Archive for 'Heating and Cooling'
Posted on 20. Sep, 2010 by Rebecca Firestone.
Up until recently, residential architects varied in their knowledge of heating and cooling systems. Many architects whose focus is primarily one-off, custom residential projects, have simply assumed some form of conditioning and then left the details to their contractor. Finalizing the details may not occur until late in the project, long after the opportunity for building optimization has passed.
What most people also don’t realize is that the manner in which a system is installed and configured can have a dramatic effect on how much it can deliver. Most private residential projects haven’t budgeted for a separate mechanical engineer upfront to optimize efficiencies among systems or to suggest additional measures during the design phase.
Beyond that, of course, there’s another reason for California architects to start paying closer attention to systems upfront: Title 24 energy compliance. The new energy code is stricter, and the default assumptions are no longer good enough for some homes to pass. The Title 24 is typically done when submitting to Planning, at the end of Schematic Design – long before anyone thinks about the furnace other than to say, “Oh yeah, we were going to keep the existing furnace and ductwork from 1956.”
Posted on 09. Sep, 2010 by Rebecca Firestone.
Of all the green building guides for homeowners out there, here is one that should be on everyone’s shelf – owners, architects, builders alike. It’s called “Energy Free: Homes for a Small Planet” by Ann V. Edminster, a Bay Area local. Everything I’ve been struggling so hard to explain to our Title 24 clients, even in a limited way, is presented in this book with clarity and accuracy, in a very readable and lively prose style. It’s backed by both the latest research and by personal experience and observation.
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 12. May, 2010 by Rebecca Firestone.
A few months ago we published an interview with a GreenPoint Rater to de-mystify the GreenPoints system that was suddenly taking California building departments by storm. Like LEED and several of the current rebate programs, GreenPoints has tie-ins to Title 24’s energy compliance scoring, and so we’ve had to help our clients to interface with this new standard.
There’s another standard that’s been around for a long time – the Home Energy Rating System, or HERS. For the first time, we are having to tell our clients that they will have to do at least one HERS verification in order to meet the new 2008 standards of California’s Title 24 energy code. Suddenly, everyone had questions. What in the heck do HERS raters actually do, and what does it cost? Is this going to be a huge headache or a minor annoyance? What benefit is there to HERS testing apart from compliance? What does a person have to do to become certified as a HERS rater?