Tag Archives: sustainable design

What is the Heat Island Effect?

Urban Heat IslandsAs 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

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

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 California’s New Solar Mandate Will Affect Homeowners

In 2018, the California Building Standards Commission approved a mandate requiring all new homes under three stories in the state of California to install solar panels. This solar roof mandate, which is the first of its kind in the United States, will go into effect on January 1, 2020. Continue reading

Comparing Window Materials: Which Is Best?

As with every window replacement project, the better informed you are about the window materials, accompanying products and services you will need, the more closely the project’s outcome will meet your expectations. Because of constantly changing replacement window technologies, it’s important to let go of your preconceived notions about the best window materials to use. What was once considered standard “go-to” materials for window manufacturers in the past, may no longer even meet today’s stringent energy certification requirements. Continue reading

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