“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” - Often attributed to Plato but likely from Ian McLaren (pseudonym of Reverend John Watson)

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Pavegen, up close and personal

Photo credit: Pavegen
I was again in Washington, DC (actually, National Harbor, Maryland, just down the Potomac) last week for the annual (and perhaps last?) arpa-e Energy Innovation Summit (about which, more later). But I had learned that one of my targets of opportunity for debunking vacuous green claims, Pavegen, has an installation in Washington, DC. I couldn't feature being so close to an installation and not paying a visit to experience the Pavegen pavers first hand.

After Lyfting from the summit site at the Gaylord National Harbor Resort and Convention Center to Dupont Circle in Washington, DC, I had my first chance to observe and experience the Pavegen pavers (or tiles). To the right, you'll see the triangular tiles arranged as hexagons in the Pavegen sytem. Those are my feet and my Cross pen (inscribed with a wonderful message from my beautiful wife, Zandra) for scale.

I walked on the pavers, jumped on them, stood on them, and watched the DC pedestrian crowd interact with them. I'll describe my experience "down post" but first I'll describe the reactions from the pedestrians. I'll note that there were no signs or other indicators that the pedestrians and bicyclists were contributing to green energy generation (albeit at a negligibly small scale) with their efforts. No advertising was there and, frankly, the pavers don't look bad.

The video is slow motion of folks walking on the pavers. I didn't survey, or even count, but I'd estimate that somewhere around 5% of the pedestrians noted that there was something different in the small areas where the pavers were installed. And, on three occasions, someone mentioned to their fellow walker that electricity or energy was being generated by the pavers. One said that "I think it runs the lights or something." None seemed troubled either by the extra effort entailed in walking on the tiles, and the company of whomever mentioned the energy typically said "cool" or similar.

My reaction was fairly similar. It wasn't particularly troubling to climb out of the estimated 5mm depression caused by my weight acting on the Pavegen generators. But, as to electricity generation, I'll just say that my opinion is unchanged. To the left is one of several little installations of lit LEDs, again with my pen indicating scale. Based on Pavegen's site, there are also lights for some of the hardscape features. You can barely tell that the three LEDs are lit.

In any case, now that I've actually walked on the pavers, seen pedestrian reaction to them, and analyzed them (to death), I think I can finally put my Pavegen focus to rest.

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