Naysayers have rained criticism on Dutch Solaroad solar bike path system. In the first six months of operation, it reportedly overshot energy production expectations to the collective glee of engineers. However, self-described “scientists” are taking it down with numerical rhetoric, namely the cost and inferior production capacity relative to rooftop solar panels. Last year’s pilot test ate up $3.2 million in investor funding for a 230-foot stretch of concrete, and SolaRoad remains tightlipped on the cost per square foot.
It’s serious crunch time in France for environmental policymaking as regulations tighten in deference to the 2020 goal of reducing carbon emissions by 25 percent. Paris is also scrambling for brownie points as it prepares to host the UN Conference on Climate Change this November.
Lawmakers in France recently decreed that all rooftops of new commercial buildings must be covered in either plants or solar panels. Other major cities have gone to similarly stringent lengths, with the city of Toronto, Canada, mandating green roofs on all new buildings in 2009—whether residential, industrial or commercial.
This solar-power generating bike lane in the Netherlands wows engineers by producing more juice than expected
Performance-wise, the Dutch power-generating bike path, SolaRoad, has overshot expectations, generating upwards of 3,000 kilowatts of power in the six months since its launch. The 230-foot concrete strip is located in Krommenie, a village northwest of Amsterdam, and is undergoing a three-year pilot test for material feasibility.
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San Antonio firm transforms vacant industrial building into sunlit workspace.
Dissatisfied with their two-story office, San Antonio architecture practice Overland Partners recently went looking for a new home. They found it in an unexpected place: a long-vacant plumbing supply warehouse within the city’s burgeoning arts district. The 1918 Hughes Plumbing Warehouse offered the firm exactly what they wanted—a large open floor plan—in an architecturally refined package. The timber-framed, brick-clad building “is simple,” said project architect Patrick Winn, “but it’s really elegant and beautiful when you’re able to look at it.” The problem was that years of disuse had left their mark. “When we first viewed it, it was really far gone,” recalled Winn. The original windows had been broken up, and the roof had flooded. Undaunted, the architects took on an extensive renovation project, with the result that today the former plumbing distribution center is a boon not just to Overland, but to the neighborhood as a whole.
Work was just finished on the Blackfriars Bridge in London, which is now the largest solar bridge in the world. The renovation of the Victorian-era bridge was part of the larger modernization project for the adjoining Blackfriar’s railway station. The station has been fitted with 4,400 photovoltaic panels, which are expected to reduce the station’s CO2 emissions by an estimated 511 tons (563 tons) per year. Work began in spring 2009 and the station was operationally complete in time for the 2012 Olympics, with the solar array installation complete in March 2013. The full refurbishment of the station is now also complete.
The nearly 20,000-square-feet of new panels are intended to offset about 50% of the station’s energy costs.
City Planning hasn’t missed a beat since celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Zoning Amendment with a conference in November that brought together zoning czars from academia, business, and government to discuss challenges ahead for planning in New York City. On Monday, Amanda Burden of the City Planning Commission (CPC) announced a new Zone Green initiative making it easier —at least zoning-wise—for sustainable upgrades of residential and commercial buildings across the city.
Of Sand and Stone. On September 8th, Milan-based architect Mario Cucinella will break ground on his One Airport Square project in Accra, Ghana’s capital city. The 230,000 square foot structure of irregular cantilevered floor plates embraced by a web of diagonal concrete supports meant to evoke traditional African patterns. Plans call for a dynamic pedestrian plaza with shops and cafes topped with commercial space. Solar panels are integrated among cantilevered terraces with indigenous fauna to protect the building from the scorching sun.