Tag Archives: Energy

Technically, Heat Does Not Rise

Green Building

Technically, Heat Does Not Rise

© Kumiko Murakami Campos   Heat rises. The adage is one of the cornerstones of passive environmental systems in buildings. The typical anecdote is the hot-air balloon. By using a burner to thrust heated air into the (typically) nylon envelope, the balloon fills with less buoyant gas that lifts the it and its passenger(s) into the air. But what if I told you that this oversimplified statement actually misrepresents the characteristics of heat? The truth is – technically, heat does not rise…..

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Passive Agressive

Green Building

Passive Agressive

It’s been 40 years since the 1973 Oil Crisis thrust the United States to the forefront of passive solar heating. But have technologically advanced building systems rendered passive strategies obsolete? Originally published in the August 2013 issue of Environmental Design + Construction (EDC) magazine. LEED v4 for Homes contains a three-point credit for optimizing a building’s orientation for passive solar heating. Details of the credit are specific to managing the amount, shading and orientation of south-facing glass. These are sound….

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There is No Such Thing as a National Building Energy Code

Green Building

There is No Such Thing as a National Building Energy Code

This summer, the U.S. Senate will continue to advance the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013. Introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D–NH) and Rob Portman (R–Ohio), this important piece of legislature will, among many other items, promote model building codes and standards while kick-starting private sector investment in commercial, industrial, and municipal building energy performance. Certain forthcoming amendments notwithstanding, the Shaheen-Portman bill is largely supported by the high-performance building community. However, it stops short of mandating a national energy….

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What’s the Difference Between Insulation and Thermal Mass?

Green Building

What’s the Difference Between Insulation and Thermal Mass?

I just wrapped up an amazing first session of online instruction for a building envelope course at The Boston Architectural College’s Sustainable Design Institute. It was a very rewarding experience as I had the pleasure of interacting with a deeply knowledgeable international group of students at an advanced level on a very complicated topic. Among other observations, over the course of the session it became clear to me that there is a prevalent misunderstanding about the fundamental differences between “insulation” and “thermally massive”….

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The CBECS and Why It’s Important

Green Building

The CBECS and Why It’s Important

Image courtesy of EDC magazine After years of financial setbacks, the Department of Energy’s national sample survey of commercial building energy use commences. Originally published in the April 2013 issue of Environmental Design + Construction (EDC) magazine. April marks an important milestone for the high-performance building community. After years of setbacks and complications stemming from financial strife, the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2012 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) will begin fielding data. It has been 10 years since the….

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Benchmarking Emerges

Green Building

Benchmarking Emerges

As energy and water performance mandates are adopted in cities, concerned suburban and rural communities can progress benchmarking at the grassroots level. Originally published in the March 2013 issue of Environmental Design + Construction (EDC) magazine. On September 4, 2012, New York City publicly posted the 2011 energy and water benchmarking results for more than 2,000 nonresidential properties covered under the benchmarking ordinance (Local Law 84), making it the first major city in the U.S. to release this kind of information. Closely….

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Federal Government Ratchets Up Incandescent Lamp Phase Out

Green Building

Federal Government Ratchets Up Incandescent Lamp Phase Out

As the calendar turned to 2013, questions have emerged regarding the federal government ratcheting up the phase out of the incandescent lamp. Misconceptions and myth abound. Below is a summary of the facts. What Does the Law Actually Say? The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) was signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 19, 2007. Section 321. Efficient Light Bulbs established lighting energy efficiency for a ‘general service incandescent lamp.’ This term is used to….

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

Green Building

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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Diminishing Return on Investment for Increasing R-Values

Green Building

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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Megawatt, Gigawatt, Watt is What?

Green Building

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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