Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
- Great clients. Period.
- The fact that our already great clients are interested in things that really excite us, like ruthlessly seeking the most sustainable solution. These include shopping for salvaged mill work at Second Use and working with us to balance natural materials with energy efficiency and indoor air quality.
- Stores like Second Use, the REstore, and of course Craigslist for satisfying the bargain hunter in all of us, while helping do our little part to create less waste.
- That the interior finishes are coming together on the Hare House in Friday Harbor, which we designed and are building.
- Great partners in the building industry: consultants like PAO Structural, contractors like KDL Builders and On-Site Builders, green building partners like Green Dog Enterprises, and suppliers like Island Glass Services in Friday Harbor.
- That our subcontractors (Guard Electric, Gordon Elliot, KDL Builders and MEM Enterprise) still show up in 20 degree weather with snow on the ground.
- That Dan Brown hooked up the in-floor heat in the Hare House a week before the freezing weather.
- The fact that though Dr. Hacker (yes, that's really what he calls himself) may have temporarily crippled our website, we can still design.banter. Thank you to our readers!
- And, last but certainly not least, that each of our teams are in the top 25 this year, at least until our big Thanksgiving holiday games.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
This residence, located in Massachusetts, bears the same mindset and desire of many of our San Juan Island projects: an urban dwelling, professional couple with grown children that wants to create a comfortable, inviting atmosphere for the entire family to gather during extended holidays. This programmatic need brings many environmental challenges to the table, such as energy efficiency while vacant, flexible use of space and low maintenance materials. The waterfront location also brings an environmentally sensitive site to the forefront of the design process.
The programmatic needs combined with the desire for sustainability created two wings for the structure; a main living wing with the dining, living and master suite and a sleeping wing for visitors which can be shut down for most of the year and limit the house’s energy consumption. The open, light-filled house was built from two narrow wings allowing for shorter joists/rafters thus keeping the lumber sizes to a minimum. I continually admire well designed, narrow buildings that achieve grand spaces where ventilation is better, light fully penetrates the house, heating is easier, spans are shorter and wasted space as hallways disappear completely.
The Truro residence is by no means a small house, at nearly 6400 square feet, it misses the simplest method of green design: less square feet. However, given the neighboring mansions of Cape Cod, the designers created a well zoned, energy efficient and flexible vacation home that pays back the energy usage it consumes.
- Durable Materials. Metal Roofing, Concrete Slab Floors, Slate Floors, Solid cabinetry, hardwood decking and a structural system built to withstand hurricane force winds .
- Natural Light and Ventilation. High clerestory windows allow soft natural light in the bathrooms and bedrooms lessening the need for artificial lights.
- Zoning of Spaces. Isolation of limited use guest rooms from high functioning living spaces minimizes wasteful heating and energy usage.
- HVAC. A Geothermal system (six 300 ft. deep wells) coupled with in-floor hydronic heat reduces energy use by up to 50% and improves indoor air quality by eliminating ductwork that attracts dust.
- Alternative Energy. 11.7 KW photovoltaic system placed on the roof to offset energy consumption and create net metering. The panels are connected to a gas generator to keep the house functioning in the event of a power outage.
- No Carpet. Minimizes the settling of dust thus improving the indoor air quality. Flooring was limited to slate, bamboo and polished concrete eliminated the use of toxic finishes.
- Super Insulation. Icynene open cell insulation was sprayed into the wall and roof cavities. It is supplemented with rigid and closed cell insulation to create a “super insulated” building.
- Certifications. Energy Star Certified.
Monday, November 22, 2010
- Learn how to fix your windows yourself! With just a little guidance and a few small tools, you can make repairs and retrofit your windows on your own. Look through our list of workshops nationwide and our online training videos.
- Improve the performance of your existing windows,
- Caulk around window openings on the exterior to stop air from coming in.
- Caulk around the window trim on the inside to block drafts.
- Add weather stripping to the window sash. There are many types of weather stripping to suit various window types, budgets, and needs, from simple "rope" caulk to bronze.
- Use a storm window or thermal panel. These can be placed on the interior or exterior and are available in a variety of styles. They may also qualify for a tax credit.
- Install insulated shades or blinds—some of these qualify for tax credits.
- Use insulated curtains or drapes to block cold air and to keep the hot sun out.
- For more information, visit our windows page on PreservationNation.
- Find the right contractor to fix your windows for you. We'll help you find a dependable and qualified contractor in your local community. Check out our contractor guide today.
- Whole Building Design Guide: Sustainable Historic Preservation
- Here is a "Preservation Brief" from the National Park Service: "The Repair of Historic Wood Windows."
Friday, November 19, 2010
Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) Guidelines. This recent construction includes our Churchill Corner Building, completed in 2008.
Our Churchill Corner Project, perched atop the ferry parking lot in downtown Friday Harbor, was completed two years ago. Though not required for its exact location, the owner chose to be mandated by the HPRB Guidelines, in order to gain certain siting advantages, like fewer parking spaces. This is a personal bone of contention with me--cities talk about wanting to be more pedestrian friendly, they want businesses to flourish, they want their downtown centers to be alive and vibrant--but then they require insane amounts of parking, which either destroys the downtown village feel they are trying to create if it's on the surface, or is prohibitively expensive.
In the case of Churchill Corner, we did provide an underground parking garage with spaces for the homeowners which is essential, in addition to spots for each commercial space. But less spaces were required because of the historic district. To me, this makes sense for the remaining eight commercial spaces, since two hour free parking abounds, and time-limit-free free parking is also in abundance in the adjacent residential neighborhoods.
A goal of fitting into any historic guidelines is to do justice to the historic character of a town without looking too themed, like Main Street in Disneyland. One of the ways this can be accomplished is to look at the design intent, not just copy the look of a facade. Turn of the century buildings were designed for the pedestrian experience, not the car (window shopping as opposed to the biggest signs competing for the driver's attention, while a large parking lot separates said building from the street).
The importance of keeping a human scale is also demonstrated in the variable massing of the 26,000 square foot building. The facade is broken up into manageable lengths, with recessed entries, varied materials, and abundant storefront windows, so that a passerby may feel like they are experiencing different buildings.
The gabled roofs and yellow siding of the residences at the top pay tribute to the original Churchill House, which was preserved and relocated to another site in town. Roof deck and flat roof areas feature a distinct, continuous cornice. The five residences on top of the two floors of commercial spaces reflect the historic tradition of apartments above storefronts in downtown areas.
The Preservation Guidelines has great illustrations, maps, and references for new construction.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
- Durable Materials. Fiber Cement Siding (30 yr warranty)
- Less and Better Wood Use. The use of SIPS panels reduce the amount of lumber and increase the area of insulation. Framing lumber was sustainably harvested by the FSC.
- Natural Light and Ventilation. Hlgh Operable windows allow captured heat, in the vaulted ceiling, to escape the house naturally.
- Zoning of Spaces. Mechanical rooms, Utility, Bath and Service rooms were gathered to the street side of the house, allowing bedrooms and common areas to capture the warmth and daylight of the South Sun.
- Water Collection. Roof water is collected for irrigation.
- Recycled Materials. Reclaimed Decking.
- Indoor Air Quality. No VOC Paint used throughout the interior of the residence to reduce off-gassing. www.benjaminmoore.com www.afmsafecoat.com
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
urban | design.banter
:: infill | re-knitting our urban fabric | cohousing | keeping small towns from becoming suburbs :: why shouldn't where you live be somewhere you would want to visit?
My favorite tourist activity in any city is exploring neighborhoods. I have been to LA a hand full of times, but had only explored the more glamorous neighborhoods. Not that Silver Lake isn't glamorous (ask your Realtor), but I'm not sure how well known it is outside of the Dwell Magazine crowd, compared to say, Beverly Hills. It's a very hip neighborhood between downtown and Hollywood, snaking up in to the hills, known for its modern architecture (see Barbara Bestor's Bohemian Modern: Living in Silver Lake).
Silver Lake's residential areas have everything that I find interesting in neighborhoods: density, controlled chaos, nooks and crannies, diversity in housing types, abundant and varied landscaping. Silver Lake was designed for the house and the person, not the fire truck. I'm not trying to dismiss the importance of the fire department, I just think the fire truck should be designed for the neighborhood (i.e., smaller trucks), not the other way around, which is typical and one of the reasons for many of our freeway-width suburban streets.
We should not fear density, though so many do. On paper, the stats of Silver Lake might be scary to those who see density as a four letter word: no driveways? No lawns? Thin, old streets? Houses practically stacked on top of each other? But the most dense neighborhoods in this country are consistently the most desirable. One look at housing pricing in the area show that we need more neighborhoods like this.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
● Reduction of thermal bridges
● Attention to airtightness
● The use of “energy-gain” windows
● Heat-recovery ventilation
This may result in more front-end costs for the homeowner, but the environmental benefits help us all. Usually a spec home has absolutely no context to the site or the climate, and styles are borrowed from another vernacular that make no sense in a different place. For instance, charming steep-pitched roofs in the south. The purpose of a steep pitched roof is to shed snow, and the extra heat gain from the surface area makes sense in a cooler climate. They may look great, but in a warm climate the cost (environmentally and on a utility bill) of reducing the heat gain in all those cubic feet of attic under dark shingles is ridiculous.
Not everyone can build their very own custom Passivhaus. But even small tweaks to a design to respond the climate and direction can make a big difference for the environment and your utility bill. For example, spec home developers could have different plans for different street orientations.
Last week we discussed the Living Building Challenge, a very different type of certification.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Many of our projects are retirement homes and considerations have included main floor master bedrooms, flat thresholds, pocket doors, attached garages, off the floor toilets, roll-in showers, central vacuum, and an elevator; and for a few of the houses on hillsides, accessible entries to both floors.
We hope to keep incorporating more of these principals into our projects, in hopes that they will become ubiquitous, as trends in custom homes tend to filter down to speculative developments, so that all homes will be ready at completion or resale for all people, or for an unexpected injury or disability of the current homeowner.