Sometimes it seems like deep green building is for the wealthy. Even a “for the masses” house in a zero-energy neighborhood in Boulder clocks in at more than $1 million. But now, Boulder County is trying to bring green — and the resulting cut in energy bills and increase in comfort — to those with fewer resources.
Boulder County’s Housing Authority, which helps low-income familes, seniors and people with disabilities find a place to live, is going seriously green.
The county finished the Paradigm Pilot Project in October. The tiny, near zero-energy development is only three units, but it’s the template for a much larger plan: a 153-unit green neighborhood.
When the cranes showed up at the property on Avalon Avenue last summer in Lafayette, they wrenched 13 giant boxes off the back of five semi-trucks and stacked them like Lego blocks.
When the cranes left, the connected boxes — which were already fitted with wood floors, cabinets, countertops and porches — had become the modern-looking Paradigm Pilot Project, a near-zero-energy, low-income pair of buildings owned by Boulder County. The tiny project can only house three low-income families, but it’s just a test run for the much larger green-building aspirations held by the county’s housing authority. Read more
In the world of solar, it’s just not that sexy.
It doesn’t make electricity like photovoltaic panels. It doesn’t warm water like solar thermal. It can’t run a giant steam turbine like concentrating solar power.
It’s just a big metal wall that relies on a ridiculously simple principle to harness the sun’s warming rays, massively reducing the building’s heating bills. And it’s coming to Boulder.
You might ask, if this “solar wall” technology is so simple, why didn’t anyone think of it before? And you’d be right — because it was thought of before. Solar walls have been around since the early 1980s when the energy crises of the 70s spurred a first solar boom. But they fell out of favor when fossil fuels got cheap again.
But retro solar walls are cool again. And oddly, it may have taken Wal-Mart jumping on the solar wall bandwagon to resurrect the technology. The mega-retailer slapped solar walls on its new supercenter in Aurora a few years back, bringing attention to the elegant technology (which can pay for itself in half a dozen years without rebates, tax breaks or other incentives). Read more