Archive for 'Discussions'
Posted on 30. Aug, 2010 by Rebecca Firestone.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you. The new Title 24 is tough! In past articles, we harped on the HERS verifications as a way to earn credits towards Title 24 compliance for those hard-to-pass houses. However, there’s another angle that needs attention: issues for additions, alterations, and remodels.
(Above image shows a whole-house remodel and addition by Mark English Architects. Photo: Michael O’Callahan)
Posted on 06. Aug, 2010 by Rebecca Firestone.
Imagine a home built in the Plains region of the United States that stays warm in the winter without central heating, and cool in the summer without massive air-conditioning. It’s airtight but with an endless supply of fresh air constantly circulating through a filtered, pressure-balanced ventilation system. Every surface is comfortable to the touch, neither too warm nor too cold. Street noise is barely audible through the gasket-sealed, triple-paned windows.
It sounds futuristic, but so-called Passive Houses have been around for at least 15 years, and it’s yet another strategy for saving energy. Unlike a Net Zero Energy home that might rely on “active” power generation, albeit from renewable sources, a Passive House is just that – passively absorbing heat from its surroundings to release it slowly as it is needed. (In hot climates, Passive Houses are designed to recover and store cooler temperatures.)
Posted on 15. Jul, 2010 by Rebecca Firestone.
Mark English Architects is proud to announce that a recently completed project of ours at 97 Pepper Drive in Los Altos has just received its official “GreenPoint Rated” certification. We spoke with GreenPoint Rater Andrew Arnold of Arnold Engineering, who performed the analysis.
Posted on 12. Jul, 2010 by Rebecca Firestone.
When we’re advising our Title 24 clients on their residential projects, the first concern is whether the project will meet the State of California’s requirements for efficient energy consumption – and, if it doesn’t, what measures are needed to bring the project into compliance. A home’s Title 24 compliance “score” is expressed according to the percentage by which the home exceeds the baseline efficiency standards set forth by the California Energy Commission, and these standards are tightened every 3 years.
For the most part, people are relieved just to get their home to zero. For many projects, this is challenging enough. But sometimes, additional measures could boost a home’s compliance score higher, and are much easier to take while construction is already occurring. For example, in a remodel where walls are opened, why not insulate those walls? Well… obviously it’s an additional cost that budget-conscious owners may not want to absorb at the time. But, aren’t they potentially leaving money on the table, too? What value is there in achieving a positive compliance margin?
Posted on 18. Jan, 2010 by Rebecca Firestone.
While researching solar technologies, we at Green Compliance Plus heard from solar installers who all seem to think that architects are hard to work with. So, we spoke with Fernando Valenzuela of Alter Systems in Berkeley about how to design a solar-ready home. Note that only about 5-10% of Alter Systems’ customers are owner/architect teams. Usually it’s the homeowners approaching them directly because they want to “go solar”.
So… why are architects hard to work with? “They have a groupthink… they like design, the look, but they don’t understand systems. They ask questions like ‘why can’t we use this roof’ without realizing that you can’t split up an array. Their projects aren’t always quick, either, and rebates that were designed for may be gone by the time the project gets through approval.”
Posted on 28. Dec, 2009 by Rebecca Firestone.
“Sustainable residential design is transforming from a market niche to a widespread set of consumer priorities… because consumers realize that going green is good for their wallets.” So sayeth the AIArchitect, official voice of the American Institute of Architects – and they’ve quoted us, along with a slew of other designers and builders.
Posted on 20. Nov, 2009 by Rebecca Firestone.
Many of our Title 24 clients have been asking us whether they can safely specify LED fixtures that would qualify as “high efficacy” lighting under Title 24. Could one conceivably create an entire lighting plan for a custom home using mainly LEDs, and if so, would it pass Title 24? Would it look any different to the untrained eye? Would it actually use less energy? Or, are LEDs better used as a supporting component in a diversified lighting plan rather than as the main workhorse? Are LEDs sustainable to manufacture? Do they use less power in a real-life installation, not just in the lab?
The answer to LEDs in California is a qualified but definite yes. There are definitely products out there that will comply with California’s energy codes, and we should see more coming to market this coming year. The issue is not the LED lamp itself, but the housing, because the fixture’s efficacy depends on the entire assembly.
Posted on 27. Aug, 2009 by Alan Huguenot, CEPE.
The Passive House Institute in Germany has improved upon American ideas from the 1970s and re-branded it as PASSIVHAUS. Superinsulated homes have been built in many locations in the U.S. over the last 30 years, as covered by many articles on the ASHRAE web site.
Passive houses use significantly less energy than do existing or new conventional residences. In fact, they use so little heating energy that a conventional heating and cooling system is mostly unnecessary. The house stays warm by recycling heat that is already being generated by internal sources – lighting fixtures, stoves, toasters, dryers.
Posted on 20. Aug, 2009 by Rebecca Firestone.
There’s more than one way to be green, and the San Francisco Chronicle has featured Mark English touting old-fashioned thrift over more showy forms of environmental non-consumption – even the very same stuff we were talking about only last week.
So yes, reuse where you can, and make your home more efficient first, before you put in those solar arrays that will make your neighbors “green” with envy. Then when your neighbor is showing off his new solar roof tiles, you can counter by saying that your home uses so little energy already that you decided to put your money towards a “living carpet” instead.