So normally I would not write about buildings going green. However, I really like Ecogeek.com and Inhabitat.com and I think that this story is pertinent to the thesis of my blog (analog design and renewable energy). Be sure to read the story as linked below.
Anyway, the thing I think is pertinent about adding “green” technology to a building the size and scope of the Freedom Tower is twofold. First, I think that the PR side of it all, by which I mean the publicity generated about renewable energy just by including it, is very relevant. As much as I read about this stuff every single day, I know that a good deal of people have NO clue about their own energy consumption or even that there are other options available. As mentioned in the article, their choice to include fuel cells instead of other readily available power sources such as solar and wind was an odd choice. However, the architects/builders of the new tower could have essentially glued a solar calculator to the top of the spire and said “Hey look, ‘Green’ technology”. As ridiculous as that sounds, I’m sure it still would have had a positive, if not minuscule, effect.
The other thing that is pertinent about adding some kind of renewable technology is my same argument about economies of scale. I have written before about the importance of increasing sales of end products in order to drive production and lower overall costs. I think this will be on of the largest hurdles to overall increases in renewable energy availability. Imagine that instead of buying the 12 400kW generators, they bought 500 solar cells. I would guess that the latter would have a more meaningful effect on the renewable energy market because it would require increases in production and would drive the supply chain. Higher quantities of input supplies to the process (in this case raw silicon and processing technology supplies such as process gases) would allow bulk buying and lower costs. It’s an iterative process and perhaps I’ll have my friend who is a supply chain manager write a guest post on here sometime. I think it’s also important to note here that renewable energy as a whole has an uphill battle because there are SO many technologies available out there that are continually vying for market share. I think over the long term the struggle will unfortunately continue, because there are a lot of good options but each has a hurdle in availability and plausibility in different regions.
For now, check out the links below and keep an eye on these technologies. I also saw a link through on Ecogeek about fuel cell technologies here. It is an interesting piece on the increases in technologies that will allow for fuel cells.
Kudos to the Freedom Tower. Looking forward to the day when NYC buildings start powering each other.