Articles - April, 2007

5 Ways to Start Your Home's Green Remodel

Green_remodeling_david_johnston Let’s face it, not everyone can go out there and build a new house to have a green home.  A lot of older homes will need to be renovated.  With green renovations, there’s a sequence to what you do.  For example, if your home has poor insulation and leaks energy, putting solar panels on the roof shouldn’t be your first step to greening the home.  You’d still be wasting too much energy and not getting much bang out the solar panels.  The following list is going to be fairly generic, but if you’d like to get more information on green rehabs, give David Johnston’s book a look, he’s the expert on green remodeling. 

  1. Purchase Energy Star – these days, appliances that don’t have the Energy Star label probably don’t sell, but you may have a lot of stuff lying around that hogs the energy.  Gradually think about replacing that stuff with Energy Star stuff. 
  2. Mind the Gaps – there’s no reason to lose energy through cracks, gaps, and creases in your home.  In the summer, you’ll lose cool air.  In the winter, you’ll lose warm air.  Also, you’re probably having to over-cool or over-heat your place depending on what’s going on in the attic.  Insulation is good.  Caulking is good.  Weather-stripping is good.
  3. Do a Blow Test - what you’re doing here is finding the air holes in a house and patching them up.  It’s important to have the proper air tightness and the blower door test can help. 
  4. Watch Your Water – consider all the myriad of ways water is used and think about doing things differently.  If you’re going to get a new toilet, you might as well get the dual-flush.  If you’re remodeling, you might as well swap out the fixtures for new, low-flow fixtures.  Maybe a tankless water heater would be good, too. 
  5. Upgrade the Windows – this step may not be as important as minding the gaps or doing a blow test, but new windows change the feel of a home.  These days, windows can allow natural light and block heat gain, but you’ll want to look for low-E coatings and double-paned windows. 

These five steps are going to help you save water and energy, but this is only one portion of the green home equation.  Later on, you might think about what you have inside your home and how that stuff affects indoor air quality.  Also, if you’re doing any type of repair or rehabbing, you’ll also want to work with sustainable materials.  Three prongs: resource efficiency, sustainable materials, and indoor air quality.  Via BusinessWeek; see also 5 Dumbest Renovation Fads
 

Interface Studio: Sustainable, Economic Sheridan Street Housing

Sheridan Street Housing Sheridan Street Housing

The Philadelphia Sustainability Awards Finalists have been chosen and one of the projects that was overlooked is the following 13-unit, affordable, environmentally-friendly housing project designed by Interface Studio, LLC.  One of the goals of this project was to design affordable homes with extremely low utility costs.  When money is tight, being hit by the utility man is tough on morale, that’s for sure.  The architect relied on modular design to lower costs of construction and challenge the bland look of typical affordable housing.  Engineers estimate that units will be 30-40% more efficient than your standard Energy Star building upon completion.  Pretty incredible, actually. 

Although Sheridan Street Housing was not selected for the Philadelphia Sustainability Awards, it has received an AIA Philadelphia Silver Medal 2006 + residential architect Design Award 2007.  Sheridan Street was designed with unique materials such as slate-like fiber cement cladding panel and textured exterior grade plywood cladding panel.  Also, as you can tell from the images above, the design incorporates an airy third-floor terrace.  I’d pay big money for that.  I think another innovative aspect of the project is how the designer squeezed 13-units into an oddly shaped 40′ x 450′ piece of land.  Each building dances with another in interlocking L-shaped footprints to maximize the available land. 

Here are links to some of the other green projects considered for the Philadelphia Sustainability Awards: Bernice Elza Homes, Brewerytown Square, Jackie O’Neil Zero-Energy Prototype Homes (finalist), One Crescent Drive, Pembroke North Condominium, and The Reserve at Packer Park

Ray Kappe, FAIA: 10 Most Important Principles to Success

Photo_ray_kappe Lately, Ray Kappe has been getting a lot of attention for his residences designed for LivingHomes, the Steve Glenn prefab company.  Kappe’s first home has been featured all over the place for achieving the highest LEED certification possible, the Platinum rating.  I think his work is incredible, so I was studying his stuff when I came across this list of his, "the ten most important principles that helped make me a successful architect, planner, and educator."  In the interests of learning from those that are remarkable examples of continuing achievement, I thought I would be good to share his list with the JG readers.  Any thoughts?

  1. Think positively, not negatively.
  2. Accept structure but know that it is to be questioned and broken when necessary.
  3. Always be willing to explore, experiment and invent.  Do not accept the status quo.
  4. Know yourself and keep your work consistent with who you are and how you think.
  5. Maintain good moral and social values.
  6. Be humble, honest, compassionate, and egalitarian.
  7. Have conviction about your work.
  8. Be open and say yes to most ideas and requests. The good ones will be valuable, the bad ones will cease to exist.
  9. Allow employees and fellow workers freedom and the ability to work to their strengths. Avoid hierarchy.
  10. Money should be the residual of work, not the goal.  But do not compromise your worth.

RK2

Jetson Green Named to MoPo 2007 – Top 25 Architecture Blogs (Updated)

Panoramic_saltlake_iwan_baan

I just wanted to kick out a shout to the blog Eikongraphia and Michiel van Raaij for working hard to compile a list of the Top 25 Architecture Blogs on the internet right now.  I’m pleased to announce that Jetson Green occupies the #9 position on the list.  Without having perfect access to all sorts of information, it’s difficult to make a list of top blogs and not receive some criticism, but I think Michiel did a good job.  Here’s a list of the Top 15 Architecture Blogs:

    1. BLDGBLOG
    2. Things Magazine
    3. Pruned
    4. Archidose
    5. Plataforma Arquitectura
    6. Tropolism
    7. Dezeen
    8. Edgar Gonzalez
    9. Jetson Green
    10. Subtopia
    11. Eikongraphia
    12. Anarchitecture
    13. Noticias Arquitectura
    14. Mirage Studio 7
    15. Brand Avenue

If you’re an architecture fan, feel free to drop by any one of these quality sites.  I have many of them plugged into the feed right now.  But I must admit, I’m not an architect.  I am a construction and design enthusiast.  I hear architects say all the time, "Developers should go to architecture school."  Jetson Green is my form of research and school–the more I blog, the more I learn, and I rely on emails, comments, and trackbacks to understand the important principles relating to the architecture of sustainability. 

::UPDATE:: The list was revised to separate out individual and collaborative blogs.  Jetson Green moved up to #7 on the individual blogs list.  The above list is still the first attempt. 

Green Building Gets Easy, Green Hotels, Construction Materials, Wind Capacity Growing, + Low Impact is Popular (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Green Housing Gains Ground: Green Home Building Doesn’t Have to be Complicated, Experts Say; Simple Steps Can Make Houses More Environmentally Friendly
  2. U.S. Wind Energy Grew 20 % in 2006; Now Enough to Generate Power for 3M Average U.S. Homes
  3. Green Is the New Black: Becoming a Popular Approach to Lessen Environmental Impact
  4. Independent Hotels and Major Chains Are Building Green Properties and Renovating Existing Properties Green
  5. Construction Suppliers Go Green: New Products Promise to Cut Pollution, Costs

It's a Green Spring…You Choose

Time April 9, 2007 Cover Outside April Cover Eco-Structure May/June Cover Newsweek April 16, 2007 Cover The New American City Spring 2007

I take my oldies to 1/2-Price when I’m done, it’s better than trash.  You?

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