Cost of Energy

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Any discussion on buildings would do well to start with energy and its cost, both in terms of monetary value and carbon footprint.

In the past we have built our environment using technologies and designs that assume a plentiful supply of low cost energy, an approach driven partly by the promise (in the early 60's) of boundless nuclear power.
"The recent proliferation of technology, cheap accessible energy sources and exciting new materials have encouraged us to solve building problems differently" warns Chris Reardon, who goes on to make the telling statement that sustainable buildings are not new at all, but rather a lost art. An art that was honed years ago during an era of expensive and limited energy.

Should oil reach 250 $ a barrel then we certainly will be back living in this era !

Some will see changes to they way we currently build as a step backward, while other will see this merely as a better way of living, a way of frugal living that has sustained generations before us.

And that's what this blog will be about - a pragmatic look at the art of building management and building control in this changing world, and the flows of energy in and out of buildings.

Profitable buildings, bankable building designs, and even marketable buildings are simply all about energy and its management.

Is green building all about returning to olden ways?
If sustainability is a lost art, rather than a new art, does this mean we must based our designs on the past?
The challenge is that in the past the world's population was smaller - so we need to ask if design methods of the past apply to mega-cities of 20 million people?
Or should we, as ever before, expecting technology to save us? Perhaps, but it seems that we will need to revisit the morals and ethics of bygone days as well.
Being a South African it makes sense then to look to the San people (the Bushmen ) of Southern Africa. Genetic evidence suggests they are one of the oldest peoples in the world. What can we learn from them, and from the way they lived? They certainly did not have the pressure cause by too many people in too little space so they may not be the best example of sustainable living for today's generation either.

TDDs, solar tubes by any other name
The US building industry has elevated solar tube skylights to a higher level by including them in their design specifications ... so this means that they can now be taken seriously by all.

Given a new name Tubular Daylight Devices (TDD), any device that collects daylight and then pipes is into a space for eventual distribution by a diffuser is a TDD. This would include 3M's range of light pipes and even fibre optic light pipes.

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