Why Condos (and apartments) Suck

Here are the links to some popular posts regarding my changing thoughts on condo development. The idea is that condos cannot exist without cheap abundant energy, but we still don’t understood what this means as energy diminishes via Peak Oil. I’ll summorize these ideas below as well as in the posts.

Read –> Why condos (and apartments) Suck

Read More –> All articles with category “condo”

Learn from the best –> Youtube of James Howard Kunstler on Urban Design. Best 20 minutes ever. Humour and Grit challenge your perceptions and appreciate our present. Highly recommended. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1ZeXnmDZMQ

Building Energy Primer
Let’s work on a shift of perception here. We live on a planet. This planet earth has energy, but only so much energy is available per square meter. Enough energy is there from various sources (sun, ground thermal, etc), but can be easily overcome by too much density. Thus we’ll have to go back to houses or a lesser housing density balance to match this available natural energy generation if we are to get away from fossil fuels in all our buildings.

Definition: What is an Energy Density Unit?
I”ll call this natural limit of energy an “energy density unit”, for lack of a better term. Yes a meaningless arbitrary unit but I hope handy for examples. I want to be mindful of local, workable, energy generation opportunities. Energy itself is measured in joules and joules per second is measured by a watt. I’ll ignore these values for now until I know exact figures. Energy density units sounds fine for now.

Energy Density Unit Ratio
Lets say I have a house lot with 10 energy density units, and I’m the only person who lives there. The ratio is 10:1. I have lots of energy. Hooray for me.

Now, if the same building lot has 1000 people living there but the energy density unit is still 10, then the ratio is 10:1000 and there is an energy deficit. That sucks, and now everyone will have to pony up the cost of energy needed for living.

As a consequence, if everyone lives in constant energy deficits then we need external inputs from fossil fuels or transmission lines, or wherever. But if we live in balance with the available energy for a given space, then we do not need excessive external inputs. The less external inputs needed to a site, the more stable the location.

Scale Down by Necessity, But Not Zero
Reducing our energy density unit ratio also reduces building density, but it also supports a certain density as well. It doesn’t have to be just houses. We must learn to live in balance with what we have again as we get off fossil fuel dependency.

This type of built environment already exists. You see it everywhere “old” buildings are. All older buildings represent a lower energy density unit of use for that age. The standard main street style, 3-5 floors with shopping on the ground floor has worked for hundreds of years (ie: Paris). We will revisit it again as we face Peak Oil.

Free Toronto
I’m a refugee from Condo-Planet, formerly a city called Toronto. We used to be able to see Lake Ontario but that right has been sold off to the highest bidder. As we discover our dependency on external inputs just to live in our buildings, we will also discover that these condos were a waste of time and energy.

Update: I’ll be replying to The Toronto Star’s Christopher Hume’s column called Condo Critic with posts marked as “condo”. I’ll be considering buildings from this Energy Density Unit and Peak Oil perspective based on height, renovation ability, and city energy requirements.

Read –> Why condos (and apartments) Suck

Read More –> All articles with category “condo”

Learn from the best –> Youtube of James Howard Kunstler on Urban Design. Best 20 minutes ever. Humour and Grit challenge your perceptions and appreciate our present. Highly recommended. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1ZeXnmDZMQ

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