Pursuing a Sustainable Future Through Architecture

Written by Dylan Link, ESLLC 2017-2018

The roaring fork valley is a relatively small place with a small population. It is home to Aspen, CO which is known to be an extremely progressive place when it comes to sustainability with an astonishing 100 percent of its energy coming from renewable sources. This makes Aspen one of very few places in the United States to have accomplished this so far with many other towns following with pledges to make it happen in the future. Towns going renewable creates an environment were other towns feel the need to move in this direction which is a good start to moving our country towards this extraordinarily difficult goal. While aspen is a town known for renewable energy, I instead wish to discuss a town that has not yet made this change.

The Rocky Mountain Institute recently opened a new branch of their company in a small town called Basalt, CO which is just down the road from Aspen and not quite as progressive. When they built their new building, they decided to make their own headway in the world of environmental sustainability. The RMI Innovation center in Basalt has made their building as sustainable as possible especially considering the cold temperatures during the winter months. Firstly, they have insulated the building extraordinarily well to ensure that as much heat as possible stays in the building during the winter as to not produce more heat than they need. Solar panels on the roofs generate the energy needed to function as a company with minimal discomfort.

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The amount of energy created by the solar panels is greater than the amount consumed which means it is a net-zero building. The solar panels on the roof are enough to sustain the building and charge six electric cars with electricity to send back into the grid. All this and to make this build even more appealing, the building is said to last 100 years whereas the average life span for a commercial building is only 30 years. Moving in the direction of sustainable buildings is the first step in a path that others need to follow if we have hope in solving our current environmental crisis. With operational costs down, this type of building is the only real solution to the huge problem of wasting energy and I believe people should be encouraged to follow this a model.

 

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