Saturday, February 22, 2020

More about Windows

A note from a friend raised an important point:
The most efficient solar is the sun warming things, right?

That is not how Title 24 thinks, which can drive up energy use. Basically Title 24 assumes outside inputs are bad and the way to manage temperature is to seal a house from the outside - and as efficiently as possible use energy inside. This is based on a lifestyle assumption – that you need to live at a constant temperature. If you are OK with letting the sun in to heat your home and having temperature vary by 10º or 15º over the course of a day Title 24 works against you by limiting glass area while mandating sun blocking windows and roof insulation that prevents internal solar gain.
Yes, he's right and that's a long story. The good news is that Title 24 offers the alternative of demonstrating performance compliance through good design.

So you can hire folks who know what they're doing and prepare calculations which show compliance.  Here are a couple of short web pages explaining the basics:
The most challenging detail to grasp is the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient. Window manufacturers don't want to confuse people with too much information, so they train their sales forces to promote "one size fits all" and for God's sake, don't let the sun come in and fade your drapes and furniture!

So if the customer says "energy conservation," they will get low-e glass (good insulation) with the standard _low_ solar heat gain—which works well on the southwest or west sides of the home, but for windows on the south, very little heat will come in during the winter when it's needed.

You can read glowing reports (such as US DOE's Energy Star propaganda) that will confuse you even more. So instead, here are a couple of articles (one from Canada where there are 4 seasons) explaining why you will want to specify the high solar heat gain coefficient on your south-facing windows:
All the more reason to know your home's compass headings... North-South, East-West.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Responding to climate emergency with a sense of agency

I thought I had misread the statement below, written and submitted to me today by one of the fellows in the Spartan Superway who has just graduated and is considering his next move:
"As a young person, [I see] all projections point to catastrophic climate destabilization in my lifetime. It has never been more critical to have a sense of agency about carbon emissions."
Don't you mean, "a sense of urgency"?

Oops, au contraire, he meant just what he wrote: a sense of agency "is the subjective awareness of initiating, executing, and controlling one's own volitional actions in the world...."

Can we really afford to invest a scarce minute of our precious time to better engineer fossil fuel use? If not us, who can deliver a turn-it-around solution for our children's sake? What might happen if we just say no to coal?

Are we young enough to care about their (our) future?
"Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now-w-w-w."
                                                                 My Back Pages, Bob Dylan

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Cities are ruining our cars

An article in Verge claims that "Self-driving cars are on a collision course with our crappy cities" as if to say cities are ruining the possibilities for our fancy new self-driving cars.

¡No! Au contraire, cars are ruining our cities! Letting Google be the driver won't change that. In fact, it could get much worse.

Consider the author's statement of the obvious: "[R]ide-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, are shockingly creating more traffic problems than they are curing," as if to say this fact could somehow be fixed if cities would only do things differently.

¡No! An on-demand taxi service carrying one passenger will deliver less than 1 person per vehicle-mile (km) by definition: the back seat has to be empty ("dead-head") en route to picking up the fare-paying passenger. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Fossil Fuel Free Nations

Several nations have declared their intent to become fossil-fuel-free. In this post you can find websites and news articles with more details about this international movement.
NOPEC The theme of Non-Oil, Power-Exporting Countries ("NOPEC") was first presented online in 1989:
Several papers about NOPEC and the goal of 100% renewable energy have been presented at ASES and ISES conferences, and in Solar Today magazine since that time:
Several organizations have been helping to organize international commitments to 100% renewable energy:

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Wall. How Tall?

The Donald wants to build a wall and he wants them to pay for it.

What a pity. If they pay for it, they will own it. If they own it, they will make billions!

The Donald wants to give away all the profits that could have been destined for America. And he wants to build it 30-40 feet high. That's to be expected from a man who thinks small, but there's little profit to be made in such a limited and limiting project.

Let's be ambitious. Let's build a wall 30-40 stories tall, from Tijuana / San Diego to Matamoros / Brownsville, something like this: 

Linear City architecture by Gilles Gauthier
Linear City architecture by Gilles Gauthier
We're talking about 1,989 miles (3,201 kilometers) of linear city.

This is not a new idea...

Roadtown, 1910
"I would take the apartment house and all its conveniences and comforts
out among the farms by the aid of wires, pipes and of
rapid and noiseless transportation."
Edgar Chambless, Roadtown, 1910

And there's plenty of support for the idea, including City Mayors from around the world.

Along the Rio Grande, it could look like this...

Arcosanti along the Rio Grande by Paulo Solari
Paolo Soleri
Now what does this have to do with solar nations? Well, take a look at this ...

Map of Mexico South of USA South of Canada

As you can see from the map, Mexico is south of the USA. So all the offices, shopping centers, condos, and podcar networks on the Wall will face south — from one end to the other.

Windows South from the Anasazi Mesa Verde to George Washington Thomas Jefferson
... and properly sized overhangs will shade the south-facing windows
from the high summer sun.
(See more at the Windows South website.)
Now you might ask how everyone in a high rise can have south-facing windows. Aren't half of the units going to face north?

Nope, not if we take Michael Graves' approach:

Michael Graves design
Grounds for Sculpture, Michael Graves

... which was modeled after Unite d' Habitation in Marseilles, the architectural scheme originally developed in 1952 by Le Corbusier:

... in which all units had both south and north façades.

You can learn more by exploring the Four Donkey Method of Bioclimatic Design.
Plus there will be Solar Skyways running continuously along the entire route, eliminating the need for Mexican Oil ... or oil of any sort, for that matter.

And Solar Powered General Transportation's podcar platoon


The election hasn't happened yet, so the future of "the wall" is to be determined. For now, I can say this much:
  • The expansion of a border wall is ludicrous – and an environmental disaster to boot. 
  • On the other hand, more livable border cities? Well that might be worth further consideration.
  • Solar-oriented buildings (along the border or otherwise) will bring greater comfort and reduce border tensions.
  • Solar transportation will help the energy transition (whether in linear cities or where you live now).
  • Good design can give bright, sunny, comfortable living spaces featuring functional, effective south and north facades.
  • If, in order to pass through the border, you must have dinner with someone living in the linear city, then people on both sides will become better neighbors. 
Let's build solar powered cities, along the border and beyond!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The US DOT-Advocacy or monopoly?

We have a lot to think about...
An Act in Relation to Removal of Obstructions to Navigation in the Mouth of the Mississippi River
"What a vast field would the exercise of this power open for jobbing and corruption! Members of Congress, from an honest desire to promote the interest of their constituents, would struggle for improvements within their own districts, and the body itself must necessarily be converted into an arena where each would endeavor to obtain from the Treasury as much money as possible for its own locality.  The temptation would prove irresistible."

President Buchanan's veto message, February 1860
Eight presidents have proclaimed foreign oil to be an enemy.

The US Department of Energy has a "sustainable transportation" program within its EERE Office. Is there money for sustainable transportation within that program?

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies$105 m
Bioenergy Technologies279 m
Vehicle Technologies468 m

What do you think?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Disruption is 10X – Innovation is 2X

In Silicon Valley we hear a lot about innovation. It is the mantra for entrepreneurs, managers, engineers, educators, even our local politicians.

Disruption >> Innovation

What's a little harder to see is disruption to the entire order. We are so used to change in Silicon Valley that we don't always see how fast a complete transformation shifts into place ... or what it takes for that shift to happen.

Since I first heard Bucky Fuller explain the essential discipline of doing more with less, shifting from "fossil fuels" to renewable energy has been the obvious answer for me. I still regularly encounter skepticism, but that's normal for those of us who act upon the pressing need for clean energy.

One person who has done an excellent job of articulating this need and the opportunity it represents is Tony Seba [video]. He calls it Clean Disruption [slide deck]. Clean disruption goes far beyond clean innovation. Echoing that sentiment in the context of becoming Solar Nations, it's high time for humanity to make an about-face, to abandon fossil fuels, not only because it's necessary but also because it's more effective, and more economical ... by far.

Tony sees the big picture. It's not hard, after all. Here's how he laid it out for transportation in his presentation (slide #70):

3D - Clean Disruption of [Transportation]
©2016 Tony Seba
Well, if you look closely, you will notice that he has actually drawn vehicles for a 2D world where the configuration driver is still rubber tires on asphalt (a variation on the theme of fossil fuels, a substance that breeds potholes in the end). And the Law of Conservation of Momentum still holds, dictating that sooner or later, energy efficient, asset utilizing, autonomy capable cars will still bump into things. (Ouch!) And because of that, they can't go very fast, either. They gotta watch out for people and things on the ground.

In the modern 3D city, transportation will soon become 3D too, something like this:

The Solarevolution™
Come the Solarevolution, solar-powered, automated, non-stop, elevated podcars will run on high strength steel lasting 10X longer than asphalt -- and cheaper. The pods will weigh 10X less than Teslas. (They don't have to carry lots of heavy batteries and be built like tanks to protect their occupants.) The pillars will require 1000X less land area than cars, freeing up the ground level for human activity.
4D - Clean Transportation
(with apologies to Tony Seba)
Ooops.... Excuse me while I make a little adjustment...
Ahh, that's better.
So now we have room in our cities for people, pets, pedals and petals!
4D Transportation as if people mattered

And travelers win too. Because elevated vehicles can't hit people, the passengers in podcars zooming overhead will get to where they're going much faster.

Now that's what I call disruption!

(Clean, too!)