I have blogged before about the energy use of my home and the barriers to addressing it. I’ve begun the journey towards a home that largely reflects my core values of sustainability. After much consideration, site review by multiple builders, excavators and our architect, and standing water in the basement for over a month, we have decided to remove our existing home and build a new house with a goal of net zero energy use.
Topics: Green Building
At the National Conference on Building Commissioning (NCBC), it was very much apparent that the building commissioning industry is growing and evolving. Demand for commissioning is increasing among building owners and developers, new software tools and mobile apps are being developed to support cloud-based commissioning process management, and municipalities are adopting new commissioning requirements into their building codes, not only for building projects, but also for commissioning providers.
Modern Building Automation Systems consist of three core conceptual components: information inputs (sensors, switches), controls outputs (actuators, VFD’s, relays), and a brain (controllers and a head-end). Traditionally, copper cabling of different kinds has connected all of these devices together in some manner. Each actuator and sensor may be connected directly back to a central controller, or often through local equipment controllers (such as a heat pump above a drop-ceiling) equipped with controls cards with a network interface. Regardless of the specific wiring scheme, the bottom line is that the building owner becomes the proud owner of a virtual spiderweb of controls cabling. In new construction, cabling can be installed before finished walls and ceilings are in place, so installation is not very disruptive and can be cost effective. For retrofit applications however, running new cabling can be very labor intensive and disruptive to surface finishes (drywall, woodwork), which can be ultimately very expensive.
The New York Times recently featured a thought-provoking opinion piece on how human body heat may be used to meet the heating demands of modern buildings and other infrastructure. “The Power of a Hot Body” introduces the concept of building occupant body heat as a “green” design strategy that is both novel and low-tech. The blog showcases opportunities for capturing occupant heat from different types of urban buildings and facilities, such as subway stations, train stations, and malls.
I had the good fortune to return to my building engineering design roots in San Francisco to attend Greenbuild 2012. The conference is an amazing confluence of thought leaders, product suppliers and building design and construction professionals gathered around the theme of making the built environment more sustainable. What a cohesive and wonderful concept, right?
Topics: Green Building
Over the past year or so, I've been involved in several online discussions where the question of how to define what a green building is has resulted in some very interesting comments. A lot of it stems from some people’s view that the USGBC’s green building rating system, LEED, amounts to nothing more than “green washing” and does not result in more sustainable buildings. They argue that because buildings can obtain certification with minimal improvement in energy use over code minimums, it doesn't work.
Topics: Green Building
Over the last year, I have become the proud owner of an energy efficient home. Designed and built from scratch, based on passive house principles by a team of local building professionals, construction is well underway, and the house will be completed by the end of the year.
Last week's post introduced the concept of building for a future of extreme weather events, or why energy performance equals building resilience. I described two buildings – "The Base" typifies common design and construction practices and is slightly better than code* and – "The Ace" which is designed well beyond code in response to issues facing building owners as well as the larger community such as the need to control building operating costs through minimizing the need for energy inputs, the desire to limit greenhouse gas emissions and providing optimum comfort to building occupants.
Energy performance equals building resilience, or so we firmly believe here at Cx Associates. When we named this blog “Building Energy Resilience” Vermont had recently experienced the devastating effects of Tropical Storm Irene. Now, a year later, we continue to seek ways to ensure buildings can survive severe storms with the least possible disruption. According to Environment America, 4 out of 5 Americans live in areas that have been federally designated as having weather related natural disasters in the last six years! Since the vast majority of us continue to emit more carbon dioxide than can be absorbed by natural systems on the planet, we need to begin to look at the tools available that will allow us to survive the impacts of an increasingly dynamic and unpredictable climate.
You are probably aware of the substantial energy a commercial office building requires for comfort heating and cooling, ventilation, water heating, lighting, miscellaneous equipment, and elevators. These energy systems are visible because they are metered by utilities and paid for by building owners and tenants. But utility-metered energy consumption is typically a fraction of the total building energy impact. Transportation activity is a major component of what I and others refer to as “whole-building” energy consumption.