Whole-House Fans vs. Powered Ventilators: What’s the Difference?

Whole-house Fans
A whole-house fan is an attic-mounted fan that exhausts air from a home at night, when the heat of the day has passed and the outdoor temperature has dropped enough to feel comfortable. The main advantage of using a whole-house fan instead of an air conditioner is to save energy. A whole-house fan usually draws between 200w and 700w, in contrast to a central air conditioner, which draws 2000w to 5000w. Continue reading

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Resilient Building Design

In recent years, with the impacts of Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, and now Harvey, resiliency has become a “buzz” word. Resiliency branches off from the “sustainability/green” movement and aligns with many aspects in the newest thought process with “regenerative” and living buildings. As we deal with issues of extreme weather and changes to our climate many are realizing that a key survival is to design new buildings and landscapes with resiliency in mind. But what is resiliency and how can we incorporate it into our designs? Continue reading

The Advantages of a Smart House

Smart house technology concept with centralized control of lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, security locks and video surveillance, energy savings and efficiency.

So-called smart homes take advantage of automation technology and modern building techniques to give homeowners a new level of control. Smart homes may be built from scratch with automation as a key design goal, or constructed from existing homes during a major renovation. In both cases, smart homes offer several advantages over conventional homes. Continue reading

What is a Plyscraper?

Ever since the 10-story Home Insurance Building in Chicago was called the first “skyscraper” in 1885, architects have been striving to create ever-taller buildings. Ten stories quickly became 20, 20 became 50, and on and on. In 2009 the Burj Khalifa in Dubai became the world’s tallest building, with its 154 floors towering above ground level.

So why is the mayor of Portland, Oregon, calling a modest 12-story tower set for completion there next year “a true technological and entrepreneurial achievement?” It’s not the affordable housing the building affords, nor its dozens of bike racks or even the roof farm that has Ted Wheeler gushing. It’s that the Framework apartment building will be made almost entirely of wood. Continue reading

Self-cleaning Windows

What is self-cleaning glass?
The first thing to note about self-cleaning windows is that they’re not, in fact, “simple pieces of glass.” They have a very thin outer coating of titanium dioxide, a white, powdery titanium compound best known for giving that dazzling gleam to paint, toothpaste, and all kinds of other bright white things.

Now if titanium dioxide is, essentially, the white in white paint, it might seem ludicrous to splash it all over a window—something we naturally want to be transparent. But the coating really is ultra-ultra thin. We’re talking about putting a layer 10–25 nanometers deep on glass that might be 4mm thick, which is like sitting a dime on top of the Empire State Building! It reduces the light passing through the glass by no more than about 5 percent. Continue reading

Timing Your Architectural Project

When Should You Start Designing Your Project?
If you’re planning an all interior project, you can start any time! The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll have your house in the condition you want it to be, and the sooner you can start enjoying it. If you’re contemplating an addition or exterior alteration, it’s ideal to start planning your project early, but that’s not a hard-and-fast requirement. Starting early will give you and your architect sufficient time to develop the design and drawings on a more relaxed schedule, submit your project for Planning Department approval, and negotiate a contract with your contractor. Continue reading

Selecting Low-Emitting Materials

What are Low-emitting Materials?
Low-emitting materials are products that do not release significant pollutants into the indoor environment. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals found in many common products and building materials that can escape into the air and cause illness and allergic reactions. These emissions are one of the contributors to the situation known as “sick building syndrome” (SBS) in which building occupants experience health and comfort effects. Continue reading