17 posts categorized "Editorial" Feed

December 16, 2010

Clean Energy, One Kilowatt at a Time

Centerbrook Architects offices from across the Mill Pond, photo by Derek Hayn

By Chad Floyd*

I would like to be able to state that I became an architect to save the planet from wasteful, polluting buildings – the built world accounts for some 40 percent of the greenhouse gases we produce – but the truth is my fondest desire was to become a thespian.  As the theater is an iffy business and my best stage feature, a lively head of hair, was rapidly waning, I turned to a more sensible alternative: architecture school.

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October 08, 2010

Racing Against Time: A Bright Future

Solar-panels-wood-house

This article is a contribution to Honda’s “Racing Against Time” thought leadership series.*

Recently, I was approached by Honda to tackle the topic of "peak oil" in relation to the normal conversation on Jetson Green.  This site is devoted to green building innovation, and you may be thinking the subject of peak oil -- specifically, the idea that oil is a finite resource -- is a little tangential. 

But it's not.  In fact, oil is used to make all sorts of products and to power residential and commercial buildings.  Honda's invitation has given me an opportunity to brainstorm on the subject and, after some contemplation, I believe there are six ways the building, design, and construction industry can eliminate the use of oil entirely. 

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August 12, 2010

Square Footage Bashing [Best Comment]

House-3d-blueprint-size

Critics gave me a hard time for discussing a 2,988 square-foot home in Florida.  One loyal commenter, bruteforcecollaborative, responded:

"Panning a project on square footage alone is asinine. you don't know the client's programming needs - maybe the house is designed for the grandparents to move in. maybe one of their children is disabled and requires dedicated space. maybe the house is also a home office, thereby foregoing additional office space in another location ... size alone isn't a function of how green or ungreen something is."

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June 11, 2009

Tiny House Iterative Design Process

Dogtrot-house-tinyhousedesign-winter-solar-side-600x447.png

In the news, there's a lot of talk about process journalism and using a feedback loop to evolve stories.  It made me think about iterative design and the potential role of blogs and new media to transform projects.  Probably, one of the most interesting and current examples I can think of comes from Michael Janzen, who's behind Tiny House Design, Nine Tiny Feet, and Tiny Free House, among other ventures.  Using Google SketchUp, Janzen transformed a shed cluster (through comments, analysis, feedback, and subsequent iterations) into a sustainable dogtrot home.  Check it out:

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May 18, 2009

ReModern Movement, Is Now The Time?

3030-cabin-john-ecosteel

Chances are, if you've ever researched modern homes online, you've seen the name Gregory La Vardera.  In addition to maintaining a house plan blog (and contributing to a number of other sites and forums), he's on Houseplans.com, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and probably a thousand other services.  Frankly, he's all over the place, and he's trying to incite the kind of housing rebellion we're interested in seeing.  In a blog article dated May 14, 2009, La Vardera describes the ReModern Movement -- a time when people build their own modern or green house -- and provides a list of reasons for why now is the time:

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April 21, 2009

The Venus Project,
a Total Redesign of the World

Mariculture

The great American architect Daniel Burnham once said, "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood.The Venus Project is no little plan -- it's a proposal for a total redesign of the world.  From cities on the sea to mass transit, mega sky scrapers, and even colonies in outer space, it covers every angle.  Furthermore, it proposes to achieve all of this by switching to a resource-based economy and adopting radical lifestyle changes.  The plan is large, thoroughly documented, and beautifully rendered.  The architecture even comes with plans to build the machines needed to build these massive structures.  Here's a look at just a couple of the many concepts ...

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January 04, 2009

Seven Green Trends to Watch in 2009

Seven Green Trends to Watch in 2009

Last year I talked about five green building trends and most of that, generally speaking, was spot on.  This year's going to be a little tougher nut to crack, however, because things are changing every day.  After a week or two of new information, it could be that everything below will not make sense any more.  I don't believe that will happen, but it could.  Anyway, to cut to the chase, all of this is informal and anecdotal.  I'm making these predictions based on approximately thirty years of seeing, studying, reading, working, and observing as a human being.  You will certainly have a different perspective, but hear me out.  When you're done, make sure to tell me what you think below. 

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November 12, 2008

Thoughts on Al Gore's Five-Part Plan to Repower America

Five-Part Plan to Repower America - Al Gore

I've always been kind of irked by the fact that President Reagan, after having the White House's leaky roof fixed, never replaced the solar hot water panels installed by President Carter.  But it's hard to judge him because I was barely crawling at the time -- I have no idea what was going on in the collective conscious of that generation.  I mean, Al Gore mentions in Sunday's Op-Ed in the NY Times that President Nixon established Project Independence 35 years ago with a goal to, in seven years time, develop the potential to meet our country's energy needs without having to rely on any foreign energy sources.  Yet, that never happened and Reagan's act, the way I see it, symbolically shut the door on the possibility of American energy self-reliance.  At least for the time being. 

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October 22, 2008

California Finds the Missing Piece of the CO2 Emissions Puzzle

California Sprawl - SB375

This article was written by Charles Lockwood, a green real estate authority and consultant based in southern California and New York City.  His articles have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Barron’s.

California—the state that invented freeways and suburban sprawl—has become a trendsetter again, and not a moment too soon in our new age of global climate change.  In October 2008, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law SB375, which was supported by environmentalists, homebuilders, and cities and counties.  SB375 will limit the state’s CO2 emissions by curbing suburban sprawl and increasing transit-based development through various incentives. 

If a community plans walkable, mixed-use, transit-oriented growth that reduces automobile use and greenhouse gas emissions, for example, it gets moved to the front of the line for state and federal transportation funds.  If a proposed building is located near a transit line, it will have an easier environmental review process.  Why is SB375 important?

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October 19, 2008

Green versus Greed by Rick Fedrizzi

USGBC - LEED

On Friday Rick Fedrizzi, founding chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council and current President and CEO, sent out a letter to USGBC constituents to address general market concerns relating to the economy and future of green building.  I thought the letter was interesting because he mentions something I've been thinking about for over a year now: the allocation of sustainable accountability.  Whether it's the newest green ad campaign or some politician's promise, I feel the prevailing mentality is that the government or businesses or someone else, someone other than me, is going to help us figure out the toughest of tough issues.  Anyway, I don't want to put words in the venerable Mr. Fedrizzi's mouth, so here's the letter if you didn't get the email yesterday:

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