|“Clean Technology” in Buildings and Construction
“Clean technology” (or “Cleantech”) is a recently coined term that relates to the current drive for reduction of fossil fuel consumption, increased use of renewable materials, and generally improved energy efficiency. The rapid increase in oil prices in recent years has been a major impetus behind this technology drive, just as during the 1970s oil crises. But in the 2000s we have the additional political factors of alleged anthropogenic global warming and the drive for “energy independence” in the United States. This newsletter looks at Clean Technology in relation to buildings and construction. Most buildings constructed in recent decades, largely motivated by the 1970s experience, are already well insulated and appliances have become more energy efficient. Thus, further development of energy efficient (or “green”) buildings relates to new strategies such as BIPV (building integrated photovoltaics) and managing energy consumption through automation and optimization. The ultimate goal is to design and build cost-effective ZEHs (zero energy homes) that have no net draw from the grid. This newsletter looks at recent developments in energy management in buildings; on-site power generation, e.g. BIPV; high efficiency lighting and TVs via OLED and LED technology; and some single examples of innovation in insulation and energy storage for the grid – the latter is important for renewable energy that does not generate electricity constantly like BIPV.