Wednesday, May 6, 2009


An exciting new concept in sustainable urban and regional planning is the building of zero-energy communities. This is not a theoretical concept as one community has already done it. This community is the Island of Samso in Denwark. In size, it is approximately equal to the size of Nantucket. What Samso did was to implement an integrated system of alternative energy systems at the community level, with the entire community sharing in all the costs and benefits. District heating plants use straw waste to provide steam heat to buildings throughout the island. Biofuel fuel is used to replace the use of oil in automobiles. Wind turbines and solar photovoltaic sells are used to generate electricity. Improved methods of building construction and insulation have reduced the cost of heating and cooling buildings, while geothermal heat pumps which draw on the constant temperature of the underground air have proved to significantly reduce the cost of heating and air-conditionig buildings. Samso has been so successful that it now is a zero-energy community that exports energy to surrounding areas. Following are examples of renewable atlternative energy sources that can be used to help a community make itself into a zero-energy community.