How to blend the traditional and the modern, that is the question.

How to blend the traditional and the modern, that is the question.

From Red Tiles to Green Roofs

Can We Get There from Here?

Friday, June 28, 2013
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Sustainability is steadily becoming the new norm in construction and development, for good reason: The global climate is steadily changing and new stories about contaminated or radioactive areas of the earth keep popping up, shifting public sentiment toward being as ‘green’ as possible. With solar cells and green roofs becoming ever more common, cities across the world are being peppered with shiny new buildings that can boast carbon neutrality and waste-heat recovery systems.

And while certainly a step in the right direction, these buildings are more or less the easy part of sustainable development. A brand-new project can be built from the ground up using the most efficient methods of the time, but the real challenge comes from retrofitting existing buildings to sustainable standards.

The biggest problem with this approach is not lack of technology, but rather a lack of incentive.

We’ve all heard of double-paned windows and low-flow shower heads, but how many of us actually have them in our homes? What about high-efficiency washing machines or backyard compost bins?

A small portion aside, the rest of us don’t have these modern wonders for a simple reason: They’re expensive. Hooking an average home up to solar panels can cost up to $10,000, and re-insulating that same home will cost another few thousand.

So what’s the point? Why should individuals be pressured to spend money on these luxuries? Environmental concerns aside, remodeling a home with these and other efficient designs generally saves money in the long run. And of course, from the ecological point of view, we have a certain responsibility to the planet and ourselves to keep nature as clean as possible.

If the cost of renovation can be almost guaranteed to be returned, how can we justify the continued use of inefficient buildings and technologies? Every time we leave our incandescent lights on, a little more carbon is released into the air, the global temperature gets a little warmer, and the oceans get a little higher – all for the sake of saving a few dollars on the cheaper light bulbs, instead of buying fluorescents or leds.

The solar-powered recycling and refuse compactors known as BigBelly reside in multiple locations across campus. UCSB will soon become the first institution in the U.S. to use BigBelly units for composting.
Click to enlarge photo

Jonas Krant

The solar-powered recycling and refuse compactors known as BigBelly reside in multiple locations across campus. UCSB will soon become the first institution in the U.S. to use BigBelly units for composting.

It’s a frightening reality, but one that can be remedied with our own actions.

Cities like Santa Barbara have an added complexity to them, being that we have a very well-defined image and want to keep it that way. People visit expecting to see terracotta and palm trees, not solar panels and compost heaps. I’m not saying we should bulldoze the Mission Santa Barbara and put in a wind farm, quite the contrary. It is possible to blend the classic and the modern into a unique, and still aesthetically pleasing, style.

For inspiration, we can look all the way to Scotland’s Glasgow, which recently released a 50-year “Future Glasgow” plan, with strategies for dealing with energy and carbon, that will boost them into sustainability fame for years to come. And if Glasgow can integrate energy grids with gothic cathedrals and buildings older than our nation, we can do it with stucco walls and red roof tiles. Furthermore, environmentally-friendly structures fit perfectly with our city’s well-known love of nature. Seeing someone compost food scraps shouldn’t be any more surprising than seeing them with a reusable coffee mug.

The reason Glasgow and other cities around the world are evolving into these sustainable cities is public desire. In the end, it comes down to what the people want, and it seems the Scots chose sustainability. Every other city in the world will soon have to make the same choice, and every other reasonable city will go the way of Glasgow. We will be shifting eventually as well, so how about we start now and make Santa Barbara the Green gem of the West Coast.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

I have found on a number of Online sites, terracotta colored solar roofing tiles that absorb as much or even more ultraviolet rays than the Navy blue tiles do.
I have also found wind farms and mills that are small and efficient, that don't take up a whole lot of space, are esthetically appealing and remind you of the windmills of the old west.
Composting containers that look like dog houses or small barns, masking the smell through limestone powder or shredded pine.
I also found that banks or credit unions will loan money out for building and home improvements to make homes Energy and Eco-efficient.
I, myself would commit my residence but I live in a low-economic housing apartment and the management has never updated their property cause of the Grandfather clause to stay with a passing rating as long as no upgrades or improvements are done.

dou4now (anonymous profile)
June 28, 2013 at 5:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Great article and begs the question, who are the red tile roofs really for?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 28, 2013 at 4:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken_Volok: Low-flying tourists.
Great article!

14noscams (anonymous profile)
June 30, 2013 at 6:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Once again one of my favorite commentators 14noscams nails it. But has anybody ever stopped to think that the aesthetic value and the character the actual, vintage, historical landmark adobe/red tile buildings have is greatly diminished by being surrounded by so many fakes?
Some tourists actually mistake Ralph's on Chapala for the Mission. Maybe they would've have opted for that style, maybe they would have opted for something equally as aesthetically pleasing but different. But in a sea of red tiles, it all just looks the same.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 1, 2013 at 12:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I was in Santa Cruz recently and was amazed at how refreshing and energizing it was - a real community v SB's stultifying planned uniformity. Pearl Chase had no opportunity to experience the phenomena of thousands of homes in Orange County and San Fernando Valley tract developments with pseudo-adobe facades and red tile roofs that have appropriated her preferred Spanish/Mediterranean architectural preference and effectively labeled it mass production, rather than uniquely Santa Barbara.
Ideally, we should consciously adopt an aesthetic paradigm that incorporates sustainable/green technology as positive elements in design, rather than disguising or concealing solar panels, compost bins, etc. We're currently stagnating, and stagnation is no tribute to Peal Chase.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
July 1, 2013 at 5:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There are some beautiful examples of Modern/Contemporary mixed use architecture newly erected in IV.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 1, 2013 at 6:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Some tourists actually mistake Ralph's on Chapala for the Mission." Actually, Ralph's on Chapala was once some rich Spaniard's hacienda long ago. And dou4now points out why rentals in this town continue to be in such bad shape when he says, "I live in a low-economic housing apartment and the management has never updated their property cause of the Grandfather clause to stay with a passing rating as long as no upgrades or improvements are done." What he does not know is that even non-low income housing is deteriorating because to fix them up properly would run afoul of the city's "legally nonconfoming" grandfathering policy. It is not quite that no improvements or upgrades can be made. It is that most of the necessary improvements or upgrades will subject the property to the current building and design codes.

lucas (anonymous profile)
July 6, 2013 at 3:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hi Lucas
Thanks for info. The current structure is most definitely not the original to which you refer, the Carrillo hacienda or some part of. Where many of us park our cars was once the front yard of Annie Hollister, to whom President Teddy Roosevelt personally paid a call upon in 1898 to thank her for her son's service in the Rough Riders. At least I imagine it was that corner, but somewhere at that intersection.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 6, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks for this! Santa Barbara is far from the environmental cutting edge where some believe it to be. Permitting for solar needs to be easier, as there is already low or no cost financing for it.

barbhirsch (anonymous profile)
July 8, 2013 at 12:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There's a lot of wasted roof space atop the hotels which by their nature must use a lot of energy whether they wish to or not.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 8, 2013 at 12:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

After ten years of having my own sucessfull solar business in Santa Barbara I quit in 08. Just plain tired of dealing with the city and the county permitting hassles. 2 days to install a solar system, 2 weeks to over a month to get a simple permit,

Riceman (anonymous profile)
July 9, 2013 at 9:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The fact is that never mind all the hype about "sustainability", the PTB really don't want anyone to be self sufficient to the point that they're able to live 'off the grid'.

On the one hand, the state of California is doing its own cap and trade program that will make electricity rates go through the roof, but at the local level, solar panels are discouraged because they're an "eyesore" - how can this be anything but a giant scam?

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 9, 2013 at 10:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Riceman that's an example of how the government is being rigged so only the big companies can operate.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 9, 2013 at 11:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken, you are correct. All the small guys who do really nice work and care about their community have been beat out. Most all the large solar companies that are still out there doing installs are notorius for doing sloppy work and providing poor customer care.

Riceman (anonymous profile)
July 9, 2013 at 4:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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