Taking it On: Architecture2030 Challenge
I am working on getting the word out about the Architecture2030 Challenge.
If you have not been to the Architecture2030.org website, I would request you to do so. Since October, I have been working to get the word out about this spot because of their proposition for energy usage reduction and the creation of new energy sources. They had hoped to present their ideas to President Elect Obama in the first 10 days of his Presidency.
We did not get enough votes to make the top 10 list for the President (change.org). I was disappointed at first, but then I thought if local Architectural firms are taking on the challenge, then why don’t I take on the challenge for my own home.
The Architecture2030.org challenge is that we take the energy use of buildings down 50% to cut our dependence on oil, gas and especially coal. If we did this as a whole country by changing building codes in our local areas, by the year 2030 there would be such a significant drop in energy usage and need, we would have plenty for the transportation industry, cleaner air, and huge drops in imports.
The Natural Gas and Coal industries do not like this idea at all and they would like to spend $200+ billion dollars a year to increase production by 1% (this would not increase jobs or help the environment). The numbers are staggeringly high for coal and oil with no increase in jobs. (See the Architecture2030 site for more specific details and numbers – they even have a power point presentation).
Then comes the 2030 plan which would create 1.6 million new jobs and lots of new products for a million plus dollars a year – This is truly a no brainer!
So after my initial disappointment, I decided to take on the challenge of 50% energy reduction in what I use in my own home. I would model and test how it could be done.
Here is where I started: We got a new heat pump for our residence and got rid of the 20 year old, very efficient furnace. We set the thermostat with its built in computer for different needs during the day. This action cut our energy usage by 18%.
I need to say that this action did not cut our bill at all because our local Energy Company was granted a rate increase, so we came in at over $50 dollars higher in billing per month than we were prior to the switch out. They charge us not only usage but also a $76 Enron legal fees charge on top of the rate increase.
I wish the Enron fee went to assist all those people who lost their retirement benefits and were cheated by the fraudulent practices.
My partner, who is a practicing green design architect, (www.bikingarchitect.com) planned the house so that it was efficient. By looking at insulation, roofing, light movement, recycled wood, air flow, building materials, and space usage in his retrofitting design he achieved this efficiency. He taught the contractors and carpenters how to do this work.
I put all of our entertainment center activities on smart strips (as seen on Oprah), so that there is no leaking energy from the music sector or the computer sector. We saw a drop in usage right away.
I turned everything off except the refrigerator, air systems, freezer and oven when we left for a week. We keep all appliances unplugged when they are not in use – so that they don’t leak energy.
I got all the catalogs cancelled through Green Dimes.org and got smaller recycling and garbage cans – they actually cut money off the bill.
I do all of my cooking on one day of the week and then just re-warm the food in the microwave oven using substantially less energy.
We turn off all the lights when not in use – easier when kiddos are not at home. We take very efficient showers and actually do more of that at our exercise center than at home.
We take advantage of cool spots in the house to store garden vegetables and fruits. We do use household energy to make juices.
I am researching new washer and dryers that are much greater in energy efficiency than our 20 year old pair which was very energy efficient for a large family. I am looking for a larger or growing family that needs this kind of savings at a used price.
I run full loads for the washer and dishwasher. Getting an outside clothes line saves us $60 a month during the warmest, driest days.
I am researching affordable solar panels and hot water heaters.
I would like to see a product developed which takes the massive amount of water flowing off the roof in a storm and mills it into a storage battery, which could run something within our household, and take us a bit more off the grid.
I purchase some things in bulk such as Gluten Free Flours , I measure the energy consumption of storage versus purchasing fresh from the Farmer’s Market and walking back and forth carrying only what I can carry. I keep the freezer full and blanket it when the weather is extremely cold.
I am working on exterior shades for the sky lights which will let the hot air out but not build up heat from the western sun. I put on a sweater or two when I am sitting writing and I get up and move often.
I signed up to get our Energy companies on line read out to save on paper incoming and I check my usage weekly. I want to know and I want to see what is working and what is not. We have switched to using energy efficient light bulbs years ago so I cannot truly measure that change right now.
The Energy Company says we are about 21% down in our usage at this week’s look.
So how about you? Could you take the Architecture2030 challenge and lower your usage by 50%?
Citizens did it with their cars in the last gasoline crisis! Though now we are creeping back up to older levels.
So what do you do to save energy? To monitor your usage? To change the world? Let me know – I look forward to your suggestions and ideas.
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