The Dirt on Airing Your Laundry...

An easy way to save energy this summer is by foregoing your dryer and using a clothesline to air dry laundry.  In the heat of summer, I can’t bear to use my dryer, so I picked up a simple, retractable clothesline from my local hardware store.  I am surprised how much I enjoy using my clothesline!   There is something romantic about seeing a line of clothes fluttering in the wind.  And sun-dried sheets on a freshly made bed is heaven!  Of course, being a designer, I couldn’t help search for more design-y clothes-drying products.  – Lindsey

Here are my favorites:

Laundry-1

Above Left:  The Alberto clothesline from Fabrica.  Each “tree” is about 6’ tall.
Center:  Vintage clothespins are so cool looking.  They are easy to find online too, this image is from a shop on Etsy.
Above Right: For those who don’t have the luxury of outdoor space for air-drying, uncommongoods offers an easy mount indoor clothesline.
Below Left: There are even cute ways to store clothespins.  You easily could make your own, but this one is from uncommongoods.com.
Below Right: I love this idea.  Start them young!

Laundry-2

Colorful New Flatware from Sabre...


Discovered this past weekend, an amazingly, colorful flatware from Sabre available at Maison d’Etre in Berkeley, California.  Using an “Old Fashioned” silverware profile from which the line draws its name, Sabre has reinvented the traditional in plastics that are fun, dishwasher safe and available in 20+ colors.  The “Old Fashioned” theme is also taken to the extreme, offering sugar cube tongs and a tart slicer. – Hannah
sabre

Lessons Learned from LEED for Homes...

With the official launch of LEED for Homes in February of 2008, we were already consulting on several custom LEED-H pilot projects. We provide LEED-H “Representative” services through the LEED-H “Provider” in California, Davis Energy Group. The Representative is similar to having a LEED consultant on a LEED-NC project, except there is a strict limitation on the Representative’s time, since they are contracted through the Provider in an effort to keep certification costs down.  The Provider is contracted by USGBC to act as the local agent for USGBC, since there is such a large volume of residential projects compared with other LEED programs. The program works fairly well, as long as the architect and contractor are savvy with green building, energy, water and indoor air quality.

Our most successful projects hired us independently to provide additional LEED-H consulting, which eased the burden on the design team and contractor. Some owners and architects initially expect LEED-H fees paid to USGBC to cover the consulting portion, which Davis Energy describes as the “how you do it” scope of work. Fees charged by USGBC, including the Representatives’ time, actually only cover the “did you do it?” scope of work. Davis Energy encourages owners and design teams to hire the Representatives independently, if the design team needs support in meeting prerequisites and credits. The most successful projects either pay someone in-house or hire a LEED consultant to coordinate, update, and administrate the LEED-H process. LEED-H requires numerous documents in addition to the LEED-H checklist, such as the Thermal Bypass Checklist, Accountability Forms, Durability Evaluation, and Rater Checklist. Keeping track of all these documents and preparing them at the appropriate time is challenging and confusing, particularly given the ongoing evolution of the LEED-H program. It is also important to keep in mind that the design team, owner, and contractor are also required to produce supporting documentation for each credit. Many people have the false impression that a LEED consultant prepares everyone’s documentation for them.

The main areas of discussion around LEED for Homes are hard and soft costs, prerequisites and credits. I’ve heard people say that only the top 15% of homes are targeted for LEED-H. This may be due to design team experience, quality of construction, potential added costs, and sheer will of the owner and architect. We had 5 LEED-H Platinum Homes certified last year where the added hard costs were very low; in the range of 2%-5% with a per square foot cost under $250. Those five homes are also net-zero energy homes. We also have the other spectrum of larger “green” custom homes that do not fit into Sarah Susanka’s “Not So Big House” concept; I’ll call them “Case Study Green Homes.” Added costs for LEED on these case study projects may actually be a smaller fraction of the overall costs, since volume and fancy finishes typically outweigh green elements and systems. Our hope is that working together, we can streamline the LEED-H program with the goal of added hard costs under 2% and added soft costs for the entire team under $10,000. It would be interesting to hear what others have to say about added soft costs and program efficiency improvements.

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LEED-H Silver house in Palm Springs by Solterra Development

Michael Heacock + Associates is a LEED consulting firm with offices in San Francisco and Santa Barbara.  Their work includes schools, commercial, public, institutional and residential projects.

Challenges and Opportunities...

Editorial Director of Green Architecture Notes , Principal of Feldman Architecture

 11-living-roof-detail-green-roof

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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