Clean and Green: Alternative Energy Sources on the Grow. (Special Report)

Article excerpt

Alternative sources of energy, such as solar energy, wind, renewable power and fuel cells are increasingly on the grow. According to a report by Clean Edge, an Oakland, CA-based research firm, the alternative energy marker will expand from $9.5 billion to $89 billion by 2012.

Let the Sun In

Of all the alternative energy sources, solar energy offers the real estate industry the most viable solution to reducing energy demand. Solar electric installations totaled 340 megawatts (MW) in 2002, up significantly from 1999 levels of 200 MW

BP Solar maintains solar energy is underutilized in today's market and suggests a variety of economical uses for solar power systems including: disaster lighting systems; electric gate openers on remote fences; irrigation systems; pond aeration systems, portable electricity and lighting systems; radiation measuring equipment; security and parking lot lighting; sign and billboard lighting; telecommunications systems and water pumping.

The Santa Monica, CA-based Colorado Court property, a five-story affordable housing project, has effectively made use of a solar energy system. Its solar array on a south-facing facade provides about 25 percent of the 44-unit project's electricity.

The property's solar design strategies included: locating and orienting the building to control solar cooling loads; shaping and orienting the building for exposure to prevailing winds; shaping the building to induce buoyancy for natural ventilation; designing windows to maximize day-lighting; shading south-facing windows and minimizing west-facing glazing; designing windows to maximize natural ventilation; and planning the interior to enhance daylight and natural air flow distribution.

The building's solar photovoltaic system produces green electricity that releases no pollutants to the environment. The panels are integral to the building envelope and unused solar electricity is delivered to the grid during the daytime and retrieved from the grid at night.

Inheriting the Wind

In its Wind Power Outlook 2003 study, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported the U. …