin Says:

    I did make a typo. I wrote “tellurium nearly as bad as cadmium” when I meant to write “tellurium not nearly as bad as cadmium.” My error. Not that you want to sprinkle tellurium on your breakfast cereal. But cadmium – that’s a whole ‘nother story.

  4. andrewfez Says:

    Lots of small businesses out there based on saving energy bills. Here’s a window quilt company promo; notice in the middle of the video you have another small business owner – a real estate investor- using the window quilts in rental properties to save energy bills. He talks about only having to use one boiler to heat the place (secondary to folks using the window quilts); almost reminds me of Rocky Mountain Institute’s integrative design, where as you add more and more insulation, the price you pay for the heater/a/c goes down, as you can get away with a smaller unit.

    • andrewfez Says:

      And another small business owner helping folks save energy and $$$. Small business is a significant key in revving the US’s economy up.


      • The problem is that you can only use the “window warmer” when you don’t want to see out or let light in, and any room air migration behind it will create condensation in the deeply-chilled zone behind the insulation.

        Bubble foil insulation would be a superior backing compared to rubber.  The R-value is claimed to be as high as 17, and it would replace the vapor barrier and fiber insulation as well.

        I see a future for storm windows, and creative solutions like enhanced solar capture.

        • andrewfez Says:

          I think i might run an experiment this year on a skylight i have on the second floor of my place. The thing has a rounded (looks like a large rectangular bubble), opaque, white, plastic top sitting atop a rectangular wooden box that protrudes out of our flat roof. It’s like a furnace during the summer months when the sun is directly over head.

          I think I might glue some aluminum foil or attic radiant barrier foil to a piece of rectangular cardboard and hang that about an inch or so below the ceiling in the skylight area with some string on its four sides. It would probably be better if i did the entire ceiling but i only spend $500/yr on electricity as it is, so i don’t want to go too extreme just to try to knock off a few more bucks. If that does anything, then maybe i could make a rectangular box to fit inside the the skylight box which would have a layer of attic foil hung in the inside middle part of the former box for use in the summer season; though I’m a little concerned about increasing the temps in the upper region of the skylight box causing a quicker failure of whatever they used to seal the plastic to the wooden construction it’s sitting on.

          I’m also thinking that for a particular window downstairs, where there is no view to begin with, that i should get thermal blackout curtains, then further hang another thermal liner with bubble foil sewn to its window side in a {curtain – liner – bubble foil} configuration (I’m mostly trying to block out sun; not too worried about retaining warmth in the winter). Then i’m thinking i should construct a cornice box lined with some bulk fiber and upholstery fabric, and hang it so that it deeply encapsulates the top of the window curtains/liner to discourage (delta) air density driven convection.

          I have a compound miter saw and a hand router so i could probably make some sort of storm window at some point if some measure of future personal research pulls me in that direction sufficiently.

          Do you see any errors i’m making with these ideas or have any constructive criticism? I’m wondering if instead of hanging my cardboard foil 1 inch below the ceiling, i should just tape it to the bottom of the skylight box to eliminate convection (the problem being i wouldn’t get any free light upstairs with that method).


          • I’d suggest putting a shade on the outside of the skylight box, blocking direct sunlight during the summer months.  You’d want the scattered light from the rest of the sky, which is heavily depleted in red and IR photons and thus heat.

          • andrewfez Says:

            Thanks – I think i looked at a particular shade a few years ago that was just solar screen cut out and formed into a rectangular, bag shape with draw strings so that a homeowner could wrap a protruding skylight box up in the summer.


  5. […] Green Buildings which use 70 to 80 percent less energy than normal construction, or are even "net energy positive", producing more than they use – are part of a 100 billion dollar global industry, expected to double in the next …  […]


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