Thursday, June 20, 2013

Performance Home designs presented at the Council

From October 2012 through April 2013 Ascent Systems Technologies in cooperation with Architecture and Technology Department of Thompson Rivers University conducted a students’ contest for the best design of the performance home for Sun Peaks Resort. 20 actual vacant Sun Peaks lots were chosen by the students. The competition was completed in April when Ascent Systems Technologies presented a cash prize for the best performance home design, while Sun Peaks Corporation supported the initiative by donating two ski passes to the author of the design which was the best accommodating the resort guidelines. Some of the best designs were presented at the Sun Peaks Municipal Council meeting at on June 24, 2013. The purpose was to show to the Council and to the residents the home built at Sun Peaks Resort can be energy-efficient, environmentally friendly and at the same time seamlessly integrated in the overall look of the resort. The presentation was received with great interest. 

Performance homes, together with other efforts undertaken by the Sun Peaks Municipality, will form part of the Sustainable Community concept at the Resort.   

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

From green buildings - to Green Planet

Amazing video from NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

It is so realistic - you almost want to touch it, but also want to be careful not to damage this fragile globe!

Monday, June 10, 2013

CaGBC Conference: Lessons Learned - Part 2

Another very important lesson, which confirmed what I have been becoming increasingly convinced in from my own experience - THERE IS PRACTICALLY NO PERFORMANCE MONITORING after the building or system has been commissioned. All kind of reasons can be put forward for that - from lack of time, resources to confidentiality considerations. However, sustainable technology and "green" industry can not evolve or even properly function without a feedback loop ! Lack of consistent real-life data is a major factor slowing down progress of the industry.

Here is what I propose should be done. A network of performance (a.k.a. "green" or "sustainable") buildings and facilities should be created. They should be connected via centralized online data and performance optimization repository in a "smart info-grid" of a sort. The data obtained from each node (facility-member) should be presented in (or translated into) the universal consistent format and made available for other facility-members for comparison, benchmarking and cross-reference.

One of the good examples of guidelines for implementing the intelligent network infrastructure is Unified Access Network Design based on the CISCO concept of Borderless Campus Architecture.

University and college facilities, such as CIRS at UBC in Vancouver and Centre of Excellence at Okanagan College in Penticton, BC must collaborate with the industry on creating such a network and become first nodes of such network. The network should utilize Systems Architecture principles of  expandabikity (i.e. allow adding new nodes), and evolvability (i.e. allow seamlessly adding new functionality). This can become a major factor in propelling the sustainable (high-performance, "green", alternative) technology and buildings industry, which is currently threading the water.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

CaGBC Conference: Lessons Learned - Part 1

Back from the Canadian Green Building Council Conference in Vancouver.

From the large number of presentations, speeches and exhibits one conclusion jumps out:
everyone and everything is focused on commercial buildings - business office, hotel etc. 

Of course, it is much easier to get noticed with a "green" high-rise tower in the downtown of a big urban centre than with a performance home in a rural community. But should we forget not - more than 90% of Canadian territory is not cities. Even if the majority of Canadian population is concentrated in the cities, it is not where our food, oil, gas, gold, lumber and other resources come from. Canadian economy heavily relies on the natural resources industry. Shouldn't we pay special attention to efficiency and sustainability of homes for people living there?

Perhaps not everyone knows, but tourism is a second largest contributor into Canadian economy. It should not be too surprising however, taking into account that Canada is the world's second largest country by territory with a vast geographical diversity, number of resorts and national parks. The importance of this sector is even growing with increasing popularity of heli-tourism, eco-tourism etc.   

Hence the niche of a single-family or small-to-medium size multifamily residential market with the smaller non-residential facilities like local schools, heath care centres, sport facilities etc, seems to be undeservedly abandoned.

The Performance Model Home concept attempts to address this deficiency.
Attractive architectural design, high-level of thermal efficiency, air-tightness, passive components like natural day lighting, combined with the efficient, cost-effective and non-polluting technology managed by a simple, reliable and user-friendly control system are all necessary elements of such a model. Add the maintainability, ability to service and upgrade or add system components (for example, with the new technologies as they become available), capability to continuously monitor and optimize performance - and you will have a perfect case for a System Architecture.     

At the core of the technology package are three components: optimized solar thermal system, supplemented by thermal booster and supported by a high-efficiency thermal storage.
The entire package is configured using ASPA program, allowing to choose the most efficient combination of the components. These components together with sensors and energy meters included in the feedback loop and integrated with performance home management system, at any time providing the maximum comfort for inhabitants of the home and the most efficient use of the equipment.