Posts Tagged ‘Energy conservation’

Ugly AND Unfulfilling – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

April 16, 2009
Architect Kyu Sung Woo designed the three modernist metal and wood houses which allowed his family to live together in Vermont. © Tim Hursley/The Arkansas Office

Architect Kyu Sung Woo designed the three modernist metal and wood houses which allowed his family to live together in Vermont. © Tim Hursley/The Arkansas Office

I just read an article in the Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/) called “An extended family’s modernist, off-the-grid retreat”. They make a big deal about how “Architect Kyu Sung Woo fulfilled a decades-old promise to create a place for his family to live together when he completed a compound of three homes in Vermont last summer. It blends architectural traditions of New England and Korea.”

What can I say but not very impressive. Stacked double-wide mobile home comes to mind. As you can see in this blog, I have some previous postings on some truly unique solutions such as the houses created by Living Homes (although I prefer earth sheltered homes as the ultimate design challenge). This home has some solar and a generator. No geothermal, no wind-nada. Big deal. Oh and did I mention that all the living modules are all only 15 feet wide so they get maximum exposure on the North side for maximum energy loss?

“In 2003, Kyu Sung Woo bought 250 acres of virgin forest near Putney, a rural town of 2,600 in Vermont.” So this guy wipes out all the virgin timber and erects a modern eyesore in the middle of a pristine wilderness. A shelter that was one with nature would have been more appropriate and less an insult (think about American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s summer home, Taliesin, near Spring Green, Wisconsin). Perhaps a home that was integrated into the countryside like an underground house or earth bermed shelter nestled into the virgin forest would have been fitting. Now that would have been an impressive feat. This is neither impressive nor unique. Since the structures are only 15 feet wide they would have been perfectly suited for a much more impressive endeavor. Being underground or earth bermed would have made this house an energy efficient architectural marvel. There is nothing really new or unique about this structure. This thing can be tossed in with all the rest of the average modernist house designs.

Come on Wall Street Journal, I expect better from you… slow news day? Don’t worry, just kidding, I love the giant wine tunnel article- “A Family’s Adventures Underground -The Palmazes dreamed of a 100,000-square-foot wine cave. The neighbors weren’t happy.”

(see: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123085057130947469-search.html?KEYWORDS=wine+cave&COLLECTION=wsjie/6month).

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Airplane beats Prius MPG

January 26, 2009
Over 50 MPG at 200 MPH!
Over 50 MPG at 200 MPH!

 

 At speeds close to 200 miles per hour this Aircraft gets over 50 miles per gallon. When Klaus Savier throttles back to extended range, he gets about 100 mpg. Not bad.

Economy like this could be easily achieved throughout our entire general aviation fleet.  But it will never happen.  FAA regulations governing the fleet, combined with the difficulty and cost involved in getting a pilot’s license, keep the total number of aircraft quite small.  Without a large volume of consumers or government assistance there just isn’t any money in it. 

And without profit, private industry won’t touch it.  Therefore, it is quite surprising to find a guy like Klaus Savier, owner of Light Speed Engineering.  

Through a labor of love, this aeronautical innovator, based out of Santa Paula Airport in Southern California, has been setting speed and efficiency records for over 20 years in his experimental airplane. The plane demonstrates technology products that could improve the reliability and efficiency of the entire GA fleet.

Although his airplane only carries 30 gallons of fuel, Savier has flown it nonstop from Southern California to Oshkosh, Wis. (1,751 miles) and nonstop from Southern California to Panama City, Fla. (1,956 miles).   

Beats the pants off a Prius!

Livinghomes

November 14, 2008

livinghomes-grow_with_you

Today I watched an episode of Wired Science on PBS.  They were talking about this super-green house that was made by a company called Livinghomes.  It was kind of an old episode so the company’s been in business for quite some time now.  It was particularly interesting to me because they incorporated a lot of my ideas into the homes that they build so I must be on the right track. Steve Glenn is the owner and he has put everything green, renewable, and sustainable that you could think of into the houses that he builds. 

He starts out with a modular constructed home that is prefabricated in a factory to reduce onsite construction costs and pollution caused by trucks.  And on the inside of the house they make sure to use nontoxic building materials, substances, paints, coatings and furniture so the house doesn’t have all the poisonous fumes and toxic molds that many of the new tight houses have associated with them.  Hopefully all houses that are built above ground will be built like this soon.

Here is a partial summary of Steve’s house from the show:

The living homes demonstration house is 2480 square foot in size.  It is 80% more efficient than a conventional structure of similar size.

It costs $390 per square foot to build, some 25% less than typical high and construction in the neighborhood (in California).  This is the first home to receive the platinum LEED standard set by the nonprofit United States Green Building Council.

Solar panels on the roof provide 80 to 85% of the energy needed for the house.  A Solar hot water heating system is also mounted on the roof.  This provides all the hot water necessary for the house including items such as the shower and washing machine.  In addition, this system also provides all the energy needed for the radiant heating system embedded in the floor of each room.

A water recycling system and a rainwater collection system provides irrigation water to a rooftop garden.

 

 

Opinion: Obama is the Clear Energy Winner

November 3, 2008

Senator John McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s mantra is “drill, baby, drill.” This is inarguably short-sighted, foolish AND more irrelevant as oil prices fall.

 

It would take the oil companies 10 years to put the entire infrastructure into place to extract that oil that McCain is talking about.  The United States consumes the most oil of any country and contributes the most pollution.  Now that oil prices are falling consumers seem to be going right back to their old habits as pickup trucks and SUV sales are climbing.

 

When I look at Obama’s plan, I see a clear long-term vision that will put us in the winner’s circle as a nation.  His energy policies will reduce our dependency on foreign oil (see my posts on both of the candidates’ policies).

 

The housing crisis was the last blow that triggered the financial meltdown.  But the rising energy costs were the first blow that knocked us down because the energy costs drastically reduced our discretionary spending. 

 

Obama’s energy policy is much clearer than McCain’s.  The Obama energy plan provides the clearest vision by explaining how he would support alternative energy, renewable energy, solar energy, and wind energy.  The energy crisis will not be resolved without sacrifice and energy conservation.  Barack Obama deals more intelligently with oil and coal.

 

When I look at the energy policy of the McCain campaign, I see the energy policies of the Bush administration.  President Bush and John McCain have the Iraq war as part of their energy policy.  Oil is king.  Deregulation (part of the Bush Doctrine) is also part of the McCain doctrine. This is what caused the energy crisis and subsequent housing meltdown in the first place.  If elected, the McCain legacy will morph right into Bush’s energy legacy.

 

But when it comes to energy policies and Obama and McCain (or Obama vs. McCain), the McCain/Palin camp just doesn’t get it. Obama/Biden does.

 

Don’t get me wrong: I like some of John McCain’s energy policies.  But overall they are inferior to Obama’s.  McCain’s campaign has not convinced me that they will fix the current problems and get us out of this mess.

 

When you vote, consider the fact that the economy will improve over time.  Global warming, left unchecked, will destroy our future and most likely plunge our country into another economic (perhaps permanent) crisis.  That is why, in the 2008 presidential election, I support Barack Obama.

 

JCE

Note: All comments that do not pertain to the candidates’ energy policies will not be posted.

Update to the 2010 VW super efficient diesel that gets over 200 MPG

October 30, 2008

I found some more new pictures of the Volkswagen super diesel production model on Motor Authority:(http://www.motorauthority.com/vw-boss-confirms-1-liter-car-for-2010.html).

 It’s still going to be a two seat tandem and it’s still going to get 235 MPG but now it’s going to be a hybrid diesel. They don’t expect to sell too many so they are only making 1000 of them.

Since they are handmade in the prototype shop they expect the price to be fairly high at $31,400 to $47,100. But I suppose when people are paying $20,000 to $30,000 for a Harley Davidson motorcycle I suppose this isn’t too far out of line. The vehicle is so small that some are concerned that the car may not pass the safety tests required for on-road use. But since the vehicle has tandem seating, a slight redesign could make it into a three wheeler. By putting a single wheel in the rear it would become a motorcycle and not be required to be held to the same safety standards as an automobile.

Bush Signs Amtrak Funding and Rail Safety Bill

October 27, 2008

Last week Bush finally signed the Amtrak funding and rail safety bill after the tragic September 12, 2008 collision that killed 25 people in Los Angeles.  Bush had opposed the bill because it gave funding to Amtrak. But this time around he signed the bill without question.  This provides Federal funding for many projects including high speed rail in the Midwest.  If we finally get our butts in gear we can get this project done.  Our politicians have been talking about it, arguing and dragging their feet for years and haven’t done a thing.  High speed rail from Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison and onto Minneapolis would give people the option they deserve.  The last time I tried to catch the train from Milwaukee to Chicago I couldn’t even get a ticket.  I had to drive down through all the construction and it was horrible.  I was scared to death half the time and I got lost on the way back.  When I can get a ticket on the train it’s wonderful.  I sit back and read and study and it worked done.  When I get off I feel refreshed.  We need a safer alternative to driving our cars everywhere.  This not only saves fuel but also wear and tear on our vehicles.

We need to get on our politicians and ride them until they get this thing done.

Moving underground after 2 houses burned

October 24, 2008

http://www.wwmt.com/articles/california_1354907___article.html/taking_houses.html

Moving underground after 2 houses burned

October 24, 2008 – 8:07AM
CALIFORNIA (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – A California couple who lost two homes to wildfires isn’t taking any more chances.

” This time they’re building in the landscape.  Skip and Linda Miller are building a home in the side of a hill with only one side visible.  The rest will be covered with fire-resistant landscaping.

 They watched their homes burn down in 2003 and again in 2007. The second time they escaped with just the clothes on their back.

 Going underground might seem strange for some, but the Miller’s say it shouldn’t feel that different from their other homes. “If you look at some of the models of these homes, with the use of skylights and the orientation of the building and everything, it doesn’t really feel like you’re inside than on a normal building,” said Skip Miller.

 The Miller’s say it was frustrating to lose two homes, but they’re just glad their family is safe and sound.”

Underground houses are an excellent solution to many problems.  They’d be perfect for tornado alley.  An underground house (if built correctly) is fireproof, earthquake proof, flood proof, soundproof and is naturally cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

I just wish more people would take advantage of this technology.

JCE

How much does oil really cost?

October 22, 2008

I just read this old but good article and the comments today at http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/oil-gas-crude/461. His math maybe a little off but the government sites are kinda screwy and airlines.org numbers do not agree so I can see where he could go astray.  Check out these two:

http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_cons_psup_dc_nus_mbbl_m.htm

http://www.airlines.org/economics/energy/MonthlyJetFuel.htm

Both sites claim the about the same month but the number are way different. The EIA site states that jet fuel is going at the rate of about 48 million barrels a month is July 2008. The airlines site states that they are going through 1.65 Billion gallons a month in August 2008? How can this be? It says gallons (bils for billions?) on top of the column. Even if they meant millions, 1.65 million and 47.76 million aren’t even close. Someone is screwing up here or am I reading something wrong?  According to what I can find on the government sites, they all seem to agree that we are pushing 21 million barrels a day into the US one way or another. To keep it simple let’s say we have a 30 day month. 21×30 is 630 and is fairly close to the monthly figures (a little high but I rounded up).

As for the article’s content, I agree that it would be a nightmare to be weaned off oil overnight but it needs to be done soon. Look at what Brazil did with ethanol-they are way ahead of us. And how about all those high MPG diesels that are all over Europe? They are made buy our automakers over there so why do they never send them to or make them in the US? My 99 VW Beetle TDI gets close to 60 MPG city and highway right now and all I do to get better than EPA is to keep my tire pressure up, time stoplights, do the speed limit and coast down hills. The new Toyota Prius gets only 48 city, 45 highway (right off their website) but they can’t even run ethanol. You have to buy a kit for a grand (see: http://gas2.org/2008/08/12/flex-fuel-kits-convert-toyota-prius-to-e85-ethanol-for-less-than-1000. There are US brand cars that can do better than that over in Europe but not in the good ol USA.

And then there’s the hybrids (all the rage). When I bought the diesel I was wondering why anyone would buy a stupid hybrid (with an unproven track record) that you can’t even plug in at home, charge it up and drive it for peanuts. If I could have plugged it in I might have bought one. But noooooooo you have to buy a conversion kit for big $$$$$$ to enjoy the “plug in privilege.” What the heck were they thinking? And why did GM kill the electric car right when they were way ahead of everyone? By now the Volt would have been on the market for years. Why did they let Toyota and Honda get the jump on them? Why is GM they closing plants for good and not retooling them for small new generation hi-tech cars like Honda and Toyota are? Diesel engines are about 30% more efficient than gas engines right out of the box. My car goes faster, hauls more and has tons of space in it (and it doesn’t have tons of batteries to replace only God knows when). The new diesels are so clean they can even be sold in California. And then there’s the question of why not a plug in diesel hybrid?

All I hear or read about is subsidies for cars by way of roads, interchanges, parking lots, gas, and oil wars. Lots of people I know get injured or killed in them every year. Big Airline interests get the next big wad of bills. Why is it that nothing goes to passenger rail systems anywhere except California (and they are going bankrupt over this financial mess). I read that California is putting in a 220 MPH rail run from SF to LA. Why can’t I jump on a train and go from Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison and then to Minneapolis? Have to go to Europe for any high tech transportation. The US is dead last. More cars on the road seems like a bad idea to me. Anyone ever think about that nasty mass transportation thing? Eeewww I might actually have to stand near other people. That would suck. I guess we should just stick to what we do best and spend our money blowin up stuff-cool!

Anyway this post-  http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/oil-gas-crude/461 is interesting. I agree with the comments- this post needs to be freshened up a bit. I think I’ll just check all the facts and write a simplified version (heavy on the bullets points) and post it to my blog. This needs to be on peoples’ minds NOW!!!

Next I’ll attack McCain’s and Obama’s energy policies. I know “it’s the economy stupid” but in the long run oil (and deregulation) really got us into this mess in the first place. If we didn’t finance terrorists with our oil purchases we would probably have a lot more money to fight terror.

JCE

Infrastructure and politics

October 21, 2008

After reading an article on the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-a-lemay/mccain-palin-no-plan-to-a_b_133087.html#postComment) and the following comments, it is clear that McCain and Palin do not have anything on their website regarding improvements to our existing, decaying infrastructure.

 

 

How can we invest in infrastructure like roads if are too busy blowing them up in Iraq?  I haven’t cIraq War- we blow up stuffhecked in numbers but let’s say that we do invest only 1.5% of GDP in infrastructure and China spends 9% of GDP.  I agree that the infrastructure needs attention but also needs diversity.  The big car companies, tire manufacturers, and a bunch of the big oil companies and systematically destroyed our light rail systems as you can see if you research the great streetcar scandal of 1947 and 1949, and have been caught conspiring to fix oil prices on the number of occasions but have been able to evade conviction.  Shifting all of our transportation budget’s resources to serve the big automobile, oil and airlines industries have left us weak and vulnerable.  We’re well on our way to achieving a third-world infrastructure.  I think it’s about time we get back on track.

 

 I agree that our highways, airports, power systems, city streets, and rural roads need to be maintained but our railways, light rail and high speed railways, are in a more desperate need of expansion, upgrade and maintenance.  These mass transportation systems will significantly reduce truck and auto traffic and therefore wear and tear on our current highways, city streets, in rural roads.  We have ignored them long enough and it shows with our massive traffic jams on all our highways in all our major cities. This will benefit all the people specifically the middle class and poor. Talk about long-term economic peril…

 And don’t forget about electricity and the Internet!

JCE

Is oil really $10 at the pump without govt help

October 21, 2008

 

cars wait for gas 1973

cars wait for gas 1973

I just read this article and the comments today at

 

http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/oil-gas-crude/461. His math is a little off but the government sites are kinda screwy so I can see where he could go astray.  Check out these two:

http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_cons_psup_dc_nus_mbbl_m.htm

http://www.airlines.org/economics/energy/MonthlyJetFuel.htm

Both sites claim the about the same month but the number are way different. The EIA site states that jet fuel is going at the rate of about 48 million barrels a month is July 2008. The airlines site states that they are going through 1.65 Billion gallons a month in August 2008? How can this be? It says gallons (bils) on top of the column. Even if they meant millions, 1.65 million and 47.76 million aren’t even close. Someone is screwing up here or am I reading something wrong?  According to what I can find on the government sites, they all seem to agree that we are pushing 21 million barrels a day into the US one way or another. To keep it simple let’s say we have a 30 day month. 21×30 is 630 and is fairly close to the monthly figures (a little high but I rounded up).

As for the article’s content, I agree that it would be a nightmare to be weaned off oil overnight but it needs to be done soon. Look at what Brazil did with ethanol-they are way ahead of us. And how about all those high MPG diesels that are all over Europe? They are made buy our automakers over there so why do they never send them to or make them in the US? My 99 VW Beetle TDI gets close to 60 MPG right now and all I do to get better than EPA is to keep my tire pressure up, time stoplights, do the speed limit and coast down hills. There are US brand cars that can do that over in Europe but not in the good ol USA.

And then there’s the hybrids (all the rage) When I bought the diesel I was wondering why anyone would buy a stupid hybrid (with an unproven track record) that you can’t plug in at home, charge it up and drive it for peanuts. If I could have plugged it in I might have bought one. But noooooooo you have to buy a conversion kit for big $$$$$$ to enjoy the “plug in privilege.” What the heck were they thinking? And why did GM kill the electric car right when they were way ahead of everyone? By now the Volt would have been on the market for years. Why did they let Toyota and Honda get the jump on them? Why is GM they closing plants for good and not retooling them for small new generation hi-tech cars like Honda and Toyota are? Diesel engines are about 30% more efficient than gas engines right out of the box. My car goes faster, hauls more and has tons of space in it (and it doesn’t have tons of batteries to replace only God knows when). The new diesels are so clean they can even be sold in California. And then there’s the question of why not a plug in diesel hybrid?

All I hear or read about is subsidies for cars by way of roads, interchanges, parking lots, gas, and oil wars. Lots of people I know get injured or killed in them every year. Big Airline interests get the next big wad of bills. Why is it that nothing goes to passenger rail systems anywhere except California (and they are going bankrupt over this financial mess). I read that California is putting in a 220 MPH rail run from SF to LA. Why can’t I jump on a train and go from Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison and then to Minneapolis? Have to go to Europe for any high tech transportation. The US is dead last. More cars on the road seems like a bad idea to me. Anyone ever think about that nasty mass transportation thing? Eeewww I might actually have to stand near other people. That would suck. I guess we should just stick to what we do best and spend our money blowin up stuff-cool!

Anyway this post-  http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/oil-gas-crude/461 is interesting. I agree with the comments- this post needs to be freshened up a bit. I think I’ll just check all the facts and write a simplified version (heavy on the bullets points) and post it to my blog. This needs to be on peoples’ minds NOW!!!

Next I’ll attack McCain’s and Obama’s energy policies. I know “it’s the economy stupid” but in the long run oil (and deregulation) really got us into this mess in the first place. If we didn’t finance terrorists with our oil purchases we would probably have a lot more money to fight terror.

JCE

https://johnceberhardt.wordpress.com/