ruminations about architecture and design

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

the 2030 challenge and various laws of thermodynamics

Towers of ilium is in favor of the 2030 challenge. I'm also interested in squatting 1000 lbs. I don't expect either goal to be achieved, but the purpose of some goals is to remind us of the clear sunrise on the shores of some mythical paradise. We are an optimistic and ambitious species, able to deny thoughts of decay, destruction, and death in spite of the overwhelming evidence...Oh sod off on that topic--where was I?

Oh yes, architecture cannot achieve the the 2030 challenge--which requires that all buildings be carbon and energy neutral in sixteen years. Some building types, like high density residential, will come close to this goal, but I do not see how it can be applied to all structures. I will note several obstacles:

-Political: Promises can be made and broken by any government. More likely, most governments will ignore the challenge entirely because they will have other priorities.
-Energy Sources: Fossil fuels will be moderately priced and relatively abundant for the next several decades. Renewables will not have a price point that can consistently beat traditional energy systems.
-Architects, Clients, and Users: Building design and usage can only squeeze so much blood out of a thermodynamic stone. Renovation projects in particular do not allow for a blank slate retrofit of enclosures or systems to the degree that would meet the challenge. Most alterations are done piecemeal and on tight budgets.

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