Category Archives: Green Building

Methodologies for Glare Analysis

Methodologies for Glare Analysis

Any complete analysis of a daylit interior environment should include both the amount of light arriving to specified surfaces (such as work planes) as well as an assessment of the visual comfort of the space. Both of these factors are dynamic. Thus, they will change throughout any given time period (e.g., hour, day, week, month, season). The former can be quantified in a rather straightforward sense because it’s just physics. There is a specific amount of lumens entering a space and the characteristics of….

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In Order to Become Leaders in Energy Modeling, Architects Need to be Building Science Experts

In Order to Become Leaders in Energy Modeling, Architects Need to be Building Science Experts

In a marketplace increasingly attuned to high-performance strategies, design teams and clients alike are becoming ever savvier with regard to building science. Consequently, there is a growing expectation that architects exhibit the tools and technical knowledge to go beyond design rules-of-thumb and actually test conceptual notions, compare the performance design options, and refine chosen strategies. This can be accomplished through schematic-level energy modeling. This kind of energy modeling is simplified through basic forms, generalizations, and gross approximations, which makes it….

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Navigating the “Red Lists”

Navigating the “Red Lists”

It has been 50 years since Rachel Carson published Silent Spring. I recently took the time to read Carson’s seminal work (available through iTunes here), which outlines the environmental and human health costs of using pesticides, insecticides, and other chemical applications, and was struck by the relevance of the message. The green building movement is approaching a crossroads with the building product industry. A vast range of materials ranging from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) based products, to mercury thermometers, lead solders and roofing materials, and certain….

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Diminishing Return on Investment for Increasing R-Values

Diminishing Return on Investment for Increasing R-Values

More Insulation Might Not Be the Best Solution for Your Clients Have you ever looked up the minimum R-value requirements in a referenced energy code or standard for high-performance building and thought the requirements seemed a bit low? Take ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007 as an example. This is the referenced energy standard for LEED-NC v2009. For a project in Indianapolis, which falls in Climate Zone 5A, a nonresidential, low-sloped roof assembly exhibiting insulation entirely above deck is only required to have….

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LEED 2009 vs LEED v4 Credit Comparison Flowcharts

LEED 2009 vs LEED v4 Credit Comparison Flowcharts

When the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo convenes in San Francisco later this month, much of the focus of the educational sessions will be on the concepts and strategies embodied by the upcoming LEED v4. While there has certainly not been a shortage of outstanding LEED-related resources, technical revisions, exaggerated speculations, gross misconceptions, and mainstream media hoopla deployed in recent months, I have found it difficult to locate a distilled, clarified explanation of how the current version of of the rating system – LEED 2009 –….

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AIA Releases Energy Modeling Primer for Architects

AIA Releases Energy Modeling Primer for Architects

Cover image from An Architect’s Guide to Integrating Energy Modeling in the Design Process © 2012 The American Institute of Architects Earlier this month, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) released its long-awaited primer for architectural professionals interested in integrating energy modeling into the design process. The publication, titled An Architect’s Guide to Integrating Energy Modeling in the Design Process, is a comprehensive 86-page document that defines the fundamentals of energy modeling, outlines the current state of various performance and analysis tools, and….

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Using Plants to Naturally Improve Indoor Environmental Quality

Using Plants to Naturally Improve Indoor Environmental Quality

Indoor environmental quality is typically the beginning and end of any holistic discussion about “green” building interiors. Human health is paramount and, generally speaking, both designers and clients understand that many building materials off-gas toxic compounds. Indeed, that “new building” smell we’ve all become conditioned to associate with a fresh, new facility is actually your body’s sensory response to the intake of toxic microscopic particulates. Common toxins found in building interiors include: Trichloroethylene – typically found in varnishes, paints, and….

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Water: The Ideal Thermal Mass? (EDC Magazine Edition)

Water: The Ideal Thermal Mass? (EDC Magazine Edition)

A classic example of a roofpond application, the Atascadero House (Atascadero, Calif.) was designed with the assistance of Harold R. Hay and built in 1973. Photo credit: John Reynolds. Thermal mass is an essential component for any passive solar heating or cooling strategy. It’s useful because it absorbs solar energy and provides inertia against interior temperature fluctuations despite diurnal temperature cycles. Design teams can introduce thermal mass into projects in a number of ways. Baked clay, adobe and various types….

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Megawatt, Gigawatt, Watt is What?

Megawatt, Gigawatt, Watt is What?

The Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Baraboo, WI The LEED Platinum facility features a 39.6 kilowatt (kW) solar electric (photovoltaic) system on its roof, the second largest in Wisconsin. Image property of Daniel Overbey There have been a flurry of headlines lately announcing large-scale renewable energy plans. Here are just a few of the recent news clips: Fast-Track Solar Development Zones Identified: The U.S. Department of the Interior has published a “Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement,” which, among other items,….

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‘Hypermiling’ for Housing

‘Hypermiling’ for Housing

‘Hypermiling’ for Housing: How home energy monitors will liberate an energy-conscious consumer base. By Daniel Overbey A 1996 Civic DX Sedan is not usually considered to be a preeminent fuel-efficient vehicle. Try telling that to Darin Cosgrove of Brockville, Ontario. He’s the cofounder of an online forum, EcoModer.com, chalk full of stories where consumers have taken vehicles like the Civic DX Sedan and increased their fuel efficiency by more than 100 percent over the EPA’s “combined” fuel economy rating. Cosgrove himself….

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