Author Archives: santacruzarchitect

Solar Shading Devices: What You Need to Know

When the ambient temperature within a building is within or above the comfort zone, any additional heating of the interior due to solar gain will result in discomfort. Architects therefor design solar shading devices to prevent this. However, at cool times of the year, it is generally desirable to allow solar radiation to pass directly into the room to provide a useful heating effect. This response – between blocking excess gain in summer vs optimizing gain in winter- can be provided either by the shading device being moveable, or by it being geometrically selective. Continue reading

Sorting Out Solar Requirements on New CA Homes

In May 2018, the California Energy Commission (CEC) unanimously approved the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. The Standards now require solar PV on new homes constructed after January 2020. The CEC also created a solar plus storage option to give credit toward the new Standards. Continue reading

What is the Optimal Roof Pitch?

It’s no exaggeration to say that the roof is the most vital part of the building envelope, and therefore, the most critical investment.  It’s also no overstatement to say that we now enjoy a wider range of roofing materials and roofing system than at any other time in history. However, not every roofing system works in every application.   Finding the right system involves weighing a multitude of variables including cost, weight, lifespan, maintenance requirements, and most importantly, aesthetics. Of all these variables, roof slope (a.k.a. “pitch”) is perhaps the most important. Continue reading

Is It Necessary to Clean Solar Panels?

After solar panel installation in your home, you are left wondering how to make the most out of your investment. The ideal way is to make sure that your solar panels have supportive conditions for generating electricity. This can be done by making sure your solar panels are clean. Clean panels increase the efficiency of the system and also the system’s lifespan. Continue reading

CA’s Solar and Natural Gas Ban Mandates Now in Effect: What You Need to Know

If you are building a California home this year, it will have to produce more clean energy — and in some places use more electric appliances — than ever before. A first-in-the-nation law requiring new homes to have rooftop solar panels took effect Jan. 1. State building codes also require better insulation and air filtration for new homes, and homeowners get additional incentives to install batteries to store solar power. Continue reading

Accessory Dwelling Unit Update 2020

With the arrival of the new year, new housing laws are taking hold in California. Red tape has been cleared for homeowners to build not just one, but two accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, under ministerial approval from local governments.  ADUs, also called “granny flats,” offer cities an opportunity to develop new housing units that are not disruptive to the look and feel of single-family neighborhoods.  Continue reading

All About Blown-In Insulation

When you think about adding insulation to your home the image that usually comes to mind is long strips of fiberglass insulation in faced batts or unfaced rolls. Batts of faced fiberglass insulation is the standard material used to insulate wall and joist cavities during new construction, and improving the insulation in attics often involves laying a “blanket” of unfaced fiberglass rolls across the attic floor. Continue reading