Monday, May 18, 2009

Eco house fails even before it opens

'Breakthrough Technology’ or broken technology?

It was supposed to be a shining example of the green movement — a completely independent solar-powered house with no gas or electrical hookups. Seven months ago, officials gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the $900,000 house owned by the city of Troy that was to be used as an educational tool and meeting spot. But it never opened to the public. And it remains closed. "It is disappointing that we can't tour, but the summit will still be of great value. I don't think it's reflective of the technology."

Frozen pipes during the winter caused $16,000 in damage to floors, and city officials aren't sure when the house at the Troy Community Center will open. "It's not safe right now, and there's no estimated opening time because it depends on when we can get funding," said Carol Anderson, director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

That surprised the Oakland County Planning and Economic Development Department, which advertised tours of the house for its Tuesday Oakland County Green Summit. "No, I didn't know anything about it," said Steve Huber, spokesman for county planning. Bret Rasegnan, planning supervisor for the department, said the solar tours have been removed from the finalized agenda for the summit.


Comment on the above:

Troy, Michigan, is in my Detroit backyard and the troubles of the celebrated Troy solar house (dubbed ALOeTERRA, which means “to nourish the earth,” natch) that Greg Pollowitz reported above are noteworthy for a number of reasons.

The first is that this anti-global-warming temple’s closure is due to water damage caused by frozen pipes — a result of 2009’s record-cold Michigan winter.

The house is also one of “breakthrough technologies” that Energy Sec. Chu is targeting with DOE’s new, $400 million Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (see here). In fact, the house — designed by a Lawrence Tech University (Mich.) team — was the winner of an alternative energy competition, the Solar Decathlon, which already receives substantial funding from the DOE.

The house, reports green-friendly Metromode, is billed “as a showcase on how regular people can conserve energy in housing.” But at $900,000, this 800-square-foot green house is hardly in the price range of “regular folk.”

Of course, building a solar house in a state that is in winter overcast six months out of the year might seem a tad ambitious. But its green builders promised that the home’s full-roof solar panels would not only provide electricity, but also charge a home battery system that would store energy for all heating needs.

Or not.

[Note to self - don't laugh.]

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

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