Reviews

Kind words from readers

One of the more critical professions to any society in our modern world is engineering. The need for engineering is more important than ever before as technology advances and we begin to weigh the balance of making our planet more green and environmentally friendly versus keeping a healthy economy and growing our technology as a whole. As James Dyson once said, “Manufacturing is more than just putting parts together. It’s coming up with ideas, testing principles and perfecting the engineering, as well as final assembly.”

In authors Roger Duncan and Michael E. Webber’s The Future of Buildings, Transportation and Power, the authors heavily investigate the future of our society and how energy will play into these three major sectors. Through intense research and years of experience in the world of engineering, the authors showcase the technological trends that will shape these sectors in the future, the kind of clean energy properties we can utilize as we head into the future, and some of the futuristic advances we can expect to see as a society.

The amount of data and information the authors impart on the reader is fascinating to see unfold. As they state themselves, everyone at one point or another has thought of what the future of our society will look like, such as the idea of flying cars and robots being a part of our daily lives. As the authors point out, several concepts introduced in this book will incorporate some of these ideas into sustainable, energy efficient and complex systems that give us essentially the ability to be transported and work inside of sophisticated robotic systems, including a major transportation system for the public. The authors and the attention to detail they have shines through in this book, as readers get to see things such as the different types of energy which exist now and will exist in the future, as well as what types of energy used in various aspects of daily life, from transportation to moving cargo from one place to another – and more.

This is the perfect read for non-fiction readers, especially those with an interest in science, engineering, and the way we as a society may evolve and grow technologically as we advance into the future. As someone who has always been interested in technology, I found this read to be fascinating, especially the chapter known as “Our Crystal Ball,” where readers get an overview of the book’s information and get glimpses into how this information may be put into practice in the future, such as the vital importance of nanotechnology as the need for material decreases as the material’s strength and structure get stronger.

Informative, evenly-paced and intellectually driven, authors Rodger Duncan and Michael E. Webber’s The Future of Buildings, Transportation and Power is a must-read for anyone with a curiosity or interest in engineering and the future of our society as a whole. The uses of these energy-changing sectors will have on us in the future is engaging and interesting to say the least, and readers won’t be able to put this book down – as it educates us on what society can expect as time goes on and technology truly advances.

Hollywood Book Reviews

 

The Future of Buildings, Transportation, and Power examines the future in regard to transportation, buildings, and other forms of infrastructure. Authors Roger Duncan and Michael E. Webber having worked in the energy and related sectors for years, understand how important energy and infrastructure are for the economy. The authors divided the book into 5 parts, each dealing with a variety of related topics.

The first part of the book talks about the energy efficiency megatrend. I learned much from this chapter as the authors started with the basics before going deep with the discussions on energy, technology, and how they affected building and transportation. I enjoyed reading about historical articulation. The authors give the readers some fascinating background on influential figures in future energy and technology trends, explains each of their theories, and how their foresight came to pass.

Every chapter in Roger Duncan’s and Michael E Webber’s book has something informative. Part 2 was one of my favorite parts of the book. This section of the book has three chapters which talk about building trends, sustainable building, and sentient-appearing buildings. Readers will learn many aspects about constructing the right buildings, the history of constructions, the dynamics of construction, and how major cities form their systems. I found part two to be particularly important because the discussions in the three topics affect everyone; whether directly or indirectly. Roger Duncan and Michael E Webber speak to everyone who is concerned about where they live and how they live.

The tone the authors used in the book is friendly. Even when talking in technical terms, the authors tried to explain in layman vernacular so all readers could get the root concepts in the discussion. The Future of Buildings, Transportation and Power is a great read if you want to learn about energy, buildings, and how man can change his habits to protect the environment. After reading this book, you will realize many cities were built without consideration of how the environment – or even the climate – would be affected in the future. With the knowledge in the book, readers will start being conscious of how they live and use natural resources. No one knows what the future holds but by living right, we can prepare ourselves for the unexpected. Nature can be cruel to those that are not mindful of how they live.

The Future of Buildings, Transportation and Power is recommended for all who are interested in energy, transportation, and building trends. The information in the book is from the authors’ experiences and data from agencies like the International Energy Agency and the Energy Information Administration. I applaud the authors for the extensive research they did and how remarkably well they broke down the points when discussing the various topics. The knowledge in this book is helpful to readers from every part of the world and not just one country. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the future is protected even as the experts work on the technicalities. This is the book for you if you want to read about clean energy, nuclear energy, and everything in between.

Pacific Book Review

The Future of Buildings, Transportation and Power is a timely consideration of the energy sector that predicts future trends that will help in combating climate change.

Roger Duncan and Michael E. Webber’s analysis of the energy industry, The Future of Buildings, Transportation and Power, makes predictions about the future of technologies that are used on a daily basis.

Examining potentialities for technological efficiency based on current industry trends, the book first projects that buildings will be more energy efficient in the future, as well as that they will be constructed faster and with lighter, recyclable materials; it suggests that smart technologies will allow inhabitants to interface with their homes and work spaces to make their days easier.

Similar projections are made for the transportation sector, for which the book envisions more electric and autonomous vehicles that communicate with each other to keep passengers safe. And power, it says, will come from more renewable energies, instead of coal and natural gas; it projects that solar and wind power will improve and grow cheaper.

These forecasts are the result of thorough investigations of trends and industry capabilities. They show how resources are attained, how much prices change over time, and which companies and individuals construct and use technology—all factors that influence the speed and success of shifts to renewable energies and “smart” buildings and cars. Duncan and Webber draw on their professional experiences throughout, but still admit that the future could diverge from their predictions. The book acknowledges that the coronavirus epidemic and recession may delay their projections.

The book is methodical about relaying information, providing definitions and explaining acronyms for academic and industry terms as they arise. It conveys complex information in approachable, lucid language. Its organization into three distinct parts makes its considerations of specific trends tidy; each section also makes room to analyze the interconnectedness of the three titular pillars of infrastructure.

Pertinent examples of technologies that are being developed by companies like Tesla and various architectural firms support the book’s pronouncements. They include smart windows that adjust light absorption and insulation based on the weather; the plausibility of a space elevator; and the potential for microgrids to provide consistent energy, even during power outages. These compelling future possibilities make the book as eye opening and intriguing as it is intelligent.

Vignettes begin each chapter, describing a character’s interactions with the future technologies discussed. These features help to humanize the book’s predictions, showing what they may look like in practice. Robust notes combine with a few charts and graphs to supplement the book’s assertions.

The Future of Buildings, Transportation and Power is a timely consideration of the energy sector that predicts future trends that will help in combating climate change.

Reviewed by Aimee Jodoin–Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5

 

“Moreover, we believe that the increasing interconnections of energy and information in these sectors present a fascinating story about our future.”

As the title aptly indicates, this volume explores the possibilities and probabilities of future technologies in building, transportation, and power infrastructure. The topics focus upon the increasing exchange of power and information among these systems and the energy requirements necessary to manufacture and sustain these networks. Authors Duncan and Webber are well equipped to lead this discussion as academics engaged in university research and education concerning energy resources, energy efficiency, energy policy, and environmental sustainability. They are also involved outside academia in various activities related to energy and the environment.

The book is organized into five parts containing ten chapters. Part 1 eases readers into the authors’ vision of energy efficiency, delineating how the three sectors of building, transportation, and power will converge in the future and will likely function with “less material, less motion, and in less time.” Well noted is the primary problem of energy conversion that results in pollution, waste heat, and wasted motion: “The abundance of waste is the starting point for improving the global energy system, and is one of our motivations for writing this book.”

Part 2 investigates the future of building trends, sustainable construction, and sentient-appearing, “smart” buildings. “As creepy as it may sound, in the future we will be living, working, and moving about inside robots.” Part 3 discusses the future of transportation, the energy requirements involved, and sentient-appearing transportation. Both practical forms of transportation by conventional vehicles and the impractical and ethereal forms such as energetic teleportation are covered. Part 4 discusses the critical subject of our evolving power industry, clean energy solutions, and the nature of advanced power systems. “If the story of humanity is a long history of harnessing energy and moving from one fuel source to another, the subtext is an inexorable shift from high-carbon fuels to ever lower ones.” Part 5 concludes with the authors’ speculation on future technologies and whether these are attainable and sustainable. “Nanotechnology will continue to be the driver in material technology, creating new materials… while improving quality and reducing manufacturing waste.”

Relevant historical material throughout each section offers deeper insight into the previous and current evolution of technology in the building, transportation, and energy sectors. Highlighted are some key historical thinkers and inventors who have contributed to these fields, such as Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Buckminster Fuller, and some influential contemporary figures, such as Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Ray Kurzweil, and others who currently advance building, transportation, and energy trends.

The narrative’s beauty is not only in the condensed but highly informative overviews of each topic but in the accessible prose, making what could be a dry, technical discussion accessible, lively, and interesting to lay readers. The summaries at each chapter ending help to focus upon and clarify the chapter topics, while the entertaining prologues at the beginning of Parts 2-5 provide a human experiential element that aptly illustrates how future trends in “smart” building technology and transportation may affect our daily lives. The book’s information is well-cited, and, in addition to extensive endnotes, a nicely organized index makes the book handy for classroom use and student research. As the book went to press, the coronavirus pandemic emerged, so the authors added a relevant note and some pertinent updates to address that potential influence. Ultimately, despite many pressing issues and obstacles, Duncan and Webber are positive about the future of energy: “There is no doubt that we can achieve sustainable, emissions-free operations of our buildings, transportation, and power. This book has shown the many ways we are moving toward that sustainable future.”

RECOMMENDED by the US Review–book review by Kate Robinson

With The Future of Buildings, Transportation and Power, Roger Duncan and Michael E. Weber deliver an impressively comprehensive analysis of what is both possible and practical for future buildings, energy systems, and modes of transportation, with an eye toward sustainability and global warming. 

Each topic is given historical context. For instance, “at the end of the 19th century,” they state in regard to transportation, “horse manure in cities had become a major health hazard and the smell had become overwhelming….Oil solved that problem.” Currently, “petroleum dominates our transportation system, and the solution to an earlier environmental problem is now the major contributor to the number one environmental crisis of our time: global warming.”

Regarding buildings, they cover both the shell and inner spaces, exploring everything from “radical insulation,” which is “fueled by breakthroughs in nanopore technology and aerogels;” to smart windows; to passive solar energy and “smaller-scale energy flows such as temperature differentials, noise, and vibrations that [can] be captured and redirected.”  They don’t, by the way, think that “true net zero energy could be achieved for most commercial buildings.”  

The authors’ transportation discussion includes cars, trains, trucks and airplanes and focuses on energy sources, as well as design materials and automation. One interesting recommendation is for a revival of clipper ships. “The most sustainable mode for international shipping is returning to the wind and ocean currents.” 

Examining power, they weigh the merits of sources such as coal, electricity, atomic, solar and wind and discuss materials, storage and transmitting options, management, and global usage. 

This is a well-conceived, well-realized book that carefully includes the ramifications and trade-offs of the many options presented (e.g., urban farms, which would idealistically reduce “the costs and pollution related to shipping foods,” “have difficulty competing with traditional vegetable farming because of electricity and labor costs”). Whatever futuristic vision the authors present, their approach is balanced and intelligent.   

This book is sure to intrigue anyone concerned about sustainability and the future.

blueink review

 

W hy buildings, transportation and power? Because they cover roughly 75% of all energy used globally. It follows that if we can better understand and reconfigure how these energy intensive sectors operate and interface, we can find the path to a cleaner, more efficient and sustainable future. 

 The authors, Duncan and Webber, cover a lot of ground in a digestible and relatively jargon-free book using language and style that is simultaneously captivating, entertaining and factual – a rare combination. The key word, as one might suspect from the book’s title is future. How is the energy that supplies our buildings, our transport system and the power grid about to change with the challenge posed by climate change? 

The book’s main focus, however, is not to describe some utopian future where everything is automated, smart, connected and zero carbon – although there is plenty of that – but rather to find “What reduces greenhouse gases in the shortest time at the least cost.”  

Early in the book, the authors examine one of the important mega trends, energy efficiency, rather broadly defined, which they expect to continue, if not accelerate in the future. Following Robert Bryce’s book, Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper, the authors contrast Magellan’s first global circumnavigation with later ones and point out that the historic 1519-1522 journey took 37 months while one with propeller planes took 371 flying hours and one by the first Soviet astronaut in Vostok 1 only 89 minutes. The message sinks in.  

Having raised the reader’s expectations, however, Duncan and Webber warn that when it comes to the provision and delivery of basic energy services we should expect only modest incremental improvements going forward. The top of the line Boeing 787 cruises “just a few percent faster than the 707,” a plane designed in 1958 with 885 km/hr cruising speed – considered a breakthrough in commercial aviation at the time. Moore’s Law, in other words, does not apply to energy. 

“For a multitude of technologies – buildings, ships, planes, trains, automobiles, power plants – none are doubling in capacity or reducing costs by half every 12 months, even though incremental improvements in capacity and cost continue, and almost all of them are being profoundly transformed by the digital revolution.” 

The book’s part 2 and 3 on buildings and transport are interesting but Part 4 on the future of the power sector even more so. The authors start by asking how “The who, what, where, when and why of electricity generation is changing.”  

The chapter on clean energy solutions dismisses some of the outlandish claims by those who say we can have it all, it won’t cost any, and we can have it quickly. The authors say the cheap and fast 100% renewable by – you pick the date – is unrealistic. Getting 80% of the way, on the other hand, may be relatively painless, but getting to the 100% target is not. They prefer a different goal: How about “80% as soon as possible.” Why settle for less? 

  • First, it avoids arguments about technical feasibility; 
  • Second, it focuses the mind to get to 80% as quickly as possible – no need to stop there; 
  • Third, it changes the focus of debate from cost to prioritizing what is achievable with current resources; and 
  • Fourth, goal focuses on mass deployment of existing technologies. 

The book is captivating with sufficient content for the novice and the expert alike. 

EEnergy Informer Newsletter

An engineer and a municipal administrator analyze the future of sustainable building and transportation.

 In this science and policy book, debut author Duncan and Webber look at trends in transportation and construction, with a focus on sustainability and efficiency. They offer predictions as to how the industries will evolve and become more entwined in the near future. The volume opens with an overview of what the authors call “megatrends”—the developments in efficiency, automation, and convergence that have driven and continue to propel the transportation and building sectors. Subsequent sections apply those megatrends to the future of building and transportation in greater detail, covering recent innovations, those currently in experimental stages, and potentially groundbreaking changes that still exist only in conceptual form. Each chapter opens with a short vignette (“The bedside alarm sounded its usual aggressive tone and Bob stumbled out of bed and made his way to the bathroom”) that becomes more technologically advanced over the course of the section (“Still hungover from the night before, he hoped the toilet wouldn’t tell the refrigerator not to order any more beer”). As the work gets further into the futures of both building and transportation, the book posits that the two sectors will become increasingly entangled, powered by a rising interconnectedness and their relationships to the system of energy production and distribution, which will undergo its own related evolution. Though the authors wryly acknowledge that the events of the past year suggest the limits of their predictive capacity, the volume concludes that advancements in building and transportation will be major drivers of decreased carbon emissions and will have a net positive impact on the world.

 Duncan and Webber do a particularly good job of concisely summing up complex developments (“We can postulate that the purpose of technology is conversion efficiency: the efficient conversion of any form of energy from Form A to Form B”). They also deftly ground the book in engineering history, with frequent references to such thinkers as R. Buckminster Fuller and concepts like Moore’s Law, explaining how familiar ideas will shape future developments. Although the volume focuses primarily on a descriptive approach to technological change, the authors do touch on the policy implications of the world they describe, particularly the need to accommodate workers displaced by automation and shifts in energy demand. The book presents an astute, realistic perspective on likely technological innovations—without treating the changes the authors anticipate as complete panaceas—acknowledging the complex web of tradeoffs that makes planning for the future a challenge. For instance, electric cars decrease gasoline consumption but add to demands on a power grid that relies on other fossil fuels. Readers will not walk away from the work with an absolute certainty about what will happen in the building and transportation industries in coming years, but they will feel well informed and prepared to discuss the implications of widespread technological change.

 A solid and cleareyed look at developments in building, transportation, and energy technology. 

 Kirkus review

In recent times, the world has seen explosive growth in technology. More and more systems are becoming automated, and devices are getting smarter and more efficient. In The Future of Buildings, Transportation and Power, Roger Duncan and Michael E. Webber discuss their predictions on the trends to expect concerning transportation, building, and electric power industries.

In this book, the authors glean from current trends and developments to estimate the technologies that will likely come into play in the future. They discuss how technology can solve some of the world’s problems like global warming and the housing crisis. Information is growing exponentially, but growth in all the technology sectors is not at the same pace. Political, legal, and economic systems also affect the growth rate. Building on these and data from reputable sources, the authors debunk myths and make projections on technology’s future.

It was evident that a lot of research went into this book. The books and articles that were referenced made it clear that the authors read widely about this topic, and the detailed delivery also showed that they were well informed. The short description given about the authors also assured me that they had the necessary experience and knowledge to write this book. They had both been involved in the energy sector for a long time and had taken their time to brainstorm to get all the necessary information they needed.

I expected to be overwhelmed by complicated terminologies and concepts while reading this book. However, I was pleased to be disappointed in that regard. The book was written to be easy for a layperson to understand, even if they were not well versed in science. It was effortless for me to read and understand. This was my favorite aspect of the book.

I liked the authors’ thoughtfulness in adding a reference section at the end of the book. It gave a touch of authenticity and verifiability. It would also be helpful to the reader for further research. I checked out some of the resources and found them useful and relevant. Essentially, this book was a product of an intimate union of research and experience.

The editing was professional, as I only found one error. There was absolutely nothing to dislike about this book. Therefore, I’d rate it 4 out of 4 stars and recommend it to anyone fascinated by technological trends and interested in the future of technology. Anyone whose business depends mainly on technology should get a copy of this book.

OnlineBookClub.org

“A fascinating, highly educational tour of the ideas and technologies that will power the future.”
— Peter Fox-Penner,  energy expert, author of Smart Power and Power After Carbon

“Respected energy veterans Roger Duncan and Michael Webber offer a provocative vision of how buildings, transports, and electricity may meld with efficiency, information, and innovation to create more—or, if we choose unwisely, less—than the sum of their interactive parts. Whether or not you agree, this readable treatment helps frame the forces shaping the modern energy revolution.” — Amory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute

“What started as a brainstorming session between two thoughtful energy experts and grew over years of nurturing, polishing, challenging and reassessing, has finally emerged as an insightful book that will challenge and transform your thinking about how we use energy today and in the future. It is a clear-eyed look at megatrends swirling around us, trends that are so large they can be hard to understand.” — Russell Gold, Senior Reporter, The Wall Street Journal and Author, Superpower and The Boom