Design and planning

Trade Contractor Management: Creating Programs That Work

Posted on April 02,2015 by CarlSeville in business

Way back when I was a contractor, I always found it useful to develop well-organized systems to use in running our business. Whenever I was asked the same question twice, it was time to create standards and procedures for employees and trade contractors to refer to. I called these the gifts that kept on giving: once you had them you could stop trying to remember what you said the last time and just refer people to the appropriate documents. Eventually they learn, and the questions become less frequent.

Resilient Design: Passive Solar Heat

Posted on April 02,2015 by AlexWilson in passive solar

As I discussed in last week's blog, a resilient home is extremely well insulated, so that it can be kept warm with very little supplemental heat — and if power or heating fuel is lost, for some reason, there won't be risk of homeowners getting dangerously cold or their pipes freezing. If we design and orient the house in such a way that natural heating from the sun can occur, we add to that resilience and further reduce the risk of the house getting too cold in the winter. Passive solar heating

Designing Houses and Communities To Be Smarter and More Resilient

Posted on April 02,2015 by AlexWilson in flood

As we look to create homes and communities that will keep us comfortable and safe in a world of climate change, terrorism, and other vulnerabilities, there are a handful of strategies that I group loosely under the heading of "smarter design." Some of these strategies come into play more at the land-use planning scale, or are relevant only in certain locations that are at risk of flooding, but all are worth thinking about when planning a new home. Where we build

Making the Case for Resilient Design

Posted on April 02,2015 by AlexWilson in drought

During my six-week bike ride last spring (during my sabbatical), I covered nearly 2,000 miles, most of it over land that hadn't seen a drop of rain since the previous fall; some of those areas — mostly in Texas — still haven't gotten significant precipitation. Farmers in Texas have had to plow their cotton under or slaughter their cattle. If the drought continues through the winter, power plants may have to start shutting down for want of cooling water.

Irish Passive House Raises Bar for Eco Design

Posted on April 02,2015 by GBA Team in Construct Ireland

Reprinted with permission from Construct Ireland magazine. Sally O’Leary says that when a site became available near the site of an old family home, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy it. She’d been looking for a site to build on with her husband John. “We always wanted energy efficiency, I think nowadays that’s something that people have to do," she says.

Utilities Offer Programs That Can Benefit Your Customers

Posted on April 02,2015 by michaelds in air leakage

In Texas, as in many other states, local electric utilities offer homeowners a variety of free services to help lower energy bills.

Cost-Effective Passive Solar Design

Posted on April 02,2015 by Brian Knight in design

Passive solar design is one of the most attractive strategies available for energy-efficient construction and green building. The sun provides free heat, daylighting, and a better connection to our outdoor environment. It does this for the life of the structure. If you follow these priciples, your house will offer passive survivability, meaning it will remain livable through winter power outages. The passive elements of your home design will have no moving parts, and the only maintenance need is occasional window cleaning.

Integrative Design: Planning Early Reduces Risk Later

Posted on April 02,2015 by Amy Hook in affordable housing

Hello, Green NSP World. I saw this post on the larger Enterprise Community Partners blog by Ray Demers @the horizon and thought you would enjoy it! - Amy Charrettes as a simpler fix

Disappointing Energy Savings for Energy Star Homes

Posted on April 02,2015 by user-756436 in energy savings

If you’re interested in residential energy efficiency, you’re probably familiar with the marketing pitch of the EPA’s Energy Star Homes program. Among the program’s claims:

Design a sheltered entryway

Posted on April 02,2015 by Peterbilt in New construction

**In addition to reducing exposure to bad weather, providing shade, and cutting down on energy loss, a sheltered entryway can help keep the house cleaner.** With planning, the entryway can serve as a place to clean dirt from shoes before entering the house or to dry wet shoes and clothing.

Add bathroom-wall blocking for future grab bars

Posted on April 02,2015 by Peterbilt in Kitchen or bath addition

**When building or remodeling a bathroom, install blocking within the walls for grab bars, even if they aren't specified.**

Then, photograph the blocking before the walls are closed up. As your clients age or become infirm, grab bars supported by secure blocking, already in place, will be much easier to add.

Learn more in the Green Building Encyclopedia

[Remodel Project: Bathroom](Node/8998)

Residential Remodeling and Universal Design

Maximize storage for a smaller house

Posted on April 02,2015 by Peterbilt in Kitchen or bath expanded existing space

**Often, houses with plenty of storage are smaller than those without.** Opportunities to include storage exist in most rooms. In small bathrooms in particular, include additional storage by finishing the interior cavities within the walls for medicine cabinets and small shelves. Incidental bathroom items fit the 3.5-in. to 4-in. space well. For even more storage, choose a sink with a base cabinet rather than a pedestal sink.

Put the sun to work with direct-gain passive heating

Posted on April 02,2015 by Peterbilt in Add a floor above

**The sun provides heat in several ways** Sunlight passing through windows can heat the interior directly, captured and stored, as in a Trombe wall, or used to heat an isolated space, such as a sunroom. Direct-gain passive heating is best suited for homes that have modest temperature swings, and where some glare is acceptable. Strategies to reduce heat loss should be considered first. Providing the appropriate amount of thermal mass is key.

Green points

NGBS/ICC-700: 5 points for using a sun-tempered design (704.3.1.1).

Provide pantry space

Posted on April 02,2015 by Peterbilt in Kitchen or bath addition

**Pantries provide cost-efficient storage.** Pantry storage isn't as complicated as finished kitchen cabinets, so it's less expensive than providing the same storage space in the kitchen proper. Pantries as small as 3 square feet in floor area hold a lot of food and cooking utensils. Close the door and everything is out of sight.

Learn more in the Green Building Encyclopedia

[Remodel Project: Kitchen](node/8962 "Kitchens Use Lots of Energy and Water, But a Green Kitchen Uses Less")

Use skylights to get more light inside

Posted on April 02,2015 by Peterbilt in Add a floor above

**Skylights make the interior brighter.** Installing skylights over open areas between floors, such as staircases and interior balconies, allows sunlight to penetrate deep into the house. More natural lights means less reliance on electricity as well as a more cheerful, healthier inside environment. It's a good idea to check local fire and building regulations first.

Learn more in the Green Building Encyclopedia

[Sun: Passive Heating and Daylighting](node/11548 "Design Notes")

Use morning light to your home’s advantage

Posted on April 02,2015 by Peterbilt in New construction

**Windows on the East side help a building warm up in colder weather.**

Morning light also can reduce the need for supplemental light. The location and type of glazing always involves weighing benefits: natural lighting, heat gain and loss, glare, and views.

Learn more in the Green Building Encyclopedia

[Sun: Passive Heating and Daylighting](node/11548 "Design Notes")

Design a house with a high internal mass

Posted on April 02,2015 by Peterbilt in New construction

**Thermal mass can smooth out temperature spikes.** In dry climates where outdoor temperatures show big swings between night and day, materials with high mass can absorb heat during the day to keep the house cooler. At night, cooler air brings the temperature of the mass down to keep the house more comfortable the following day. Building in thermal mass may make it possible to reduce the size of air conditioning equipment.

Simplify the shape of the house to conserve energy

Posted on April 02,2015 by Peterbilt in New construction

**A design that reduces the amount of exposed wall area also reduces heating and cooling costs** When plans call for bump-outs and jogs solely to add architectural interest, it may be possible to simplify the shape and provide visual interest in other ways. While a dome or cube would provide the minimum surface area for a given volume, these shapes are rarely appropriate. A passive solar strategy may elongate the building along the east-west axis, so even from an energy-use standpoint, a cube is not necessarily the most efficient shape.

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