the way we live

a greener los angeles

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the folks over at worldchanging have a great article on the initiatives underway by mayor villaraigosa in los angeles to turn l.a. into the greenest city in the united states.  it’s starting to look like mayor daley in chicago has some serious competition as he has been on the same push for a couple years now aided by eco-design guru william mcdonough.  regardless the goals set out by the l.a. mayor’s office are pleasantly progressive.  first and foremost, the city aims to increase the number of leed certified green buildings throughout l.a.  newer, greener, architecture would pave the way for alarmingly less energy consumption city-wide.  they also discuss generating 20% of their power by renewable technologies by 2010 (they currently generate only 6% this way), via wind, solar, and geothermals to name a few.  water conservation is high on the list, in fact, the l.a. department of water services is the largest consumer of electricity in the state.  transportation is being addressed in the form of major pushes to increase car pool lanes, bike use, and implement a real system of mass transit including light rail (they aim to have all the city’s buses running on natural gas by 2008).  other initiatives include converting 70% of their wasted into recycled materials (ie, diverting 70% of waste from landfills) by 2015.  finally, among other initiatives is the plan to plant 1,000,000 trees throughout the city.  these are some phenomenal ideas; i for one, sincerely hope this happens.  l.a. has so much going for it already if they can implement a true mass transit system and green themselves in these ways they can add model city to the list of los angeles descriptions.

12 February 2007 Posted by | architecture, green, society, urban planning | Leave a comment

desert solar power

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in the last post we discussed a newly planned and currently under construction offshore windfarm near galveston, texas, this time the story is about a new solar power plant outside of tuscon, arizona. the plant, currently in the planning stages, will generate 250 megawatts of power, enough to power160,000 to 200,000 homes in the southwest united states. the plan is a result of discussions between arizona public service, salt river project, and tuscon electric power and they are currently seeking approval from the necessary boards. most likely this solar farm will use a new type of architecture, something called solar parabolic trough technology rather than the more expensive photovoltaic cells (pv cells are still pricey because of the delicate nature of growing the required high grade silicon wafers used in capturing the light energy of the sun). rather the solar parabolic trough method uses parabolic mirrors that efficiently track the course of the sun throughout the daytime hours and concentrate the light on steel tubes coated with phase changing materials (pcms). these tubes absorb the heat into oil that runs through them creating heated oil at over 600 degrees fahrenheit. as this heated oil passes through a heat exchanger it is transformed into steam that turns a turbine generator. companies like solargenix are already manufacturing this new technology. just like the offshore windfarm i’m glad to see renewables actually catching on; i can’t wait until this sort of power generation becomes common place.

12 February 2007 Posted by | architecture, green, society | 3 Comments