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Paul continues his call with Alan Booker with the goal of catching up on the past 6 months of pod-silence, covering topics such as the Living Building Challenge and how energy prices vary over time and depending on source.

One issue that Alan notes with some Living Building Challenge buildings is the way they approach meeting the requirement to generate 105% of the energy that they use annually, typically by installing a large solar array on the site to produce excess power during summer, back-feeding any unused power onto the grid.  Then during the winter, when solar power is often much lower, they just pull from the grid, which is often generated from non-renewable sources.  This somewhat misses the point of being able to run off of the real-time energy being provided by the environment.  For one of the current LBC buildings Alan is working with, the community building it has added that requirement that the project be fully off-grid, meaning that it cannot fall back on such a crutch.

With current energy price trends going the way they are, and may well continue to go, Paul brings up his and Mud’s infographic-in-progress that goes over the cost of heating a typical Montanan home over a year.  First thing he points out is that the price of propane is listed as $2.10/gallon, but thanks to the way it’s distributed in at least Montana, that price can fluctuate a lot simply down to what the distributers think they can get away with, or to bribe you into signing up with them.  The only place Alan uses propane is to run emergency backup generators for critical loads, such as running a CPAP machine or providing cooling in extreme heat.  Some people use diesel for this, but diesel goes off over time making it a lot less useful for occasional use, whereas propane is a lot more shelf-stable. Continuous use is a different matter, but for emergency purposes, propane is the best way to go.

Relevant Threads

Living Building Challenge website

annual operation/fuel cost of all types of heaters - work in progress infographic
Rocket Mass Heater forum

Solar energy forum

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