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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Good Blog from the Better World Club

We would agree with their assessment that global warming has, indeed, inspired some true creativity.  See what you think:

Global warming inspires art, insight, and innovation.

Do You Buy It?

Do you remember those beautiful hot summers when a tall glass of iced tea could get you through a hot day? Well, apparently, you’d have to be under 28 to remember “below average” temperatures.  For the rest of us, can help you remember with some art generated from global temperature data. Yes, our good old definition of “HOT” is being redefined on a daily basis, and those now-deemed-“below average” days may not be coming back for a while.  The extra downside of this upshot in hotter temperatures (face melting withstanding) is a greater use of energy, which, as you know, means an increase in the production of GHG’s from the power plants (around 80% coal) fueling our efforts to cool off in our homes, factories, stores, offices, and cars (yes, your EV often runs off coal), running even in park for just a few moments more of blissful, cool air. 
Fun Fact: For residential homes, a 1.6 degree Fahrenheit increase in average temperature currently results in decreased residential space heating needs by 6 to 10 percent and increases space cooling needs 5 to 20 percent. About 58 percent of residential energy use is for heating and cooling. (You can read another study on Seasonal energy use based on roofs it if you like)

There is, however, an upswing to our current climate problems.  Good news can be found in free market innovation.  Manufacturers of medical saline bags have begun considering getting into the sports drink market.  Talks between medical manufacturers, the hydration technology company Gatorade, and Unilever’s pretty-well-independent Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream are devising potential tasty and electrolyte engineered coolant products for intravenous consumption. 

Consumers are practically demanding this innovation.  Market speculators have noted our continued investment in single serving bottles of cooling liquid products – occasionally seeing bottles attached to small, easily broken plastic fans at sporting events or festivals – so the leap to both inject and projection of corporately owned coolant (formerly known as water) for personal temperature regulation was only a matter of time.  What does this mean?  Many of our daily habits are making our environmental problems worse.

On a more positive note, there is continued (and non-fictional) growing interest in eco/natural designs to cool buildings and mitigate the urban heat island effect of concrete cityscapes, simple designs like green (living) roofsgeothermal heating/cooling systems, and alternative energy sources (ahem, solarwindhydrowavealgae).  Organizations like Green Roofs for Healthy Citiescontinue working to increase the awareness of the economic, social and environmental benefits of green roofs and green walls, and other forms of living architecture through education, advocacy, and professional development.
While modern insulation designs and cheap fossil fuel prices keep energy costs down in temperate seasons, Green (Living) and white roofs have proven to decrease the annual cost of heating and cooling a building while also lengthening the lifespan of a rooftop (a much greater saving).  More than direct economics gains, living roofs have also proven advantageous though:  water runoff control (sewer flood reduction), water quality improvements , direct air quality improvements, urban biodiversity, noise reduction, and building amenity value, (and added human happiness – proven).  And when it comes to heat island mitigation, green roofs maintain surface temperatures as low, or lower than, white roofs.

Living roofs are not a new idea, but they are a relatively new return to our architectural consideration.  Imagine what your downtown area would look like with living roofs (Granted, desert plains will not be so green, but imagine…). Maybe your city and property owners are already doing a great job.  If you like what you see, thank someone.  If not, consider talking to your neighborhood property owners, neighborhood/city planning commissions, mayors and aldermen (and women) about living roofs and what can be done to liven up your rooftops. Have a perfect roof pitch? Consider greening up your own roof as an example. 
Green.  It looks good on you.

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