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College of Design

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Emerging Demand for Alternative Home Energy

It can hardly be argued that we the Millennial Generation are products of the digital age - exponential advancements in high technology have been a powerful feature of our childhood and formative years, with still no end in sight as we become adults. We grew up knowing that as a society we are capable of solving complex issues with technological solutions. Yet, over a decade into the twenty-first century, we still are in the grips of an environmental and ecological crisis. By now it is old news that humans are causing irreparable damages to our earth and its finite resources - yet we knowingly continue to burn fossil fuels as a main source of energy knowing full well that there are other, cleaner ways of supplying energy to our nation's power grid.

In 2009, about 22% of all energy use in the U.S. was linked directly to the homes we live in. That's A LOT of energy - meaning a lot of coal burnt up to make electricity and a lot of CO₂ released into our atmosphere. As the environmental movement towards sustainability grows stronger and consumers become more aware of available alternative energy sources, more and more Americans are investing in housing technologies to lessen their reliance on public utility. Some common examples in today's market are photovoltaic solar panels, geothermal pumps, and high-performance construction materials, methods, and mechanical systems. While building or retrofitting one's home to remove it from "the grid" is possible in almost any residential setting, doing so without major lifestyle changes would require a complex system of newly available housing technologies.


While it is disappointing that we as a nation overwhelmingly rely on (and by doing so, inadvertently support) the continuation of fossil fuels, the aforementioned housing technologies and energy sources are finally coming into the mainstream. And of course, I'm personally excited that I chose housing technology as my thematic concentration within housing studies - it's already a growing market and there will be only a handful of upcoming grads with such specialized credentials. Opportunity awaits!

Hope you all are enjoying this beautiful fall weather!

- Jesse

Housing Studies, B.S.

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