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SolarOne: Solar 2
Sarah Rich, 7 Jun 06

photo.solar2.south-view.jpg On New York's East River in Stuyvesant Cove Park, a former brownfield site has become a community center for arts and education, housed in a solar-powered building known as Solar 1. Solar 1 opened in 2003, a small but ultra-green building that uses distributed energy and features sustainable elements such as CFLs, waterless urinals, low-VOC paint and Linoleum flooring.

Now Solar 1 is now being replaced with Solar 2, which will be a "net-zero" building, much larger than the original, at 8000 sq. ft., and certified LEED Platinum. The features on the Solar 2 include:

* Geothermal Heat

* Energy recovery ventilation and Natural Ventilation

* Rainwater collection

* A Living Machine®

* Law-wattage fixtures

* A Green Screen (using botanicals to create natural shade and control temperatures)

Visitors to Solar 2 will experience first-hand what it means for a building to have minimal impact on the environment. Making their way through the building, visitors will experience building systems directly and through a series of interactive exhibits that would evolve with changing technologies. A visitor might view a green metropolis in the future or purchase products on-line from a hardware store that deals exclusively in “green” products.

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Law-wattage = low-wattage?

Posted by: Ryan on 7 Jun 06

while there is no denying the value of minimizing the entry of heat within the building in summertime, in no way could it ever be thought of as cooling or controlling temperature. That line of reasoning is for under educated or illogical people who don't understand physics.

The vast majority of the time, the best you can hope with non-refrigeration techniques is to minimize the delta between the outdoor and indoor temperature. Even evaporative techniques such as swamp coolers, useful only in extremely arid regions, have a relatively minor effect at the expense of making the local environment were humid.

remember, physics dictates reality and if you aren't moving heat and large volumes of it from one place to another, it's going to be hot no matter where you are.

personally, I will always use air-conditioning at home and in car. In car because it gives me better mileage (less wind resistance and turbulence) and increasing driving safety because like everyone, heat and road noise makes me lose focus and increases stress which in turn leads one to higher accident rates.

At home, AC stays because it lets me work. While at the pleasant thought to shut down for weeks at a time during the summer when the heat is bad, I nor my customers can afford that like to shut down. On the plus side, I only chill 2 rooms (office and bedroom) during appropriate times of day.

if you want to change anything about energy consumption in the summertime, change work habits so offices can shut down for weeks at a time when warm, and change dress codes so one can dress appropriate to the weather and not be considered unprofessional".

this is a backwards way of saying "develop a model for the energy costs of traditional business wear (suits etc.). Also calculate the costs of keeping businesses operating when the exterior temperature is above 80 degrees and figure out whether it is cheaper to run air conditioning or send workers home.

another interesting but admittedly completely off-topic puzzle is how many empty subway cars miles must you accumulate before the overall energy use by public transportation equals that of private cars.

Posted by: Eric S. Johansson on 7 Jun 06

This is by no means intended as an attack, but it always amuses me when people think of 25 deg C as being hot. I live in Cape Town. It was 26 degrees outside the other day, in the middle of winter. During summer, the temperature routinely reaches above 30 degrees.

On a more sober note, we can build buildings such that, while not necessarily lower in temperature than the ambient temperature, are certainly much more livable, without resorting to air conditioners. Look at the Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe -,_Harare - as an example.

Posted by: Frank Shearar on 8 Jun 06

Thermal comfort depends on the interaction of many factors, including temperature, humidity, activity level, clothing, etc. Groundbreaking work on this was done by Danish researcher P. Ole Fanger back in the 1950's. I helped write a computer program to predict thermal comfort when I worked at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab back in the 1980's; the code is still probably in use there. Many environments can be comfortable at or above 30°C if clothing is appropriate and humidity is low. In the U.S., we could save vast amounts of energy is we instituted sensible dress codes and more importantly, if engineers focused more on dehumidification and less on chilling air. There are ways to assist AC dehumidify, including dessicants.

One of the most powerful and overlooked influences on thermal comfort is the mean radiant temperature of your surroundings. The sun's heat reaches us as radiant energy, not directly as a warmed fluid. Likewise, being surrounded by relatively cool surfaces increases our comfort, even if fluid (air) temperatures are relatively warm. (Of course, actual comfort depends on a complex balance of many factors.) One reason we often have the AC on in a car is because the mean radiant temperature of the metal and glass surrounding us is high, not necessarily because the air is too warm and muggy.

In a building, appropriate shading and radiant barriers to lower mean radiant temperature, dehumidification with chillers, earth tubes, dessicants, etc., and light clothing can do wonders. Other techniques such as displacement ventilation (slow air movement beginning at floors instead of high-velocity air from ceiling diffusers) does even more.

Thermal comfort for hot humid places is a tough problem, but brute-force AC is not the only answer.

Posted by: David Foley on 8 Jun 06

What does it mean that they're replacing Solar 1 with Solar 2? Are they tearing S1 down or just moving operations to a the new S2, leaving S1 for other tenants? I hope that Solar 1 will still exist as a building, because it would be a shame to be replacing green buildings with greener buildings when we should be replacing non-green buildings.

Posted by: Sam on 8 Jun 06

I work at Solar One (thanks for the press, Sarah!), so can begin to clear up some confusion.

To Sam's q- Solar 1, the standing building in which I'm sitting right now on a computer powered by the sun, will not be torn down, but rather carefully disassembled, and moved to another location here in NYC (early ideas are South Bronx or Harlem). No worries, we'd never destroy this cozy home. (And cozy it is--as I type in my elevated loft space, there are 8 workers and a class of about 25 First Graders down below me--in a 500 square foot room. We look forward to a little more space as we grow as an organization.)

To Eric's point--it's largely an issue of semantics. We don't pretend to be expert physicists, but we think our engineers are. All we meant by "controlling temperatures" with a green screen was helping to reduce the amount of heat entering the building. Yes, it's a passive measure, and yes, I'm sure we'll have to augment it with some AC. Fortunately, the AC will be powered entirely by renewables. But we're trying to cut back on that need as much as possible. We're all in agreement here.

To Frank-
Not sure where you're getting your 25 degrees from, but NYC in the summer tops 30 celcius a bunch in the summer and 35 celcius on a healthy handful of occasions (more and more, it seems--hmmm). Like you said, no attack, just clarifications.

One point that Sarah didn't mention--we look very much forward to producing more power than we use, and to churning some back into our overtaxed ConEd grid. Would that more NYC buildings act as little renewable power plants!

Posted by: ben on 9 Jun 06

hey, fyi, solarone is organizing/hosting a summery festival thing called citysol on June 25, including lots of 'bright green' stuff to look at and learn about and probably buy as well as rad renewable-powered music from 'emerging NYC acts' including Parts & Labor, Japanther, and (my band) Big A little a, come out and holler@me/us if wcers are planning on attending!

Posted by: John Atkinson on 13 Jun 06



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