As I’ve been feeling relatively optimistic lately, my last post of 2011 will look to the future – not only of existing new technology, but also a vote of confidence in the entrepreneurs of the world to fulfill a wish list. I hope that you, my 3,000 readers, will help be my eyes and ears and keep us all linked in to the innovations posted all over the world, from manufacturers, tinkerers, and any other creative brainpower. So, my wish list for 2012:
2) Integration - My wish for 2012 is for interoperability of software used in residential construction. A data cloud where you could enter the common data points which could then be read into the multitude of design software – REVIT, ACCA Manuals, energy modeling, and ResCheck. The follow-up wish is an HVAC contractor in every town who can support a collaborative effort, actively participate in the design and commission his work at three points: before sheetrock, at project completion, and at one year of occupancy. I know a few of these guys are out there – but how do we clone them?
3) Renewable Energy CoGen Systems for near Net Zero Homes - Something along the lines of the combined heat and power (CHP) Cool Energy solar thermal heat and electricity via a Sterling Engine. Maybe with an option of a simplified, SMALL geothermal system. AND an electric on-demand heater which can respond to a 1 degree ΔT. Oh – and I’d like this all in one system – one installer.
4) Air Conditioning - Indirect Evaporative cooler - Two-stage evaporative coolers can reduce energy consumption by 60 to 75 percent over conventional air conditioning systems - with NO additional humidity. These can stand alone – or be combined with AC units using natural refrigerants such as CO2 and ammonia, which are trending in Europe and will hopefully migrate to North America. Let’s see this technology bundled, complete with a knowledgeable service provider.
5) LED technology – let’s hope it gains enough volume to come down in price. LED replacements for T8 fluorescent tubes are just starting to hit the market and are “down” to around $50. But they are 60% more energy efficient, and last 3 – 10 times longer. Check out the ROI with this nifty cost savings calculator. As for LED Big Screen TV’s, by the time they reach parity with existing plasma or LCDs, we might be linking in TV in from our laptops, with separate screens to serve as TV/ Computer monitors.
6) Refrigerators - Vacuum insulation panels, VIPs for short, insulate ten times better than conventional insulation of the same thickness. But so far – this insulation is only available on high end fridges from Europe. I also recall some other super high R value insulation experiment – to be used for refrigeration. Also on the wish list, a SMALL countertop depth French door fridge. Not an energy thing – I just need one for my remodel.
7) Energy rebates for installation of HVAC monitoring equipment. An initial amount could be applied at time of install (government sponsored) and another amount based on percentage of energy saved (utility sponsored).
8) Energy rebates - to be based on modeled/ commissioned base load (HVAC) savings over code minimum. This rebate could be structured to pay for energy modelers, and another portion paid out after a year of energy use. This would both help create a job market for energy modeling (or engineering), but also incent them to do a good job.
9) For double wythe brick interstitial retrofit- a high R-value (10 or so would be great) slow expanding foam which could also help provide some sheer strength in a seismic zone. Yes – this is asking a lot – but also part of my next remodel project…
These are my wishes for next year. Some of these are on the cusp of technology, some need an economic boost, and others a total paradigm shift. But as quickly as the world is changing, I am hopeful and accept the challenge to contribute to the best of my own innovative talents.