According to Jeremy Rifkin, the third industrial revolution’s second pillar is transforming our buildings in small power plants. We hear about this idea since years already through developing concepts like zero-energy or PlusEnergy buildings and proliferating national and international norms, labels, and initiatives. For example right now in France, Cécile Duflot, Minister for housing, is supporting a plan to renovate old buildings and make them more energy-efficient, saying the energy transition won’t happen without energy efficiency.
But why is this so important? As I said in my last article, green energy sources are generally distributed, contrary to fossil fuels. You will find coal, oil, and gas in concentrated deposits and a big organisation (oil companies, etc.) is in charge of exploiting it. For nuclear energy, it is even more obvious: you produce nuclear energy only where a sufficient investment has been made by a private and/or public actor that will then be in charge of running the everyday operations of the power plant. Green energies on the contrary are everywhere. You can find sun, wind, and water in your garden. Sees and oceans offering the diverse renewable marine energies (geothermal, currents, waves, etc.) cover 71% of the globe’s surface, most of it being in international waters. Biomass being trash, in a mass-consumption world, it isn’t diffucult to find.
So sources of green energies are everywhere, belong to everyone, and anyone has access to them. In this article, I have shown how isolated Peruvian entrepreneurs used access to local green energy sources to develop their business when they couln’t hope being connected to the national electric grid. Green energy is decentralized, when fossil fuel are concentrated. What does it mean? It means if there is a technological solution to produce energy locally, then anyone can become it’s own energy-provider. More accurately, any construction can become a power plant of its own. And indeed, new technological breakthroughs (solar panels, micro wind or hydrogenerators, double and triple glazing, heat pumps, smart air renewal systems, smart shutter control systems, etc.) now make it possible to design and build buildings that can create energy from locally available sources to cover their own energy needs.
So now that we feel the need to shift to renewable energies and have new solutions to initiate that move, there seems to be no reason why the move wouldn’t happen.