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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.

Arch 2030 Logo

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.

If you liked this article please feel free to Stumbleupon or post it on Facebook or Twitter.

14 Responses to “Taking it On: Architecture2030 Challenge”

  1. Dot Says:

    Stumbled this! A very impressive list, including some things I hadn’t heard of, like smart strips. I’ve just been powering off my regular power strips, but the smart strips have more options as described in Amazon reviews if people are interested.

    Dots last blog post..Weird Tip Tuesday – Revive Old Paperbacks

  2. Davina Says:

    Fantastic Patricia. This is a great list. I haven’t heard of a lot of these ideas, so thank you for sharing. I’ll give this a tweet.

    Davinas last blog post..Blog + Comment = Win

  3. Jannie Funster Says:

    I am not doing near as much as you but I think unplugging our appliances when not in use would be a great start, followed by getting a clothesline and screens for the skylights. Even tho the latter are of low-e glass, shades woudl be a great idea.

    Thanks Patricia!

    Jannie Funsters last blog post..Ukulele Me!

  4. Friar Says:

    Regarding your wish to see something that collects water off the room and mils it into a storage battery.

    Sorry (I have to be an engineer here), but that wont’ work. There just isn’t enough energy.

    Say there’s a massive downpour. And you have 1 kg (about 1 quart) of water draining off your roof EVERY SECOND. And your roof is 10 meters high (a three story buidling).

    If you do the energy balance, that works out to only 100 watts of power.

    Take into account the loss of efficiency (of turning a turbine and converting it to electrical power) you’ll be lucky to get a fraction of that.

    And that’s for downpours. During regular rainfalls, you’ll barely generate enough power to run a fridge light.

    There just isn’t that much energy in falling water to make it worthwhile. Not on the small scale, at least.

    (That’s why you see huge water wheels or huge dams). It’s only on a large scale that it becomes practical.

  5. patricia Says:

    Thank you for the information about the Smart Sticks being on amazon.com. I think they are less expensive there than from the Oprah site…
    I liked how the people lowered gas prices themselves so am determined I can do more to lower our energy usage by 50% It does take some effort but we are getting there…and it revs up our problem solving skills..

  6. patricia Says:

    Thank you for the stumble and tweet!

  7. patricia Says:

    We can all do our best and keep adding things as we learn how, it is rather fun. And as you can see Friar says my water mill idea is not possible (My honey had the same response!) But I did read a great article about a lower cost Solar energy balloon catcher that works better than the panels on houses…keeping the idea door open!
    My honey says the same thing…www.bikingarchitect.com. So now I am investigating the small windmills that many city residents are using right now …and working on the Solar balloon too…which Honey says we can not afford.

    I just wished my Internet service would get fixed and not keep going up and down….117 calls and everyone is passing the buck – now this is a really big waste of energy…hmmm

    thanks for your comments and adding to the list

  8. Friar Says:


    Municipal water costs money and energy to produce…so you’d probably be just as good to just to collect the rainwater from your roof for watering the lawn or your vegetable garden.

    I guess you could say I’m saving a LOT of energy, because I don’t have any kids (who consume a lot of resources).

    So theoretically I could say I’m helping save the planet.

    Well, not really. That’s a matter of circumstance (not deliberate choice). Heh heh 😉

    Friars last blog post..Recent Update on Basil the Special Dog

  9. patricia Says:

    You are saving energy without children, I think the world doesn’t need so many children if it is going to survive.

    We do use rain barrels for roof run off to water the yard with, but we also have to let them run open when there are storms and run our 2 sump pumps to keep the bedrooms from flooding. That uses energy.

    I am trying to explore all the obstacles and keep moving through this zen proverb “The obstacle is the path” to keep me rejoicing in the exploration.
    Thank you for your good comments and ideas.

    Do you work in an isolated part of the country/ Canada? there is no relationship? too much snow? or bliss on the Internet? he, hee Just speculating here… 😉

  10. Friar Says:


    I work in a small town with one employer. Half the people are double-income married PhD professionals. The other half are local-yokels who’ve been together since 18, and they’re grandparents at age 36.

    I’m from “outside”. So I dunno where I fit in

    …(and maybe that’s a GOOD thing!) 😉

    Friars last blog post..Recent Update on Basil the Special Dog

  11. Dot Says:

    Unfortunately, architectural changes are expensive, and those of us who live in condos can’t make them anyway. I did look into building a solar panel and discovered that a 2 x 4 foot panel if kept in the sun for 24 hours might generate enough energy to charge one AA battery! I wish I could say that I’m doing a lot for the environment, but the truth is that even recycling is hard when you can’t drive. My neighbors are not crazy about driving my trash to the recycle center for me.

    As you probably know, Ed Begley, Jr., the former movie star, lives off the grid, and has made a lot of changes. Two interesting but difficult ones are that they use a composting toilet flushed with “gray” water (used bath water, for example), and they grow a vegetable garden on their roof, which provides great insulation.

    His website is at http://www.edbegley.com/environment/. In his Tips and FAQ, he says, “I hooked up my exercise bike to my battery array in 1990 and it’s still working great!”

    Dots last blog post..The Presidential Inauguration

  12. patricia Says:

    We can only do the best we can in our circumstances and you do well with your recycling books and finding the borrowing group for used books.
    It took our community nearly 10 years to get curb side recycling going and now they take kitchen scraps even…we have compost bins but yard waste pick up is on Mondays and they provide the containers. We just kept approaching the city to keep investigating and when we could prove that it saved the city much money they got in…they even do a program for schools and put out a newsletter.
    Seattle has a homeless shelter now with gardens on the roof, cleaning folks, laundry people and food …they have found this renovated approach to the mentally ill and alcoholics freezing to death on the streets is working better…folks can have their pets and it is saving the city thousands of dollars a month.
    It is fascinating to me that you are so close to Washington DC and our Capital is not a shining example of ingenuity.
    Solar panels are changing all the time…we just have to keep working on these these and researching . Ed Begley is very exciting stuff…as are the houses made out of corn cobs and mud in Vancouver BC…
    We just need to keep it on focus!
    Thank you for commenting and keeping the discussion going forward…

  13. Dot Says:

    I’ve come to discover that DC is a collection of folks from all over America, and many of them are congressional staff from areas where modernity has yet to reach. Organic food, for instance, is just starting to take hold. It’s shocking, considernig how close we are to New York, but this is really a very provincial city, and a very southern city.

    Dots last blog post..The Presidential Inauguration

  14. patricia Says:

    thanks for adding to the conversation here…I found Washington DC to be very traditional and Southern is a good way to think about it too. I have to keep in mind that it is drummed into out heads that organic is more expensive and I am sure Washington DC is an expensive city to live in….What all the folks I listen to are saying that organics are not more expensive and if they are not trucked in or flown in they can be even less money in season.

    The savings in health care for my family has been phenomenal. Princeton is very close to NYC and Einstein lived there, but I found it to be one of the most traditional, provincial places I had ever lived.

    Bill Moyer’s Journal did a series on food recently that was very amazing.