California’s Drought and Water Conservation

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Our Thursday green news brings you the latest on green architecture, climate change, energy and communities:

green architecture, active house

Photo courtesy of Zooey Braun

  • California’s drought and water conservation: California’s Governor Jerry Brown has ordered this week an obligatory water conservation restrictions as a reaction to the ongoing and critical drought situation. This action is the first in California’s history, and the Governor ordered the State Water Resources Control Board to work with local agencies to come up with ways to reduce water use by 25 percent and ways to enforce water conservation. State officials said the order would impose cutbacks on water use across all areas including homeowners, farmers, cemeteries and golf courses. “This is the new normal but we will learn how to cope with this,” stated the Governor. The 25 percent cut represents a portion of the total water use across the state in 2013, before the drought began. The reduction will vary from community to community based on how specific areas of the state have dealt with reducing water consumption so far.
  • The Active House B10 produces twice the energy it needs: This new conceptual home is located in Bruckmannweg 10 in Stuttgart, Germany, the site of the then-revolutionary Weissenhof Estate that was built in 1927 to showcase how people could live in the future. According to the architects, the house generates twice the amount of energy it needs thanks to its roof photovoltaic system, and does not produce any emissions. The 970-square-foot house designed by architect Dr. Werner Sobek, uses smart-grid technology and is so energy efficient that it also powers a pair of electric cars as well as a building in the neighboring Weissenhof Museum. Its prefabricated design allows for only a single day assembly on site; it can be also disassembled and reconstructed in a completely different location or be fully recycled. As Mr. Sober explained: “What we build must be fantastically beautiful, exciting and fun. But it also must minimize the use of resources and increase recyclability and energy efficiency, or we won’t solve the environmental or population explosion problem.” The Active House has several other sustainable and smart design elements, for example: its opaque walls and vacuum-insulated glass front creates a tight seal (reducing the amount of air leaking in and out of the home therefore cutting heating and cooling costs), fold-up patio also creates another shield from the sun; smart home system uses a self-learning building control via radio sensors in and out of the building allowing home owners to regulate the inside temperature based on outdoors conditions while being away from home.
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