B is for Building Science

—a field of knowledge that draws upon physics, chemistry, engineering, architecture, and the life sciences. Understanding the physical behavior of buildings as systems and how this impacts energy efficiency, durability, comfort and indoor air quality is essential to high-performance buildings. Building Science works with numerical models to apply empirical findings to the effective solution of design problems.
More specifically, contemporary building science is a broad discipline that is concerned with the full life cycle of buildings, including: policy (codes and standards); planning; design; construction; commissioning; facilities management; forensics and rehabilitation; restoration and retrofit; preservation and conservation; demolition (deconstruction) and recycling.
Innovation, in this context, is not a trial and error process that relies on gradually refining past precedents. Typically it presents a significant departure from normative practices and relies on the scientific method to advance an agenda. Modern Building Science is born of integration and innovation.

A is for Affordabale

What Size should a house be? What is the sweet spot for square feet, under roof, per person? These are not academic questions. Buildings may be measured in square feet, but they perform in cubic feet. An increase of 50% in plan can nearly double of the volume of a structure. That translates into two times the construction waste, the mechanical systems, the energy footprint, etc. Clearly smaller is better but how small is too small? If you have an opinion, please share it.

Perry, Mark. Today's new homes are 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973, and average living space per person has doubled. American Enterprise Institute, 2015.
Available from www.aei.org .

Adler, Margot. Behind the Ever-Expanding American Dream House. NPR, 2006. Accessed. Available from www.npr.org

Data not Dogma

How to build a house that reflects our role as stewards of the planet? These pages are an episodic mash-up of graphics, quotes, random thoughts and web links that are informing our architectural decisions.

This particular inquiry began on the heals of the UN meeting on climate change in 2015. For that initiative to succeed we must all become, in some measure, climate scientists. A tall order? Not so much. We have found all one needs to do is pay attention, keep an open mind, be willing to investigate and share the findings. It is in this spirit that we offer this abecedarium on energy efficient building titled: DATA not DOGMA.

Much of the research is original to other sites online. Read it, as you will—in one setting or contact us for a print version—a year's worth of observations, quotes and graphical information.


10.2.2017 High Performance Building Beyond Green

High Performance Building: Beyond Green reesWn2015.8 HPB outline

by j.m.rees

What is High Performance Building (HPB) and why is it important?
Why is HPB important?
31% of energy consumed in America in 2013 was consumed by homes.
It is anticipated that by 2030, 100% of new residential construction will be required to be ZEN
Net Energy Neutral (or Zero Energy Home, ZEH)
Over the course of one year the structure generates (and stores) as much energy as it consumes.
In residential construction 6 areas of technician training and technological innovation are required to
realize the goals of ZEH.
Envelope Systems
Space Conditioning/HVAC Systems
Lighting, Appliances, and Miscellaneous Electrical Systems
Hot Water Systems
Energy Storage Systems
Community-Scale energy Systems

There is no SILVER BULLET to realize the goals of ZEH because there is no single
type/code/spec for HPB. It is by necessity Highly Local and driven by National Standards.
Dependent on:
Local Climate
our Climate Zone(s): Mixed-Humid; bordering Cold, transitioning to Mixed-Dry
Local Materials / Manufacturing
Local trades sophistication
Local consumer acceptance
Support of local Government/Financial communities
Absence of obstruction by local utilities

Consumer acceptance
In short, there are lots of moving parts
A framework for the interaction of the Moving Parts
E ENERGY Consumption
H Occupant HEALTH and Well Being
L LONGEVITY of the Building Elements and Systems
From the Point of View of initial Architectural Design EHL Matrix might look like:
ZEH Chemically Neutral 100 Year Envelope
Expected / conventional response to the challenge of ZEH
as a benchmark: R-30 walls R-50 roofs
(R is resistance to temperature differential between the inside and outside of a structure)

Build the way we are currently building – only better – applying the principles of HPB
i.e. “Fat,” wood frame walls that are super insulated.
[describe a typical example while showing a graphic of wall assembly]
this style of construction requires 7 subs and 9 material product suppliers to complete.
(remember we are only as good as our worst sub-contractors worst employee)

Re-thinking the problem:
Masonry Construction
E more energy efficient
H more natural materials
L greater longevity
But, masons are expensive and it is hard to make a brick or block masonry house cost-neutral
define: cost neutral
And there is a masonry alternative to brick and block: Cast-in-place (CIP) Concrete
we can build a concrete cavity wall envelope with stunning efficiency
using only 3 sub contractors and 4 site delivered products.
Substituting Cellular Lightweight Concrete (CLC) for (XPS) insulation, etc.


Further Elaborations: [Be Prepared to address all the sub headings under “Silver Bullet” above]
Addressing: Cost Neutrality of concrete construction
Addressing: Carbon footprint of concrete
Addressing: National standards / Local Codes
think globally; act locally
Addressing Financing
an appraisal issue
<everything in this column has a dwell slide>
<indented is what should be touched upon regarding that particular discussion point>