Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Teasers from California

I just got back from four days in Anaheim, California where I spoke at the American Library Association National Convention on "Shades of Green." I explained how to deliver a Futureproof net-zero-energy library (deep green) for as little as $140 per square foot, such as in Chrisney Library that just bid in Spencer County, Indiana, and why that might be important to the future of America.

A recent report by the Langdon Group on The Cost of Green Revisited noted that libraries lead the nation as a building type in terms of percentage of LEED certifications and their architects have more experience in green design. As a result, Langdon reported that libraries also tend to have the least initial cost differential for green design verses conventional design.

This presentation occurred a day after two busloads toured a beautiful new Santa Monica LEED Gold certified green library (above) that was built for an eye-popping $350 per square foot. This outstanding 100,000 s.f. library is 40 times the size of Chrisney Library and more than double the cost per square foot but with approximately the same size solar array.

Apparently the taxpayers of California see the value of great public libraries as centers of community culture and life-long learning, excellent investments in their future and places to demonstrate sustainable design to the general public in the form of the building. They also apparently have a more robust property tax base than Indianapolis (Santa Monica is a city library and the employees work for the city government).

I learned that a "tear-down" house in Santa Monica costs $2.5 million and gas costs $4.89 per gallon. The library director confided that he can't afford to live in the city where his library is located. But they have that to-die-for oceanfront that delivers cool breezes to keep the city as much as 25 degrees cooler than the inland valleys.

But I came back anyway. There's work to do here and they only get 12 inches of rain per year. Hey, we get that in 24 hours sometimes! To Santa Monica Library's credit, they store their precious rainwater in a 200,000 gallon cistern the size of a city pool below the 2nd level of their underground parking structure and use it for stormwater retention and irrigation.

This weekend I will provide more detail about how to go net zero on a budget, including information on tax incentives and grants, the current key to return on investment success. This is the ultimate hedge against future electrical cost inflation (which will be particularly egregious in coal-powered states, like Indiana). I will also discuss how you might fuel your future electric car with your own solar or wind system for infinite miles per gallon of gas and how your electric car might work with a smart electric transmission grid to even out intermittent but clean renewable resources like wind and solar power while it is parked and plugged in to the smart grid. Get ready for your Smart Garage.

I was also able to do some research on the state of the art of electric cars and I will provide a Buyers Guide to Electric Cars while the rest of you are setting off explosive devices in celebration of our Independence. I think there is another type of independence we will be celebrating in the future, but we have much work to do to get free of our addiction to foreign oil. If you think electric cars are all boring or impractical or off in the distant future, you may be in for a surprise.

This trip also provided me the time to finish two thought-provoking books that I will give reports on: World Made By Hand, a piece of fiction by James Howard Kunstler that portrays his vision for post-carbon America (he should stick to nonfiction) and Profit From The Peak, by Brian Hicks and Chris Nelder.

I also ran across this piece in the Wall Street Journal and found the entire paper here. Be sure to peruse the amazing graphs of oil expenditures verses food expenditures and let me know what you think. Will $7/gallon gas take 10 million cars off the road?

So, forgive me while I get my feet back on the ground and let me know what is on your mind as you strive to go from brown to green. I pledge to spend the long weekend in stream-of-conscious writing. There's so much to tell you about and so little time. I have to design some more net zero energy buildings to offset my trip's carbon footprint.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Electric cars are neat. However, one of my goals is to be able to live in this city without needing to own a car at all.

I dig this blog and think all of the posts are worthy subjects. However, I've just got this nagging feeling that if we can figure out electric cars at a large scale, we're still going to build our landscapes around the car, instead of humans. Car-based planning is unattractive, no matter how you are powering the car. Suburbs age very rapidly. Congestion will still be a problem, and as they say, you can't build your way out of it with wider (or more) roads.

I think a good system would be car sharing like they have in other cities. When you need a car, you can find it. But you won't have to worry about all of the implied costs of owning a car.

Sorry for the somewhat unrelated vent. I look forward to your future posts.