Welcome to the February 2003 newsletter for Design
Forward. Please take some time to enjoy this month's
of the Month: The physician can bury his mistakes, but
the architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.
- Frank Lloyd Wright
The goal of the sustainable building movement is
to improve the comfort and health of the built environment
while maximizing use of renewable resources and
minimizing life-cycle costs. Improving comfort and
health yield the biggest dividends. Energy and water
use, waste minimization and recycling, ecosystem
protection and first cost are also important. Integrating
systems is critical to meet multiple needs and goals,
maximize benefits and minimize costs. Optimizing
design at the earliest stages can often provide
dramatic performance improvement at little or no
additional cost. Failure to consider system integration
increases costs and environmental impacts in most
buildings and developments. The lighting engineer
may design lighting for minimal installed cost,
without considering possible use of daylighting
(determined by the architect's window choices) or
the cost of cooling to offset the heating costs
of artificial lighting (90% of the energy used for
incandescent light is turned into heat). The architect
may design the building without consulting the mechanical
engineer about the implications of natural heating
and cooling or daylighting on HVAC design. And user
comfort and productivity are rarely an issue, almost
no post-construction analysis is ever done. Team
planning is essential to make buildings better and
building users must be included.
Why bother to change? The most important reason
for change is for long term prosperity. Better
design can save money now and as long as the building
is used. Better design is essential for San Diego,
which relies almost entirely on imported water
and energy. As the blackouts of 2001 and the current
struggle over Colorado River water show, we can't
count on these resources. They will be more expensive
in the future, perhaps much more expensive. San
Diego County is also the most biodiverse county
in the continental U.S., but this biodiversity
is threatened by continuing urban growth and pollution.
If current trends continue as expected, inadequate
building design and construction and flawed planning
decisions will continue to play a major role in
global warming. Building uses about 30% of the
resource stream in America. Global warming from
over-reliance on fossil fuels will lead to sea
level rise (probably only 3 feet, but perhaps
15 or 25), increased storm intensity, droughts,
and catastrophic loss in biodiversity. It will
also lead to continued problems of occupant illness,
consumption of limited and non-renewable resources,
and economic dependence on unstable (and sometimes
unsavory) regimes around the world. The need for
change is also reflected in the effort to consider
equity more carefully. We have begun to get a
better feeling for this by calculating the ecological
footprints of our lives, materials, possessions
and buildings. It works today, but we would need
from 3 to 20 or more planets for everyone in the
world to approach our standard of living. Try
an ecofootprint calculator, such as http:www.earthday.net/footprint/index.asp.
We new to make dramatic changes in the quality
of design and building to reduce energy and resource
use, while maintaining our current expectations
for comfort and convenience. The European environment
ministers supported Factor 10 as a strategic goal
for the European Union, using 90% less resources.
Could we reach these lofty goals if we do things
right? Without a doubt! Remarkable buildings illustrate
what can be done by good design. A 500,000 square
foot passive solar, sustainably designed Dutch
bank uses less than one tenth as much energy but
cost about the same amount as a conventional building.
Employees are happier and absenteeism is 15% lower,
and the bank business has dramatically increased.
The City of San Diego just commissioned a "zero
net energy use" building, meetings its needs from
solar electric panels placed over the parking
lot. The city's Ridgehaven building retrofit cut
energy use 70%. In most areas of San Diego buildings
should require minimal cooling systems and no
heating systems. They should all have operable
windows and natural lighting up to the third floor.
Historically much of the attention from better
buildings was focused on energy savings; and although
these matter, they are dwarfed by profit increases
from productivity gains. Revised lighting at a
Pennsylvania Power and Light drafting office reduced
energy use enough to save only $2,500 dollars
of energy a year; but productivity increased more
than 10%, the rate of errors dropped (saving more
than $40,000 a year); and sick days declined 25%.
The net return on investment was a striking 1,000%.
Sustainable planning and green building have been
gathering momentum on university campuses as managers
try to save money and improve productivity. Recent
research has confirmed that students in well designed
schools get better grades and stay healthier.
Green campus activities have included energy and
water use, recycling, waste disposal, transportation
healthy food, and landscaping.
The following article was written by David A.
Bainbridge (firstname.lastname@example.org) an Associate
Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences
at Alliant International University. ędab 2002
Design Forward works toward promoting Sustainable
Design. If you know of a project that should be
featured, please send an email to email@example.com.
If you have any feedback concerning this publication,
please feel free to send an email or use the form
on the website.
you would like to submit a fun and/or entertaining
quote about architecture, building, or such, please
use the contact form.
Our featured residence, designed by Lisa Van Veen
at Design Forward, is a Straw Bale home currently
under construction in the Anza Borrego Desert in
California. The groundbreaking took place in January
2003. Construction is expected to be completed in
late Spring 2003. The home, in addition to the use
of straw bale walls, combines concepts of passive
and active solar and Net Metering. The home is going
to be used as a vacation home. The minor time in
use by the owners created a very light load for
the solar panels, resulting in a minimal system.
What is Net Metering? You can store your excess
energy in the power grid of your local utility
company and draw it back when you need it. Net-metering
refers to the billing process under which the
utility charges you only for your net usage in
a given period (in California, over a year). In
other words, you get a full value credit for the
power you store in the grid, and at the end of
the period you pay only for any excess that you
draw over your production.
Why Net Metering? One of the problems with storing
energy off-the-grid is the power is not necessarily
available when you need it most. The cost of storing
any produced energy in batteries can be expensive.
Plus the batteries do not discharge 100% of the
power. Close to 30% of that stored power is lost
by the time you turn on a light switch. The ability
to draw power when ever it is need and using the
power grid as a storage device can be cost effective
in lond term, plus ease the up front costs of
For more information on Net Metering and Solar
Power please visit this month's Featured Links
found below in 'Quick Links'. There will be two
workshops held at the Hayes Residence in the upcoming
months. The Framing Workshop and Straw Bale Workshop
will be sponsored by Bob Bolles of Sustainable
Building Solutions. If you are interested in attending
or receiving more information, please contact
Design Forward by email. 'What is Net Metering?'
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