Straw-bale construction is a building method that uses bales of straw (commonly wheat, rice, rye and oats straw) as structural elements, building insulation, or both. This construction method is commonly used in natural building construction projects. Research has shown that straw-bale construction is a sustainable method of building, from the standpoint of both materials and energy needed for heating and cooling. Advantages of straw-bale construction over conventional building systems include the renewable nature of straw, cost, easy availability, naturally fire-retardant and high insulation value. Continue reading
Climate-Proofing Buildings Against Excessive Heat
There are several options to implement climate-proofing of buildings with respect to excessively high temperatures. Such options relate to building design including the use of IT technologies to optimize thermal comfort and those involving building envelopes, including roof, wall, doors, windows and solar control glazing enhancements. Continue reading
What is Mass Timber Construction?
Mass timber construction, in contrast to light-frame wood construction, is built using a category of engineered wood products typically made of large, solid wood panels, columns or beams often manufactured off-site for load-bearing wall, floor, and roof construction. Mass timber is engineered for high strength ratings like concrete and steel but are significantly lighter in weight. Mass timber products are thick, compressed layers of wood, creating strong, structural load-bearing elements that can be constructed into panelized components. They are typically formed through lamination, fasteners, or adhesives. Mass timber can complement light-frame and hybrid options and is an environmentally friendly substitute for carbon intensive materials and building systems. Continue reading
Mjøstårnet in Brumunddal, Norway, has been verified as the world’s tallest timber building by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. The 280-foot-high tower was built using cross-laminated timber (CLT), a pioneering material that allows architects to build tall buildings from sustainable wood. Continue reading
Sustainable architecture is a general term that refers to buildings that are designed to limit humanity’s impact on the environment. An eco-friendly approach to modern day building encompasses every aspect of the planning and construction process. This includes the choice of building materials; the design and implementation of heating, cooling, plumbing, waste, and ventilation systems; and the integration of the built environment into the natural landscape. Continue reading
Scientists have developed a white paint that cools below the temperature of its ambient surroundings even under direct sunlight. Their research, published in Cell Reports Physical Science journal, demonstrates a radiative cooling technology that could be used in commercial paints, could be less expensive to manufacture, and that passively reflects 95.5% of sunlight that reaches its surface back into outer space. In contrast, commercial “heat rejecting paints” currently on the market only reflect 80%-90% of solar irradiation and cannot achieve below-ambient temperatures. Continue reading
As urban areas develop, changes occur in their landscape. Buildings, roads, and other infrastructure replace open land and vegetation. Surfaces that were once permeable and moist become impermeable and dry. These changes cause urban regions to become warmer than their rural surroundings, forming an “island” of higher temperatures in the landscape. Continue reading
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
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
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