Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on December 25, 2008
I like aluminum – or aluminium, depending on which side of the ocean you live on – especially the 12-ounce variety. I also live near an aluminum plant and I know how much electricity is needed to extract the metal from the ore. So, when I heard that some folks in Japan were going to start building homes with aluminum, I was skeptical.
The “houses”, designed by Tokyo architects Atelier Tekuto, take advantage of aluminum’s superior conductivity to heat and cool the home, and they’ve thrown in a green roof to boot. Geothermal energy heats and cools water that is pumped throughout the house, using a hybrid wind/solar system to run the pumps. With all these things in place, grid-energy consumption is reduced to nearly zero.
Check it out here.
What about the energy required to make all the aluminum? While it’s true that making aluminum from ore takes mammoth amounts of electricity, there are equally mammoth amounts of aluminum that has already been produced. It only takes about 3% of the energy to recycle aluminum as it does to get it from the ore, not including the energy needed to get the stuff out of the ground. I’m still not sure how it all balances out, but I imagine the energy consumption is similar to concrete, steel and wood buildings.
Most exciting is that this design provides another example of my favorite warming-earth slogan: “Drink cheap beer, save the planet.” Looks like I picked the wrong century to stop drinking beer.