Category: energy efficiency
To understand how to build affordable green buildings, it’s useful to look toward low-income communities where these strategies are being applied at scale, where costs and paybacks are being measured. The Make It Right (MIR) Foundation is just such a test-bed community – a Petri dish for our examination. Make It Right builds affordable green homes and buildings and began by with the reconstruction of the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Started by Brad Pitt in 2007, Make it Right buildings are LEED Platinum certified and inspired by Cradle to Cradle thinking. The MIR Foundation’s primary goal is to change the building industry by implementing green building strategies that is affordable to all. MIR utilizes an array of methods:
- Advanced framing to reduce material and labor costs: studs at 24″ on center or the use of structural insulated panels are some of the techniques used (R-25 walls, R-33 roof, R-13 subfloor). Less labor means more affordable. Less materials means more green.
- Interior finishes that are low or no off-gassing make for healthy living.
- Green electrical through wireless electrical system (Verve). The higher cost of the system is offset by lower cost for installation.
- A high velocity air-conditioning system reduces size of duct/trunk lines which can then run in the structure, saving on structural and finishing costs.
- Well insulated walls and air tight buildings reduce energy loads and therfore long-term operational costs. Green Insulation such as spray foam and recycled denim insulation are used.
- Low-flow faucets, shower heads and dual flush toilets reduce water consumption.
- Cisterns for irrigation also reduce water usage.
- Tankless water heaters means no tanks — water is heated only when needed which reduces energy costs.
- 4.25 KW solar array (grid-tied/net-metered) uses the sun to generate energy for the buildings.
- Building Information Management (BIM) allows the organization to analyze and reconfigure the building DNA as it evolves. BIM provides feedback to increase the efficiencies to make their buildings ever more affordable and green.
The typical HERS (Home Energy Rating System) of a home is 100. The typical Make it Right home has a HERS rating of 15-20, or an 80% reduction in energy use over the typical. For $150/SF, including solar panels (of which a portion receives a government tax goodies), this is a remarkable feat.
Tour of soon-to-be-finished modern green Virginia beach house on August 11th at 6:00 PM. Meet at the Cavalier Golf and Yacht Club (parking lot nearest the clubhouse) at 1052 Cardinal Road, Virginia Beach, VA. Attendance limited. Please RSVP to email@example.com.
Superinsulated and designed to meet Passivhaus standards, triple glazed windows, Huber Zip system, FSC certified woods and many other sustainable features. A second floor outdoor covered living space offers a stunning view of Linkhorn Bay. See also Facebook event.
Custom home located in Virginia Beach.
Announcing a house tour at the soon-to-be completed house on Linkhorn Bay in Virginia Beach. The tour will be postponed date to be determined. We will meet in the parking lot of the Cavalier Golf and Yacht Club at 1052 Cardinal Road, Virginia Beach. Limited attendance. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org See more details below.
We design with the philosophy that engaging people in our buildings is key to a project’s success. We think a lot about how to create opportunities for discovery, for collaboration, for a conversation with nature… Take for example, The Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center (LCEC). We designed the roof as an vegetated garden/overlook to the Rivanna River. This is where a visitor first arrives and the roof signals the building’s larger goals: to connect to the Lewis & Clark story, and to engage the visitor with nature. The vegetated roof is to be planted with species gathered by the explorers on their journey west. The overlook, with a replica of a ship in the foreground and the Rivanna in the background, recalls to the visitor that the exploration was carried out by river. The building also teaches about water, how precious it is, how it is the source of life: the roof water is directed to a riverstone channel that flanks the stairs descending to the exhibit space. Water is collected in a basin at the entry below and the visitor crosses a bridge to enter the building – again, references to Lewis & Clark’s river journey as well as modern concerns about the environment and the importance of water quality. The building is designed to achieve LEED Silver, and its many sustainable features are teaching examples for visitors. Best of all though is how active the center is with community activities. The building teaches about the Lewis & Clark’s journey, about nature while serving as an ideal setting for the activities organized by LCEC. It is gratifying to see our goals realized.
A sustainable architect needs to solve for more than would the typical designer. I liken our process to solving the Rubic’s cube – where all the goals, challenges and givens must be in alignment. The typical architect might be solving for the nine squares/side cube, we are solving for the 16 square/side Rubic. Take for instance HEDS-designed RiversEdge House: Good urban design suggested house be sited in alignment with street grid. Classic #PassiveSolar approach would rotate the primary windows toward south and shade with deep overhangs. But the street grid wasn’t on a north-south axis. To solve for both passive solar and urban siting, we angled the front wall toward south while maintaining the overall orientation to that of the street.
This project was designed as part of the RiversEdge community and speculative – we were the developers. We know first-hand that passive solar takes advantage of free energy from the sun at no additional cost to the builder – a win-win solution.
Design for passive solar home in China proposes wind turbine and vegetable gardens on roofs.
Passive solar design is well understood yet little considered at the community design level. New York City planners had the foresight to lay out the NYC street grid with solar aspect in mind. For community planners, considering solar path is so simple yet largely ignored. Imagine laying out streets and houses around the sun so that rooms enjoy daylight without solar heat gain, where front and rear yards are oriented on the north-south axis and sideyards to east and west. Thus floor plans can more easily be adapted to locate the service spaces to the north (kitchen, closets, baths) and living spaces (living, dining, bedrooms) to the south. This simple idea can have a profound effect on the long-term energy use of the individual homes and of the neighborhood collectively and with little or no cost, has big marketing potential. Community developers and planners should wake up to the logic of this win-win solution.
The design of this new community in China (team led by Allison Ewing while Partner at William McDonough + Partners) was designed to take advantage of solar path at all scales of design, from the community to the room.
In Aristotelian terms, techné, craftmanship, craft or art, was considered the imperfect practice of nature. Nature was regarded as teacher and keeper. In the three millennia that have elapsed since the Greeks first pondered the making of things, techné has been replaced by technology which sees nature as something to harness, nature is conceived in subjective (human) terms. We have much to learn from nature, from the birds and the bees, as we consider how to retool our thinking. Take for instance the penguin that survives extreme cold by huddling, thereby creating a microclimate. Living in a community, apart from the social benefits, creates a microclimate where the free exchange of heat and cold is sanctioned; in winter the upstairs neighbor benefits, in summer the gift is exchanged (through radiation and surface transfer). Happily, this is a strategy the Developer-Builder can embrace because party walls equals less expensive perimeter equals lower costs. Safety in numbers.