A Barry Commoner Quotation

In chapter 12 of The Solar House, entitled After the Crisis, I argue that the earlier experiments described throughout the book found their true significance after (roughly) 1973 when the need for energy-saving houses became widespread and urgent.  Architects, engineers, and DIY-ers were able to address the need, because the early pioneers had prepared them by creating new technical knowledge.  I wrote:

"In a sense, the solar house movement was ‘ready’ for this explosive growth due to the decades of exploratory work described [in the preceding chapters] above."

What I'm describing here is more akin to progress in a history-of-technology sense, than influence in an architectural-history sense.  I recently came across a wonderful passage from the period which offers some additional context and, I think, supports my view that the 1970s solar house movement essentially validated the progress that had been made in the 1930s-60s.  This is from Barry Commoner's The Poverty of Power: Energy and Economic Crisis (1976):

"I have refrained from describing in even slight detail the design and construction of actual solar devices for space heat, hot water, or steam-generated electric power because there is nothing very novel about them.  In these applications, all that is done is to link up a suitable solar collector with an already well-known device: a hot-water plumbing system; a forced-air home-heating system; a heat-operated air-conditioner; a steamdriven electric generator.  The engineering problems are quite straightforward and involve no insuperable technical barriers."

Elsewhere (here) I have extended this line of thought into the present, by making the point that we can now make Zero Energy houses quite easily; all of the fundamental questions are known and all methods familiar.  Of course today's dominant solar technology, PV, was not on Commoner's menu.  Progress continues and new research is always needed.  Still, the more significant barriers are cultural.  There are, as in Commoner's day, no insuperable technical barriers.