Climate Craziness of the Week – Zero Carbon Living FAIL

Zero Carbon living…didn’t quite work out. Didn’t they do some calculations on this first? Sheesh.

Looks like some sort of Noah’s Ark sort of design. I suppose that was the idea.

Read the whole story at the Daily Mail

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February 25, 2011 3:07 am

All is not lost. They can still use this facility in warmer weather – in the school’s summer holidays for example.
The headteacher, Jill Hughes defended the project and said ‘We’re delighted to have the Living Ark – its a tremendous resource both for the school and the local community.
Climate change requires Faith.

Golf Charley
February 25, 2011 3:12 am

I think that as it is useless for school children, it should be provided as a free venue for green eco warriors to hold their meetings.
It may then serve a purpose

February 25, 2011 3:13 am

‘The Living Ark’ sounds pretty off-puttingly religious as well. You can’t sail into the future when the kids are too cold to learn.

February 25, 2011 3:14 am

Bloody imbeciles have done the same to classrooms in Australia but for cooling in summer. The classrooms were so hot the children had to go home, after lying on the floor with wet towels over them failed too.
Why does Government listen to these fatheads? I don’t know about anyone else but I am tired of being a living experiment for these idiots.

February 25, 2011 3:17 am

Why are we not surprised..?
Furthermore, how long before the full ire of the UK population descends on wind farm promoters, when everyone realises that, without tax breaks, subsidies and Renewable Obligation Certificates, all funded by us, these mostrosities are useless..?

Harry the Hacker
February 25, 2011 3:18 am

What can I say?
Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Hilarious.
Time to let the engineers back to design things that actually work.
Bunch of dipsticks.

February 25, 2011 3:18 am

Well, on the other hand, I quite like their architecture (at least in this pic, I’d like to see a more general view and other angles. But I love the wood 🙂 ).
Maybe they would consider to donate it? I would love to find the place to add it as a extension to my home. It will get heated like everything else…oh, and the floor will be replaced: it looks dirty.

Stephen Brown
February 25, 2011 3:23 am

A great big pot-bellied stove burning best Welsh anthracite would soon have that greenhouse toasty warm.

February 25, 2011 3:30 am

Thanks Anthony, that made my day.

Ken Denison
February 25, 2011 3:32 am

Classic, thanks for sharing.

Jean Parisot
February 25, 2011 3:42 am

They went active vice passive solar for heating?

Andy G
February 25, 2011 3:45 am

I hope all that wood is recycled, but it sure doesn’t look like it !!

February 25, 2011 3:46 am

Einstein : “There are 2 things that I think may be infinite – the universe and human stupidity. But I’m not sure about the universe.”

Jack Savage
February 25, 2011 3:46 am

I am usually the first to laugh at these stories…but the Daily Mail is not always completely to be trusted.
I suspect this story in the local newspaper is nearer the truth.
What I also suspect… is that given the usual inefficiency in our schoolbuilding programs, the price of £25,000 is probably about the same as a school would pay for an “ordinary” classroom, if not less.
Any other Brits out there got any figures?
It is not “environmentalism” that is the problem, you know. The problem is that it has been hi-jacked and subverted.
The Man-Made CO2-driven global warming boondoggle is damaging genuine environmentalism, conservation, anti-real-pollution-ism…whatever you wish to call it… and it is about time people involved in these perfectly worthy, nay, essential aspirations wised up and realised what has been happening.

John V. Wright
February 25, 2011 3:49 am

Priceless. Anthony, thank you for continuing to bring these absurdities to the public’s attention.
By the way, I visited the Daily Mail’s blog on this story and left the following comment:
“The last two paragraphs tell you a lot about how the watermelons use language to defend the indefensible.
Headteacher Jill Hughes is “delighted to have the Living Ark – its (sic) a tremendous resource both for the school and the local community and is an important part of the Muswell Hill low carbon zone initiative.”
Jill – love – let me explain about the ‘tremendous resource’ and I’ll say it v – e – r – y s – l – o – w – l – y so that you can assimiliate it into your headteacher brain. It doesn’t work. OK – got it?
By the way, your pupils should know that the UK and the rest of the world is in for at least 30 years of lower temperatures. But I don’t suppose the ‘Muswell Hill low carbon zone initiative’ (puhleeease) would want to know about that.”
I commend the idea to the House.

Adrian Wingfield
February 25, 2011 3:49 am

Do some calculations?! Are you joking, Anthony? This is the UK, where Zero Carbon is the mantra trotted out by all levels of government, centrally and locally. We are world leaders in idealism and spin. Realism and objectivity are for wimps!!

February 25, 2011 3:58 am

the article doesnt really give enough detail. I’d like to know the calculations used in the design. I mean, if they ‘assume’ a certain amount of sunlight each day – they are barking up the wrong tree! The thermal mass of such a building must be very low and therefore on a cold day would have no retained heat from a warmer day. Plus, did they allow for pupil ‘heating’ – presumably it is a well insulated room, so in say 30 mins, would the room warm up from the body heat of the occupants? in which case, a small fan heater would take the initial chill off at the start of the day?
all seems a bit bizarre.
it is a reasonably sound green idea, but obviously badly excecuted. We should not knock such ideas as failures per se though as hopefully some lessons (pun intended) have been learnt!

February 25, 2011 4:03 am

It would have made a lot more sense to build the Living Ark underground. The temperature excursions of the surrounding soil would be far smaller and much easier to plan for.
They might have to call it something other than Ark, perhaps the Learning Underground would have a nice connection to the London Underground.
Then they could have the students maintain a garden above, amongst the solar panels.

Green Sand
February 25, 2011 4:03 am

But the calculations were correct! They got exactly the level of grant that the calculations predicted. 100% correct!

February 25, 2011 4:04 am

Is that the ‘Ark Classroom’, or the ‘Arctic Classroom’ ??
My particle physicist pal did the same at his home, and made the desperate error of tearing out the old heating system at the same time. Eventually, his wife got fed up of wearing winter coats indoors, and left him.
There is no accounting for intelligent folks who nevertheless do incredibly stupid things in the name of their religion. I am fed up with these Green pipe-dreams, so it is about time that some of them came crashing down to earth.
The next one I am aiming to slay is the new hydrogen busses in London. L.T. is insisting that these new busses are more efficient than the old diesel ones, but this defies the laws of physics (as Scotty would say). I am looking for actual consumption figures for these busses**, if anyone can help, so that I can bring this Green myth crashing to earth too.
** Their hydrogen generator is located in London and uses natural gas as a fuel, via the reforming process. The products of this reaction are hydrogen and carbon dioxide. (ouch!!) And there is no carbon capture facility.

February 25, 2011 4:08 am

Our Met Office weather man on the local news stated that the UK received on average of ONE Hr of sunshine per DAY throughout February so far!
Also the theretical insolation for London (according to NASA tables) is 2.66 Kw/m^2/day averaged throughout the year. Who knows what it actually was this February?
Why oh why won’t our clueless government stop their headlong lemming’s rush off the precipce of sustainable power generation and think for a little while. Of course, they cannot, they are all polititians, they have had their brains removed about the time they got their degrees in media studies and English literature and political studies. The majority have never held down a real job. They gravitate from Uni to internship in an MP’s office, then stand for election when their party loyalty has been determined.
/rant off.
The result of reading this post and the previous one about the Nature modelling circle jerk!

February 25, 2011 4:08 am

£25,000 ? Given the cost of building in the UK and the inefficiency of local authorities, especially as in this case it appears to be a flagship political initiative, I think you could almost stick another nought on the end. Good job we are up to our necks in money in this country and can afford it. (sarc)

February 25, 2011 4:10 am

Welllllll if it is too cold to use then it isn’t “eco-friendly”… hmmmm????? It is just a waste of time, money and other resources that would have been best expended elsewhere.
Was an engineer involved? Was an Architect involved? Maybe it’s time to re-examine their licensing. Just a thought…

Mike Restin
February 25, 2011 4:10 am

My daddy would have said this Living Ark “is like trying to put overdrive on a jackass,
it’s a good idea but, it just doesn’t work.”
When will these people do, say or spend money on something that surprises me?
I find it so hard to believe they are this stupid.
If the CAGW folks would please stop we could get things moving in the right direction.

February 25, 2011 4:16 am

LOL. My first reaction was to wonder how hot it will be in the summer if we see a bit of sun?!

February 25, 2011 4:20 am

Well, at least the KIDS learned a valuable lesson about environmental reality. They seldom miss the irony of adult folly.
Actually, I think that having demonstrated the value of this “resource” they should build a whole lot more of them, following the windmill model. Large government subsidies and carbon credits are sure to follow. With concerted effort, ALL classrooms could be converted to “Arks.” Like windmills, if they are only usable half the time, simply build a lot of extras in warmer (or cooler) places, like Panama and Nova Scotia and ship the kids there – using sailboats of course. Looks like those Arks might float, if you turned them upside down…

February 25, 2011 4:24 am

Re: Jack Savage
Jack, lets assume that a conventional classroom costs the same £25000 as this eco classroom. A conventional classroom can be used for the full 9 months of the school terms. This one, however, can not be used in winter because of the lack of heating which means it will not be available for between 20-25% of the school terms. This means that in real terms the eco classroom costs between 25 and 33% more than a conventional classroom.
A second point is that the number of children attending school is constant throughout the year and therefore the school needs an extra classroom just to cover when this one is not usable.

son of mulder
February 25, 2011 4:27 am

The pupils should all wrap up warm, put pedals under their desks so they can generate power, whilst keeping fit, keeping warm and demonstrating that human ingenuity is boundless and prepare for their eco future. They can sell the solar panels and have a party.

February 25, 2011 4:27 am

It’s a darn good thing that they got the “warmer” winter that the Met Office predicted or it would have really frozen a student or two.

Dave Springer
February 25, 2011 4:44 am

Maybe in the year 2100 London will be warm enough in the winter.
Or maybe not.

February 25, 2011 4:44 am

“Didn’t they do some calculations on this first? ” These eco-nuts cannot do calculations.

February 25, 2011 4:51 am

I wonder how one manufactures the door hardware, the double pane glass — transports building material to the site, takes pictures of the “ark”, and otherwise uses the infrastructure and manpower of an industrial society all without emitting CO2? Even the premise is stunningly arrogant on the face of it.

John B
February 25, 2011 4:55 am

So after reading the report in the local newspaper, it is clear that what has been built is in fact a summer house in the school garden – noting unusual in that, they were building them in Victorian days from the same “carbon neutral” material … wood.
Of course it will rot over time – not carbon neutral.

February 25, 2011 4:55 am

The large doors that open directly to the outside are another odd feature of this building. Even if the air in the building was warm, it would stream out any time the doors were opned to allow teh children to enter or leave

Claude Harvey
February 25, 2011 5:02 am

I think the project is a roaring success. It demonstrates EXACTLY what life in a carbon free world with 60-cent (U.S.) per kWh solar power will be like.

Don K
February 25, 2011 5:04 am

It’s really kind of bizarre. Solar seems to have a magnetic attraction for those who live in marginal to unsuitable places like Vermont, England and Germany. Yet in less cloudy climates, closer to the equator, where solar could reasonably make a modest contribution to heating and powering things, it largely languishes.
And yes, you’d think that anyone with the engineering skills to solarize something would at least WAG the energy budget before setting to work.

February 25, 2011 5:12 am

They probably factored in the heating effect of all the kids, trouble is they probably had to keep on their coats and hence no heating effect. Bet it boils in the summer.
Science should be done in the real world not just in models, a real scientist would know that…

Nigel Brereton
February 25, 2011 5:14 am

So a single room filled with energetic youngsters fails but we are still led to believe by the advertising that a two story house inhabited by a couple of old age pensioners would benefit from solar panels. I suppose that our forward thinking government must be looking at the cost to the state of old age pension then to be promoting this type of lunacy!

Don K
February 25, 2011 5:15 am

Afterthought: Perhaps the classroom can be salvaged. First, install some heat. Second, turn the heat off on Fridays and teach mandatory units on Mondays on subjects such as the virtues of planning before you act.

UK Sceptic
February 25, 2011 5:17 am

If it wasn’t for the fact that we taxpayers have little choice but to fund these absurd follies I’d be splitting my sides laughing.

February 25, 2011 5:25 am

Of course if used in the pejorative. the “Living Ark” takes on a whole new, and perhaps fitting, meaning.
Way OT, but I have noticed a distinct lack of activity in the last few days at RC, and an incredible spike at JC. WUWT? Olive branches all around?

Bruce Cobb
February 25, 2011 5:33 am

Charlotte Linacre, Campaign Manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said “All this will teach kids is how poorly planned and costly local authorities projects can be.”
It would be a real pity if that is all it taught them. The utter idiocy and wastefulness of the Carbon hysteria and eco-zealotry is one lesson that comes to mind. Kids are usually a lot smarter than “adults” give them credit for, though. They are probably snickering about it already.

Doctor Gee
February 25, 2011 5:35 am

… and not a desk in sight.

February 25, 2011 5:45 am

Even with tax breaks, windmills are pretty much useless.

Bob Barker
February 25, 2011 5:46 am

You would think that a solar heating system salesman would starve to death very quickly in England , but evidently not.

February 25, 2011 5:48 am

Whats the big deal? If space is an issue just run an electrical extension cord out there and plug in a couple of space heaters. And from the looks of it a few lamps too.
I think it has taught a bunch of kids a great lesson, albeit not the intended one.

Welsh Wizard
February 25, 2011 5:53 am

She said: ‘We’re delighted to have the Living Ark – its a tremendous resource both for the school and the local community and is an important part of the Muswell Hill low carbon zone initiative.’
Today Muswell Hill. Tomorrow the world!

Bernd Felsche
February 25, 2011 5:55 am

This is more than a simple failure to do arithmetic.
It is the trust in an authority that doing something must be the right thing to do. Anybody who bothers to check the facts will quickly see that wishful thinking doesn’t by itself produce anything useful; and that it is in fact much more likely to waste resources including the enthusiasm and trust of people when they see the monument to their own folly.
Government subsidies encourage people not to think of the detail. They dangle the carrot of free money and for the victims, that means that they switch off their critical thought processes. A common feature is avoiding to think about where the governments get their money to pay as subsidies.
e.g. When I question people who’ve installed subsidised, marginally-effective, grid-connected PV solar systems I confront them with a few facts, resulting in them revealing their wilful ignorance because they don’t believe have to pay for their error in judgement. The parting question is: Would you have decided on the system if you’d had to pay the full price?
Subsidies produce the worst effects of bureaucracy in the wider population: that there is no penalty for failure. And that produces waste.

Coach Springer
February 25, 2011 5:57 am

Maybe they can turn it into a rest area for that solar highway we were talking about a few days ago.

February 25, 2011 5:59 am

From an efficiency standpoint, couldn’t this “Ark” get retrofitted with modern conventional heating and still be more efficient? Then in the other 70% of the school year it could be off grid and just use the conventional heating for the part of the London winter that is too cold and cloudy to use the solar.
I am all for construction techniques that lower energy usage as long as it is cost effective overall, but I do it out of a belief in properly using the resources we have and not expending them needlessly. (I have been called a bit of a miser by my family). My fear is that they hid and misrepresented the construction and maintenance costs of this project to skew the impression of the public. I am not sure that 25,000 pounds is that out of line for a classroom if all other expenses are similar, but they have got to get the auxiliary environmental controls right if they expect to teach in this facility.

amicus curiae
February 25, 2011 6:03 am

now some nice thermal insulating straw bales with earth friendly clay coating, at a MUCH lower cost. would have provided a warm winter/cool summer refuge, and gee its OLD tech that is proven, same as mudbrick.

Jeff K
February 25, 2011 6:07 am

I would’ve told those kids, as I do at home, to stop complaining and put a sweater on.

February 25, 2011 6:08 am

This comes under the same looniness banner as the big new solar farm which is being built in Cornwall because ‘Cornwall is the sunniest county in the UK’…
Er – WHAT..?? Would this be the same Cornwall that I went to for rainy two-week holidays as a child – or lived next to in Devon for many years of glowering skies and horizontal rain..?
Nah – can’t be. These guys would have done their homework, wouldn’t they..? Same as the stationary wind farm near Milton Keynes which I pass regularly – situated as it is in the least windy part of the UK…
Oh – of course – its the SUBSIDIES – silly me….

Jason Calley
February 25, 2011 6:09 am

Bah to you nay-sayers! The uber-green class room has done exactly what it was meant to do. It has allowed politicians to pay off supporters with funding and jobs, while simultaneously hyping up the meme of manmade climate change and the need for government to control and tax every bit of energy usage — all this, while brain washing children that they must expect less and less from the future.
Mission accomplished!

February 25, 2011 6:14 am

While some may say this Living Ark classroom is totally worthless, I’m sure it is not – It serves as a world class bad example!
Nature is a tough teacher, She gives the test first and the lesson afterwards. We learn from experience, and negative experiences are usually the best instructors.
They should use it for all classes related to environmental studies so students understand that it is cold in England in the winter and warm in the summer, a fact many of them, and their teachers, have never had the time nor inclination to learn.
This may be the best £25,000 that school board ever spent!

Jason Calley
February 25, 2011 6:15 am

Oh, by the way, it IS at least pretty inside. It would make a nice cottage in the woods, or rather it would, once you had added a minimal kitchen and bathroom, a few chairs and a fold down bed. Oh, and a nice little wood stove for heat!
Sort of like a canal barge on stilts.

February 25, 2011 6:15 am

Will the ideologs ever learn that they cannot defy the laws of physics…

dave ward
February 25, 2011 6:18 am

There’s no need to waste any time on calculations – just go to a local DIY store and buy a pack of solar powered garden lights. Ours have only just started working again, after being virtually useless for the last 3 months.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if all the customers on “Green” energy tariffs ONLY had power when the wind is blowing and/or the sun is shining, we wouldn’t be spending massive sums of money on useless projects like this.

tom T
February 25, 2011 6:20 am

The calculations would work if England got a barbecue winter, that’s the problem with warmists they thing that “global warming” means that it has turn tropical everywhere.

February 25, 2011 6:27 am

Well it could work if you jammed enough kids in there but then there’s the carbon pollution problem they might have overlooked somewhat. Hang on a minute…!!

Another Gareth
February 25, 2011 6:39 am

Perhaps they could try shutting the door.
There is a balance to be struck between insulation to keep heat in and windows to get light and heat in. Looks to me like they haven’t got that balance right. With no vestibule either, any heat inside will race outside whenever someone comes or goes.

Jean Parisot
February 25, 2011 6:43 am

Jumping jacks?

Alexander Harvey
February 25, 2011 6:44 am

A piece from Haringay Council:
and the ZEDFactory website:
have illustrations of the same design, but it is not the design finally built but these designs are modular.
So the design appears to be attributable to the ZEDFactory, and it is certainly similar to some of their work, and I expect that they do their calculations.
We may have to look elsewhere to see what has gone wrong.
They appear to have a number of similar designs powered by solar, wind and for winter a stove.
One has to ask what happened to the stove?
Either it is missing, or is not permitted for use in a classroom, or just as plausibly that it is nobody’s job to light it. A stove pipe is visible in the ZEDFactory picture.
I have only looked into this because we have known how to do these calculations for at least 50 years to both my knowledge and practice. Today we can do them a lot better using finite element simulations amognst other techniques.
Architects tend to try and produce structures that are fit for purpose. If the requested building was intended for winter use, the design would be suitable for winter use.
A lot can go wrong, and perhaps something as simple as a requirement to light and feed a stove proved to be an intellectual challenge too far.

Randle Dewees
February 25, 2011 6:46 am

Say, that looks like Norwegian wood …

February 25, 2011 7:09 am

Did they have to use kids in the experiment? The use of wood is a little extravagant for an experiment and calling it an ark does not go well with what looks like ground water seeping into the floor.

Greg Holmes
February 25, 2011 7:13 am

I think we are due a nice credit note from the idiot that did the study as to its effectiveness.

Mark Twang
February 25, 2011 7:18 am

Stupid hippies.

February 25, 2011 7:23 am

The wood is clearly Scots Pine, probably from Scandinavia. Now building school houses in wood is neither extravagant or experimental, it has been done for centuries in Scandinavia, nor is it be more expensive than using other materials if it is done right. And of course wooden buildings work perfectly well in winter, even in extreme cold, if properly built and insulated (which “The Ark” isn’t – the walls are too thin for proper insulation). I suppose the problem is that the best insulation materials like rock-wool or cellulose foam are “unnatural”.
I would suggest buying a prefabricated building from Scandinavia next time rather than just the timber.

Sal Minella
February 25, 2011 7:27 am

Assuming the busses are generating electricity from a hydrogen fuel cell the efficiency is roughly equal to the efficiency of the reformation process (80%) times the compression process (70%) times the tank to wheel efficiency (40%) or 22%. The efficiency of burning nat gas directly is between 20% and 25%. At the very least a wash if not an advantage to using nat gas directly

Dr. Lurtz
February 25, 2011 7:27 am

England was the “Great Empire”. They became great based on technology. Now they have many “teachers/politicians” instructing our kids. Physics is a science based on “how you ‘feel’ things should be”.
Well, I feel that anyone going to this school will become a good politician, not intelligent, producers that will help society.
gigo – holds for teachers and students.
From this type of instruction came the “‘political grant based’ climate gate scientists”.
I have learned one thing from history -> “Whoever is in power will take you and your children as slaves.”

John Q. Galt
February 25, 2011 7:47 am

I’m an old school designer of intermediate scale technology and can answer to these first-semester college hippy eco-tards:
1) I see what you did there.
2) You’re doing it wrong.

February 25, 2011 7:48 am

I’m very curious as to what on earth would suggest to anyone anywhere that there was enough energy from the sun in winter time England to heat anything substantial?!?
It does occur to me that importing the wood from Scandinavia rather defeats the purpose of the zero-emission part.

Sal Minella
February 25, 2011 7:57 am

Diesel engines run in the 22% – 25% efficiency range but, the following quote indicates that these busses should never be built on cost alone.
“Mayor Ken Livingstone said the £750,000 buses were the “greenest, cleanest and quietest ever”. “

Sal Minella
February 25, 2011 8:07 am

Found this info on NY state renewable power site. It indicates that SMR is 70% efficient not 80% as I guessed (drops system efficiency to 20% instead of 22%). Also requires the burning of polluting fuel and produces CO2 so is not zero emission as claimed
Production Process
The steam methane reforming (SMR) process consists of the
following two steps.
1. Reformation of Natural Gas
The first step of the SMR process involves methane reacting with steam at 750-800°C (1380-1470ºF) to produce a synthesis gas (syngas), a mixture primarily made up of hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO).
2. Shift Reaction
In the second step, known as a water gas shift (WGS) reaction, the carbon monoxide produced in the first reaction is reacted with steam over a catalyst to form hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2). This process occurs in two stages, consisting of a high temperature shift (HTS) at 350ºC (662ºF) and a low temperature shift (LTS) at 190-210ºC (374-410ºF).
Hydrogen Production –
Steam Methane Reforming (SMR)
Table 1. Production Technology Scorecard
Steam Reforming
Steam reforming converts methane (and other hydrocarbons in natural gas) into hydrogen and carbon monoxide by reaction with steam over a nickel catalyst.
Natural gas
Natural gas. May be driven by heat from nuclear power plants.
70% efficient. Will require carbon sequestration.

February 25, 2011 8:08 am

Yep, it’s a design from zedfactory. These people have also designed BedZed:
and now they propose a new development PortZed – sustainable living in 70 off-grid apartments.
Includes the usual PV plus batteries arrangement… Which might even work most of the time; but is, given todays prices and England’s low insolation, highly uneconomic…
Interesting quote: “But there are studies showing that if you give people renewable energy they think, oh good, it’s free, and their energy use actually goes up. ”
That, and if you like spending a ton of money on entering a large pyschological experiment, …

Magnus in Sweden
February 25, 2011 8:28 am

Okay, so they built a house without insulation …but they were radical in minds! Don’t forget that! Now I’m gonna switch off my computer, but it’ll takes half a minute which consume energy, but luckily I have a sledgehammer, …and ¤#%”4$£@$€34″–… .. .

Who do you think you are kidding Mr Warmist
February 25, 2011 8:32 am

Alas they are not merely stupid hippies, they are dangerous subversives who want us all to go back to living in caves – except that then the planet won’t support our population without the technology that facilitates it – so hundreds of millions would die.
The warm-mongers are communists and anarchists and they are a hairs-breadth away from becoming eco-terrorists. Already they vandalise large cars in London and it’s only a matter of time before they start attacking people.

Tom Mills
February 25, 2011 8:55 am

Low carbon? It would fall down without it. The frame is made of wood.

February 25, 2011 9:02 am

One has to ask what happened to the stove?
Either it is missing, or is not permitted for use in a classroom, or just as plausibly that it is nobody’s job to light it. A stove pipe is visible in the ZEDFactory picture.
They can’t have a stove because then it wouldn’t be ‘zero carbon’.
Agree that it’s curious that there are no desks or other signs of teaching in the picture. Now that it can’t be used for zero carbon teaching, what’s the bet they end up putting a stove in and turning it into a lovely staffroom? I mean, we couldn’t let such a nice room go to waste, could we?

February 25, 2011 9:11 am

Charlotte Linacre, Campaign Manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said, “They must stop spending taxpayers’ hard earned cash on expensive pet projects that do nothing to improve pupils’ education.”
In light of the fact that heat was never a part of the building design, I agree it was a complete waste of taxpayer money, particularly when the school district is stuggling to accomodate an influx of new students.
However, I do think this was a valuable educational experience for the students. It is important that young people understand the complications of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources. Moreover, adequate solutions are needed if we are able to sustain life in a colder climate.
That said, I still can’t fathom why they did not plan to heat the building.

Sal Minella
February 25, 2011 9:39 am

In my engineering zeal, I didn’t even see the main issue – methane is not a “renewable” resource it is a “fossil fuel” – it’s doomed to fail. This bus project is obviously a boondogle and , I’m sure that was known before it was embarked upon. I am also sure that the whole system was budgeted with surplus funds, as funding this with borrowed money would simply be foolish. If borrowed money was used, you must consider the cost of the money as well.
At any rate, the whole project makes no economic or pollution reduction sense. That was easy to determine ahead of time so, there must be some other rationale behind it.

February 25, 2011 9:46 am

Wow! I love it as a teacher when I am provided a real-world opportunity to create a critical thinking activity for my lesson bank.
I’ve downloaded both articles regarding this fiasco. I’ve also downloaded several photos and design pictures from the ZED folks.
This will result in a great packet that highlights what happens when folks making decisions on the basis of something other than “technical”, “engineering” or “scientific” skills are in charge and the end result. Of course, I’ll be sure to put in some followup questions aimed at examining the economic impact as well as the potential harm to those it was supposed to serve.
The ZED design itself doesn’t look so bad…looks as though they have a little of everything in their plan as noted by others here.

February 25, 2011 10:01 am

For $50k you can buy a bunch of fire retardant insulating foam and some ground source heat pumps. I’d bet that would work a ton better.

Sal Minella
February 25, 2011 10:19 am

Could have saved some money based on UofM experience. Part of article reprinted below followed by link to full article. I can’t find any information concerning the monthly cost of energy for this house but I am quite sure that $1,000,000 for a 550 sq ft house is a little steep. I have a 2400 sq ft home in northern NY (cost $150,000 ten years ago)that uses nat gas for heat . My energy costs average $200/mo for gas AND electric so, that extra $850,000 would buy my energy for 354 years. Aside from that, what family could live in 550 sq ft or assemble the home from a kit.
“University of Minnesota students’ prize-winning solar house has no buyers
by Anissa Stocks, Minnesota Public Radio
October 26, 2010
St. Paul, Minn. — University of Minnesota students have spent months trying to sell their prize-winning solar-powered house but so far no one is buying it.
The 550 square-foot house is on display across the street from the Bell Museum in Minneapolis as part of its “Sustainable Shelter” exhibit. The house, with a gabled roof, is shaped like a typical Minnesota family home. But the roof is covered in solar panels, making it look futuristic.
The house placed fifth internationally in the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon last year. Although building costs reached $1 million, including a $100,000 Department of Energy grant and many donations, the house’s market value has been set at $550,000 based on the cost of materials and labor.
Project coordinators put the home up for auction at a $200,000 minimum bid in the spring — slightly higher than the median value of a single-family home in the metro area at about $185,000.
But the house has languished on the market since last spring. Those involved with the project say the weak housing market is partly to blame, but another factor is that the house requires self-assembly. The real estate market is driven by location, and the solar house doesn’t have one. ”

kbray in california
February 25, 2011 10:37 am

A dozen cows in there will heat that space just nicely….
and they only need to be fueled by grass….
However, the methane gas that they produce won’t fit the “theme”.
Damn all the carbon based life forms!! They’re totally fouling up the planet!!
Maybe burn some of the wood it’s made out of in a wood stove, that will make it nice and cozy in there…. oops… that damn carbon cycle again… what to do? what to do?
Carbon dioxide is not the problem. We could spend this money on cleaning up toxic chemicals instead. Politicians can run the same “Carbon Scam” on toxic products and actually do some good for the environment. This is becoming a “blood libel” against CO2. Find a real problem to tackle like those toxic plumes blowing in from China. CO2 ain’t the enemy… pollution and our overuse behavior is the real danger.

Gary Hladik
February 25, 2011 11:14 am

So the school district built a fair-weather-only classroom at about the same cost (?) as a year-round facility? Seems a bit extravagant in these hard times, but worth it if the kids see what a zero-carbon (and non-nuclear) future is really like (actually not so bad if only humans can learn to hibernate during cold weather).
Thanks to the posters who brought up the hydrogen bus and off-grid PortZed housing development. Next to these, the “Living Tent” seems almost brilliant. Could WUWT cover these stories in more depth?

February 25, 2011 11:16 am

jrwakefield says: “Will the ideologs ever learn that they cannot defy the laws of physics…?”
They will continue to believe that they can as long as they have the power to steal from you.

February 25, 2011 11:33 am

Really dumb design. Passive solar can do a lot better, even when it’s not intentional.
I was just noticing this in my own tiny hovel. Outside temp right now is 8F. The south-facing front wall has two double-glazed windows and a wooden door with a glass storm door. Now, with the sun brightly shining, the wooden inner door is almost too hot to touch — measures 90F — and the electric baseboard heater is turning on about 1/8 of the time. When the sun isn’t shining, the baseboard heater has to be on about 7/8 of the time to maintain the same comfort for such a low outside temp. Clearly the sun is doing most of the work. Thanks, old Sol!
American architects before the ’60s understood passive solar quite well, though they didn’t call it passive solar.

Sal Minella
February 25, 2011 12:03 pm

As long as engineering decisions are made by politicians and zealots, the laws of Physics will continue to be irrelevant. The general public seems not to understand that you cannot get more than 100% efficiency out of a system and, in fact, that at each energy transformation “step” the efficiency is less than 100%. They also don’t understand that the overall efficiency is the product of the individual step efficiencies.
Most people think that perpetual motion is easily achievable.

February 25, 2011 1:43 pm

I don’t get it… there’s plenty of wood there to build a nice, cozy fire.

February 25, 2011 1:56 pm

Stick a nice split-system heat pump air conditioner in there, and they could use it year round…
I know – wash my mouth out…

February 25, 2011 2:27 pm

Sounds pretty educational to me. Have the kids stay overnight in the thing in January (bring lots of blankets!) and then write an essay about what life would be like if all the carbon restrictions the greens are bucking for became reality.

Craig Goodrich
February 25, 2011 2:42 pm

OK, so Her Majesty’s Government has decided in its infinite wisdom to go all aout with subsidies and tax breaks for solar electricity, in spite of its large and growing deficit.
On an island where an essential part of every well-dressed gentleman’s outfit is his trusty umbrella.
Where most of the heating is provided by “electric fires”, and where heat is needed more at night than during the day (surprise!), and moreover where the sun obstinately refuses to shine at night (double surprise!).
It is perhaps no coincidence that this island was also the place of origin of the phrase, “barking mad.”

February 25, 2011 2:51 pm

They should power Parliament House in the same green manner, that would give the politicians first hand experience of what the greens are proposing. Epic failure.

Zeke the Sneak
February 25, 2011 3:14 pm

“But there is snag – its solar panels only provide enough energy to power a few lightbulbs.”
At some point you have to lay some blame on the parents – who at least are capable of grousing a little about the 37 thousand dollars, but who continue to entrust these people with the duty of educating their children.
“But there is a snag – the tolerant, environmentally trained children were not able to reason, read, or figure.”

Harry the Hacker
February 25, 2011 3:23 pm

Actually you can get an efficiency of > 100%. You need to use a heat pump.
Your typical reverse cycle air-con, when heating, is a heat pump. You can get an efficiency from a good one of about 400% or more. This measures electrical energy in and total heat circulated into the building. Because the heat pump moves heat (and the electrical energy is used to make that movement), you get what seems a paradoxical result.
When you take into account burning coal, gas, or similar to make the electricity with a system efficiency of about 50% (assuming a modern gas plant, about 60-65% and transmission losses of about 15%), the net effect is that your energy in -> heat out is about 200%.
Meaning that a heat pump is actually one of the most efficient means possible for heating.
(And OK we can juggle the numbers… a heat pump run by hydro power for example, really does give you something for nothing. Oh, whoops, forgot. Building dams for hydro is evil too.)

Dodgy Geezer
February 25, 2011 4:26 pm

Seen on another site…
“…It’s worth children sitting in dark, cold rooms if it saves just one polar bear. Fact! The children are just polluters of the future, why would we want to be kind to them?..”

Paul Jackson
February 25, 2011 5:16 pm

It’s pretty, but that much flammable material would never pass the fire-codes in a civilized country, especially without a sprinkler system for fire suppression. Changes I would think about making is going to a ceramic tile floor on a thick block of concrete for added thermal mass and running some hot water pipes through it and connecting them to some very generous solar collectors for heating and adding an electric baseboard unit or two to make up any heating shortfall. We could pretend the electricity came from the wind-farm to keep the greenies happy.

February 25, 2011 5:41 pm

I think all you commenters are just critics, being critical of a really good idea.
You just do not understand.
It works so well in theory.
End of story.
One or more should be built in every school.
It is soooooooooooooooooooo progressive too.
(in the worst sense of that well misused word).

February 25, 2011 7:29 pm

>>Sal Minella says: February 25, 2011 at 7:57 am
>>Diesel engines run in the 22% – 25% efficiency range but, the
>>following quote indicates that these busses should never be built
>>on cost alone.
Sorry, in Europe we are waaayy beyond that.
Normal European turbo diesels are running at around 40 – 45% efficiency, which is far better than any hydrogen powered vehicle can achieve. I agree with the previous poster, who put hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles at 22% efficiency.
My twin turbo diesel large 5-door family saloon does 48 mpg on mixed driving (not too heavy a right foot). Take it on a run and keep the speed at 55, and it will push 65 mpg.

February 25, 2011 7:31 pm

>>Sal Minella says: February 25, 2011 at 9:39 am
>>At any rate, the whole project makes no economic or pollution reduction
>>sense. That was easy to determine ahead of time so, there must be some
>>other rationale behind it.
Yep – its called the doctrine of the Green Religion.

kbray in california
February 25, 2011 8:40 pm

Those door seals look pretty robust…
Fill the Ark with water and load it with sharks.
(I don’t mean the politicians and warm scientists…)
It would be a great educational display for predator behavior.
Somehow when I mention sharks and predators the CAGW folks do come to mind…..
Too bad the sharks need a daily dose of carbon food (fish).
Maybe that counts as carbon sequestering?
…and aren’t sharks in danger of being endangered?
It’s all good then. For Education, For Carbon, For the Planet…

Al Gored
February 26, 2011 1:51 am

Funny. These things are great. They will become symbols of folly.
Maybe best to plan for both the eco and non-eco options to waste less money.

February 26, 2011 6:33 am

“Lib Dem Councillor Gail Engerts said: ‘It is such a shame that, considering the fanfare, it emerges that this facility cannot be used by the children all year round.’”

This should have gone into the Friday Funnies section.
Let’s see:
• You can’t use it in summer because the kids are on their summer holidays.
•Even if they had summer classes what happens on rainy or overcast days? (quite common in London summers) .
Some have suggested it might be useful for the Caribbean, but what will the energy be used for. Lighting? They got windows and plenty of sunshine. Ceiling fans maybe.

Too Cold
February 26, 2011 7:49 am

@ Ralph:
“My twin turbo diesel large 5-door family saloon does 48 mpg on mixed driving (not too heavy a right foot). Take it on a run and keep the speed at 55, and it will push 65 mpg.”
Couldn’t tell if you were serious.
If so, what year, make & model Saloon do you have?

February 26, 2011 11:12 am

‘All this will teach kids is how poorly planned and costly local authorities projects can be.’
Read more:
And a fine lesson it is, too. Much more valuable than the propaganda they are usually fed.
Could they try doubling the CO2 content of the room to about 980PPM? Shouldn’t be toxic at that level and we’d finally know if a doubling of CO2 would cause a runaway greenhouse effect. Or not.

February 26, 2011 12:05 pm

In the early 1970’s, Antioch College built a 32,000 sq. ft. PVC dome “classroom” at its Columbia MD campus. To my vague recollection, “The Bubble” (as it was popularly named) was full of bean bag chairs and long-haired students. It fostered many of the activities one might envision at a “media center” housed in a “bubble” in the 1970’s.
Now, Antioch is gone and so is The Bubble.
I have a strange sense that The Living Ark might have been the same sort of enterprise as The Bubble.

Sal Minella
February 26, 2011 3:45 pm

Don’t know if you are still hanging around this thread but, it seems that the best criteria for comparing the efficiency of the D bus vs the H bus is to calculate cost in dollars/mi or pounds/km as this is the only meaningful metric when it comes to spending taxpayers money. Assuming a equipment cost delta of 650000 pounds and a platform life of 300,000km the H bus comes out of the chute with a 2.16 pound per km cost greater than the D bus.
When I calculated the relative efficiencies of the fuels I used direct nat gas vs nat gas converted to hydrogen and came up with a 20% H efficiency and a 22% direct nat gas efficiency. That calculation did not take into account the fuel that is needed to produce the steam for the methane reforming process.
All in all the H production route is more polluting in that it is less efficient at least when comparing direct nat gas with reformed nat gas. In order to compare diesel you would need to know cost differences and mileage differences for the two fuels.
Bottom line is this: with a platform cost differential 0f 2.16 pounds per mile the fuel is a moot point. Taxpayer money is being squandered!! Worse yet the money for these colossal piles of steaming “technology” was borrowed so, you get to pay the interest on the loan as well.

February 26, 2011 3:56 pm

jrwakefield says:
Will the ideologs ever learn that they cannot defy the laws of physics…
Probably not. I doubt they even know them. Especially the Laws of Thermodynamics (#2 in particular)
It never ceases to amaze me how many enviro-fanatics seem to think they can get MORE energy out of a system than they put in.

R. Craigen
February 26, 2011 7:14 pm

Obviously built according to assumptions based on IPCC projected warming. By 2010 this baby should be toasty warm all year round! /sarc

February 27, 2011 11:23 am

Ok jog my memory, what was that dome that was built in I think Arizona, to great fanfare totally enclosed self contained sustainable, is the structure still around?

February 27, 2011 11:45 am

aeroguy48 says:
February 27, 2011 at 11:23 am
“Ok jog my memory, what was that dome that was built in I think Arizona, to great fanfare totally enclosed self contained sustainable, is the structure still around?”
You mean this one?

February 27, 2011 11:49 am

DirkH says:
February 27, 2011 at 11:45 am
“You mean this one?

“Since opening a window was impossible, the structure also required huge air conditioners to control the temperature and avoid killing the plants within. For every unit of solar energy that entered the structure, the air conditioners would expend approximately three times as much energy to cool the habitat back down.”
That is just too funny… a totally sustainable mini-biosphere… only that it needs a huge A/C unit all of the time.

February 28, 2011 1:15 pm

Ralph says:
February 25, 2011 at 7:29 pm
My twin turbo diesel large 5-door family saloon does 48 mpg on mixed driving (not too heavy a right foot). Take it on a run and keep the speed at 55, and it will push 65 mpg.

I’m impressed. My car is considered one of the most fuel efficient German diesels and makes about 55 mpg, 63 at best (47 on a freeway with air conditioning on).

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