Living And Working In Sustainable Environments – Introduction

Living And Working In Sustainable Environments – Introduction

In 1977 I tried to get into different energy, mainly because Uninterruptible strength Supplies were not obtainable and Computers did not like frequent strength failures, so was considering fuel cells as using hydrogen and oxygen to create electrical energy appeared to me a good way of creating electrical energy without environmental impact. Siemens in Germany held meaningful patents on that technology so I contacted the patent holder within Siemens only to hear “we are in nuclear energy right now – we have no wish to further develop or make fuel cell technology obtainable to anyone” – that was that. So in 1978 I went on to my city to get planning permission to add Photo Voltaic (PV) solar panels to the roof structure, as I wanted to produce my own electricity, when the local authority came back to say “you can do that but be advised we will also cut you off all other utilities, water, sewer and refuse collection” – and that was that.

Now times have changed but a little of that attitude nevertheless persists today. Energy providers that were trusted with the management of federal funds will apply them only to schemes that will keep the dependence on the energy provider. For example, offer re-dispensing of federal funds for grid connected Solar PV generation only but not for off-grid solar. Although, both equally save generation requirement, in fact the off-grid solution saves more than the on-grid solution. Also grid connected systems have a separate meter that the electricity company charges you, the supplier, a monthly additional meter rent so they can measure what you have provided. They also control what they are willing to pay to you for the generated energy and their contracts often force you to provide a minimum amount of energy a year keeping you responsible for the upkeep of the solar panels and inverters. So bottom line – using the grid for storage is a raw deal.

Many people I asked believe that a sustainable working ecosystem method sweating in overheated rooms in the summer and chilling in the winter, having faint light and going back to poorly lit neighbourhoods. Well, that is no longer the case if you are willing to use the latest in technology and controls managing your energy use automatically. I found that despite the availability of sustainable technology that assists in achieving sustainable work and living environments the biggest obstacle is that people believe it is too good to be true and the second biggest obstacle is that people do not like change, already is the change is for the better or has no negative qualitative impact.

I am working and living in a super-efficient ecosystem, which has been produced in part from elements of the company I worked for and from other commonly obtainable goods like high-efficiency insulation of walls and ceilings, painting the roof and walls white on the outside (we live in Texas), 3000 gallon sealed underground water tanks for the air conditioning system, LightSpace Management and Building Automation Controls.

Working in this ecosystem is truly a pleasant surprise as the rooms are adequately cool in the summer and warm in the winter, the lighting is adjustable to the level the people working in the area are comfortable with. This method sometimes a little less and sometimes a little more light depending on the task at hand, the mood and the supplemental daylight obtainable. Conference rooms where you just walk in and the light comes on, the air condition turns on to higher level dealing with additional heat to be removed. Hallways that faint if nobody occupies them. Hot water produces cold in the water loop that can be used by the air conditioning system to cool another room. Cold storage and server farms that heat the buildings in the winter. All this is not utopia but possible today at insignificant additional cost as systems that ease such designs have become more developed.

It is easier to plan and build sustainable structures than to transform existing structures to be super-efficient. However, either way it is far easier than getting a man to the moon. Things to consider on a new build are summarized below and detailed in separate articles in this series:


Hopefully soon electrical companies will embrace low voltage wiring more than they do today and I have to re-write this use. If you can separate your home or office wiring into three categories, 48V-DC low voltage (LV) for Lighting and 48V-DC Air Conditioning, 120V-AC for computers and wall sockets, 240V-AC for Air Conditioning and Heating. The lighting should be LV wiring to a central point where you can have the strength supplies for the lighting, a good lighting technology the LED will never fail but the strength Supply using current obtainable technology ultimately will.

Load Balancing

In some environments energy providers offer considerably lower rates at night times if you already have a DC battery system for your PV or Wind generator you may be able to supplement with cheap grid energy. We have compiled the electricity providers in North America allowing such arrangements.

Energy Storage

If you use Solar PV, Wind or both you need to have a space for batteries, preferably easy to reach from the outside so that you can change and continue batteries conveniently. There are a number of battery types appropriate for short-term storage and repeated release and a compromise between cost and performance has to be made.


To be super-efficient method you have to do things differently which, unfortunately today, a run-off-the-mill Air Conditioning Contractor will not subscribe to. To transform an existing system can be challenging, not insurmountable but definitely challenging. The Mechanical Challenges Section is divided into Equatorial Plus/Minus 30 and North and South of 30° as there are different challenges depending on the climate vicinity that the system has to function in. A third section deals with fresh air and plenum ventilation.

Building Fabric

The fabric of the building matters little to the efficiency and can be metal, artificial materials, or natural products like wood or stone or a combination thereof, in any case is the most cost-effective in your vicinity and for your purpose.

Insulation Materials

The insulation material between your outer fabric and your sheet-rock wall is what matters. The most efficient material obtainable today is called an Aerogel, this is not a brand but the kind of material which has extreme durability and heat insulation similarities within the likely operating temperatures in any ecosystem on planet Earth. There are water repellant varieties of the material which are best for regions where high humidity and dampness are main features of the local climate.

What Is Right For Your vicinity

I like to classify the world into two major regions, from the Equator to 30° North and South and the vicinity above 31° North and South. traditional and sustainable systems do not apply to the sub-arctic or arctic regions of the World.

Return Of Investment

The number of misinformation and the excuses used by propagates of the consume society to conceal or redefine the meaning of Return Of Investment or ROI is mind-boggling. There is only one scientific way for ROI which will be discussed in this article ROI of Sustainable Environments, which clearly shows the payback can be considerably better than any traditional planned obsolescence form.

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