Actors and Participants:
University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario: 16mm.
"The film's subject is the 1979 Vancouver housing project, Kitsilano. Oil and gas prices rise with energy consumption; however, the sun is a renewable energy source. Project manager Jacques Khouri decided to build this solar co-op in response to awareness of conservation. After discovering that the site was ideally suited, he approached the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation for funds, as the project would be costly. Eventually, he received funding from the National Research Council for a demonstration of a passive solar heating system which relies on natural heat transfer, rather than pumps or fans, and one using only standard building materials. After a delay, CMHC finally approved the project and construction began. Cement and concrete in the walls, floors, and main partitions increased heat storage and soundproofing by adding mass. Designer Chris Maddock and architect Klaus Schmidt collaborated on another feature, the thrombewall, a twelve-inch concrete wall which collects solar heat as well as acting as a noise barrier. An old newsreel warns against the depletion of natural resources and introduces solar energy as a novel alternative. Tim Newton of BC Hydro expresses reservations about the cost effectiveness of solar energy. Solar construction is indeed expensive due to features such as double-glazed windows, additional insulation, and rubber roofing compounds. The thrombewall is coated with a dark, stable, silicone coating which stores and radiates heat after the sun has gone. The tempered glass traps warm air which is ventilated into the living space, and the wall, itself, provides radiant heat. Skylights provide a direct gain solar collecting system. Shutters, operated by freon gas balance open and shut to optimize storage; windows have heat conserving and insulating blinds. A hot water solar collecting system, or thermo-syphon water heating system employs solar collectors which heat about seventy percent of the co-op's heating requirements. The tenants are happy with the low cost and efficiency of solar heat. An insulation curtain on the thrombewall is thermostatically controlled and acts as a heat storage and cooling system. A diagram and several views of the building give a good idea of how each system works. In the future, solar energy is being considered for large-scale electrical conversion. Boeing Aerospace has plans to build a giant satellite composed entirely of solar cells. Still, Mr Newton expresses doubts; solar energy has not solved the increasing petroleum shortage for transportation. However, BC Hydro has a solar utility, and they do recognize the finiteness of our natural and fuel resources, such as uranium. The only options open to us are renewable energy resources—either solar energy or fusion."