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Could Encasing Cities in Giant Domes Be an Energy Solution for Our Future?

Posted By Bridgette Meinhold On November 9, 2009 @ 11:34 am In Architecture | 6 Comments

Winooski Dome, Winooski, Vermon, Geoengineering, Concept, Reduce Energy, reduce emissions

Back in 1979, Winooski, Vermont, a town that often experiences -20 degree weather in January, proposed building a giant dome [1] over their city to help reduce energy [2] costs and keep warm throughout the winter. Thirty years ago, we were experiencing an energy crisis with rising oil prices, and people were looking for solutions to reduce their costs. Nowadays, while we’re also looking to reduce our carbon footprint in addition to costs, the concept is still applicable. By doming off the small city of 7,000, Winooski could stay warm all year round, reduce energy costs and emissions, grow food all year, and ban cars inside the dome. Environmentally, it seems like it has potential.

What do you think?

Is encasing cities in giant domes the answer to our energy problems?

  • 407 Votes No way! It didn't work on the Simpsons and it won't work in real life!
  • 285 Votes It absolutely could be. Geoengineering is the wave of the future.
  • 489 Votes Depends. How much will the initial structure cost in $ and energy compared to the savings?

View Results [3]

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Winooski Dome, Winooski, Vermon, Geoengineering, Concept, Reduce Energy, reduce emissions,

A study back in 1979 determined the Winooski Dome could save residents 90% on their heating bills, and for a town that spends most of its year in freezing climes shoveling snow, that is a huge boon. The proposed transparent dome [4] would rise 250 feet in the center, more than enough room for the town’s tallest building, which was at the time eleven stories. Internal combustion automobiles would be banned inside the dome and instead electric cars or an electric public transportation system would be used. Fresh air would be pumped into the town via large fans and could be heated or cooled as necessary. Most of the residents were fully in favor of the plan, and even Buckminster Fuller openly supported the concept.

Economically, the study determined that such a structure would become feasible if oil rose above $1.25 a gallon (in 1979 dollars). Costs for snowplowing would be almost non-existent, food could be grown locally year-round, and automobile emissions inside the dome would stop too. Of course the study didn’t calculate the reduction in carbon emissions, but as you can imagine, they would be significant. All in all, it seems like a win-win situation – better air quality, decreased emissions, locally grown food, decreased energy costs and warmer living.

Winooski’s dome is an interesting example of geoengineering [5], and a concept that should at least be considered. Geoengineering is a pretty hot topic right now, what with new proposals for wacky ideas coming out all the time to reduce carbon emissions. A group of scientists debated it last week [6] in Washington DC, and even the author of Super Freakonomics [7] thinks it’s an economical way to fix our problem.

Via H+ Magazine [8]


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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/city-dome-save-energy/

URLs in this post:

[1] proposed building a giant dome: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,912572,00.html

[2] energy: http://www.inhabitat.com/energy

[3] View Results: #ViewPollResults

[4] transparent dome: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/10/29/james-laws-technosphere-is-a-benign-deathstar-for-dubai/

[5] geoengineering: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/09/03/100000-synthetic-trees-could-help-combat-climate-change/

[6] group of scientists debated it last week: http://www.enn.com/energy/article/40672

[7] author of Super Freakonomics: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-october-27-2009/steven-levitt

[8] H+ Magazine: http://www.hplusmagazine.com/articles/politics/doomed-dome-future-never-was

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