How China Built an Emergency Hospital in Just 10 days

Huoshenshan HospitaOn 2 February 2020 China opened an emergency hospital set up specifically to tackle the novel coronavirus. The emergency specialty field hospital constructed from 23 January 2020 to 2 February 2020, taking only 10 days to construct. Continue reading

City of Santa Cruz Enacts Prohibition of Natural Gas

cities prohibiting natural gasThe city council in Santa Cruz voted unanimously on March 24 to prohibit gas hookups in most new buildings, bringing the total number of California building gas bans and electrification codes to thirty.

The ordinance, which aims to curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, stresses Santa Cruz’s vulnerability to both sea-level rise and wildfires. Santa Cruz’s reach code incorporates parts of gas ban reach codes previously implemented in places like Berkeley and San Jose. Continue reading

Healthy Buildings

Can indoor building features such as ventilation, pollutant-reduction, and lighting influence our thinking, behavior and health? New research suggests a big “yes.” According to latest research, environmental factors within your building — the degree or type of ventilation, airborne contaminants, lighting and noise levels, for example — can play a significant role in how good or bad you feel, and even how well you think. Continue reading

Slab-on-Grade or Crawl Space: Which Foundation is Best for You?

Until recently, crawl space foundations were the favored type of foundation, but in recent years slab foundations have become increasingly popular. While there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of foundation, the choice ultimately comes down to a combination of personal preference plus site-specific considerations regarding where the home is being built. Continue reading

Windows 101: Know What You’re Getting Before You Buy

What To Look For in Buying a Window
Buying a window takes far more research than buying a sofa. That’s because windows are a complex commodity. A window is meant keep you comfortable and dry while offering a nice breeze now and then. At the same time it needs to withstand the harshness of the outside environment while keeping the inside as pleasant as can be. And it needs to do all this as efficiently and as cost effectively as possible. Continue reading

Bamboo Flooring: Pros and Cons

Is Bamboo Flooring Right for You?
As a flooring material, bamboo has many of the same benefits and drawbacks of hardwood flooring. Like wood flooring, bamboo is an attractive natural material that generally adds real estate value to a home. While the bamboo plant is a type of grass, not a tree, bamboo flooring behaves much like wood flooring—it can even be refinished in the same way. Bamboo is every bit as hard as most hardwoods and is slightly more water-resistant. But like wood, bamboo can be scratched, and it is prone to cracking in conditions where humidity levels swing dramatically. Continue reading

Natural Building Ventilation

Historically, all buildings were ventilated naturally. In modern buildings, many of the opportunities for natural ventilation have been compromised by placement of interior partition walls and reliance on mechanical systems. With an increased awareness of the cost and environmental impacts of energy use, natural ventilation has become an increasingly attractive method for reducing energy use and cost and for providing acceptable indoor environmental quality and maintaining a healthy, comfortable, and productive indoor climate rather than the more prevailing approach of using mechanical ventilation. Continue reading

How We Can Redesign Cities to Fight Epidemics

A heat map analyzing the ventilation between urban buildings.

Architecture can be the Secret Weapon To Combat Infectious Diseases
Throughout history, disease outbreaks have forced new innovations in urban design. Fighting cholera epidemics in the 1800s, for example, necessitated the building of new plumbing and sewer systems and the devising of new zoning laws to prevent overcrowding. As the new coronavirus lays bare the need for broader changes across our economy, such as widespread paid sick leave, it might also influence how cities and buildings are built. Continue reading

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