Archive for 'Designing for Compliance'
Posted on 29. Sep, 2011 by Rebecca Firestone.
OK, I’m the first to admit that I know next to nothing about water heaters. Aren’t they those white cylinders that live in garages, as far as possible from the kitchen and the shower? Well… yes and no. In our Title 24 work, which is architect-designed custom single-family projects, the water heater is usually the last thing on anyone’s mind. However, on many of our analysis projects, the quickest, cheapest way to comply with California’s stringent energy-efficiency requirements has been to upgrade the water heater – and sometimes, to include a solar hot water credit.
This article explains how to assess water heater efficiency numbers, including the use of a handy lookup database at the California Energy Center’s web site.
Posted on 26. Apr, 2011 by Rebecca Firestone.
Many architects have yet to realize how much a window’s energy performance can impact their projects, especially under the new Title 24 energy code. Ordinary glass is great at letting in daylight but it’s a terrible insulator. It also does little to block the sun’s heat in the summertime. Windows lose heat through the glass, and they can also leak air around the edges of the frame.
Here are a few analogies to understand the different ways that windows can lose both heating and cooling energy. If you wear a big holey sweater in the wind, it doesn’t keep you very warm. That’s air leakage. Now, imagine just wearing a single sheet of clear plastic on a winter day. It’s a better windbreaker than that holey sweater, but you’ll still feel pretty darn cold. That’s because a thin sheet of plastic, like a single sheet of glass, is a poor insulator. And remember what happens to your car parked in the summer sun? It gets 20 degrees hotter than the outside, or more – if you have black vinyl seats, you’ll scream when you sit on them in your summer shorts. That’s solar heat gain.
Posted on 18. Jan, 2011 by Rebecca Firestone.
We all know that every home in California’s going to be Net Zero by 2030, right? Actually, it’s every NEW home built after 2030 – the old homes can go on being inefficient, until the next time someone needs a building permit. At that point, serious attention may need to be paid to bringing the home up to date. And, increased enforcement now occurs at many different points throughout the project, making it harder to do swaps during construction.
The truth is, architects can’t rely on the builder anymore to specify and install systems and materials as an afterthought, because that’s far too late in the process; to make the right decisions, designers will have to start thinking in terms of building science. And, they’ll have to start paying closer attention to builder execution as well, because in many cases the builders will cut corners if left to their own devices – and this can lead to problems, regarding both regulatory compliance and the owners’ daily operational costs.
Posted on 09. Jan, 2011 by Rebecca Firestone.
About a year ago, we published an article about an exceptional Title 24 project – an astonishing 50% over compliance – and now we present an interview with the homeowner who commissioned the design. The single-family home, designed by Klopf Architecture, is currently under construction by Matarozzi Pelsinger Builders (As an aside, we’ve done design interviews with both Klopf and Mat-Pel on our sister blog, The Architect’s Take.)
Many residential architects would like to design homes as energy-efficient as this one, but without client buy-in, it’s usually not possible to go beyond a certain point. Over and over, we have heard that client commitment to sustainable principles is THE key to building green! So, here we have a green homeowner and design client who’s willing to discuss – anonymously – why he’s doing as much as he is, and why it’s worth doing.
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 12. Oct, 2009 by Rebecca Firestone.
After our recent interview with a GreenPoint Rater, several people wrote to us and we realized that since our last coverage in the Chronicle, many of our site visitors aren’t architects or building officials. They’re interested homeowners, or just plain interested.
Some confusion is perhaps justified. Even a cursory web search for “green building rating systems” turned up a pile of competing standards and organizations, some of which merely promote green building without issuing standards. (Mark, Alan, and myself have all contributed to the answers below.)
Posted on 23. Sep, 2009 by Rebecca Firestone.
A few months ago, we had the pleasure of working with a GreenPoint rater on one of our recent Title 24 consulting projects. John Eckstein is a building professional with expertise in both home energy performance, and indoor air quality, particularly mold investigation. Since GreenPoint rating is still relatively new, we asked him what is involved in working with, or becoming, a GreenPoint rater.
Posted on 18. Sep, 2009 by Rebecca Firestone.
Just when we thought there couldn’t be any more how-to manuals for green building – LEED, GreenPoint checklists, the Title 24 Residential Compliance Manual – along comes another one that might be the best one yet. The 2008 Residential Remodeling Guidelines from Regreen.org (a partnership between the ASID and the USGBC) is clearly written, persuasive, well-organized, and sensible.
(Above image used by permission of Dormer’s only Construction Corporation, based in Wyandanch, NY.)
Posted on 13. Aug, 2009 by Rebecca Firestone.
Nearly every week, we are asked why Title 24 does not give credits for electric water heating if that electricity comes from solar or other self-generated power. In fact, it seems that many of the renewable energy developments occurring now are not fully recognized in Title 24, not even in the 2008 code. We’re in the position of telling people that their homes, which are designed to consume very little conventional power, may have trouble passing the Title 24 code if those homes rely solely on solar electric for all their home power, heating, cooling, and water heating needs.
So why does T24 continue to penalize electric resistance heat and water heating in solar homes? Why does T24 not give credits for self-generated power (geotherm, solar, wind, other)? And why can’t our utilities buy back excess power from customers who generate more than they use? Wouldn’t this help to reduce California’s grid load, save California homeowners money, provide entrepeneurial opportunities, and reduce American dependence on foreign oil?