This Week in Sustainability: Energy Efficient Building Software and Salt-Based Energy Storage

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This Week in Sustainability: Energy Efficient Building Software and Salt-Based Energy Storage

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clip_image002This week GreenBiz reported on new web-based software from startup Ekotrope that analyzes buildings as they are designed and built. During the building process architects and engineers can compare various configurations to see which options will be the most cost-effective and most energy-efficient. So far, the software has enabled builders to cut costs by two-10 percent and build structures that are 40 percent more efficient. MIT professor Edward Crowley, who created the software using technology from NASA, stated he wanted a program that would “be able to analyze trade-offs in using various components to find the best energy and investment combination.”

In other news, Gigaom reported that the Solana solar power plant in Arizona, which has already produced 2,000 jobs, will use an innovative energy storage system that harnesses molten salt to produce solar power. The solar farm uses mirrors to attract light to the solar panels and the stored salt so that when the sun goes down the molten salt can continue producing energy without direct sunlight. While other solar plants have looked into similar energy storage opportunities, Abengoa Solar, the company behind the solar plant, is the first to start implementation in the U.S. When the sun goes behind a cloud or goes down for the night, the molten salt enables the plant to run completely on stored energy for up to six hours. All of the energy produced will be purchased by Arizona’s largest utility, the Arizona Public Service which will provide enough power to run 70,000 homes.

Both of these new technologies offer encouragement that new innovations will further enable all the buildings in our communities to become more sustainable and efficient.

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