About Masonry Heaters...


Masonry heaters have been used in the colder parts of Europe for over two hundred years. Interest is generating in the United States because they are GREEN. The concept has been gaining popularity over the past 20 years. A standard fireplace needs to be fed continually to keep heating the home.  Not so with a masonry heater.  You load the fire once, heat is stored in the thermal mass and it provides heat for 18 to 24 hours. That helps to save our forests. Wood burned quickly is a clean fuel. Emissions are about the same as a pellet stove. There is a warm comfortable heat, but never hot to the touch.  So children and animals will not be at risk, as they can be with a wood-burning metal stove.

After burning our Tulikivi (Finnish soap stone masonry heater) in the evening, we wake up to a warm comfortable home.  There is no need to turn on the heat.  This is very energy efficient and cuts down the demand on energy. Living in the Monterey Bay area we only use our Tulikivi seasonally.  In a colder climate a masonry heater would be burned in the morning and in the evening.

The Masonry Heater Association of North America (www-mha.org) publishes a plans section with different heaters, which have been tested. Envirotech, Temp Cast and others make masonry heater cores, which can be faced with the material of your choice. Temp-Cast masonry heaters are installed in accordance with local and national building codes as site-built fireplaces. Temp-Cast heaters have been accepted as clean-burning heaters by the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States. However, due to localized emissions problems, some state and local governments require additional testing to ensure that solid-fuel appliances comply with their particular regulations for clean burning. Information is available on building code issues, and contact information for products, resources and certified masonry heater builders.  You can view my portfolio on this web site.

Sotero Masonry has been operating in the Monterey Bay area for over 30 years. Ben Sotero became aware of masonry heaters through his travels in the colder portions of Europe. He was trained at the Tulikivi factory in Finland. He became a member of the Masonry Heater Association of North America and is the only certified masonry heater builder in California at this time.


Challenges and Opportunities...

Editorial Director of Green Architecture Notes , Principal of Feldman Architecture


Launching Thoughts & Happy Earth Day

As an architect who is often on the lookout for information about sustainable design strategies, materials and products, I have been frustrated  at how hard it is to find people who have experience they are willing to share. It’s not that people are so protective of what they have learned, quite the contrary. When I have stumbled across somebody who has wrestled with the problem that I am seeking to solve, she is normally quite happy to  share the lessons she has painfully learned. But finding these guiding lights takes a lot of work and considerable luck.

Green Architecture Notes sprung from a modest idea: that the explosion of online communities, discussion groups and blogs has placed at our feet some powerful new opportunities for exchange. We are seeking to create a place to post new discoveries when we find them and to ask for guidance of  others when we are coming up empty. And because of all the new interest in the green building world, it’s also a place to verify, challenge and debate the claims of new products and strategies.

We have started by asking the architects, engineers, builders and consultants who we know to share  key things they’ve learned about green design and to pose challenging questions. We invite others to jump in and join the discussion.

Green Architecture Notes comes, we think, at an appropriate, if difficult, time. As projects get scaled back, put on hold or outright cancelled, we are forced to cut expenses and find new sources of work. With these challenges come some unique opportunities.

We suddenly have more time to establish better ways of working, research products and materials, improve our workflow and project delivery strategies, and tighten or reinvent our detailing. We also can tap into the expertise other professionals who might previously have been too busy to help us work on these important areas. The excesses of recent times have caused many to question the wasteful and unsustainable ways of our construction industry and to replace them with more thoughtful and restrained efforts. It’s clear that the new economy is pushing sustainable design to the center of the profession architecture. Our hope is that Green Architecture Notes will facilitate better and more efficient green design by connecting professionals and helping practitioners avoid repeating costly mistakes.

Here are some images from recent and current Feldman Architecture projects showing green design components. I look forward to exploring these and other topics in the near future.

Approach to house

Approach to house

Living Roof

Living roof

Photovoltaic Integrated Solar Skylights

Photovoltaic integrated solar skylights

Photovoltaic Integrated Solar Skylights

Photovoltaic integrated solar skylights

Rammed Earth Walls and Concrete Floor Providing Thermal Mass for Passive Heating and Cooling

Rammed earth walls and concrete floor provide thermal mass for passive heating and cooling

Rammed Earth Site Wall

Rammed earth site wall

Thin Film Solar Mounted on Metal Roof

Thin film solar mounted on metal roof

House on site

House on site

Jonathan Feldman practices architecture out of a small, award-winning, design studio in San Francisco where he focuses on residential and modest-scale commercial projects. Recognized for creating warm, light-filled spaces that are site sensitive and carefully detailed, Feldman Architecture is committed to incorporating sustainable technologies and minimizing environmental impact.

Feldman Architecture projects have been recognized with a number of prominent green design awards, including the San Francisco American Institute of Architect’s  Honor Award for Energy and Sustainability, the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities’ award of excellence, California Home + Design’s Eco-Friendly Design Award, and have been featured on green and solar home tours. Feldman Architecture currently has its first two projects with the USGBC LEED for Homes program and both are on their way to platinum certifications, it’s highest rating. More about Feldman Architecture can be found here.

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