The easy way to go green

October 20, 2009 by David L. Chandler,

(PhysOrg.com) -- At last Friday's Energy Night at the MIT Museum, Dr. Keith Collins described his approach to fighting global warming with all the gusto of a really good insurance salesman. But Collins, who graduated from MIT in 1970 with a degree in political science, wasn't actually selling anything. He was just proclaiming to anyone who would listen just how easy it is to go green.

As one of the dozens of presenters at the annual event, which showcases the best in energy research, education and entrepreneurship from around MIT, Collins described a 700-square-foot house he built last year in Rockport, Maine, without any kind of a furnace, or even a fireplace. That might seem like madness or masochism in a place like New England, but Collins has data that show otherwise: Last year, the house not only used no additional energy beyond the sunlight that fell on its roof, but Collins actually was able to sell 5,094 kilowatt-hours — about what a typical house that size would consume over six months — back to the Central Maine Power company.

"I want to let people know that is practical and affordable today, with normal construction," he told one of the many Energy Night guests who stopped to chat with him.

The key to the house's is super-insulation. With walls built to R-40 insulation standards, the heat given off by the people inside the house is enough to keep it warm on all but the coldest days, and then it's supplemented by a fan blowing over coils of water heated by the on the roof, which provide all the house's hot water year round. provide all of its electricity. The extra costs of these measures, Collins explained, will be paid back through energy savings over the next 30 years. And none of it is rocket science, he explained: the idea was to use "state of the shelf" technology — that is, almost everything used in its construction is readily available on the shelves of any large building-supply store.

In one way or another, nearly every one of the several dozen posters, models and machines on display at Energy Night was, like Collins, also calling attention to some concept, small or large, of what's possible to aid the world's efforts to meet or curb its voracious appetite for energy, or to reduce or eliminate its environmental impact. Some were as modest as a replacement for a hearing-aid battery, others as large as an offshore drilling platform devoted to energy storage.

To help disseminate his message, every detail of the house's construction, and even a real-time display of its actual energy use and production, is available online. "This is my hobby and my passion," explained Collins, who, though he graduated nearly four decades ago, is an active member of the MIT Club.

Why is he so eager to share the details of his house? "My goal," he said, "is that my grandchildren grow up in the same climate that I did."

Provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (news : web)

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Rick69
not rated yet Oct 20, 2009
"The extra costs of these measures, Collins explained, will be paid back through energy savings over the next 30 years". And that is probably after considering subsidies from rebates,tax credits/deductions, net-metering, etc. My point is this is fine for a demonstration project to show that it can be done, but as a large scale application for the common joe, the costs to all of us would be astronomical. When these parameters can be achieved with paybacks of ten years or less without subsidies, then we will really be onto something. One other point, how many of us are willing to live in a house of only 700 square feet?
RayCherry
3 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2009
Lols. It is always the same response and yet if anyone thinks about it, it is such a lame response.

It is going to cost a lot of money, but how much are you willing to pay to ensure that your great grand kids have a habitable planet to live on at least, and at best to not have them paying to correct these problems completely at their expence, after you've left them this mess behind?

Nobody can avoid the expences of the changes necessary, but how much do you think is fair for our descendents to pay to make up for what we did not? Look at the mess our ancestors have left us in terms of polution. Do we just leave that mess for our descendents to deal with?

If you use unleaded fuel, recycle your plastics, replaced your CFC refridgeration system, changed your lead pipes for plastic or copper, share a car to work or use tap instead of bottled water ...

... then you already know the answer.

ArtflDgr
3 / 5 (2) Oct 21, 2009
Ray,
do you realize actually how large the planet is? do you realize that most of these horrible things have a short term time prefference tied to them?

funny stuff end of the world luddite malthusians...

i remember when the SAME people were pushing a catastrophic ice age was going to kill us and that we had to act right away... to do what? limit energy so that the world wouldnt become an ice ball.

then the world took the wrong tack on the weather, and so they switched and said. oh no, we are going to die of the heat. and what was the solutions? limiting energy so that we wouldnt cook ourselves.

now its turned to cooling again, the average joe hasnt kept up with the lag in time in research and publishing, and so they are going to have to say... oh no... ice age again...

meanwhile, the luddites tend to ahve this air of superiority that if they steal the money from the wealthy they can blanket areas of the earth with all manner of crap they wont like

ArtflDgr
1 / 5 (1) Oct 21, 2009
here is a FACT for you ray... ALL the pollution that the US has created since it was created can fit inside a cube only 20 miles on a side.

thats it... meanwhile, want to knwo what will soon happen NATURALLY from the free market?

they will say... hey, the amout of raw materials in a garbage dump exceeds the amount in a ore from the ground.

how long before our garbage dumps end up being the most valuable sources of raw materials on the planet? not more than a few decades..

so pollution isnt the problem it appears to be when you look at it with a short term camera that is stunted.

even nuclear waste isnt a problem if we had a lot more cheap energy which they have put the braks on for 30 years. the sun is a great clean disposal unit in the sky.

if you think in terms of 20k years, instead of one life time, the crap they are peddling dont work.

we are going to run out of materials but have a solar system with planets worth of material around us we can use.
ArtflDgr
1 / 5 (1) Oct 21, 2009
how much pollution if we move manufacturing to space? cant get there because they have throttles back energy.

did you realize that if we had really really cheap nuclear energy, the cost of making fuel by assembling molecules becomes cheap enough to produce fuel rather than use it up.

do you realize that right now, tons of people are cutting down trees to heat their homes because you greenies are causing oil to be more expensive than the tree down the road. its a HUGE country, cant police that.

and of course green favors china, who has the big polluting mines that are going to pull out the heavy metals to make green equipment.

or did you forget that green motors need Neodymium? green technologies use a lot of dangerous chemicals to make their final proucts!!!

so as the mines shut down for the things your familiar with, we are going to start tearing up new untouched areas cause they contain rare materials for green products

ArtflDgr
1 / 5 (1) Oct 21, 2009
Neodymium, samarium, platinum are all things used in green technology.

our new flourescent bulbs when made in the millions will end up bathing our population in mercury. thats real green.

green is a bourgesie luxury that can only happen when capital has been made in excess that people can make a choice. a wealthy person can make a choice to spend more of their hard earned capital and buy more expensive energy.

marginal living will NEVER bring such as people will revert to cheaper things to survive. when trees are gone, they will burn toxic plastic to keep warm.

there is a reason why greene is only in fully capitalist societies.

capitalists have disposable wealth they create in excess which gives them CHOICES, and you and others can CHOOSE to be green. we can choose to absorbe the cost.

subsitence communism never does that. but it sure lies about it. youc an visit the graves of my family and tell them about green communism and fascism. (ie feudal slavery)

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