That this idea spreads.
Most office buildings are divorced, in a way, from their surroundings. Each day in the mechanical trenches of heating, cooling and data processing is much the same as another but for the cost of paying for the energy used.
The energy lab’s Research Support Facility building is more like a mirror, or perhaps a sponge, to its surroundings. From the light-bending window louvers that cast rays up into the interior office spaces, to the giant concrete maze in the sub-basement for holding and storing radiant heat, every day is completely different.
It sounds like some sort of high-tech utopia, but get this:
The answer at the research energy laboratory, a unit of the federal Department of Energy, is not gee-whiz science. There is no giant, expensive solar array that could mask a multitude of traditional design sins, but rather a rethinking of everything, down to the smallest elements, all aligned in a watt-by-watt march toward a new kind of building.
Managers even pride themselves on the fact that hardly anything in their building, at least in its individual component pieces, is really new.
Off-the-shelf technology, cost-efficient as well as energy-efficient, was the mantra to finding what designers repeatedly call the sweet spot — zero energy that doesn’t break a sweat, or the bank.
I work in downtown Chicago, just north of the Loop, and over the past couple of years I've watched several new buildings go up -- the climate control systems are massive, and there's obviously no thought given to energy conservation, or very little: there's a new hotel across the street that claims "green friendliness," but it doesn't seem to be on any large scale.
One thing the article doesn't touch on that would be workable, I think, someplace like my work neighorhood: wind generators to take advantage of the updrafts and downdrafts created by these high-rises.
This, though, is the sort of thing that should be getting a massive boost from the government -- forget the damned subsidies for oil exploration.