Ideas and Solutions for long term Affordable Housing projects
- Co-generation or district heating – is the use of a heat engine or a power station to generate both electricity and useful heat. Conventional buildings account for over 35% of the energy used in the developed world.
Conventional heating systems use more fuel, even though a project may use LEED certification, using heating oil for each dwelling will consume much more energy than a centralized wood pellet or bio-fuel co-generation system.
- Passive solar design – for all units and commercial spaces. Passive design includes small changes such as larger roof overhangs on the south side, direct and indirect solar gain techniques, roof pond systems, trombe walls and other simple technologies that will save money on heating and cooling. Passive solar technologies convert sunlight into usable heat, cause air-movement for ventilation or cooling, or store heat for future use without the assistance of other energy sources. Technologies that use a significant amount of conventional energy to power pumps or fans are classified as active solar technologies. Some passive systems use a very small amount of conventional energy to control dampers, shutters, night insulation, and other devices that enhance solar energy collection, storage, and use. Design changes include buildings that are elongated on an east-west axis can also provide greater solar exposure. By using Passive design the energy costs of the buildings are lowered further than what LEED alone can provide. This will save energy for the life of a project.
- Green rooftops – provide a natural solution to large scale water runoff problems, noise and air pollution and, offers a productive greater insulation while providing a green space that reduces carbon dioxide from man made sources.
- Cluster housing with shared walls, and shared resources, save energy and create community.
- Day-lighting (the practice of placing windows and skylights, light tubes with reflective surfaces, so that during the day natural light provides effective internal illumination), this brings in the natural sunlight, even to lower floors, and back rooms. This will eliminate, or reduce the need to run electric lighting in the daytime. Day-lighting provides healthy lighting for occupants with no ongoing or additional cost.
- Use of automated lighting controls (called occupancy sensors), which turn on and off lights if there is motion or occupancy, and not enough ambient light. Also we will use motion sensors for exterior lighting. These energy saving technologies are being used in many new buildings for interior and exterior lighting systems and these simple steps will save electricity over the life of the project.
- Use of LED interior and exterior lighting systems in 100% of your project, including the outdoor lights or wall packs. Outdoor lights are so often overlooked and play a major roll in energy consumption.
- Street lighting will all be LED style and should be on timers or motion sensors to use less electricity and not be always on. Streetlights can be PV powered (standalone) so less wiring and underground trenching will be needed. There are several very attractive low standing LED street light systems. LED street lamps do not have to be changed for 12 years when lit for an average 11 to 12 hours a day, which is twice the lifetime of regular high energy lighting. LED systems use less than 50% the electricity of conventional lighting.
- Use of geothermal energy (heat pumps) and air source heat pumps, (mini splits), to provide cost-effective heating and cooling for your project. Using the ground or air source for cooling is much more efficient than using air conditioning, and provides heat in the winter.
- PV Systems (Photovoltaic) solar electric should provide some portion of the electric needs. PV collectors can now be integrated right in the rooflines and often are very attractive. While the most efficient collectors are on trackers that pivot to follow the sun, one can cover more area on a roof and generate as much electricity for lower cost without using trackers. PV will offset energy used for this entire project; it will save electricity over the life of your project.
- Solar hot water systems and on-demand (tankless) hot water systems for units not serviced by solar hot water systems. These systems can be used together with on-demand as a backup. This will reduce costs, since only a cold water pipe is needed to supply remote bathrooms (less copper pipe), and in other cases where units would only turn on if the water was not heated by sunlight.
- Solar Cooking – commercial grade solar ovens, solar kettles and hot pots could compliment the shared kitchen space for this project, providing free heat for cooking meals. Home appliances are the world’s fastest growing consumers of energy, second only to automobiles. Items such as stoves, ovens, and refrigerators account for 30 percent of electricity use in industrial countries and 12 percent of their greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States, an estimated 5 percent of fossil fuel consumption is dedicated to the cooking and distribution of food. Using solar ovens could eliminate a portion of that energy expenditure. This may encourage more community suppers if the solar cookers were located in a common outdoor space.