Tag Archives: San Francisco

San Francisco just became the first big US city to require solar panels on new buildings

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed legislation that obligates all new constructions shorter than 10 floors to install solar panels or solar water heaters on top of both new residential and commercial buildings.

“By increasing our use of solar power, San Francisco is once again leading the nation in the fight against climate change and the reduction of our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener, who put forth the legislation, in a statement. “Activating underutilized roof space is a smart and efficient way to promote the use of solar energy and improve our environment.”

“Painted Ladies” near Alamo Square, San Francisco, California. Photo by King of Hearts.

San Francisco is famous for its foggy days. As it’s surrounded by water on three sides, inland heat tends to draw cool ocean air across the city, shrouding it in fog. But contrary to popular belief, solar panels do work in the fog, because some of the light can reach the panels. There’s even a small advantage, as the fog keeps panels relatively cool, which improves their efficiency. Overall, SF compares well with other cities in the sunny state of California, and it’s definitely one of the cities where solar panels are worth installing.

Renewable energy has developed significantly in California, with the state being required to obtain at least 33% of electricity from renewable sources other than large hydro. In 2014, solar provided 4.2% of the state’s energy, while wind chipped in at 8.1% and geothermal came in with 6.1%, for a total that’s under 20%. But with measures like these, California’s green energy will certainly develop.

The new rules don’t go into effect until January 1, 2017. The legislators also introduced a backup possibility for people who don’t want solar panels on their buildings: installing a garden or green area on top of the building, instead of the solar array.

Today, more than 100 years ago: the great earthquake of San Francisco

San Francisco today

The great San Francisco earthquake took place on April 18, 1906, rupturing along the San Andreas fault for a total of 477 kilometers. The earthquake was so strong that it can be felt from Los Angeles to Nevada and Oregon, even though it had an esimated magnitude of 7.9, which makes it 10 times less powerful than the recent earthquake that took place in Japan.

San Francisco after the earthquake


It struck at local time 5:12 a.m when the San Andreas fault gave away, and since there wasn’t any accurate way of determining an earthquake magnitude back then, the estimated magnitude is somewhere between 7.8 to 8.3, with the most accepted value being that which I told you above.

The effects were devastating. The ground kept shaking for more than a minute, and the town of Santa Rosa, 50 miles north from San Francisco was leveled to the ground. San Francisco, the most popular and important city in California, but it couldn’t escape it. Stanford University collapsed. Out of 400.000 people, 300.000 were left homeless. Even without the fires that followed the damage would have been enormous; but the fires did follow. The conflagration lasted more than four days, with firemen from all the west coast desperately fighting to contain it, and when the fire finally stopped, the city was in ruins. The heart of the West Coast lay in rubble.

The good thing about it (if you can say that) is that it raised an enormous amount of awareness on the issue of seismic hazards, and constructors started to take into consideration more and more seismic studies and risks, as well as other subsequent worse case scenarios; and San Francisco lived, and was rebuilt fast. As a matter of fact, it was built too fast… which brings us to today’s problems. The faults around California are way overdue for another major earthquake, and looking at the recent events in Japan, one can only wonder just how prepared the US is to manage such a tragic, but likely event.

San Francisco to Paris in 2 minutes [VIDEO]

Here’s another amazing time lapse video which is certain to enchant your senses and entertain equally enough, in which the Beep Show has documented its San Francisco to Paris flight by shooting a photo every 2 miles (clicky clicky every 15 seconds?). The photos were then put together masterfully, resulting in a lovely time lapse view over the American continent, the Pacific ocean and even … wait for it… Aurora Borealis! Yeah, now you gotta check this thing out.

All take-off and landing images are computer model renderings since the FAA prohibits the use of cameras at the beginning and end of flights

SF to Paris in Two Minutes from Beep Show on Vimeo.