The other day I was driving from New York to Boston while listening to news about the freak storm that hit the North East 10 or so days ago. The complaints were about how long it took to get power back after the storm. And yet, North America is the location of the cheapest power in the world. As a NYC commercial architect, this surprised me.
This reminds me of the relationship between citizens and their government; we want everything our way, but never want to pay for the staff and services that make the system more robust.
One simple solution for the best protection from storms is having twice the code insulation. Code insulation is a generation behind what is useful now and in the future. Therefore, insulation that is merely up-to-code is less than ideal.
Solar panels, wind generators – local or school district-based ones – geothermal heat and cooling, heat and AC recovery ventilators for fresh air are all important. This is especially true for Westchester NY.
With the proper insulation, a NYC home could come across any storm or natural disaster without any loss of comfort at home. An NYC office is the same way. Transportation is another issue, but at least it’s an issue that does not cause us to freeze in the winter and boil in the summer.
Lighting in NYC homes can now be LED lighting, therefore directly fed from batterys or PV solar panels.
Try putting extra insulation in place along with a few primarily fixed windows (there is only a need for so many operable windows). Fixed windows are much more efficient and do not leak air. The placement of these windows in your NYC home can lead to a great decrease in the loss of heat or AC.
Geothermal heating and cooling–which uses the free energy from the earth’s crust–coupled with solar electricity, has been around for decades (most people gasp at this due to amazement) . The technology can be compared to that of a hybrid car. Yet, it is the least utilized technology, as normal NYC architects, contractors, heating and cooling engineers, and suppliers do not want to change.
The end result is that a small wood burning fire place in the winter will suffice for heat and some cooking when all else fails. In the South, solar panels take care of electricity and hot water 90% of the days, providing cooling and hot showers – both of which are the most expensive items on the utility bill.
Welcome to the 21st century in style!
Tapani Talo, AIA
11 Heatherbloom Road, White Plains,
New York 10605, USA. Tel: 1- 914 – 645 2940,