This is an opinion editorial by Makoto Shibuya, a licensed architect with an accomplished portfolio of personal and professional projects.
I tend to believe that every challenge is also an opportunity. Cities have grown over centuries, but the world is changing rapidly. Although there is a healthy debate about what a future city might look like, if we were to design a city knowing what we know now, we can assume it would look very different.
The architecture is difficult, complicated and rooted in a lot of history and tradition. Yet it’s one of our oldest practices – we needed a roof over our heads before we could sit down and think about anything else. Unfortunately, this combination of complexity, tradition and permanence has historically kept the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry at the mercy of changing technology rather than the avant-garde. Change is hard, especially for something that builds on centuries of precedent.
Whether we like it or not, that will have to change as the world recognizes what some have been warning for decades. Although the numbers are changing, we know that buildings collectively contribute around 40% of global CO2 emissions.
Bitcoin introduces a market-based economic incentive for net positive energy projects, which, in addition to reducing CO2 emissions, could help offset the embodied carbon of our infrastructure over time.
A case study
In 1945, the Case Study House Program” was commissioned to help reinvent housing after World War II. Although some projects were never built, this was an important and influential contribution to the modern architecture movement. Today we face a different challenge: we know that buildings collectively contribute about 40% of global CO2 emissions.
Zero is a case study for exploring new opportunities around renewable energy infrastructure and Bitcoin. The ultimate goal is to accelerate net-zero carbon projects through renewable energy technology, material selection and carbon removal strategies. I understand that there are many nuances around environmental concerns, and I’m just bending a few design ideas to see where I land.
At first glance, the power consumption of a “proof of work” system like Bitcoin may seem like an inherent problem, but complex issues require looking at the whole system. When you think about it, it’s important to decouple energy from carbon emissions. Energy consumption is not inherently a bad thing. Everything requires energy — it’s part of the first law of thermodynamics.
In summary, the energy problem has never been a question of scarcity but rather of intermittency, storage and distribution. For the first time in history, energy has a buyer of last resort – bitcoin miners – who can take stranded or excess energy from anywhere and convert it into a global digital asset. Bitcoin mining introduces a perpetual appetite for stranded or excess energy, which can increase traditional net metering and energy storage. Mining monetizes the construction and operation of a solar system from day one rather than waiting for permits to be sold back to the grid, which can often take months. It is another valuable tool that is geographically independent. This new demand acts as a continued incentive for renewable energy and other innovations in energy infrastructure.
Combining renewable energy sources with batteries allows people to be their own utility. Mining could add another tool to help balance their renewable energy economy. This additional utility allows households, campuses and cities to design a renewable energy system that will meet all their energy needs without the risk of overbuilding. Traditionally this was uneconomical as the system had to be designed for peak loads. This new ability to design economically for these extended loads, in turn, continues to improve the economics of renewable energy infrastructure.
Below is a diagram showing how bitcoin mining could complement energy storage and net metering. The heat generated by the mining equipment is then used to preheat the domestic water used around the house.
Waste heat (a byproduct of bitcoin mining) is used to preheat domestic water around the house. In winter, it is also used as radiant floor heating.
“Capturing a single hour of sunshine on our planet would allow us to meet the planet’s food and energy needs for an entire year, and each year the sun radiates more energy to the earth than it has been. used throughout human history.”— The solar revolution
angle of the sun
The roof could be designed to cut off the angle of the sun in the summer and allow it to seep in during the winter. In summer, it helps to control the temperature in case of overheating. In winter, the sun is allowed to warm the ground and radiate heat throughout the space during the night. Adjustable sliding blinds offer another level of local sun control.
Rainwater is collected in a water feature and stored in an underground water cistern. In summer, as this water evaporates, it pre-cools the air before entering the building. Combining this with strategically located operable windows allows fresh air to pass through the residence, saving energy on air conditioning.
The power of an image
After World War II, the original “Case Study Houses” appeared in “Arts & Architecture” magazine in iconic black and white photographs. These photographs spread Californian mid-century architecture around the world and were influential in the modern architecture movement. In a similar spirit, I created several images capturing Project Zero to help paint a vision. This isn’t a complete picture yet – it’s just a case study to test ideas. Certainly, there are details to be tweaked and improvements to be made. However, the intention is to have an ongoing process to test ideas in hopes of a sustainable future.
This is a guest post by Makoto Shibuya. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.