Bioclimatic Design

Project: To bring an awareness at both a governmental and local level of the real costs of energy use in poorly designed structures and present to both the government and local community here in the Galapagos economically viable alternatives in construction methods, design and modification of existing structures.

Volunteers and students will be involved in an assessment of the performance (comfort, energy use, ergonomics, etc.) of exiting structures. Will design and install a retrofit on at least one of the structures and will design and build a new bioclimatically designed structure with an emphasis not only on performance, but also on economic viability here in the Galapagos. The carbon foot print of building and living in a “traditionally” constructed structure here will be compared to the carbon foot print of the new bioclimatically designed structure.

“Bioclimatic Design” is more commonly referred to as “Passive Solar Design”, however there is nothing passive about the need to utilize energy efficient housing and work spaces throughout the world.

The local culture here – as everywhere – cares about the bottom line, “How much does it cost?” The government of Ecuador subsidizes the cost of gasoline and electricity (we can buy a gallon of gasoline for $1.50). Our monthly average electricity bill, if we run 24/7 an antiquated freezer and refrigerator and use an air conditioner during the really hot months will run at about $40 a month. This electricity is provided entirely (on every island except San Cristobal where we have wind turbines that augment this at an estimated 40% year round, far less during the hot months when there is less wind and greater demand, and on Floreana, with solar panels and aging batteries supporting a population of 85) by diesel generators. The fossil fuels to run these generators need to be imported and while Ecuador is a petroleum producing nation, we have no refinery. The crude gets shipped to Venezuela and refined petroleum products are shipped back to Ecuador and finally to the Galapagos. Even with the government’s subsidies a viable alternative can be presented to the local populace with “Bioclimatic Design” and further supported by carbon foot print analysis.

This project will give the government of Ecuador the kind of concrete numbers/evidence and real locally supported options it will need in accomplishing its goal of eliminating the use of fossil fuels in the Galapagos by 2015.