A home profiled in Wired has six very interesting zero-carbon elements, but it’s the last two that fascinate me – thick walls and ultra-efficient windows. Thick walls mean “two 8-inch-thick concrete layers that protect the interior from outside temperature fluctuations. On hot days, the concrete absorbs and retains heat, keeping rooms cool; at night it slowly releases that heat to maintain steady temps around the clock.”
And the windows, “three coats of glazing give these windows more than twice the thermal resistance of standard double-paned glass.”
Both focus on the thermal energy efficiency of a home. With the goal of completely insulating a home – no heat lost or gained, no cool air lost or gained. Several homes are being built with the goal of 100% efficiency and that completely alters how a home functions. Things like the heat created by our 98.6 degree bodies become important. Facing a home in the sun (cold climates) or away from (hot climates) becomes essential.
And a lot of this can be accomplished with simple building materials, like concrete walls – which can easily be incorporated in building new homes. And the more complicated materials, like nanotech windows discussed in the article, can be placed on existing homes:
There’s some revolutionary nanotechnology that’s about to go into the glass—different kinds of coatings that make them five to 10 times more energy-efficient than double-paned windows. These windows are as energy-efficient as walls.
With these improvements the energy costs of heating and cooling should plummet, and traditional heaters and HVACs can be downsized or turned off for weeks at a time.
Continue reading Moving towards 100% thermal insulation for homes
It’s true, in fact, there are several of them but mostly in the nature reserves of the Santa Monica Mountains. This one is different because it is truly in the heart of LA, Griffith Park.
Surrounded by freeways on two sides, Hollywood and downtown on the others, this is truly an urban area. Which makes it all the more interesting that the lion even made it into the park:
In an odyssey of perhaps 20 miles, the cat had to cross concrete and backyards, dodge commuter traffic and thread an obstacle course of culverts, bridges and roads…(it) might have traversed a bridge or culvert to cross the 101 and 405 freeways to enter the park. It’s possible, however, that the cat sprinted across lanes of traffic — and got very lucky. In a study of the 405, scientists have documented two deaths of lions killed by motorists. – L.A. Times
Fortunately, the cat (also known as a cougar) is extremely solitary and mostly nocturnal. It shouldn’t pose any harm to park-goers while enjoying the plentiful mule deer in the area. Not to mention, the beautiful views of downtown Los Angeles, the celebrity-packed Hollywood Hills, and that never-ending traffic of LA.
The L.A. Times has a nice write-up about the history of lions in the park, including the fact that several Angelenos claimed to see a lion and nobody believed them until now – Mountain lion makes itself at home in Griffith Park
Also, check out the spread of mountain lions from their dominant home, the Western U.S., and back into the Midwest (North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin).
Continue reading There is a mountain lion in central Los Angeles, prowling around Griffith Park