In the opening plenary session at the World Renewable Energy Forum, Dr. Dan Arvizu, Director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory said it makes no sense to shove green electrons into an inefficient system. This is sage advice. Most of our residential and commercial structures across the globe are quietly consuming copious amounts of energy to keep computers and lights on and to heat and cool indoor spaces. Whether the energy is green or not, it behooves us to identify ways in which homes or commercial buildings can consume less energy to reduce each structure’s carbon footprint and to save money. Thankfully there are methods that can be incorporated into new building design or into existing building retrofits that can save energy.
The Ignite session I attended on building design provided a glimpse into strategies to attain zero-energy buildings. Whether it was rebuilding a safe and eco-friendly city in Kaimishi, Japan; retrofitting a cooling-intensive ice cream shop; or students building a passive solar residential home with solar PV, solar thermal, and geothermal we learned the techniques to make existing structures or even new construction energy efficient. Key highlights from the session included:
We all know the importance of making our buildings more energy efficient first and then adding renewables second and from the sound of it these presenters not only did it in that order, but it seemed like they came up with some unique methods in the process. What are others doing to make buildings more energy efficient?