Saturday, August 20, 2005

Colorado Court

I was visiting my best friend's office in Santa Monica, the first time I had been to her office, and I was admiring the view from her window, and across the street I saw a rather striking building. After a few glances I realized that the pretty blue panels adoring the building were solar panels, not just decoration. I asked my friend about it, and she replied that it's a low cost housing building. Apparently when there is an opening, the line of prospective tenants is an impressive sight.

I did some research and found this:

The 44-unit complex at Fifth Street and Colorado Avenue is adorned with 204 solar panels, which will supply about a third of the building's electricity. The rest of the power will come primarily from a micro-turbine, a generator that runs on clean-burning natural gas. Southern California Edison will supply only a fraction of the building's energy needs.

And this:

The affordable-housing development will generate "green electricity" from dual sources, neither of which releases pollutants into the environment. A photovoltaic array of 199 solar panels on the building's facade and roof will supply most of the peak-load energy demand. A natural-gas-powered microturbine generator on the roof will supplement the solar array and will also capture its own waste heat to use for residents' heating and hot water. If all goes according to plan, the building will produce 92% of its own power, with SCE supplying the rest.

Here's another link about the building. I couldn't find a consistent cost estimate for the construction of the building, but the highest I found was over 4.2 million dollars. Considering that you would be hard pressed to find any house (and I mean ANY house, even 800sq.f teeny houses in the Valley) for less than $500K, that sounds like a bargain. And it is practically off-the-grid. That's just amazing.

Obviously, there is no air-conditioning in the building, which is noticable when you see the open windows in the first linked photo...people just don't open their windows in LA...not on the car or their house, and if they do, it's because they don't have A/C. So, that is an easy energy win, and I don't count that on their "energy efficiency" list...that's just making a cut back. However, the rest is very commendable.

I really get my panties in a knot, when I see how we can be so much more energy efficient and aren't.

Same thing goes for water. Why can't we desalinate water? Or recycle water?

Or with trash? When are we going to stop digging holes and burying it? It's possible the burn it and derive energy from it. Vienna does it...and it's a piece of art there.

But no. People continue to oppose these efforts, like in Australia right now.


Update: If this is Kool-aid...well, then, I like Kool-aid.


Blogger Bluesman said...

You have been too long in Germany. If you start thinking to vote for the Green party, I will loose my faith.
By the way, Greenpeace exist for 25 years now.

4:22 PM  
Blogger airforcewife said...

That's very interesting. We've been looking for ways to conserve energy pretty frantically here (and it's not in the least necessary, since we live on base and don't pay water, garbage, or power).

However, if we want to get rid of our oil dependance on the Middle East so they don't have that to hang over us, energy conservation is definately one thing we need to do more of.

One thing we're doing... I'm addicted to soda, but the gas to buy more 2liters every third day, the amount of plastic we go through, etc... well, we found a home soda machine and are going with that. More efficient, less waste (the bottles it uses are reusable in perpetuity unless you have four kids who break everything).

Lame, but it's a small thing...

3:41 AM  
Blogger Household6 said...

My husband nearly died of disgust when we went home over Thanksgiving last year. Everyone in the area drove a SUV but we are no where near the country or farmland. They don't use them for work they use them for status (they were BMW, Benz or Caddy ones). They are completely oblivious of how dependent that makes us on foreign oil. So I am in complete agreement with Airforcewife, get rid of the oil dependence and smack the lady with the perfect gel nails who HAD to have the most expensive Land Rover because it looks "cool".


1:32 PM  
Blogger Word Grrl said...

The architect of the building, Larry Scarpa, recently spoke at my place of work - he was excellent, gave a really compelling presentation on over-population is going to kill us all if we don't do something fast.

For all us mindless, mid-western office workers, it was quite a shock.

9:46 PM  

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