SOLAR PANELS what do you think?

by Boken Hill Phil

With the current discussions re climate change & renewable energy should the goernments of the world enforce (through legislation) that all new buildings constucted have solar panels & wind generators installed that supply at least 80% of the predicted electrical usage of that particular building..... what do you think???

Lina's response from Yahoo!Answers

Not all building sites will have enough of a solar or wind resource to make these technologies feasible, or cost-effective. So, integrating site analysis into the construction process can help determine what combination of energy sources are appropriate for a new building.

There are many types of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, including biomass, and geothermal. But by far, the most effective renewable technology is the practice of energy efficiency, and proper resource management. Construction practices that focus on reducing heating, cooling and electric loads and ensuring proper ventilation are key to sustainable living. Once buildings are well insulated, tight and efficient, renewable energy systems can be adequately sized, and produce as much or more than the building needs.

There are a few issues to keep in mind though - first, while renewables are the way to go, the manufacturing processes and transportation costs still produce waste and pollution (embodied energy). Also, we need to transition to a "smart" electric grid that uses modern digital technology and is reliable, efficient and secure. For areas where individual buildings cannot generate all their power due to site restrictions, the local municipality or coops can opt to either buy or generate clean energy from green suppliers, or procure their own power.

I think legislating new construction codes would work well along with subsidies for clean technologies, but hitting the 80% mark may be too aggressive to start. The bottom line is to affect the bottom line ($ in your pocket), and make it attractive to install these technologies. Maybe this could turn out to be like FDR's New Deal Programs during the Great Depression, where hundreds of thousands of jobs were created to build highways, schools, parks, and other infrastructure-related projects. Analogize to new green jobs in almost all sectors of the economy, but especially construction.

One final major point: remember that over 80% of the real estate inventory in the US is made of older and inefficient buildings...what about those? Retrofitting these buildings has been VERY challenging, with or without the government incentives. Improving older buildings is requires a lot of redesign, and is complicated and expensive.

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