Archive for July 2015

Read part 1 and part 2 of the Sustainable Homebuilding mini-series.

The Boulevard Collection - Solar-Powered Townhomes in Bellflower, CA by City Ventures

The Boulevard Collection – Solar-Powered Townhomes in Bellflower, CA by City Ventures

So last time I left off with a discussion about the supply and demand for energy from a household.  All the energy to 99% of the households in our country come from electricity and natural gas.  Natural gas is considered a much cheaper and efficient energy source that supposedly doesn’t harm the environment.  The problem is that it really only supplies the energy for our furnaces, our hot water, our cooking, and our clothes drying.  All the other energy a household requires for ALL OTHER needs is supplied by electricity.  That electricity, unlike natural gas , is anything but “natural”.  Its generated by a number of resources.   Most is generated by using another resource that is “burned” to create the current.  Namely coal and oil.  The burning of both of those resources has a negative effect on the environment and is non-renewable.

I think we all get that.

The energy we create is the “supply” of energy.  The energy we use as we go about the process of living in our homes is the “demand” for energy.  Someone asked me the other day that “isn’t the ultimate goal of the Green Movement to have the supply of energy meet the demand for energy for every home”.  I told them it already does.  If you turned on every light, filled every plug with a running device, ran your air conditioner 24/7, supply would still meet that demand.  The issue for the Green Movement is that the supply needs to come from a source that not only doesn’t affect the environment in a negative way but also comes from a truly renewable source of energy.  Burning a lot more coal or oil to supply the energy your household demands when everything is turned on and plugged in is NOT what the green Movement is about even though the supply meets that demand.

The “Green Movement”, “net zero energy”, “sustainable” world, (take your pick on what word or phrase you like best), wants the supply of energy to meet the demand of energy but the key difference is that the supply has to come from the same source that demands it.  The house both supplies energy and demands it.  If they equal then we have true sustainability, true net zero energy, true achievement of the Green Movement.

This world is moving very fast and here’s where it’s headed.  Last time I mentioned that solar technology is getting MORE powerful, requiring LESS space and is getting MUCH cheaper every day.  I talked about how originally I thought that the demand side of each household would improve with technology and supply would not need to get more powerful.  As it turns out getting more and more powerful solar systems on homes is happening at a fairly rapid pace.  Much like the computer chip in the 1980’s it’s easy to see that the supply of energy that a rooftop solar system can provide will easily meet the demand of any household.  And do so for a reasonable price while taking up less and less space.

It took me a while to get what I wanted the point of this Blog to be but I’m here now.  Right now the rooftop solar system City Ventures supplies to all of our solar all-electric homes generates 2KW of power whenever the sun hits it directly.  100% of the power that the home demands when the system is generating power is taken care of by the rooftop system.  If no one is home during the day then that power goes into the grid.  The power company essentially buys that power from you by using a net metering concept.  The amount of power you generate is credited towards your meter.  Then when you get home and start using power, the meter starts debiting.  At the end of the year you get a bill for the difference of the amount generated less the amount demanded.

In the real world today that number always has a positive balance.  In other words you basically never generate MORE energy than you use.  It’s always in the power companies favor.

That will soon change.

If the energy you generated during sunny days could be stored so that you could use it when you got home, then there would be no question that what you supply would be DIRECTLY offset by what you demand.  The power company would never get it first.

That’s what’s coming next.  It’s still early but like solar panels, it’s happening pretty fast.  At some point soon, and I and assure you City Ventures will stay on the cutting edge, your home will generate 100% renewable energy from the sun during sunny days, store it in home battery systems, and then be the supply of energy when people need it.  For a while the grid will still be needed in emergency cases but over time the grid will disappear as a necessary source of energy for all new homes.  The home will BE that supply of energy and as long as demand stays equal to or less than supply, and it will given the pace of solar technology, all new homes will have attained true net zero energy and be 100% sustainable.

Mother Earth will be so happy.

Until next time,

Herb

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The Green Builder’s Journal is written by Herb Gardner, President of City Ventures Home Building Group. Herb has 30 years experience managing the building of residential and apartment communities in over 60 municipalities in 3 different states.

A big proponent of in-fill communities and the urban lifestyle Mr. Gardner has extensive experience in all aspects of residential home building, ranging from land acquisition to warranty management, he specializes in managing teams of people in delivering communities on time, on budget and to the quality standards the marketplace demands.

For Questions, Feedback or observations you can Click here to Email Herb

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