Posts Tagged ‘solar electricity’

Lumenhaus -- photo by Jim Stroup, Virginia Tech

More photos and information can be found on Lumenhaus.com , Treehugger, and, in the NY Times, this review of the project.

Except for the slightly odd beams that stick out to support the opened sliding screens (see some of the other photos at links above) the design of this experimental and technologically advanced house is quite elegant. The basic idea is to use technology to allow a glass house to be comfortable and energy efficient in all seasons…and to take this a few steps further to enhance quality of life in the house with these same features.

It has been criticized as too techy and too expensive to be marketable, which might be valid, and with almost all glass on the north and South walls, its needs a big suburban or country lot for privacy. (It currently resides next to the famous Farnsworth House (Mies Van Der Rohe) in Plano, Illinos.)

The concept of having stackable modules, so that the house can expand and contract as the family does, would change the real estate profession. The ease of adding and subtracting modules would be an important factor in whether it would be worth the hassle of removing part of your house and selling it to a neighbor.

Be sure to check out the adjustable perforated shade screens that can become more or less opaque depending on the temperature inside.  These screens are a much simplified version of Jean Nouvell’s beautiful screens on the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris

This is a picture of me inside Jean Nouvel's Institute Du Monde Arab (photo by Amanda Soskin)

Exterior Institut Du Monde Arabe, Paris

Read Full Post »

In the fall of 2009 I visited this Passive House on the south side of  Chicago, Illinois.  I didn’t really know much about Passive houses at the time, but I was impressed by one thing in particular.  The homeowner opened a window on the first floor and there was no rush of cold air. In fact there was no perceptible air movement at all. This was because The house is very “tight” The air didn’t rush in because there wasn’t anywhere for it to go.  I won’t go rambling on about what a passive house is here. Follow the link to my article on the topic, or just Google “passive house” or passivhaus.”

More information about this particular house:

Green Building Advisor

Interview with one of the owners

I need some more information about how it has been performing since commissioning. Perhaps the owner will make a comment on this post.

Beyond its Passive house status, the house has many fine recycled details such as these vent covers made from 100 year old soffit:

Read Full Post »

I am writing about these two State of California bills because they didn’t seem to get much press.

Starting on January 1, 2011 some Californians will be paid by the utility for the power that they generate with solar panels and windmills.  AB920 was signed into law in October 2009.

AB 510 (signed into law in February 2010) raised the cap set on the number of homes and businesses that can take advantage of net energy metering.  The cap went from 2.5% of the utilities total customer peak power demand to 5%.

The California Green Building Blog has good information, but I can’t find much on the rate structure.  I have heard that electricity will be bought at the same wholesale rate that the utility would have paid other suppliers for electricity at that place and time.

This site has some purchase rate information for many of the utilities.

So if you own a good roof for solar or wind power but don’t use a lot of electricity yourself, this might be enough incentive to build your own electricity generation plant.

Read Full Post »