The Herald Bulletin

July 22, 2013

Jesse Wilkerson: Renewable energy is making a statement today


The Herald Bulletin

---- — Renewable energy is making a statement around the world. An effort to decrease our carbon footprint has unearthed engineers, activist, politicians and innovators from around the world. The movement will radically change the built environment. I have a passion for the built environment. In 2010 I created a low waste low carbon model for the private residence. The project garnered media attention and opened my world to people from around the world who were all attempting the same thing. The goal was and has been to generate enough power independently to,”get off the grid.”

I am not in architecture because I simply want to create nice buildings. I have always maintained the interest to change the way we think about building. I partnered with a medical doctor who graduated from Harvard, an engineer who created solar road panels, and a company out of the United Arab Emirates that developed a wind stalk (versus the $2 million behemoth wind turbines that are sprinkled all over the country).

The technology is here to do something completely different. In another exercise with local engineers and developers we explored creating a battery to run the entire home. The concepts aren’t new, but engaging modern technology has driven the process to a stronger performance base. In order to achieve renewable energy that produces net zero performing structures we are expanding practical applications with off the shelf items at your local hardware stores.

Imagine a community that is completely off the grid. In communities across the world this isn’t somewhere off in the future — it is today! For everywhere in Indiana excluding northern Indiana (Northern Indiana Public Service Corp.) feed-in-tariffs do not currently exist. These tariffs allow for you to sell the extra power generated on-site to utility companies.

Below is a link for groups that fund transformational projects that create entirely new ways to source, distribute and use energy. They leverage the best practices of academia, business and government, to fast-track new innovative technologies into the marketplace (www.arpae-summit.com). What can happen has happened. The race is on in communities all over the world to change the antiquated model of consuming energy and create a more sustainable environment.

China has positioned itself alongside the USA to be the global leader in the area of renewable energy. Their political will has been to inform and guide its citizens to reduce electric consumption by increasing ways to minimize the overall demand. The thought of their effort has made me to wonder how many local residents in our city/ county realize how much power they consume daily. What changes can be made at an individual level to engage our drive for pushing for renewable energy legislation?

Jesse J. Wilkerson is the principal of the local architecture firm Jesse J. Wilkerson & Associates. His column appears every other Monday on the Business page.