Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Huge pipes with big laser beams on their heads...

Off we go into the cold blue/warm red yonder...

I am a big proponent of grandiose scheming when it comes to green design, but I'm filled with trepidation when it comes to the screwing-with of Mother Nature's methods. She's existed this long for good reason, and throwing a stick into the spokes to get the bicycle to stop speeding down the environmental hill might not be the best method to slow down global warming.

BldgBlog has yet another interesting post, this one concentrating on James Lovelock's grandiose scheme to line the ocean with a bazillion vertical pipes in order to pump nutrient-rich seawater from the depths of the seafloor to the surface. He posits that the pipes would spur algaeic (my word) growth, thus spurring the "natural" consumption of carbon dioxide.

The concept of deep water exploitation is not a new one. Since 2004, the city of Toronto has been utilizing a 5 km long pipe to draw cold water from the depths of Lake Ontario and distribute it to office towers for air conditioning, Cornell University employs a similar program from Lake Cayuga, Stockholm uses deep sea waters for air conditioning, and Honolulu is debating doing the same.

Additionally, many geothermal pockets in the earth are being tapped in the US to heat and cool buildings. Las Vegas, in their infinite hotness, is desperately scurrying under their gambling tables for a viable source of cool earth.

Similarly, China has gone batty over geothermal exploration:

Last year alone, China added 102 gigawatts to its electrical grid--roughly twice the total capacity of California's--and about 90% of that came from carbon-belching coal plants... The China Energy Research Society expects 110 gigawatt hours (GWh) to be produced through geothermal power nationally by 2010, out of 2.7 million GWh in total.

Take Steven Holl's Linked Hybrid in Bejing, a community of buildings that employs 45 bajillion (my estimation...I think it's actually around 600) geothermal wells beneath its span.

While the majority of this award-winning design rests on firmly-grounded pillars, one must wonder what effect it has on the supporting ground mass to, in essence, dispose of half of that ground's strength by drilling well after well, side-by-side.

You must admit, those green roofs make you drool a little bit.

Given the building's weight, their must be some reduction in foundation integrity. Keep in mind, of course, that I have ZERO education and/or knowledge in architecture and engineering. I just like to ask questions :)

To get a firm understanding on the "hybrid" aspect of this project and its innovations linking building to building, watch this video (they start talking about the building about 3:00 into it):

While the reduced energy usage resulted from this practice is being lauded as the next big elucidation in eco-friendly heating and cooling, one must ask if we're not, in fact, warming the earth in areas we have never warmed before? Fortunately, most proposed installations are now carrying out environmental impact studies prior to their installation, but as we all know with green design/ideas/hypotheses, the trend usually precedes the technology.

My question is this:

If you're pulling cold air from the earth or sea, what takes its place? Are we not warming one area and compromising another?

Not to mention, you might cause an earthquake or two.