|An e-Newsletter for the Clients and Friends of C.T. Hsu + Associates, P.A.|
Global Warming: The Challenge for Architects
Far from tilting at windmills, former Vice President Al Gore is leading a worldwide debate on the importance of developing renewable energy alternatives to petroleum and natural gas, the leading producers of carbon dioxide and other gases that have resulted in a serious global warming phenomenon. “Many scientists are now warning that we are moving closer to several ‘tipping points’ that could – within as little as 10 years – make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable damage to the planet’s habitability for human civilization,” warned Mr. Gore, speaking at New York University’s School of Law in September.
With the debate now focused on what Mr. Gore has described as necessary “emergency solutions in order to avoid… catastrophic damage,” the American Institute of Architects has vigorously responded by:
Most people think about automobiles, not buildings, when the discussion turns to green house gas emissions and energy consumption. However, buildings account for 48 percent of U.S. energy consumption and generate far more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector, according to AIA President-Elect RK Stewart, FAIA. “We feel it is incumbent upon the architecture profession to alter its actions and encourage both our clients and the entire design and construction industry to join us in plotting a course of measurable changes that will improve the quality of life for everyone.”
Firm President C.T. Hsu agrees. Earlier this year, he was appointed to the policy advisory board of the Florida Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida, the largest and most active state-supported renewable energy and energy efficiency research center in the nation. Located on a 20-acre research complex at UCF's Cocoa campus, current research activities include solar water and pool heating, solar electric and distributed generation systems, energy-efficient buildings, alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel, fuel cells and other energy areas.
Renewable Energy Sources
One of the solutions suggested by Mr. Gore is to develop an “electricity and liquid fuels distribution network that is less dependent on large coal-fired generating plants and vulnerable oil ports and refineries.” Unlike fossil fuels which must be combusted to release their energy, renewable energy sources can be consumed without being destroyed. Doing so requires technologies to harness and store the energy produced from sources such as sunlight, wind, waves and geothermal heat.
Wind energy, for instance, is clean, abundant and renewable, and it can reduce the production of greenhouse gas emissions when used as a replacement for fossil-fuel. The technology uses wind turbines to harness the power of the wind and convert it into more useful forms of electricity. Globally, wind power generation more than quadrupled between 1999 and 2005. Following a mission trip to the United Kingdom in June led by the University of Central Florida, C.T. toured the Arklow Offshore Wind Power Plant. Transported by boat for an up-close look, C.T. and his wife Jean were impressed by the potential of the largest of these ever installed at sea: seven wind turbines, each with a rotor diameter of 104 meters and a swept area of 8,495 square meters. Collectively, the 25 megawatts of power generated by the wind turbines are serving the annual needs of 16,000 Irish households.
Meeting the Challenge
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also is joining the challenge by inviting architects to submit designs for projects that reach the EPA’s Energy Star energy efficiency targets by March 2, 2007. “While Energy Star is best known for its promotion of energy efficient appliances, it is also actively promoting reducing the energy footprint of the built environment,” said AIA federal regulatory affairs Manager Andrew Goldberg. “Taking the Energy Star Challenge is a great way for architects to design more sustainable buildings and receive much-deserved recognition for it.”
For more information visit:
|All images and articles copyright © 2008 C.T. Hsu + Associates, P.A.|
C.T. Hsu + Associates, P.A.