Archinect - Attainable Sustainable Design 2021-12-02T10:08:12-05:00 Software Review: Sefaira Amy Leedham 2013-07-11T20:44:00-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> Almost 2 years ago, EHDD signed on as early adopters of<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"> Sefaira</a>, a new energy modeling tool built specifically for architects to use in the early stages of the design process... also known as the holy grail. The team based in London and New York came to our office as part of a tour around the country to try to convince firms to buy into the program in exchange for an opportunity to provide feedback and input that would help develop the tool. I was skeptical at first, but after hearing the presentation and some very satisfactory answers to what I must admit was an onslaught of very specific and technical questions, EHDD signed on, and here's why.&nbsp;</p> <p> There was some hesitation about the fact that Sefaira has built their own simulation engine. There are plenty of engines out there that are verified, like DOE-2, so why fix it if isn't broken? The short answer is that DOE-2 and other engines were built for very detailed, engineering based energy models, and the purpose of Sefaira was no...</p> Solar Decathlon Europe: A Review of the Winners Amy Leedham 2012-11-08T12:55:00-05:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src="" title=""></p> <p> The <a href=";lang=en" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">European Solar Decathlon</a> took place in Madrid in late September and included teams from around Europe as well as Brasil and China.&nbsp; There are some really interesting designs that came out of the competition and given that Europe is usually quicker to adopt and implement sustainable strategies, it&rsquo;s worth reviewing the top designs.</p> <p> <br> Team <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Rhone-Alpes</a> won the overall competition with their modular Conopea&nbsp; House which can grouped horizontally to vertically to create even more efficient clusters or, &ldquo;nanotowers&rdquo; as the team calls them. The concept is inspired by the forest canopy eco-system which captures 95% of solar energy and 30% of rainfall. The design relies on the pooling of resources collected by each building for greater project autonomy. While one module can survive on its own, their collective impact is exponentially greater thus promoting controllable density.</p> <p> <img alt="" src="" title=""><br> Canopea House</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Team Andalucia</a> won the Energy Efficiency and Innovation Category with its Patio 2...</p> Polystyrene Insulation: The Ugly Side of Flame Retardants Amy Leedham 2012-10-02T14:17:15-04:00 >2012-10-03T19:31:54-04:00 <p> Insulation is one of the main strategies being implemented to improve the energy efficiency of buildings around the world. However, this strategy is less affordable in the US because of the added cost of treating the insulation materials with flame retardants. Furthermore, the flame retardant used is a persistent, bioaccumulative, and&nbsp; endocrine disrupting chemical called HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane).&nbsp; HBCD is now found in dust, sewage, sludge, breast milk and body fluids, wildlife and the environment. This global contaminant is scheduled to become the 22nd chemical ever banned in 180 countries under the Stockholm Convention.&nbsp;</p> <p> The scary reality is that in the US we are surrounded by toxic and harsh chemicals every day. The New York Times recently published an<a href=";_r=0" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"> article</a> addressing the legislation behind and health concerns of the flame retardants in your couch and mattress foam. It is thorough and enlightening read if your health in a concern to you at all. &nbsp;This issue extends to ...</p> Film Review: "Urbanized" by Gary Hustwit Amy Leedham 2012-03-15T19:30:00-04:00 >2012-03-16T19:03:16-04:00 <p> Last week I went to see<em> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Urbanized</a></em>&nbsp;by Gary Hustwit which was being screened as part of the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">San Francisco Green Film Festival</a>. Things got off to a pleasing note when the short animated film <em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Second Hand</a></em>&nbsp;by Isaac King was played as an opener for the evening. I loved the message and was especially entertained by the consumer with the extremely heavy footsteps.<br><br><img alt="" src="" title=""></p> <p> "Urbanized"poses that as the worlds' population continues to grow and move into cities, cities themselves must find innovative ways of handling the influx of people and the decline of natural resources. Hustwit explores the issues associated with the ever-changing flows of people and energy in cities from both the top down and the bottom up. From headstrong mayors who brag about big brother-esque control centers in Bogota to stickers on storefronts in New Orleans, Hustwit captures the vitality and&nbsp;despair&nbsp;of city living with&nbsp;beautiful&nbsp;and moving cinematography. A unifying theme to <em>Urbanized</em> (and Hutwits other films <em>Helvetica</em> an...</p> Reducing Energy in 'Difficult' Typologies Amy Leedham 2012-01-30T16:51:00-05:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> The<a href=";C=867" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"> recent articl</a>e in Architectural Record about the respectable energy targets for the new Barnes Museum design by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects raises an issue that sparks further discussion. By now, the strategies for reducing energy use in offices and residential projects are mostly general knowledge, net zero projects are becoming more commonplace and the market is flooded with media covering the relevant issues. However, there is still little talk about how to reduce energy in the &lsquo;difficult&rsquo; typologies: Museums, hospitals, laboratories to name the &lsquo;heavy hitters&rsquo;. These typologies have thus far been mostly exempt from scrutiny because their environmental needs have been deemed too specialized for drastic change. Museums have specific light and humidity requirements to both preserve and view art properly. Hospitals have the obvious concern for contaminants and the health of susceptible members of society and thus have strict ventilation and thermal requirements. Howev...</p> Biophilic Design Amy Leedham 2012-01-19T18:04:00-05:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> While reducing the energy use of buildings is essential for a sustainable future, it is equally important to improve the conditions in which humans live, work, play, heal etc.. The benefits of natural daylight and ventilation have been proven to improve productivity and reduce sick days in office workers and people generally seem to be more aware that they deserve a healthy environment around them. This concept has been developed into a fully fledged design approach to architecture called <em>biophilic design</em>. However, this concept is generally misunderstood and commonly confused with <em>biomimicry</em>.&nbsp; This week&rsquo;s blog aims to explain the philosophy behind biophilic design and architectural applications that can help to achieve a healthier, more natural architecture.</p> <p> <br><strong>Biophilia vs. biomimicry</strong></p> <p> <br> Biophilic design is based on the theory of &lsquo;biophilia&rsquo; which contends that human health and well-being has a biologically based need to affiliate with nature. When this physiological theory is re...</p> Energy Modeling Software De-Coded Amy Leedham 2011-11-03T17:41:22-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> Note: This post was supposed to be rolled out on Halloween... in tribute to it being a very scary subject that causes controversy all across the architecture, construction and building performance industries. Despite this controversy I wanted to provide a general overview of the topic and a guide to some of the software tools out there today.</p> <p> <strong>The Trend</strong></p> <p> 'Sustainable' design is one&nbsp;of the few areas in the industry that has continued to grow even during the recent recession. This 'green' boom is encouraging, but it is important to take a step back and assess this development beore charging ahead. The recent 'green' boom has sparked two trends regarding performance simulation: As building codes become more rigorous and clients demand 'certified' green projects, <strong>compliance modeling </strong>is becoming more commonplace. Secondly, as clients become more self-educated about sustainability, they want to see more <strong>documentation of sustainable design strategies and impact</strong> and they want to see it ...</p> Beyond LEED and BREAM: The Living Building Challenge – Part 1 Amy Leedham 2011-10-12T15:03:46-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src="" title=""></p> <p> With several articles about the new Net-Zero <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Bullit Center</a> in Seatle in the press <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">NYTimes</a>, (<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Citytank</a>, &nbsp;and the <a href=";adxnnl=1&amp;pagewanted=all&amp;adxnnlx=1318446127-O+dqDpduRQHcrfSjtw4p2A" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">NYTimes again</a> to name a few) It seems a good time to shed some light on the <strong>Living Building Challenge. </strong>The Bullit Center is aiming for Living building certification and is the first office 'tower' to attempt such a rigorous certification (hence all the press interest). So the big question is.. what is the Living Building Challenge?</p> <p> Tired of waiting for LEED and BREAM to get their act together, the creators of the Living Building Challenge went beyond checklists and recommendations. They double-dog dared not only the design community, but all of humanity, to wake up and smell the progress. Their lowest level of achievement is a <strong>net-zero building</strong>, from there a project can either be regenerative or restorative. So not only must a project require no recourse to renewable energy, but it should give back to the local community and/or eco-system. A technologically and socia...</p> Shipping Container Houses: The Full Story Amy Leedham 2011-10-11T11:31:43-04:00 >2017-05-12T10:31:05-04:00 <p> <img alt="" src="" title=""></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Shipping container architecture is fast becoming the hot new green trend for both designers and DIY&rsquo;ers who want their own sustainable, chic home. My brother and his wife have asked me to design them a shipping container home and despite my familiarity with the topic I was pretty sure they knew more about it than I did. Like any good designer I began researching everything involved with designing and building a shipping container house and decided it was important to share what I found because there are some downsides that everyone embarking on a container house should be aware of.</p> <p> <strong>Pros:</strong></p> <p> One of the main reasons that container architecture is becoming so popular is that sheer <strong>abundance of shipping containers </strong>available for purchase. It is estimated that around 100 million shipping container loads cross the ocean every year. The cost of building a new container is significantly cheaper than shipping them back to be re-filled and after a couple uses, they are no-longer desi...</p> What IS Sustainable Design? Part 1 Amy Leedham 2011-10-10T11:48:26-04:00 >2011-10-10T11:48:26-04:00 <p> The word <strong>sustainable</strong> gets thrown around a lot these days and most people don&rsquo;t really now what it means. I have put &lsquo;part 1&prime; in the title because I believe that sustainable design is a continually evolving concept and it is difficult to define it in a few hundred words.</p> <p> Merriam-Webster&rsquo;s American dictionary defines sustainable as follows:</p> <p> 1. Capable of being sustained</p> <p> 2. of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged</p> <p> 3. of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods</p> <p> The definition seems straightforward but is still fairly vague which is why it can be used in many different ways by, well everyone. A developer trying to sell units in his new building will say it is a sustainable design because they installed low-energy light bulbs. Most people would believe the developer and yes technically installing light bulbs that use less energy is more sustainable that using trad...</p> Case Study 01: Liquid Desiccant Waterfall, UMD 2007 Solar Decathlon Team Amy Leedham 2011-10-07T17:59:17-04:00 >2011-10-10T11:52:54-04:00 <p> The 2007 University of Maryland <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">LEAFhouse</a> placed second on the international Solar Decathlon competition, but the innovative interpretation of an environmental technology that resulted in the desiccant waterfall is a perfect example of the possibilities of integrated design.</p> <p> (The Solar Decathlon is a bi-annual competition for college teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. It is unique in that the competition entries must actually be built which is an amazing learning tool but also helps to realize design innovations and potential issues with construction. Visit the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">competition home page </a>to see more)</p> <p> <strong>Liquid Desiccant Waterfall</strong></p> <p> As part of the design&rsquo;s energy efficiency, the team needed a low-energy system to cool the hot-humid summer air in Maryland. The ingenuity came when they decided to re-design and adapt a technology used in large-scale commercial applications to fit in their small footprint. Add...</p>