Category Archives: Santa Cruz Architect

A Guide to Solar Shingles

Many companies have now begun approaching residential solar PV systems in ways that meet both a homeowner’s energy needs while also answering to the aesthetic qualities of the house. Solar roofing (a.k.a. solar shingles) is an option worth exploring for those who are turned off by the ungainly aesthetics of conventional solar panels. With solar roofing, rather than placing panels on top of the roofing, the solar array is integral to the roof itself. This not only makes the solar array less obtrusive but also saves by substituting for other roofing materials. Here we explore some current developments in solar roofing technology, the advantages, plus the drawbacks of solar shingle roofing systems. Continue reading

What is Low-Carbon Concrete?

The active ingredient in concrete is cement, and concrete’s ubiquitous usage makes cement the most widely used industrial commodity today. The world consumes about half a ton of cement per person per year. But alongside its positive benefits as a construction material, cement also puts a major strain on the environment. Cement production currently accounts for 3% of world energy consumption and roughly 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing emissions from the cement sector is critical to meeting the United Nation’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, but the sector has proven inherently challenging to decarbonize. This challenge is prompting a major drive to develop technological solutions that can address these processing emissions, including significant upticks in both investments and startup activity in low-carbon cement. Continue reading

The Ten Elements of Perfect ADU Design

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) present unique design challenges that require unique solutions. There is simply less square footage to go around, which means that space is at a premium. The most functional ADUs take advantage of design tips and tricks that make interior spaces feel lighter, more spacious, and more efficient. Whether your ADU is intended to become a home office, in-law unit, or rental, these design tips can help you create a unique space that works for any function you need it to serve. Continue reading

Does My Home Improvement Need a Permit?

Once you decide to undertake a home improvement project, you’ll invest time and energy determining your budget, your floor plan layout, architectural style, and whether your project’s scope necessitates the involvement of a contractor, architect, or both. But it’s important to consider an additional, and equally critical consideration: whether your project will need a building permit, and if so, how to go about obtaining it. Continue reading

AI: Coming to a Job Site Near You

Humans have been building shelters and structures for millennia, making construction one of the oldest professions. The industry has continuously evolved in the ways we design, plan, and build structures. For decades, technology has been used in the construction industry to increase productivity and efficiency in construction projects and make structures safer. More recently, construction firms have increasingly begun using AI (artificial intelligence) in innovative ways to make construction even more efficient and productive. From optimizing work schedules, to improving workplace safety, to keeping a secure watch on construction facilities, AI in the construction industry is already proving its value and making inroads into this traditionally conservative industry. Continue reading

Some Innovative Atmospheric Water Generators

Source’s hydropanel in a rooftop application.

Atmospheric water generation (AWG) uses technology to produce potable water from the surrounding air. Drinking water supplies around the world are endangered as populations increase, groundwater is depleted and surface supplies shrink. Oceans could be tapped, but desalination is energy intensive and costly. There are, however, approximately 3,100 cubic miles of water vapor in the atmosphere, a nearly unlimited resource continuously replenished by the planet’s hydrologic cycle, so taking water from the air will not harm the environment. Atmospheric water generators (AWG) are now being developed to squeeze water from the air. Continue reading

California’s ADU Solar Requirements: Does My ADU Need Solar Panels?

In 2020, California became the first state to require new homes to be equipped with solar panels to offset the use of grid electricity as part of its goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045. Known as the California Solar Mandate or Title 24, this standard applies to single-family homes, apartments, condos, and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). Continue reading

What is a Passive House?

‘Passive House’ is a design standard that achieves thermal comfort with minimal heating and cooling by using insulation, airtightness, appropriate window and door design, ventilation systems with heat recovery, and elimination of thermal bridges. Originally developed in Germany in the 1990s, Passive House principles are now being used throughout the world. Passive House standards are performance-based: they set performance targets to be met but do not dictate specific materials or products. The Passive House Institute administers a certification scheme that allows a building to be called a Certified Passive House once it has met certain performance standards. Continue reading

Choosing the Best Windows for Your Home

Windows are an important investment in your home’s curb appeal and your quality of life. They’re also pricey, often costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars to install or replace. Gone are the days when homeowners’ interest in windows was limited to size and shape: today’s energy-conscious consumers want to minimize costs of heating/ cooling their homes. Whether you’re building a new home or planning to replace existing, the key is knowing which choices will give you the biggest bang for your buck without impacting your bottom line. This guide is intended to help you make informed choices as to best window options for your home. Continue reading

5 Ways an ADU/JADU Investment Can Produce ROI

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is an accessory dwelling unit with complete, independent living facilities for one or more persons. There are three main types, those attached to the primary structure, detached ADUs in which the unit is separated from the primary structure, and converted, in which a space (e.g., master bedroom, attached garage, a storage area, or a accessory structure) on the lot of the primary residence is converted into an independent living unit. A JADU is a dwelling unit attached to the main house, not exceeding 500 square feet, and which may share bathroom and/or kitchen facilitation with the main dwelling. Both ADUs and JADUs can be moneymakers for homeowners looking for short-term cash flow and a long-term investment. Continue reading