Tag Archives: sustainable design

Windows, Daylighting, and Ventilation

Windows have long been used in buildings for daylighting and ventilation. Many studies have even shown that health, comfort, and productivity are improved due to well-ventilated indoor environments and access to natural light. However, windows also represent a major source of unwanted heat loss, discomfort, and condensation problems. In 1990 alone, the energy used to offset unwanted heat losses and gains through windows in residential and commercial buildings cost the United States $20 billion, one-fourth of all the energy used for space heating and cooling. Continue reading

Tips for Designing Your Shipping Container Home

Robyn Volker and Anke Irmscher decided to paint their shipping-container home bright orange because, as Ms. Volker said, “you might as well announce it’s a container.” credits: N.Y.Times

Shipping container homes have grown immensely in popularity in recent years for several good reasons: they are durable, eco-friendly, and modular. More importantly, approached correctly, they can be built both faster and more affordably than conventional homes. The first two-story shipping container home in the U.S. is said to have been designed by a California architect in 2006. Since then, the rate of shipping container housing has steadily accelerated in response to the increased cost of home construction. Here are some tips for those considering a shipping container home. Continue reading

County of Santa Cruz Releases Interactive ADU Toolkit

The County of Santa Cruz has released an interactive toolkit making it easier for homeowners to design, permit and construct Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which can be a more affordable housing option for Santa Cruz County families. Continue reading

Understanding the Living Building Challenge and Its “Petals”

The Living Building Challenge (LBC) is a certification program that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability—providing a framework for design, construction and the symbiotic relationship between people and all aspects of the built environment. It is one of most rigorous performance standards in the industry, as it requires net-zero energy, waste and water by every project. Continue reading

Bamboo Flooring: Pros and Cons

Is bamboo for you?
Bamboo flooring has evolved into one of the biggest segments of the wood flooring industry over the past 10 years. That’s because it’s much cheaper and more durable than most wood flooring options out there. Is it for you? Here’s a bamboo flooring primer. Continue reading

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

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