Offsetting carbon emissions, from rooftops and dancefloors

by Antonio Pasolini on September 12, 2008

Two intriguing stories about unusual ways of contributing to the fight against climate change caught my attention yesterday. The first was an article in Christian Science Monitor about physicist Hashem Akbari’s formula “to determine how much heat-trapping carbon dioxide would be offset by reflecting the solar radiation back into space”. He suggested “replacing the dark shingles on a 1,000-square-foot roof – the average size of an American home – with white material”. He claims that would offset 10 metric tons of greenhouse gases.

On a global scale “roofs account for 25% of the surface of most cities, and pavement accounts for about 35%. If all were switched to reflective material in 100 major urban areas, it would offset 44 metric gigatons of greenhouse gases”, which is “more than all the countries on Earth emit in a single year.” I love CSM’s passing observation on the idea: is this greenwash with whitewash? Well, I guess we’ll have to wash this space…

Elsewhere, in cutting-edge Holland, a nightclub in Rotterdam reopened its doors with the promise of being the ‘greenest disco in the world’. How so? The owners of Watt, the name of the venue, claim the establishment is the first to follow all the criteria set by the Sustainable Dance Club (SDC), a concept created in Holland two years ago to stimulate nightclubs to adopt alternative sources of energy.

But the best thing about Watt is that clubbers themselves will provide the main energy matrix since it will be captured through sensors installed under the dancefloor, and will then be converted into ambient lighting. They claim each person can generate betwen 5 to 10 watts of electricity, depending on their weight. Those up for an intense, funky workout can generate up to 20 watts, according to Watt’s owner Aryen Tieleman. Oh yes, and water supply will be provided by the skies, through boxes installed on the roof. The water then travels down to the services via transparent tubes before undergoing a purification process in underground tanks. That will save the venue 1,000m³ of water per year. Finally, the bar will be serving on organic food and drinks only and staff uniform, of course, is made of recycled materials.

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