According to the San Francisco Chronicle, David Chiu, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, is proposing legislation to mandate that all new buildings in the city contain solar panels, rooftop gardens, or both. The resolution, called Solar Vision 2020, would form a permanent program (extending the work of the pilot GoSolarSF) to help building owners pay to install solar arrays, set a goal of doubling the city's solar energy production, and install 2 megawatts–worth of panels on residences citywide each year. “Many landlords have told me that if we just had the right financing mechanisms, they’d be interested in doing this,” he told the Chronicle. In addition to the local plans, a statewide bill called the Solar Permitting Efficiency Act—which would streamline the permitting processes around solar power and save customers up to $1,000 each—has passed the legislature and is now waiting for Governor Jerry Brown's signature. Meanwhile the California Solar Initiative and the Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit both provide rebates to would-be solar energy installers. In Los Angeles, the Department of Water and Power offers the Solar Incentive Program, which provides rebates on photovoltaic installations, and supports Go Solar LA, established to reduce customers’ cost of installing solar PV systems.
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Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his plan to reduce New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent over 2005 levels by 2050. Needless to say, that's a pretty ambitious target, but this mayor seems to like ambitious targets—his plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade comes to mind. But back to his latest plan, the climate plan. While this decades-long strategy will certainly evolve, it is focused around retrofitting the city’s building stock to reduce emissions. A key focus of these retrofits, at both city-owned and privately-owned buildings, will be installing solar panels. To kick-off that piece of the plan, the mayor is starting with schools. Speaking on Monday at the John F. Kennedy campus in the Bronx, where solar panels have been installed on nine schools, de Blasio announced that 24 additional schools would also be going solar. "These 24 projects we’re talking about today are part of a larger commitment," said the mayor. "They’re going to be an important part because they’re going to help lead the way in our efforts to use much more renewable energy in New York City." The mayor said that this investment would triple the amount of solar power collected on the roofs of city buildings. The city will cover $23 million of the $28 million investment, with the rest being covered by a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Over the next decade, the mayor wants to install solar panels on over 300 city-owned buildings, which would generate about 100 megawatts of power, according to the administration.
A web-like dome in Saginaw, Michigan changes colors to reflect the level of carbon dioxide in the air. Solar-powered LED lights connected to an onsite CO2 monitor illuminate the structure’s fibers in timed patterns to create the appearance of an organic response. On display in Saginaw’s First Merritt Park through October 31, the installation is part of the Great Lakes Bay Region’s “Art and Sol” celebration of art, culture, and science. The structure of Loop.pH’s SOL Dome was inspired by molecular biology. SOL Dome, eight meters in diameter, was constructed on site by volunteers over three days.
The high desert town of Lancaster, California, population 156,000, has set its sights on becoming, in the words of its mayor R. Rex Parris "the solar capital of the world." That means producing more electricity from solar energy than it consumes, which it would have to achieve by covering roofs, fields, and parking lots with enough solar panels to generate more than 200 megawatts citywide. The city, located about two hours north of Los Angeles in the Antelope Valley, already has about 40 megawatts built and 50 megawatts under construction, according to the New York Times; a combination of private investment and construction from the municipal utility. Lancaster could prove to be a good case study: getting a solar permit in the sun soaked town is already much easier than anywhere in California—the number of residential solar installations have tripled in the last 18 months—and Parris is touting the initiative as an effective way to add jobs to the struggling area.
At a DeLab (Design East of La Brea) Tour this Saturday, Los Angeles-based firm Lettuce Office shared the epic story of its new solar array for LA's Occidental College. The 1 megawatt installation, made up of 4,886-panels, follows the contours of its hilly site, with its angled panels raised just two or three feet off the ground. To guard against sliding, each set of panels had to be imbedded into the earth via concrete-supported columns. The array was supposed to open two years ago, but infighting at the university over the ambitious design caused considerable delay. In the end, Lettuce's plans won out, and now the handsome array supplies 11 percent of the university's power. And despite initial objections (the firm was at one point "shouted out of the room," explained principal Kara Bartelt), the $6.8 million project is now becoming a selling point for both the school and its builder, Martifer Solar. "It represents a new paradigm for arrays as architectural objects that, like buildings, are expected to contribute aesthetically to their environment," noted Occidental President Jonathan Veitch. See a live view of the solar field on the university's solar cam, here.
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Research into flexible active skins opens up new BIPV possibilitiesAs building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) technology becomes more advanced, architects are getting involved in how new systems affect not only a building’s performance, but also its appearance. “The photovoltaic industry was until now largely developed by engineers,” said Daniel Martín Ferrero, a Madrid-based architect researching solar design. “The architect must enter the industry to develop their integration into the urban scene.” Ferrero has launched a new company named The New Solar Architecture with a goal of bringing a higher level of design to solar energy-producing facades. “I try to convey the idea that the generation of clean energy can be part of the beauty of its major consumer, the city,” said Ferrero. The company’s goal is to design an active skin whose solar modules are composed of flexible material, which would facilitate a broader range of BIPV design possibilities for architects. Now in the conceptual design and construction phase, his Free Form Solar Powered hexagonal modules are manufactured with photovoltaic laminated glass. Along with the modules, Ferrero has developed details for potential construction systems that would integrate them, including ventilated facades, curtain walls, and monolayer structures. The hexagonal, honeycomb-like skins could have far-reaching implications for BIPV design in projects as small as parking structures or as large as Olympic stadiums. Watch the video below to see the fabrication process behind BIPV glass:
We've known since early last year that the Solar Decathlon, the biennial event showcasing the best in energy producing, student-designed houses, was no longer welcome on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. due to concerns over wear and tear on the "nation's front yard." The 2011 Decathlon, won by the University of Maryland, was pushed to a far corner of the Mall between the Tidal Basin and the Potomac River midway through the design process, causing outcry from student teams who were finalizing their house designs. Officials later announced that future Decathlons might leave D.C. entirely, and today, Department of Energy Secretary Stephen Chu confirmed that it will be moving about as far away from the Mall as possible—to the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California between Los Angeles and San Diego. Orange County Great Park, comprised of 1,360 acres of recreational area designed by landscape architect Ken Smith and built on a former air field, has been taking shape over the past several years, with a new 7.5-acre Palm Court and 18.5-acre North Lawn already complete. We still found it curious, however, that the Department of Energy noted the site's "ample visitor parking" and direct freeway access considering arriving by car might be the least sustainable way to access the exhibition. The Department of Energy said the decision to move the Solar Decathlon site was based in part on extending the audience of the fall exhibition of houses. The Great Park also incorporates environmental concerns into its design, including undulating bioswales filled with native plants that help to store and filter water runoff. The $65.5 million first phase is expected to be complete this year after a series of athletic fields are finished. AN's West Coast Editor Sam Lubell visited the park last October to check in on its progress and noted the strengths and weaknesses of reclaiming a disused airfield. Future phases of the park could take another 15 to 20 years to complete. While the new location might lack the prestige of the grand allée leading from the U.S. Capitol building, the California site will make the sustainability showcase more accessible to a new audience on the west coast, and it seems safe to bet that the student teams (listed below) should have no problem juicing up their solar cells in sunny SoCal. The following teams have been selected from around the world to compete in Solar Decathlon 2013: · Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico (Tempe, Ariz., and Albuquerque, N.M.) · Czech Technical University (Prague, Czech Republic) · Hampton University and Old Dominion University (Hampton and Norfolk, Va.) · Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vt.) · Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, Mo.) · Norwich University (Northfield, Vt.) · Queens University, Carleton University, and Algonquin College (Kingston and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) · Santa Clara University (Santa Clara, Calif.) · Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology (Los Angeles, Calif.) · Stanford University (Palo Alto, Calif.) · Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken, N.J.) · The Catholic University of America, George Washington University, and American University (Washington, DC) · The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.) · The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College (El Paso, Texas) · University of Calgary (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) · University of Louisville, Ball State University, and University of Kentucky (Louisville, Ky.; Muncie, Ind.; and Lexington, Ky.) · University of Nevada Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nev.) · University of Southern California (Los Angeles, Calif.) · Vienna University of Technology (Vienna, Austria) · West Virginia University (Morgantown, W. Va.)
President Obama's Alma Mater Occidental College is finishing up work on a $6.8 million, 1-megawatt ground-mounted solar array. When finished this spring it will be one of the largest ground-mounted arrays in Los Angeles, generating about 11 percent of the College's annual electrical usage. Led by physics professor Daniel Snowden-Ifft, the array's 4,886 panels will be mounted on top of shade structures in a campus parking lot and on a nearby hillside.
[ Updated 02.08.2011: Added the interview video, a gallery of Scarpa's 502 Colorado project, and more. ] You know you've hit the big time when you're not only invited to appear on Oprah, but you're interviewed by Leonard DiCaprio on Oprah. Such is the case with Larry Scarpa, of Santa Monica firm Brooks + Scarpa, who talked to Leo about his former firm Pugh + Scarpa's 502 Colorado in Santa Monica, which DiCaprio calls the “first green affordable housing project in the country.” Whether or not that’s true, the building does include 200 solar panels on its rooftop, providing much of the building’s energy. DiCaprio doesn’t ask Scarpa about any of the 44-unit building’s other green elements (including strategic orientation, natural ventilation, co-generation, and recycled materials), but that’s okay, he'll dream about it later. At least Scarpa gets to remind stubborn developers that building green can be cheaper than conventional building. By the way, we think Scarpa, who’s already a dead ringer for Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio, has earned himself a spot on DiCaprio’s next film, Devil in the White City, about the architects of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Wake up and get that architect an agent NOW.
Winded. Popular Science has the story of a bridge concept in Italy called Solar Wind featuring an array of wind turbines capable of generating 40 million kilowatt hours annually. If that weren't enough, the proposal also incorporates a solar roadway for an added green boost. Juiced. The Times of Trenton reports that Princeton University is converting 27 acres in West Windsor, New Jersey into a field 16,500 photovoltaic panels able to generate 8 million kilo-watt hours of clean, green energy every year. The project will begin in 2012 and is expected to generate 5.5% of electricity for the university. Stripped. Citiwire considers the downfall of the suburban commercial strip and it doesn't look good for sprawl. As shopping trends evolve and consumer taste retreats from the generic strip landscape, hybrid shopping centers resembling main streets could be the future. TOD or not TOD. Residents of an award-winning transit-oriented development in Maryland featuring a wide median where a light rail line was planned have turned their backs to their neighborhoods original lofty goals. StreetsBlog sums up the latest high-profile case of NIMBY-ism.
Solar Cycle. The Dutch dream up a ways to capture latent energy beneath bike tires. Go East Young Man. With the economy in the States still somewhat sour, the good news for West Coast firms is in the East, the Far East, writes AOL's Daily Finance. AIA's Scott Frank spills the goods for Danny King. Walled Out. It was hard to miss the spirited crowd on Chambers Street yesterday as three City Council committees held a joint hearing on Wal-Mart’s proposed move into New York held. Wal-Mart was a no show. The line to get in stretched down the block. And Council Speaker Quinn blasted away. Today's Daily News editorial found the whole drama, well, dramatic. Polar Opposites. Ben Thompson and Paul Rudolph were cut from the same Modernist cloth, under the influence of Gropius, but the two took different paths. One was from the north the other from the south, one standoffish, the other a team player. One a sculpture, the other an entertainer. In Architecture Boston, David N. Fixler explores how their forms function.
Since opening in 2008, The Green Building in Louisville, Kentucky has been quietly awaiting the verdict on just how sustainable the three-story adaptive reuse project really is. As expected, the 115-year-old former dry goods store designed by California-based (fer) studio announced that the project received LEED Platinum certification, becoming the city's first Platinum building. Owners Augusta and Gill Holland were attracted to the historic building by its potential to transform the once-downtrodden surrounding neighborhood into the city's preeminent arts district dubbed Nulu, or New Louisville. Located just east of downtown, the 10,175 square foot structure houses a mix of uses including a gallery, event space, offices, and a restaurant along the sidewalk. The central focus of The Green Building is, of course, its sustainable features, and the Hollands wanted to create a show piece to demonstrate the full potential of sustainable architecture. Fer Studio peeled away various components of the historic building to create a layered spatial arrangement that maximizes natural lighting and create a modern aesthetic sensibility that pays homage to the building's 19th century craftsmanship. Each piece of the building from the old growth beams and framing to bricks were carefully inventoried and reused throughout the renovation. For instance, structural woodwork was remilled into new flooring and furniture. New materials were locally sourced including Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified white maple panels that accentuate the warm hues of old growth beams. Tucked behind the sidewalk café, a 40-foot-tall lobby opens up The Green Building's upper floors and allows for extra daylight to reach interior spaces. Equipment monitors the natural light level in the lobby and automatically turns synthetic lights on or off to minimize electrical usage. A carefully angled clerestory also helps to maximize natural daylighting while providing dramatic space for offices and a conference room. Green systems in the building are both high- and low-tech. A green roof, three large rain barrels, and a rain garden help store and filter rainwater runoff while dually providing water for irrigation. Insulation in the walls is made from recycled jeans and even the concrete block is made from byproducts of coal burning power plants. The brains of The Green Building, however, are concealed out of sight in the basement. A large ice storage system freezes during off-peak hours and distributes cool air through the building at a fraction of the cost of a traditional air conditioner while in winter, the process is reversed to supplement the geothermal system. To round out the green systems, an 81-panel solar array on the structure's roof helps the facility outperform Kentucky energy codes by up to 65 percent. Gill and Augusta aren't resting on their LEED Platinum laurels, however. The duo is part part owner in 16 adjacent properties that are being renovated with sustainability in mind. They are also planning a permanent farmer's market, a recycling center, and an electric car charging station in coming years. [ Click on a thumbnail below to start the slideshow. ]