This is an opinion editorial by Makoto Shibuya, a licensed architect with a full portfolio of personal and professional projects.
I tend to believe that every challenge is also an opportunity. Cities have been developing for centuries, but the world is changing rapidly. Although there is a healthy debate about what a city of the future might look like, if we were to design a city knowing what we know now, we can assume that it would look quite different.
Architecture is difficult, complicated and rooted in a lot of history and tradition. However, it is 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 on the cutting edge. Change is difficult, especially for something built on centuries of precedent.
Like it or not, that will have to change as the world comes to terms with what some have been warning about for decades. Although the numbers are evolving, 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 “House Case Study Program” it was commissioned to help reimagine housing after World War II. While some of the projects were never built, he was an important and influential contribution to the modern architecture movement. Today, we face a different challenge: we know that buildings collectively contribute approximately 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 a lot of nuances around environmental concerns, and I’m just flexing some 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 problems require looking at the entire system. When thinking about this, it is important to decouple energy from carbon emissions. Power usage is not inherently a bad thing. Everything requires energy, it’s part of the first law of thermodynamics.
In short, the energy problem has never been one of scarcity but of intermittence, storage and distribution. For the first time in history, energy has a buyer of last resort, bitcoin miners, who can take leftover or surplus energy from anywhere and turn it into a global digital asset. Bitcoin mining introduces a perpetual appetite for stranded or surplus energy that can augment traditional net metering and energy storage. Mining makes it possible to monetize building and running a solar system from day one rather than waiting for permits to sell it 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 further innovation in energy infrastructure.
Combining renewable energy sources with batteries allows people to be their own utility company. Mining could add another tool to help balance its renewable energy economy. This additional utility allows homes, campuses and cities to design a renewable energy system that meets all of their energy needs without the risk of overbuilding. Traditionally, this has been uneconomical because the system had to be designed for peak loads. This new ability to economically design 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 hardware is then used to preheat domestic water used in the house.
Waste heat (a byproduct of bitcoin mining) is used to preheat domestic water in the house. In winter, it is also used as radiant heat for the floor.
“Capturing just one hour of sunlight hitting our planet would allow us to meet the world’s food and energy needs for an entire year, and each year the sun radiates more energy onto the earth than has been used in the entire planet.” the history of mankind.”— The Solar Return
The roof could be designed to cut off the angle of the sun in the summer and allow it to filter in during the winter. In the summer, this helps control the temperature from overheating. In winter, the sun is allowed to warm the floor and radiate heat throughout the space during the course of the night. Adjustable slider shades provide another level of local solar control.
Rainwater is collected at a water source and stored in an underground water cistern. In the summer, as this water evaporates, it pre-cools the air before it enters the building. Combining this with strategically placed operable windows allows fresh air to cross-ventilate through the residence, saving energy on air conditioning.
The power of an image
After World War II, the original “Case Study Houses” were featured in “Arts & Architecture” magazine in iconic black and white photographs. These photographs spread California’s mid-century architecture throughout the world and were influential in the modern architecture movement. In a similar spirit, I have created several images capturing the Zero project to help paint a vision. It’s not a complete picture yet, it’s just a case study to test ideas. It is true that there are details to work on and improvements to make. However, the intention is to have an ongoing process for testing ideas in hopes of a sustainable future.
This is a guest post from Makoto Shibuya. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.