Category Archives: solar

Community Solar Power

To illustrate that solar power can be effective in communities and in existing homes, and for inspiration in our (uk) developments,  take a look at this article over at greenbuildingelements

A community in Canada has an unusual form of solar power that can provide over 90% of the annual heating and hot water needs for the homes, despite being situated in a cold Alberta location where winter temperatures can reach -33 degrees C (-27 F).

interseasonal heat transfer

Pams second post on snow and ice clearance over at Public Works blog, reminded me of two items I had collected into my google notebook for future isite posts.

The GuardianReported in the Guardian Friday last Under Road heaters may beat snow and ice , the Highways Agency plans to install pipes underneath a section of road to gather solar energy in summer and recirculate it in winter. Experts hope the scheme could be a way to treat the roads which are the first to freeze.

The scheme, known as interseasonal heat transfer, or IHT, will lay a network of plastic pipes filled with water just below the road surface. In summer, when road temperatures can reach 40C, the water is warmed and pumped to pipes insulated with polystyrene. In winter, when sensors detect the temperature at 2C, warm water is pumped back under the road to heat the ground and prevent ice forming.

Also a Guardian mp3 audio item to download Which discusses the technology and approach to using IHT on UK roads.

Too cool for schools – featuring a pièce de résistance of the building as the construction of the world’s first IHT system underneath the playground. IHT will take heat from the sunshine that falls on the tarmac playground, then stores it and releases it in the winter to heat the school.

… the futures nano

The science of nanotechnology is already revolutionising the worlds of medicine and construction, according to a Guardian article looking at nanotech in food, Once Bitten
Seamless tubes of graphite one atom thick and 10,000 long (to the naked eye, large quantities would look like soot), carbon nanotubes are up to 100 times stronger than steel but around eight times lighter. They can be teased into a twine that can be woven into sheets and, potentially, mixed with composites to eventually overhaul the way – and the height to which – we build.

And those buildings could be covered with solar cells made from nanomaterials that could supply all their energy needs. 

And in communications … nanotechnology would allow the Nokia Morph concept phone to be laid flat like a keyboard or folded into a bracelet that can be connected wirelessly to a headset.

And in RFID, nano-transistors could revolutionise asset management  and hence reshape the way in which facilities management works.

waste management plans and carbon calculator event

Details of the Lancs Best Practice Club event on 12th Feb looking at sustainability targets, site waste management plans and carbon calculators are now available to download on the events page.  Fittingly the event will be held at the Solaris Centre in Blackpool

RICS – eco-harmful claims?

Recent research and claims from the RICS that some energy measures recommended in EPC’s may take up to 208 years to recoup costs has been widely commented on – in Saturdays Telegraph,(solar heating saves energy, wastes money) in Building but with more astute comment from Phil at SustainabilityBlog and at CarbonLimited.

This approach obviously damaging to the homeowners motivation in improving existing housing stock, or indeed other environmental initiatives, and maybe another eco-harmful shot in the foot from the RICS
There is also the underlying debate about the method of calculation of energy savings, and indeed energy costs.  Following the debate through CarbonLimited and the Grist article that argues electricity costs are political and not economic

Solar building design

One of the fascinating things behind the statistics to running a blog is the search items people use to end up here at isite.

Still by a large margin is the search for a good construction carbon calculator.  However coming up fast on the inside, is the search of things solar relating to energy and building design.  This has led to me to brush up on my knowledge – and found this fascinating wikipedia entry. Passive solar building design

 Passive solar building design involves the modeling, selection and use of appropriate passive solar technologies to maintain the building environment at a desired temperature range (usually based around human thermal comfort) throughout the sun’s daily and annual cycles. As a result it generally minimizes the use of active solar, renewable energy and especially fossil fuel technologies.

I would add into this the passive solar lighting concepts of sun-pipes, light tubes and wind pipes which we use to great effect here.  Having daylight and fresh air into the middle of the house is wonderful – and saves on lighting energy and costs, even on overcast days.

Geo Solar Homes

Housing Construction that both heats it self and cools itself. An interesting innovation from the States can be found at Enertia House

Enertia Building System, named as the 2007 Modern Marvel of the Year is described as

innovative new homes of remarkable strength, economy, and beauty, brought to life by an elegant new architecture and the discovery of a new source of pollution-free energy.

with a built-in “biosphere,” in gradual but constant motion, draws energy from the sun, and geothermal stability from the ground, creating a temperate climate that buffers the primary living space.

The site provides plenty of science ‘background’ which is worth checking out.

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