Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hits and misses

I went to the Wednesday afternoon session, "Higher Performance: Systems that Make a Difference." Dane Sanders, from Clanton and Associates, gave a great overview of high-tech lighting developments. It turns out the old carbon filament--from Edison's days--may hold the potential for a comeback. Sanders says research has shown a great deal of the waste heat from a filament--something like 95% of the total heat--could be tapped for light. He also said a new development--tungset photonic lattice--is projected to provide something like 240 lumens/watt; that's double the rating of a compact fluorescent.

Stan Mumma, a professor from Penn State University's Architectural Engineering department, talked about chilled slabs and radiant cooling. This is definitely a topic that we will hear more about (if not on the pages of GreenSource and Record in 2007!).

But like many sessions, some things don't quite work. Christopher Faust, from Fat Hause Designs out of North Carolina, talked about something called the "Passive Thermal Engine." After a rigorous discussion of what constitutes true sustainability (you're preaching to the choir on that one), he finally showed a box-like house he claimed was the most sustainable structure on the planet. Well, to say I'm a little skeptical is being generous. Plus, who would want to live in it? At least he offered that he had been told he "wasn't much of an architect."

Still, it was nice to see a standing-room only crowd of engineers totally engaged in GreenBuild.

-Russell Fortmeyer

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