William F. Gibson, the science fiction writer who wrote the breakthrough novel which predicted the Internet, artificial intelligence, and hacker culture, Neuromancer, once said that ‘the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed’.
This is something of a comforting thought, given where green building seems to be going, with contests and practical applications of energy-efficient building practices originating in universities all over the world. Much like the development of the Internet, there is an indication that energy efficiency and a better use of resources is not only possible, but also extremely likely to be a part of our daily lives. These early examples of energy-efficient buildings that store solar energy, enough to comfortably heat and power a building in a major urban centre, represent a possible future that many hope will become mainstream sooner rather than later.
Here’s an article about the greenest home in Atlanta, the product of a 2007 contest, the Solar Decathlon which is sponsored by the US department of Energy. The terms of the contest measured the ability to run a washer and dryer, an oven, a TV, computer, and of course generate hot water too. In this, the contest wasn’t so much about theoretical applications of solar energy, but also real-life practicalities which are important to a resident living in a space where solar energy is a major source of power.
I think this is significant, and it’s encouraging that the participants in the contest are thinking beyond immediate results. They are thinking about the more evenly-distributed future that William S. Gibson was talking about, and it’s more evenly-distributed benefits to everyday people.