June 4th, 2012

Ann Vole

Energy self-sufficient strategies

Energy self-sufficient strategies
To achieve the lowest "footprint" on the environment (and not just "carbon footprint" but land use, wildlife habitat loss, social costs, causes of war, various forms of pollution), my basic strategy is to try to eliminate anything from moving on or off the property including energy, food, pollution, garbage. Some of that is lifestyle choices but I figure most is design strategies of buildings as well as a significant influence being available tools such as a greenhouse. This post is just an overview and I will detail some of these later.

There are four strategies to achieve buildings designed for self-sufficient living:
1) need less including:
-Make the building smaller and more compact
-Use day-lighting needs to size and place windows
-water use reduction
-efficient appliances
-make your own food
-work at home or close to home
-smaller vehicles
2) use less including:
-high insulation, "super windows" and air-tightness
-condo designs to reduce outside walls
-grey water recycling
-very high-efficiency appliances
-selection of lower embodied-energy foods
-efficient vehicles
3) storage of energy:
-daily thermal storage
-annual thermal storage
-thermal storage for other needs (oven, refrigerator, hot water)
-high-quality energy storage (batteries, pneumatic air tanks)
-gravity-fed water pressure and sewage handling
(active system parts timed for available energy sources)
-food storage
-electric or pneumatic vehicles
4) make your own:
-passive heating and cooling strategies
-active renewable energy collection (solar panels mostly)
-rain capture and treatment
-greenhouse for food and pre-heated oxygenated air

I listed these four strategies in a particular order as following this order will result in the lowest cost for what you achieve (with the ultimate goal being complete self-sufficiency).
Ann Vole

Energy self-sufficient strategies: Architecture

I will try to stick purely with building function in this post with the building's primary function being to create an artificial environment at room temperature, about 30% relative humidity and with fresh-smelling air. Also note that the lettered items only apply to the individual posts and not the whole thread.

1) need less:
a) A camping trailer has a small heater and almost no insulation but still heats up fine simply by being so small. We have to learn how to build more compact homes and how to enjoy such homes.
b) hallways and storage areas need to be heated or cooled less then rooms that people actually stay in. These areas can be located along outside walls and for cooling-dominate homes, the south and west sides or for heating-dominate homes, the north and east sides (or west side if temperature swings are an issue).
c) timed thermostats and occupancy testing thermostats can be used to only use heating and cooling when there is actually someone in the room to enjoy it.
d) zoned heating and cooling can single out certain rooms to be controlled or change the rate of control for rooms such as a kitchen compared to a bedroom.
e) if a heating or cooling system is needed, make sure it is the smallest size that will do the job or even too small with a back-up option because these units are most efficient when running at maximum.
2) use less:
a) keep the heat or cool in the house with air-tight design (including air-tight between floors to stop "stack effect" and between rooms to stop wind-powered flow through a house)
b) keep the heat or cool in the house with higher levels of insulation
c) use ventilation systems with heat exchangers to keep the heat or cool in the house while still allowing for fresh air. Ventilation systems can also reduce air pressures on walls that force air through the walls. By putting separate heat exchangers in each floor or even each room, pressures like "stack effect" and wind can eliminated making for much higher efficiency. Occupancy testing can also be used to decide when to turn on fans for more fresh air.
***at this point, I go to #3 and #4 if I want to be energy self-sufficient before returning to the following #2 items
d) radiant heating and cooling FEELS more like the desired temperature irregardless of the actual air temperature. The use of radiant heating and cooling usually results in thermostats being set at less use (cooler heating-season settings, warmer cooling-season settings).
e) condensing fuel burning heaters use far less fuel.
f) heat pumps can provide more heating then the energy used. Whether it is used for heating or cooling, heat pumps are far more efficient if they are using a heat sink closer to the desired controlled temperature so "ground source" or "geothermal" heat pumps are the most efficient.
3) Store energy:
a) Some standards like "Passivhaus" make the house so efficient with #1 and #2 items that no heating or cooling systems are needed. If at this point you do need heating or cooling, plot the needs against the available sources of those needs. This may include temperatures found daily or even just temperature swings within a single space. In these cases, heat or cool can be stored for controlling temperature swings or storing night cool for cooling in the day or daily heat for use at night.
b) if the shortfall in heating or cooling spans a year rather then a day, annual heat storage can be the answer. Passive versions of this include partially or completely underground buildings with a buried insulation "umbrella". Active systems can be used too ("active" means the heat/cool transfer fluid such as air or water is pumped) but require storage of either the transferred annually-stored heat or cool on a daily basis (when moved by solar-powered pumping) or store the energy to run the active systems when that energy is made at different times then the use.
c) Active systems like pumps, fans, and controls need high-quality energy so are either operated when high quality energy is available (windy for wind turbines or sunny for solar panels) and the results stored or the high quality energy is stored in forms like batteries, hydrogen fuel cell systems, or pneumatic air pressure storage.
4) Make your own:
a) Passive heating with south-facing windows and passive cooling with ventilation, strategic shading, or growing grass on the roof can usually meet all your energy needs without anything to break down or wear out.
b) Active systems in connection with storage can be powered entirely during the day when solar energy is available or powered by wind when the wind is blowing.
c) renewable fuels can be used such as wood, crop residues or low quality grain, bio-fuels, or dung.
Once you have decided to use an active renewable energy source or a renewable fuel, return to the second part of #2 for better ways of delivering the heat or cool (and continue into #3 for storage options)
Ann Vole

9 physical societies: name ideas

Based on my post "9 physical societies":
I will brainstorm possible names for these groups

"Crash Bang Labs Inc" and "Saskatchewan Filmpool" are already formed and named.

animator hacker space: This is not necessarily for animators but will have a lot of animation equipment. Much of this equipment has been replaced in part by computer technology but these techniques and tools have been refined to make very rapid art with low effort. Instead of throwing all that out or rejecting the new technologies, I wish to marry the old methods with the newest technologies to come up with ways of making lots of images very quickly. One activity could be to take a classic story (like Little Red Riding Hood) and everybody make a 16 page children's picture book with newly created images as a contest for who did it first, who has the most interesting design strategy, who's art looks the most difficult to make, who has the best DOP (director of photography) style, etc. I like the name of the Calgary-based animation society I was involved with "Quickdraw Animation Society". "Quick" synonyms will be key and image synonyms should be involved. "Animation" does not need to be included but it would be good to infer it in the name as the creation of animation using physical art work or motion capture or video manipulation will be a common activity.

energy self-sufficient building enthusiasts (or educational institute): My previous thinking came up with the combination of a color for "sky blue" and a name connected with "platypus". This is based on the animal incorporating all the major design aspects within it's physiology and "keeping our skys blue" to be a battle cry. I was amazed at how many fictional platypus characters are blue and that every shade of blue I tried was already associated with the word "platypus" already... including educational groups to do with environmental issues!

Vehicle and bicycle hackers: Many hacks will be conversions to electric or pneumatic. Rat-rods is a traditional term for a hacked vehicle but specifically a minimalist design strategy. Hot-rods are the opposite in that the hacked vehicle is made extra flashy including over-the-top extras. Both strategies are welcome suggesting "rod" should be included. My personal goals in vehicle hacking are mobile living and green lifestyle with a bit of a high-security angle. I dislike the term RV (Recreational vehicle) as I do not see it as a recreation as much as a gypsy-inspired lifestyle. You can see the range from fold-up bicycles to motor homes that that the only things in common are mobility and wheels. Some modification magazines use the term "rodder" to describe their readers.

(I am skipping some items here)

Self-publishing equipment co-op: I figure it does not have to just be books but deal with the creation of multiple physical copies of any media form (including computer software, CDs, DVDs, board games, greeting cards, toys, maybe even electronics assembly). Making the equipment for unique types of books will be the focus though (I assume... without a group yet, it is hard to say what the prospective membership will want to make). I like the word "scribe" as in someone in ancient times that wrote books by hand but that is not the direction of what makes this group valuable. "Press" eludes to both the printing press and the process of making vinyl records and suggests the embossing that I would love to include in some of my children's books. This group might also be merged with the rapid image creation group mentioned above ("animator hacker space") but the equipment is unique.

OS hackers or AI hackers are geeks so the name can be cryptic and still be found by the right sort of people. Sliders are a common symbol to AI people (a shape-shifting graphic that moves in AI research using virtual worlds). Building your own OS generally means you already reject Windows, Mac, and Linux for your particular computer use so it might be good to avoid fruit and penguin references.