While the nation struggles with rising fuel prices and worries collectively about alternative fuel sources, offshore drilling, and new nuclear plants, there is an obvious and effective way to reduce our energy problems with immediate impact—conservation.
One of the best steps you can take to conserve energy is to not use it and the best way to not use it is to plan efficiency into your farm, stables, and home. Writing last week in The New York Times, Bob Herbert called this route to energy independence, “The Winning Hand” in his editorial responding to the Joint Economic Committee hearing on using energy efficiency to solve the energy crisis. Conservation has been advocated for decades by Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Senator Chuck Schumer and many, many others as a huge step toward energy independence and reversing the trend of global warming.
The enormous potential impact of energy conservation may lack the punch of newer technologies such as solar panels and wind farms and the quick fix associated with offshore or Arctic drilling. However, the cumulative savings in the reduction of the energy we use across the board from personal transportation choices to household conservation can be a tremendous offset to our national demand for oil.
I’ve been building energy efficiency into farm plans and stable designs for decades. Energy efficient details include designing for ample natural lighting and harnessing the power of the sun and wind to create passive ventilation.
Moving beyond designs that facilitate the conservation of energy, stables and arenas present nearly perfect opportunities for harnessing solar energy on their expansive rooftops. Farms and ranches often have the right conditions to harness wind energy.
Generally located in rural or open areas, the size and shape of barns and arenas offer perfect opportunities for channeling and capturing existing wind currents to create natural ventilation. But even if these steps are beyond your budget, designs that reduce your farm’s demand for energy are available and affordable and will create energy savings into the future.