France to require all large parking lots to be covered by solar panels

In France, solar just got a huge boost from new legislation approved through the Senate this week that will require all parking lots with spaces for at least 80 vehicles – both existing and new – to be covered by solar panels.

The new provisions are part of French president Emmanuel Macron’s large-scale plan to heavily invest in renewables, which aims to multiply by 10 the amount of solar energy produced in the country, and to double the power from land-based wind farms. 

Starting July 1, 2023, smaller carparks that have between 80 and 400 spaces will have five years to be in compliance with the new measures. Carparks with more than 400 spaces have a shorter timeline: They will need to comply with the new measures within three years of this date, and at least half of the surface area of the parking lot will need to be covered in solar panels.

According to the government, this plan, which particularly targets large parking areas around commercial centers and train stations, could generate up to 11 gigawatts, which is the equivalent of 10 nuclear reactors, powering millions of homes. Public Sénat writes that stipulations were put into place excluding parking lots for trucks carrying heavy goods or parking areas in historic or protected areas, to avoid “distorting” them, according to an amendment to the bill. While it’s unclear, future iterations of the bill will likely detail parking lots that would be excluded, in addition to how this plan will be funded and what the penalties would be for lack of compliance.

Source and more details: https://electrek.co/2022/11/08/france-require-parking-lots-be-covered-in-solar-panels/

Smart thermostat swarms are straining the US grid

Source: https://www.theregister.com/2022/07/13/smart_thermostat_strain

Smart thermostats, those unassuming low-power gadgets designed to keep homes at comfortable temps, are having an impact far wider than most might have considered, according to recent data.

A paper from Cornell University brings bad news for renewable energy enthusiasts – smart thermostats are secretly taxing the grid.

Smart thermostats, which the paper said were present in around 40 percent of US homes in 2021, are programmed by default to have different night and day modes. In hundreds of thousands of homes across the US that means a sudden jump in electricity use right before residents wake up – if people aren’t changing default settings, which the paper suggests is the case. 

Those hundreds and thousands of smart thermostats, typically configured to switch to day mode around 6am, “can cause load synchronization during recovery from nightly setpoint setbacks, increasing the daily peak heating electrical demand,” the paper said. 

Cornell professor Max Zhang and PhD candidate Zachary Lee, the paper’s authors, wrote that most studies predicting electrical demand fail to account for smart thermostats and the stress they can place on the grid.

“As we electrify the heating sector to decarbonize the grid, this so-called load synchronization will become a problem in the near future,” Zhang said.

To address the problem, Zhang and Lee built a dataset from publicly available smart thermostat logs collected by EcoBee that contained anonymized temperature, set point, runtime, and home occupancy statistics.

They used the data to examine energy costs during a New York City winter, and found that load synchronization often occurs before renewable resources, like solar, have had a chance to kick in and take stress off the grid. That stress is actually aggravating peak demand by 50 percent, the paper said.

Zhang and Lee also found that energy-saving mechanisms built into smart thermostats are less effective than advertised, with most homeowners only seeing energy savings of 5-8 percent, as opposed to the 25-30 percent they’re capable of. 

Thinking outside the home

The world is electrifying at an ever-quickening pace, and environmental problems have cropped up along the way. Electric cars create battery waste, as do other electronics, and removing carbon emissions from homes doesn’t mean power plants have dropped coal and gas in favor of sustainable solutions. 

Those solutions, like solar and wind, “require a considerable amount of real estate, and the right weather, and as a result they’re typically located far from the cities they would serve,” the Washington Post‘s Will Englund wrote

Smart thermostats increase frequency and magnitude of peak energy demand, and without more tenable ways to store energy from renewables, Lee said, they could offset greenhouse gas reductions from electrification.

Energy Fairness, a nonprofit allegedly funded by gas and oil interests, thinks that the challenges of electrification require emphasizing energy reliability above all else. Zhang and Lee’s paper, while not arguing for the retention of fossil fuels to support grid reliability, does suggest that close monitoring will be key.

“Future energy system planning must consider the interaction of weather, generation capacity, and energy management tools, show a large performance gap between potential energy savings and actual energy savings,” Zhang and Lee wrote.

Zhang suggests there may be an easier way to ease grid stress from smart thermostats: educate consumers on how to use them so default settings are changed. Even that may have its limits of effectiveness, though.

“In the end… we have to make smart thermostats even smarter,” Zhang said.

Building Constructed from 3D Printed Soil in Dubai

Scientists create 3D-printed buildings from soil

Eco-friendly technology could potentially replace concrete and revolutionize sector

Scientists have developed a method to 3D-print greener buildings using local soil that they say has the potential to revolutionise the construction industry.

The technology is designed to be a sustainable alternative to concrete, which accounts for approximately 7% of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Energy Agency.

Sarbajit Banerjee, a professor of chemistry and materials science and engineering at Texas A&M University, said 3D printing enabled a versatility that allowed them to print entire architectural facades, although getting such structures to meet existing building regulations remained a significant challenge.

Concrete remains the primary material used in many construction projects but it cannot be recycled and requires a lot of energy to mix and transport. The research team’s aim is to print structures using the type of soil that can be found in any garden.

“While the widespread use of concrete has democratised access to housing and enabled the growth of cities, this has come at a considerable environmental cost,” said Banerjee.

Full article: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/21/scientists-create-3d-printed-buildings-local-soil

What is a Colloquium?

A small band of natural building enthusiasts and outlaws met in a field over 20 years ago at something they called a ‘colloquium’. The movement they created has grown uncontrollably ever since; reviving and innovating ancient building techniques and training thousands in the essential, empowering art of building.

Now, as the world faces resource scarcity, increasing climate refugees and 3 billion more people on the way, this tiny backwoods movement prepares for the mainstream. Join these merry pioneers as they celebrate their successes; sharing stories, techniques and wisdom as they brace to meet the needs of a world in crisis.

Site Selection for a Sthapatya Ved Building

Copyright © 1996 by Deepak Bakshi. All rights are reserved.

It is very important that all the documents described in this article are
collected from the client well in advance of starting a Sthapatya ved design.

Jyotish chart of owner

Because Sthapatya Ved design is based on and intends to re-establish the connection between the individual (microcosm) and the universe (macrocosm), it is very important that a Jyotish (vedic astrology) chart is prepared by an experienced Jyotish practitioner. Errors in the Jyotish chart will feed false information back in to the calculations of the Sthapatya Ved design and the resulting design which will not produce the desired benefits for the occupants.

The Jyotish chart must contain the following information:

  • Birth time/day/month/year
  • Birth place
  • Birth Nakshatra(constellation)
  • Birth Rasi
  • Gane. Prior to consulting Jyotish, it is very important that the birth time is checked for accuracy. An experienced Jyotishi will be able to determine the correct time of birth from significant events in your life. It will help if vedic Architect is well literate in Jyotish knowledge, however as long as an experienced Jyotishi is accessible, one can design a building with Sthapatya veda knowledge.

Site plan

Prior to visiting the site, the vedic architect or designer needs to obtain site plan
of the land. This site plan should include land location, road layout, contour
layout, vegetation, location of pond, river, creek and well. Also location
of mountains, mounds, or slopes, or other natural features that are offsite, yet have an influence on the site. Of course, a north arrow is required, as Sthapatya Ved designs buildings according to such natural influences as the sun’s path.

Information of town

Prior to buying land or deciding to build a house in a city or town, one needs to consult an experience Jyotishi. The Jyotishi should be given the name and location of the town, and the relative location of the land you are considering. He should also be provided with the approximate “date of birth” of the town (such information is easily available from the local library or town hall). The Jyotishi will compare your personal Jyotish chart with that of the town, to see if it will be an appropriate move for you. If your moving there creates a good influence for you, you may then actually begin the process of purchasing, designing, and building.

Physical relationship of land with immediate surroundings

Selection of land is a very important aspect according to Sthapatya Ved. Once
you find land in an area that you would like to live in, you should check the surrounding area for negative and postive influences

Some influences which should be avoided:

  • cemetery in a one mile radius
  • hospital
  • industry
  • prison building
  • police station
  • electrical power station within approximately 1000ft, or high voltage
  • electrical line

Some positive influences:

  • school, church, temple, or religious building within one mile radius natural beauty such as parks or preserves
  • clean water features (lake, river, pond, etc)

Copyright © 1996 by Deepak Bakshi. All rights are reserved.


I have been asked by several people for sources of more information on Sthapatya Ved. The best place I know of to find a good collection of original source material is at Motilal Banarsidas, for instance, the Mayamata. I have also read a number of other texts; some that I would recommend are “The Temple in the House: Finding the Sacred in Everyday Architecture” by Anthony Lawlor, and “Mayamata” translated by Bruno Dagens, (can be hard to find). — Bill Christensen