Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gimme Shelter


Unless you are a farmer or one of the last rugged outdoors adventurers, 90 percent of your time on Earth is spent inside buildings. We are snails who don't know we are snails.

Naturally, we dream of the perfect home. That's a cheap day-dream. It's expensive to really do it. But the biggest cost, whether you build, buy, or rent - is the energy needed to run all these buildings. Eighty percent of the long-term cost of a building is energy use, not construction. And that is before peak oil and climate pressures really kick in.

Our electricity provider has already announced an increase of 25% over the next three years. Given the new oil demand from China, and more oil use by exporting countries, the cost of oil is just going to go up and up. Will it reach a point where you have to decide between heating or cooling your home or office, and eating? For some of our poorest citizens, that's already happening.

For you personal security in troubled times, and for national security, we need to slash the energy used in buildings. Did I mention that numerous studies show buildings contribute more than a third of carbon emissions to our overloaded atmosphere?

I'm Alex Smith. This Radio Ecoshock program is all about solutions. You will hear a prominent pioneer in the "Passivhaus" technique - buildings that use as little as 10 percent of the energy guzzled by our current structures. I'll interview architect Guido Wimmers, and tell you where to download two free passivhaus workshops. You'll get ideas that can revolutionize new building, and help guide renovations to existing ones.

We'll talk to another construction pioneer, Tom Pittsley. He's testing a super-low energy house in Massachusetts, where the windows grab solar power to heat the home, even in New England winters.

Then we'll listen in to another workshop, this time on a Net Zero building project in Ontario Canada. Jamee DeSimone explains how to use planet-friendly materials, including lots of straw, to make long-lasting energy misers. Again, you'll be able to download the full workshop, for free.

The building industry has been key to the economy in many countries. But many of the sky-scrapers and carbon-copy mansions won't survive Peak Oil and climate disruption. Already, as I explained in the Radio Ecoshock Show for June 6th, 2008 some of the old structures built during the cheap energy era are being torn down or retrofitted at a huge cost. I'll put a link to the program, called "Building Madness" in my April 1st blog for this show.

We can't afford to keep wasting massive amounts of energy, and we can't live in the future climate if we do. Join me, in this exploration of new ways to go, from the ground up.


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