Sunday, October 28, 2007

Puget Sound Chapter’s Focus on Energy Efficiency & Sustainability – 30 Years Ago

Puget Sound Chapter’s November 2007 meeting will feature ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer Ron Jarnagin speaking on net zero energy buildings. ASHRAE’s leadership and Puget Sound Chapter's participation in promoting energy efficient and sustainable design is not new.

Members of Puget Sound Chapter have shown leadership in energy efficiency at the local and national level for more than 30 years. The following is a brief glance at chapter activities regarding energy efficiency and alternative energy, as told by Punch List newsletters of the 1970s.

Going into the Energy Crisis

Sept 12, 1973 - “Energy conversation (and that word is not misspelled) is all there is today” said Erlinger Hallanger of Honeywell’s Building Automation Division. As speaker at the September meeting, Hallanger said “we need to get building energy use out of the talk stage and into some definite action”. He commented that “the control industry is primarily a bunch of hardware peddlers bidding on specs which result in only minimum performance”. While our past solution has been to find more energy, Hallanger claimed that it is now time to get better energy use by improving the design of HVAC and lighting systems and integrating their control. Hallanger pointed out that future sources of energy, except the breeder reactor, are very vague. Geothermal energy is available only in some very small areas, and solar energy has the very real problem of storage.

Addressing Impending Legislation

May 15, 1974 - At the May chapter meeting a panel representing members from both ASHRAE and IEEE discussed impending energy legislation. The forum was titled “Design and Evaluation Criteria for Energy Conservation in New Buildings, or The Octopus and You”. Panelists agreed that legislation was imminent at all levels, from local building codes to national policy, and the regulatory octopus could entangle us all. The panel concluded by calling for support to the technical committees providing guidance for legislation.

Panelists representing ASHRAE and IEEE admit "the regulatory octopus could entangle us all" in their discussion of impending energy conservation legislation at the May 1974 Puget Sound Chapter meeting.

Nov 15, 1978 - Bob Johnson, Chairman of Puget Sound Chapter’s Energy Committee, and other members of the committee presented a review of the City of Seattle’s proposed energy code at the monthly workshop to a standing room crowd.

Bob Johnson, Chairman of Puget Sound Chapter Energy Committee, addresses a standing room only crowd at the November 1978 workshop regarding the City of Seattle's proposed energy code.

Puget Sound Chapter members receive news about the proposed City of Seattle energy code at the November 1978 workshop.

Evaluating Alternative Resources

Sept 10, 1975 - “Wind Energy Machines and Application” was the meeting topic presented by Robert Wilson, professor of mechanical engineering at Oregon State University. Professor Wilson spoke of the $12 million in federal funding allocated to wind power research in 1975. He indicated expensive gearing units and short rotor life were major drawbacks to wind energy being an attractive form of alternative energy. According to Dr. Wilson, the maximum useful life of a rotor set was 1,500 to 5,000 hours. At the end of his presentation, price lists for several wind turbine units were distributed, along with calculated cost per installed kilowatt and according to the October 1975 Punch List, “bargains were missing”.

100 kW Experimental Wind Turbine Generator Display
Board from 1975.

Source: NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

Nov 12, 1975 - The monthly chapter meeting topic was “Design Criteria for a Residential Solar Heating System” presented by Harry Kier of Solarthermics Corporation. Kier indicated “the solar heating industry is in a similar condition today as that of the auto industry prior to the arrival of Henry Ford”. His presentation focused on a “solar furnace” that would store collected energy in a compartment containing 25,000 pounds of washed rocks. In Seattle, the solar furnace would provide an average daily output of 135,000 Btu.

Harry Kier, of Solarthermics Corporation, discusses the advantages of using a “solar furnace” for supplemental heating of Seattle residences.

The SUNPOWER solar heating unit presented by Harry Kier, could provide heating for 3-5 days, even when the sun wasn’t shining, by storing energy in 25,000 pounds of rock.

Source: Puget Sound Chapter ASHRAE Punch List, Dec 1975.

Conservation Becomes a Resource

Sept 15, 1976 - Gordon Vickery, Superintendent of Seattle City Light discussed Energy 1990, a study conducted at the direction of Seattle City Council to identify Seattle’s energy needs through the year 1990. Consisting of eleven volumes and weighing 27 pounds, Vickery said “it created more controversy, I guess, than questions it was supposed to answer”. Vickery discussed Seattle City Light’s involvement with three nuclear plants and two alternative hydro projects, High Ross and Copper Creek. Regardless of the new sources of energy, Vickery said “the big thing that we are going to bank on and it’s gotta be one of the great gambles of all time, ah, as I said somewhere once, the City Council with the audacity of a river boat gambler has decided we are going to take a different course, and I hope it works because I think it’s right, and I’m talking about conservation”.

1 comment:

Rand Conger said...

Excellent article, as always, David!