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Old 01-27-2009, 02:20 PM   #1
vanshnookenraggen
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Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

Reading this article from the Globe got me thinking about how urban design can harness the power of sustainable energy. One of the problems with wind energy is that large wind farms are unsightly and require a lot of land. Smaller turbines that you can put almost anywhere could, theoretically, make as much or more energy. While probably not enough to make a giant dent in the energy grid, small turbines like this could cut be a great first step and get people thinking more about wind energy when they see small turbines everywhere.

Quote:
Utility poles offer small-scale wind power

By David Rattigan
Globe Correspondent / January 11, 2009

Kellogg Warner said he spends a lot of time these days riding his bike around, counting light poles.

He counts the poles in parking lots at shopping centers, office parks, schools, and anywhere else there is space and wind. There are more than 60 light poles on the Nahant Causeway, he said, and more than 100 at the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers.

In Warner's vision, all of the poles have turbines on top, spinning in the wind, generating energy and blending into the landscape.

"The big question to me is always, 'How many of these can you put up and where can you put them up?' " Warner said. "How big can you make the market?"

Warner is the CEO and founder of Marblehead-based Deerpath Energy, which has proposed putting turbines - featuring three blades with a 16-foot diameter - atop the light poles of the Nahant Causeway. As the turbines spin, they generate energy back to grid.

"It's spectacular," Warner said. "It will really change people's ideas about distributed renewable power."

According to Warner, each turbine provides enough energy to power a small home. The energy from several could supplement community or commercial energy needs.

The decision on whether the turbines will go up on the Causeway rests with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, which manages the land. Although installation is relatively simple, Warner said, the turbines require new foundations and poles.

Deerpath's proposal has gained support from Nahant's Board of Selectmen and Alternative Energy Committee.

"We thought that it made a lot of sense," said Michael Manning, a member of both the board and the committee, noting that feedback at a public hearing about the project was very positive. "When [Deerpath] came in, it sounded like they were ready to go and looking for a place to demonstrate it."

Similarly, Phil Giudice, commissioner of the state Department of Energy Resources, said that while the decision on the specific Nahant project rested with the DCR, the renewable energy concept sounded intriguing.

"I'm supportive of the concept," Guidice said. "The idea of putting the small-wind turbines in a good location shows promise."

If Warner has his way, the Causeway won't be the only place his wheels are spinning. He sees his concept executed in any place where there are large numbers of light poles.

In February or March, the company plans to install a single turbine atop a light pole at Marblehead High School as the company's first beta, or test site.

"We're going to be installing a number of beta sites, allowing people to interact with them, experience them, evaluate them," Warner said, noting that the company plans to develop a high school science curriculum related to the turbine.

Many communities and businesses have turned to wind turbines to provide supplemental energy in recent years, but even small turbines are hundreds of feet tall and require a large generator. The turbine blades used in the Deerpath system spin sit on a 40-to 50-foot pole, are 12 to 16 feet in diameter, and are relatively simple to hook into the energy grid.

The power output rating is 2.4 kilowatts. For comparison, the turbine being built in Ipswich will be 300 feet high with a power output rating of 1.5 megawatts, according to Tim Henry, director of the Ipswich Utilities Department. It is expected to generate enough power for 300 homes.

Similar small wind turbines are used at City Hall in Boston, and Logan Airport.

"Wind is one of the most cost-effective renewable resources out there, but it's hard to site [receive zoning approval]," explained Warner, pointing out that projects such as Cape Wind have met resistance from residents in part because of their size. "Rather than put up really big turbines, we're going small, working with these smaller technologies and integrating them into the community landscape and putting them up in large numbers."
Link

So I want to start this thread on sustainable urban design. But not grand projects and complex LEED buildings. While those are nice, they are usually one-off shots that don't help the rest of us. What about advances in roof technology to reduce urban heat island effect? Or new road surfaces to allow for reduced runoff? It's the little pieces that make up the big picture that is really going to get us out of this mess.
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Old 01-27-2009, 07:36 PM   #2
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

This is a cool idea. There are small turbines being installed on some roofs... Holyoke Center, for example.
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Old 10-30-2010, 10:08 PM   #3
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

You know how some buildings have pump/utility floors high up? Imagine those blocked out windows being replaced by solar panels?
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forget it ever happening, its too great an idea.
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Old 11-01-2010, 09:43 AM   #4
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

Harvard put up two wind mills on the top of its garage in Allston probably about a year ago. Its the large garage accross the street from Genzyme's factory. They are probably about 20 feet high.
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Old 11-01-2010, 12:14 PM   #5
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

so, are skyscrapers more environmentally sustainable, or less than average structures? I realize the word average changes over time, so lets take it to mean "Traditional" as in the village setting (dense, non-sprawl, but low rise).

Some argue that compact building design (high rise especially) is more sustainable because it prevents driving. However, the opposite argument is also made, on the basis that it takes a ton of energy to run elevators, electricity, etc. But, to counter this argument, major new technology advances have been made to counteract a lot of those issues (some of which are described in last month's 'Metropolis' Magazine. Basically, it seems like for every argument there is a counter argument just as valid. That's why I want to know what the people on this forum think. Any ideas?
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Old 11-01-2010, 01:21 PM   #6
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

^^ I'd say that high rises are more "green" than average structures. Especially if we are talking about residential, and if an average residential stucture is single family home. Just the shared heat inbetween unit walls is saving a lot of energy. Also considering the average condo is much smaller than an average house there is less space to have to controll. Also the average house has a yard that sucks up water and often uses chemicals. And these larger yards and houses create larger footprints, which means more land taken from nature's stock and put in society's. And that means less natural habitat for all of eath's animals minus humans. Just think about how much land 50 suburban families can take up. If in comunties like metrowest where every McMansion sits on atleast an acre, thats square miles we're talking about.
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Old 11-01-2010, 01:24 PM   #7
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

Right, but what about tower vs a Parisian rowhouse?
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Old 11-01-2010, 02:06 PM   #8
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

Then, I'd say, and this is a guess, they're probably pretty equal. Which is also to say they are both better for the enviornment than McMansions. I'd happily take more rowhouses in the mix.
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Old 11-01-2010, 02:53 PM   #9
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

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Originally Posted by statler View Post
Right, but what about tower vs a Parisian rowhouse?
That's sort of more what I had in mind.
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Old 11-01-2010, 03:28 PM   #10
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick View Post
so, are skyscrapers more environmentally sustainable, or less than average structures? I realize the word average changes over time, so lets take it to mean "Traditional" as in the village setting (dense, non-sprawl, but low rise).

Some argue that compact building design (high rise especially) is more sustainable because it prevents driving. However, the opposite argument is also made, on the basis that it takes a ton of energy to run elevators, electricity, etc. But, to counter this argument, major new technology advances have been made to counteract a lot of those issues (some of which are described in last month's 'Metropolis' Magazine. Basically, it seems like for every argument there is a counter argument just as valid. That's why I want to know what the people on this forum think. Any ideas?
How far would one need to drive in order to equal the energy used in a trip on an elevator? My guess is not very far.
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Old 11-01-2010, 03:34 PM   #11
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

True. But, the biggest contributor of GHG emissions in the country is, I believe, electrical plants. Elevators run on electricity. Also, you have to factor in the miles driven to transport all of the materials used in the operation of the building. Those are the counterarguments.
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Old 11-01-2010, 03:51 PM   #12
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

Elevators are the most efficient form of mechanized transport ever devised, because the vehicle itself is counterweighted and thus the bulk of the energy consumed is for the cargo / passengers alone.

All the energy is in HVAC.
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:34 PM   #13
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

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Originally Posted by CSTH View Post
Elevators are the most efficient form of mechanized transport ever devised, because the vehicle itself is counterweighted and thus the bulk of the energy consumed is for the cargo / passengers alone.

All the energy is in HVAC.
Can you elaborate for someone that doesn't know much about this stuff. Specifically, what is HVAC? I hear it used, but what is it?
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:42 PM   #14
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:08 AM   #15
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

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Also, you have to factor in the miles driven to transport all of the materials used in the operation of the building. Those are the counterarguments.
I'm not sure what you mean by this. What materials?

I responded to the elevators comments because that is the one thing I can think of that is needed in a tower that is not needed in a single family home.

When it comes to heating, cooling, lighting, etc. towers are significantly more efficient. Sure, a tower with 100 residential units uses a lot of these things, but not nearly as much as 100 single family homes.
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:57 PM   #16
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

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I'm not sure what you mean by this. What materials?

I responded to the elevators comments because that is the one thing I can think of that is needed in a tower that is not needed in a single family home.

When it comes to heating, cooling, lighting, etc. towers are significantly more efficient. Sure, a tower with 100 residential units uses a lot of these things, but not nearly as much as 100 single family homes.
Transportation of goods like paper products and office supplies, food, water pumped upwards, etc. Not saying I agree, but these are some of the hidden costs I have heard referenced by some. I tried to find the article that debated the two sides, but couldn't locate it. For the record, I am a high rise fan, and any argument supporting their greener impact on the environment is great, but I want to know the counter-arguments, too. Another counter argument is that dense cities produce heat islands that are bad. Overall I agree they are greener structures, but like I said, I want to understand both sides.
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:20 AM   #17
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

I think at the end of the day, open minded people look at the facts and say yea they are greener. Particular 2nd and 3rd generation suburbanites (not all) who refuse to acknowledge the enviroment (just in general) and often call global warming a hoax, will find every angle possible to try and paint a picture of suburban homes being just as green.
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:34 AM   #18
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

I have seen many shows regarding these issues.

Issue one, cables become too heavy on high rises that are too high. Example is the new world's tallest high rise in Dubai. The elevator is like at it's max.

Alternative would be an electromagnetic elevator with no cables. Currently used in aircraft carriers. Saw this on a show on Nova last night on elevators.

Second, I have seen a show talking about cities of the future. Some concepts of buildings that included parks, shopping centers, residential, business, and transportation and that were huge and were lifted off the ground. This aloud to solve the problem of lack of building space by building a city basically raised off the ground.

Here is one concept I found quickly.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimizu_Mega-City_Pyramid

The concept basically is a future building and is an ideal way to house people because of the amount of space it takes up.

Regarding the energy, of course a building that housed 100 people is better than 100 houses. But The world's tallest tower in Dubai, they said on TV is it built purely for aesthetics, not practicality. Cost of building and living outweighs any benefits. $10,000 per sq. foot and problems in building it.

But most buildings in Boston do not have these problems and are much better than houses.

http://www.time.com/time/business/ar...013684,00.html

This I found interesting, read the article at my chiropractors. Basically a house is not as good of an investment as many think. And apartment living may be better.

For those of you who want to read the whole thing...
http://shop.ebay.com/i.html?_nkw=tim....c0.m270.l1313

But yes, overall, although cities suck up a bunch of power as a whole, compared to suburban neighborhoods and the standard big chain store retail like Walmart and Lowe's, cities are better for the environment, Time magazine argues that living in apartments is better for you wallet, it takes up less open land when built more dense and overall less pollution and energy used proportionally.

Regarding the height = more energy used to get stuff up. But this high rise is closer to the manufacturing place or store you bought it from. Cities also promote public transportation, walking, and things like this. With everything you need all so close, overall there is less driving time for deliveries and you yourself.
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Old 11-03-2010, 09:08 AM   #19
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

I had an interesting argument with a pro-suburb friend of mine. While trying to explain why cities are better than suburbs I used an example of a 10x10 grid. I said it is better to put 100 people on 1 square and leave the other 99 squares to nature rather than give each person their own square. His argument was that after my one square was filled developers will move on to the other squares and soon my grid would be filled 1000 people and no nature while his would still only have 100 living in a more 'natural' environment.
After I explained that lawns, shrubs and the occasional tree do not nature make, I asked him where the other hypothetical 900 people went in his model, and we got into a big discussion about supply and demand and how human populations work and eventually we agreed to disagree.
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Old 11-03-2010, 10:39 AM   #20
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Re: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Urban Design

^^ His point is invalid. If the city is experiencing population growth, so would his suburbs. Difference is the city model holds more poeple on less land. People don't have kids b/c a new apartment building went up.
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