[Bldg-sim] General query - impact of location on energy demand - climate science

Bishop, Bill bbishop at pathfinder-ea.com
Mon Sep 29 09:10:58 PDT 2014

Thanks for the comments Jim!

Humans are indeed ingenious. But it takes more than creativity to grow food for 6 billion. It takes a lot of fertilizer and machinery. Increased food production has come with a huge fossil fuel cost<http://na.unep.net/geas/getUNEPPageWithArticleIDScript.php?article_id=81>. And we’re shooting past 7 billion on our way to 10 billion people over the next several decades. Oh, and water. We’ll need a lot more of that (but not too much at once<http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/deadly-heat-waves-flooding-rains-crop-failures-among-climate-change-plagues-already-afflicting-americans/>), at a time when climate change is changing the rain patterns that we’ve been used to since the dawn of agriculture. So much of our prosperity depends on resources that have no replacement, that are not going to be available in the quantities we need them. You can’t just invent replacements for oil and water.

Revenue-neutral carbon taxes are assessed at the source – the gas/oil well or coal mine, when they are removed from the ground. The total fees collected are divided into equal shares to be distributed to everybody. The guy driving his RV 60 miles to the drag races each weekend will get the same check as the farmer that lives and works at his house. You can use it to pay for gas or to buy chicken feed. I will buy the less energy-intensive chicken feed because it will cost less. The idea is no more complicated than that. No bureaucrat picking the next Solyndra<http://time.com/2955312/obama-solyndraphobia-clean-energy/>. No cap-and-trade schemes. No “carbon offsets” purchased like indulgences. And a lot of money circulating to put people to work building a genuine, consumer-driven, green economy.


From: Bldg-sim [mailto:bldg-sim-bounces at lists.onebuilding.org] On Behalf Of Jim Dirkes
Sent: Friday, September 26, 2014 3:09 PM
To: bldg-sim at lists.onebuilding.org
Subject: [Bldg-sim] General query - impact of location on energy demand - climate science

Mr. Bishop has been thinking about this for a while!  That is the attitude we need for problem solving! (indifference never solves anything)

We’re slightly off-topic for Jeetendra, as Joel points out.  Continuing, though,  I think I’ll take a different tack on the discussion and ask that you consider an example of human flourishing’s impact on another issue of a few decades ago.
Remember when it was a “certainty” that the globe could not sustain a population exceeding around 6 billion because we would never be able to provide enough food for them?  At the time this was stated, it was true.  The (naively) unaccounted-for resource was human creativity and ingenuity in food-growing processes.  We now can grow enough for the world in a small portion of the world!  The next problem is how to distribute it to those who need it, and that appears to be more an issue of willingness than technology.
In my own life, I know that when challenged by someone saying “It can’t be done” or “It can’t be done economically”, my response has been to try and prove them wrong – and I have succeeded on a number of occasions! … and I am just one among many other talented and motivated people.
For the issue of climate change, I’m much more inclined to assume that motivated and creative people can develop novel ways to thrive than that solutions will come as a result of a government-initiated program led by people with different and perhaps less-strong motivations.  Bill has it right, in my opinion, when saying “And how do we do this …, while minimizing the role of governments, respecting personal choice and freedoms, and letting market forces determine the most economically efficient paths toward a low-carbon future?”  It’s complex, but we can do it.  A journey of a thousand miles begins with…

p.s., I was unfamiliar with the Carbon Fee & Dividend initiative until Bill provided the link, but at first glance it appears to encourage and incentivize GREATER fuel use – the more we use, the more we receive from the fund…. On second thought, individuals may get back only pennies for each energy dollar spent, so it may not be a strong incentive.

James V Dirkes II, PE, BEMP, LEED AP
Energy Analysis, Commissioning & Training Services
1631 Acacia Drive, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 USA
616 450 8653

From: Bldg-sim [mailto:bldg-sim-bounces at lists.onebuilding.org] On Behalf Of Bishop, Bill
Sent: Friday, September 26, 2014 2:14 PM
To: jitendra_kr at hotmail.com<mailto:jitendra_kr at hotmail.com>; bldg-sim at lists.onebuilding.org<mailto:bldg-sim at lists.onebuilding.org>
Subject: Re: [Bldg-sim] General query - impact of location on energy demand - climate science

Yes. (Consider energy use as a function of climate for city planning purposes.) Joel, Justin and Yi make good points below. I have never built a city before, but Planetary Overlord Bishop would also consider climate change impacts on agriculture, freshwater resources, extreme weather events, and (as Justin mentioned) availability of renewable resources (solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, ocean etc.). Then there’s things like access to transportation, walkability, “sense of place”. Hopefully one of my minions would speak up before I did something like this<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryugyong_Hotel>.

Yes, climate change is happening, it is not natural, and we are causing it primarily by burning our once-in-a-civilization supply of fossil fuels as fast as we possibly can. The fundamentals of the greenhouse effect have been known since the 19th century, and temperatures have been rising just as we’d expect them to based on our emissions and other impacts. Following a sharp temperature spike to the hottest year on record in 1998 (caused by the strongest El Nino event ever recorded), global temperatures have remained high and have even continued to increase. We just had the highest May, June and August average temperatures<http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2014/8>, and 2014 is on track to set another record high for global temperature (breaking the 2010 record). It has been nearly 30 years since we had a month that was below the 20th century average temperature for that month.

There is nothing political about the science. But our ideological biases get in the way when we consider solutions. We have to reduce fossil fuel use (not energy in general) and the only way to accomplish that is by government legislation. There are those that oppose the size and scope of governments, especially interference with the free market, and also those that sincerely believe that humans cannot possibly impact the planet (for religious reasons mostly). And plenty of people make their livelihoods and a lot of money off of fossil fuels<http://theenergycollective.com/jared-anderson/451466/not-my-balance-sheet-climate-change-fossil-fuels-and-stranded-assets>. So these biases understandably make it hard to find common ground with those whose biases include wanting to accelerate the transition to renewables, wanting to address wealth disparity, and general opposition to fossil fuels due to their other harmful impacts. Because of the implications of “What do we do?”, the science gets muddied by a combination of deliberate distortions and willful ignorance, happily perpetuated by “think tanks”, news organizations and powerful individuals that attempt to spin the science to match their preferred narrative. Add countless blogs by non-scientists, a 24-hr news cycle that only pays lip-service to climate change, always maintaining false balance by presenting “the other side”, and editorials that masquerade as science presented without accountability, and it is no surprise that we find ourselves in a quagmire of analysis paralysis.

Only when we recognize our own biases and acknowledge the reality of climate change as documented by the wealth of scientific evidence, does it make sense to discuss solutions. How do we rapidly reduce fossil fuel use, promote energy efficiency and renewables, decrease the energy use intensities of manufacturing, agriculture, transportation and (yes) the building stock, while reducing the impact of rising prices? And how do we do this in a way that gets all countries to follow suit, while minimizing the role of governments, respecting personal choice and freedoms, and letting market forces determine the most economically efficient paths toward a low-carbon future? The simple, elegant solution is a revenue-neutral carbon tax in the form of Carbon-Fee-&-Dividend<http://citizensclimatelobby.org/carbon-tax/>. You tax fossil fuels at the source, and distribute all collected fees to everyone equally, to spend as they please. We can avoid the worst effects of climate change without destroying the economy<http://climatecolab.org/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/1300404/planId/2802>.

Guess I embellished my one-word answer a little bit.


William Bishop, PE, POIT (Planetary Overlord in Training) | Pathfinder Engineers & Architects LLP
Senior Energy Engineer

[cid:image001.jpg at 01CFDBDE.6CA8D3E0]  [cid:image002.jpg at 01CFDBDE.6CA8D3E0]

134 South Fitzhugh Street                 Rochester, NY 14608

T: (585) 698-1956                        F: (585) 325-6005

bbishop at pathfinder-ea.com<mailto:wbishop at pathfinder-ea.com>             www.pathfinder-ea.com<http://www.pathfinder-ea.com/>

[http://png-5.findicons.com/files/icons/977/rrze/720/globe.png]Carbon Fee and Dividend - simple, effective, and market-based.

From: Bldg-sim [mailto:bldg-sim-bounces at lists.onebuilding.org] On Behalf Of Yow, Joel
Sent: Friday, September 26, 2014 1:18 PM
To: bldg-sim at lists.onebuilding.org<mailto:bldg-sim at lists.onebuilding.org>
Subject: Re: [Bldg-sim] General query - impact of location on energy demand

Further off topic, but shouldn’t the question of energy use in city planning/human settlement in the future be focused on increased density or adaptive reuse in established, accessible locations rather than the further build out of virgin land regardless of how well-suited it might be for current “sustainable” measures? It’s fairly well-supported that we do not have the same amount of traditional fuel sources available for use (or misuse, depending on your views). Why aren’t we asking ourselves how well-suited any given place on the planet is for meeting the current and projected energy needs using available technology at a given capital cost? To me, it’s counterintuitive to construct new cities in order to fight global warming. I’ve yet to see a large scale commercial/residential development, no matter how sustainable the technology and planning, actually be carbon neutral when embodied energy is considered. The analogy of buying something you don’t need at a 50% discount comes to mind.

From: Bldg-sim [mailto:bldg-sim-bounces at lists.onebuilding.org] On Behalf Of Justin Spencer
Sent: Friday, September 26, 2014 10:27 AM
Cc: Building Simulation
Subject: Re: [Bldg-sim] General query - impact of location on energy demand

I'm not directly on topic here, but I think the interesting question from a planning perspective is more like this:
Where can human settlement be done most inexpensively in a carbon-constrained world? I.e. When you combine the variety of weather/climate drivers on energy consumption with the availability of carbon-free energy supplies, where are the least expensive places to develop?

For example, if you looked at Labrador and Newfoundland, you'd say they look relatively energy intensive (brutally cold, long winters), but they have cheap hydropower, so building there might make some sense. Hot dry desert cities (like Phoenix) have high cooling energy intensities, but their solar resource is excellent. I think this partially gets at part of Jim's argument -- it's not the energy that's the issue, it's the negative externalities (carbon emissions included) that are the issue. You might get a misleading result if you don't include the carbon-free energy availability dimension in your analysis.

If you combine a map you could generate from a passive energy screening tool with a map of carbon-free energy availability you could come up with something fairly compelling.

On Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 8:52 AM, Dr Yi Zhang <yi at jeplus.org<mailto:yi at jeplus.org>> wrote:
Dear Jeetendra,
You may be interested in this paper: http://www.bso14.org/BSO14_Papers/BSO14_Paper_071.pdf, where wide range of building forms are compared in all 17 ASHRAE 90.1 climate zones. Figure 5 in the paper may be a direct answer to your question 1 (and possibly 2), where you can see (office) buildings consumes on average 1/4 -1/3 of energy in temperate climates compared to the same buildings in the subarctic (zone 8) and the very hot (zone 1) climates.
Please note that this study was not designed for assessing the impact of climate, and it has only considered office buildings of the modern construction type. There are many complex factors in play; so you should not take those numbers literally. However, the importance of climate is well known in this community, and it should not be difficult to find literature on this subject. Come to think of it, looking up “zero carbon buildings” and where they’ve been realized, may help you find answers to question 2.
Yi Zhang
Energy Simulation Solutions Ltd.
From: Bldg-sim [mailto:bldg-sim-bounces at lists.onebuilding.org<mailto:bldg-sim-bounces at lists.onebuilding.org>] On Behalf Of Jeetendra Kumar
Sent: 26 September 2014 14:57

To: bldg-sim at lists.onebuilding.org<mailto:bldg-sim at lists.onebuilding.org>
Subject: Re: [Bldg-sim] General query - impact of location on energy demand
Hi All,
Javed: Thank you for sharing the publication titles. Shall check soon.
Jim: I assume you are following the developments closely - http://c40.org/blog_posts/global-mayors-compact-shows-unity-and-ambition-to-tackle-climate-change. But I agree, we should be scientific in our approach. I often think of an argument - Can we handle the consequences if we are wrong about ignoring global warming? But, even if I go by the perspective of energy only, the question remains valid (PS). If emissions was the reason for your "No", please let me know your answer now. Besides, do send your comments on what Brian shared earlier as it shows that location does have an impact, if I am not missing something there.
PS: Can our understanding of the impact of location on energy, esp due to natural factors, be used for planning where should we build cities in future, to conserve energy?
From: jim at buildingperformanceteam.com<mailto:jim at buildingperformanceteam.com>
To: bldg-sim at lists.onebuilding.org<mailto:bldg-sim at lists.onebuilding.org>
Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2014 12:52:08 -0500
Subject: Re: [Bldg-sim] General query - impact of location on energy demand


My opinion regarding your question: No (Impact of location on energy is not specially relevant.)

I wonder about your assumptions: I’ve seen sources which say that the globe has not warmed in over a decade.  This is different than many climate models’ predictions and suggests that we don’t understand very well the impact of humans on the globe’s climate. One of my ardent wishes is that the climate discussion would become more scientific and less political.  At the moment, it seems hard to filter data from polemic.

I think it is very important to use resources wisely for a variety of reasons other than “climate change”, but principal among them is to promote human flourishing.  Energy is a GOOD thing and even has a strong correlation to health and prosperity; limiting it’s availability, as has been part of recent discussion in the US, for many parts of the world might mean that they remain without refrigeration or reasonable heating and cooling  – not so good for those people’s health and well-being.  Wasteful use or polluting are a different matter than thoughtful use.  I haven’t thought this through in great detail, but it seems that wise use of energy in one country makes more available for others at lower cost.  I like that thought.

James V Dirkes II, PE, BEMP, LEED AP
Energy Analysis, Commissioning & Training Services
1631 Acacia Drive, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 USA
616 450 8653<tel:616%20450%208653>
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