HighTech, LoTech, NoTech GreenTech

The Sustainable Living Fair kicked off this past weekend on the grounds of New Belgium Brewery in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Sunny mountain skies gave way to a rainy cold front and dry gusts that did not cease until Sunday morning. Saturday’s weather did not deter attendees or the exhibitors of solar photovoltaics, biodiesel, wind turbines and towers, solar collectors, hydrogen Hummers, CFL and LED bulbs, green tags, organic foods, socially responsible investment services, high performance and green building, and of course, New Belgium’s sustainably-brewed beer. Sunday, the weather cleared up and even more people came, including Mayor John Hickenlooper who spoke of sustainability initiatives in oh-so-political Denver.

Ready to disperse the good word on sustainable practices were magazines (Living Green, Natural Home , Ecological Home Ideas , Home Power ), newspapers (Colorado Green Business , the soon-to-be-launched, Rocky Mountain Chronicle), and American Renewable Energy Day’s Chip Comins, a movie producer and event planner working with celebs to build awareness of our collective carbon crisis.

The solutions to the carbon crisis exhibited at the Fair ranged from no tech to low tech to high tech. And they are all valid cleantech.

Take Donna Merten whose production home development company Merten Homes urges: “Open the Door to Natural Innovation.” Merten distinguishes her development company with exquisite marketing materials and her equally impressive home designs. Merten Homes will be building twelve straw bale homes as part of a larger production development, Old Town North, in Ft. Collins. This is the first of its kind in Colorado. The homes’ unique features are the straw bale exterior walls with natural lime plasters; post-and-beam framing; polished concrete, bamboo, cork or natural wool carpeted floors; radiant floor heat; solar energy; ENERGY STAR ™-rated appliances; and energy-efficient windows. A geothermal or solar thermal heating system is currently under project review. The homes will have no HVAC mechanicals, that is no DX air conditioners and no forced air furnace. “What?! No Furnace?!” exclaims Merten’s collateral, “Who Slayed the Dragon?”

Merten’s green, blue and dark grey Mission style graphics and stationery lured me in, and the home designs and their unique (sustainable) features swayed me over. Though the reality of home performance building and real estate requires knowledge of HVAC mechanicals, aesthetically, I intensely dislike DX air conditioning and forced air furnaces – from the noise to the indoor air pollution to the (likely) uneven distribution of air to the unattractive ducts, to the questionable logic of conditioning air. I’m tired of listening to developers insist that “product won’t move” without DX air conditioning.

Space cooling with HVAC mechanicals contributes mightily to peak electricity energy loads and the burning of fossil fuels contributes to climate change. So who’s slaying this dragon? In this Rocky Mountain Front Range climate, Donna Merten, that’s who!

Merten Homes
“Based in Boulder, Colorado, Merten Homes is a Green Builder specializing in the architectural design and construction of ultra energy-efficient homes. Our breath-taking designs feature environmentally-friendly materials and finishes, exceptional indoor air quality, low maintenance, solar power, and unsurpassed comfort – all of which help to promote and contribute to a healthy, natural living space. We research every product not only for its non-toxic, sustainable, or renewable properties, but how each product will then act in concert with our whole-building concept, the environment, and – the most important component when building a home – you. With our choice of materials, our understanding of the latest building technologies, and our design and construction experience, we lessen the environmental impact of our homes will have during both construction and life-cycle of enjoyment and operation.”

Other goings on this week:
It’s Good & Plenty. Plenty (“It’s easy being green”) magazine’s Forward Tech section of the October/November 2006 issue did very good, but short, write-ups on wave technology and the silicon shortage both of which touch on investment opportunities. Alan Jochs writes: “Solar-smitten investors don’t have to wait on the sidelines for another two years as polysilicon manufacturers ramp up production. Here are four ways to position yourself today for solar success.”

2 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Another contributing factor to poor indoor air quality and unneeded HVAC useage is actually inadequate air circulation within your home. If your HVAC system isn't turning over the air enough inside your home, the fresh air isn't evenly distributed throughout all levels. A modification to your existing furnace that has been highlighted on Channel 9 News and Colorado & Co. can help. This technique is called Powerzoning.

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