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Net Zero Energy Buildings


The Audubon Center Installs Solar Trigeneration™  System
Making this one of the World's First
"Net Zero Energy Buildings"
at Their New Facility in Los Angeles, California

Solar Trigeneration
  Provides All of the Building's (5000 sq.ft.)
Electricity, Air-Conditioning, Heating and Domestic Hot Water With Free Solar Power

The Sun Powers the Audubon Center's Solar Trigeneration System at Debs Park
in Los Angeles. The Audubon building is one of the world's first "Net Zero Energy Buildings."
The Solar TrigenerationSystem Consists of a 10 Ton 
“Solar Absorption Cooling"
System Matched with a Solar Electric Power System

By:  Monty Goodell, M.B.A.
President & CEO
Renewable Energy Technologies, an EcoGeneration Solutions, LLC. Company

Los Angeles, California

There is now a better, more efficient, “pollution free power” solution for cooling, heating and powering homes and commercial buildings where solar energy is available. It's called Solar Trigeneration

Solar Trigeneration is defined as the simultaneous generation of cooling, heating and power with only the free solar energy from the sun providing the "fuel". Solar Trigeneration™ is now a reality at the Audubon Center at Debs Park several miles from downtown Los Angeles and is one of the world's first "Net Zero Energy Buildings."

The Audubon Center is totally powered by the sun’s energy and the building operates entirely “grid-free” and without any electric connections to the electric grid, or natural gas connections – a truly sustainable power and energy solution. Best of all, the Audubon Center doesn’t rely on the over-burdened electric grid or even natural gas.  Therefore, the Audubon Center receive NO electric bills or natural gas bills to pay each month.

The Audubon Center's 5,000 square foot office and conference facility is powered by a Solar Trigeneration™ system that features a 25-kilowatt solar electric power system where the energy is stored in a bank of batteries. The Center is cooled by a 10-ton solar absorption cooling system powered by an array of very efficient solar heat pipe vacuum tube thermal collectors.  The collectors heat the water to temperatures of 200+ degree F stored in a 1,200 gallon insulated tank, another type of inexpensive battery. The Solar Trigeneration system at the Audubon not only provides the air-conditioning in the summer but also heats the building in the winter, and provides the hot water for the kitchen and bathrooms. 

Absorption chillers, and cooling with solar energy with an absorption chiller are not new technologies.  In fact, absorption chiller technology is over 70 years old.  The first refrigerators were powered by propane gas to run the absorption chillers that used ammonia as a refrigerant.  Electricity and the electric compression chiller gained popularity only because of the convenient “plug and play” appliance and relatively cheap electric rates.  Electricity is no longer economically, or environmentally “cheap.”

Cogeneration refers to the simultaneous production of heat and power. Cogeneration plants are much more efficient as compared with typical power plants.  Cogeneration is usually about 55% to 70% efficient in terms of overall system efficiency, or about 200% more efficient than typical power plants.  However, cogeneration power plants are fueled by natural gas, which is a limited resource, and whose price has exploded as a result of all the new cogeneration plants that have been built and fueled by natural gas. Even in early 2001, the price of natural gas was only $2.75 - $3.25 per mmbtu. However, with all of the new cogeneration power plants, limited supply of natural gas, and the huge demand placed on natural gas for fueling the new cogeneration plants, the price of natural gas is now around $7.50 - $8.50 per mmbtu.

Solar Trigeneration™ is an EcoGeneration™ solution.  EcoGeneration™ refers to a power and energy system that uses the “natural” energy or fuel that is available for a specific site or location. Such energy or fuel includes, solar, wind, BioMethane, geothermal, and ocean power, including ocean tidal and ocean thermal energy conversion. For example, in the desert areas of the Southwestern U.S., there is an abundance of solar energy. Therefore, home-owners and business owners in this part of the country should seriously consider an EcoGeneration system (“ecogen system”) that optimizes the opportunities available through solar energy

Today, the cause of the summer peak electric demand, electric supply problems, and black-outs, are the result of the energy crisis in California , primarily attributed to the air conditioning load. Over 40 percent of the electricity generated every day goes is used for air conditioning.  At this time of year, the electric utilities are forced to turn on all of their power plants to generate the “peak” demands required by the customers, primarily for air-conditioning.  This means that all of the efficient power plants, the inefficient power plants, along with all of the “peaking” power plants have to run to generate the electricity needed. The high cost of meeting the peak demand is passed on to the consumers with rates of $.20+ per kWh during the summer months.   For fixed income seniors living in desert communities, they are already forced to conserve on energy, food, water, and other necessities of life. 

Greater Demands on California’s Limited Electric Supply, Lack of New Electric Power Supplies, and This Summer’s Heat Wave are Compounding the Problem Leading to the “Perfect Electric Storm”

Many people will remember the movie “The Perfect Storm” from several years ago, when several storms came together in the northeastern part of the U.S. to produce a deadly and catastrophic “perfect” storm. Today, a different type of “perfect storm” is brewing in California . The storm that’s looming on the horizon in California is a “perfect electric storm” wherein the supply of electricity from the electric utility company’s power plants are unable to keep-up with the demand – meaning a black-out, or loss of electricity, like the black-outs from previous years, and like the northeastern black-out from 2003.

The most likely time of year for a black-out in California , unfortunately, is the summer, when air-conditioners are running at the maximum, and placing the maximum load on California ’s electricity supply.  Should such a black-out occur in the desert areas of California, where daily high temperatures routinely reach 110 degrees and higher, and where a significant percentage of the population is comprised of retired and senior citizens, and should the black-out be prolonged, a number of deaths will be the likely outcome. People, and especially the elderly, simply cannot tolerate prolonged high temperatures

How Do We Prevent the “Perfect Electric Storm” from Occurring in California and Other Regions in the U.S.?

Another major concern is how do we prevent the “Perfect Electric Storm” from happening, like the Northeast Blackout several summers ago, especially for people living in the desert?  California ’s energy authorities are warning of a possible energy crisis during the hot summer months, due to the excessive and prolonged summer temperatures where demand increases by over 40 percent.  Compounding the problem is the rising demand for electricity due to population growth and the limited transmission capacity in some areas in the region.  According to the California Energy Commission, the State must build three natural gas-fired 500-megawatt peaking power plants, every year, just to keep up with the growing demands of electricity. Failure to keep up with demand means The problem is getting worse due to the population growth in the Inland Empire, Coachella Valley and Antelope Valley. The projected power gap for the coming summers of 2006, 2007, and 2008 is very bleak.

Governor Schwarzenegger’s “Million Solar Roofs” program and the passage of the 2005 Federal Energy Act will be the foundation to create a “Perfect Solar Storm” to trigger the Solar Economy throughout California. 

With the threat of California’s seniors and elderly dying from heat exhaustion due to power outages, black-outs, rolling black-outs and the rising costs of electricity and natural gas, combined with the continuing impact of global warming, the perfect solution is to create a Solar Revolution by cooling, heating and powering the desert with solar energy and technologies like Solar Cogeneration ™ or Solar Trigeneration™.

To find our more about the new Solar Trigenerationsystem at the Audubon Center in Los Angeles, or arrange for a tour of the Audubon Center, or discuss your Solar CHP ™, Solar Cogeneration ™ or EcoGeneration ™ requirements, call Monty Goodell, M.B.A. at 832-758-0027 or Les Hamasaki at: 323-350- 5750  

The Audubon Center's new Solar Trigeneration power and energy system
makes this building a "Net Zero Energy Building"

The Audubon's Roof showing the Solar Thermal Collectors,
part of the Solar Trigeneration power and energy system

The heart of the Audubon's Solar Trigeneration power and energy system
provides "free heating, cooling and domestic hot water," a "net zero energy building."

The hot water from the Solar Thermal Collectors on the roof of the Audubon is pumped here for producing the building's heating, cooling and domestic hot water.
Hot water is stored in the tank on the left for overnight.