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Newsletter Background
Newsletter
February 2003
Design Forward
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 Sustainable Concepts . Design Forward Newsletter 
February 2003 
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Greetings,

Welcome to the February 2003 newsletter for Design Forward. Please take some time to enjoy this month's features.

Quote of the Month: The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his clients to plant vines. - Frank Lloyd Wright

in this issue
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  • Hayes Residence
  • Why Sustainable?
  • Submit a Project
  • Feedback

  • Why Sustainable?
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    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 (dbainbridge@alliant.edu) an Associate Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at Alliant International University. ędab 2002

    Additional Information... »

    Submit a Project
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    Design Forward works toward promoting Sustainable Design. If you know of a project that should be featured, please send an email to studio@designforward.net.
    Feedback
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    If you have any feedback concerning this publication, please feel free to send an email or use the form on the website.

    If you would like to submit a fun and/or entertaining quote about architecture, building, or such, please use the contact form.

    Contact Form... »

    Hayes Residence
    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 the system.

    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?' © solarwarrior.com. Article in full © Design Forward.

    Hayes Residence....

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    Last Month's Newsletter

    Featured Link - Net Metering Programs

    Featured Link - California Renewable Energy

    Featured Link - Solar Design

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    Revised December 12, 2003