Wednesday, November 25, 2009

--From Treehugger: On Daylighting

"A hundred years ago there were all kinds of sophisticated technologies to manage, direct and control natural light. Cheap electricity made such variable and hard-to-manage sources unnecessary; just throw in a couple of fluorescent fixtures and it didn't matter how far you were from a window. But electricity isn't so cheap any more, and daylighting is making a comeback. Add some computers and controls and you get the new world of daylight management, where shading devices, heliostats and skylights are integrated with interior lighting systems to get the best and cheapest light possible."

Read it all.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

--From the Today Show: "High Tech Homes of the Future"

As part of NBC Universal's annual "Green Week," the Today Show this morning profiled High Tech Homes of the Future (ht AGFH). Once again, the public is subjected to a barrage of laughable ecoboxes that no significant market share of homeowner will want to spend forty years paying off. When will architects learn that building these monstrosities is reducing rather than stimulating demand for precisely the type of environmentally-friendly homes that America desperately needs?

Monday, November 16, 2009

--From the Wall Street Journal: "Builders Downsize the Dream Home"

"'There's a lot more that comes with those McMansions,' said Mr. Easley. 'There's a lot more cleaning. There's a lot more heating, a lot more cooling.'

"Wieland believes the market downshift reflects 'a fundamental change in the way people are going to want to live,' and not just a reaction to scarce credit and insecure jobs, said F. David Durham, senior vice president. 'We're not waiting for things to return to the way they were.'"

Read it all

--From the NYTimes "Yemen Finds Dreamland of Architecture

"Architects rediscovering the Old City soon found there was more than beauty at stake. The traditional houses were also more durable and effective than concrete-based modern houses, and better suited to the climate.

"'The traditional houses have many environmental advantages,' said Abdulla Zaid Ayssa, the director of the government office that oversees all building and renovation in the Old City.

"The traditional plaster, joss, does not erode stones over time the way cement does, Mr. Ayssa said, and is more durable. Qadad, a stone-based insulation material used in roofs and bathrooms, is much stronger than modern equivalents. The old stones and insulation techniques are calibrated to the sharp temperature shifts of night and day in Sana’s desert climate, so that the sun’s warmth fully penetrates a house’s walls only at day’s end, and is then retained through the night and no longer, Mr. Ayssa said. They are also much more soundproof and private than concrete.

"'They experimented for hundreds of years to find these techniques,' Mr. Ayssa said. 'By comparison, nowadays we are building houses with a very stupid concept.”'"

Read it all

Thursday, November 12, 2009

--From the Guarian regarding Peak Oil: Sooner than you think, admits IEA whistle-blower

A whistle-blower at the International Energy Agency admitted to Guardian sources that the IEA fudges its numbers on oil production to prevent a stock market fiasco related to the impending decline in oil production.

Is this true? Is someone just looking for publicity with this? Who knows. But the question you need to ask yourself is this: if the allegations are true, how will your lifestyle be affected? Wouldn't you prefer a home that was less dependent on energy consumption?

Monday, November 2, 2009

--"Houses of the Future" from Atlantic Monthly

All energy-savings being equal, which of these Green houses do you think the citizens of New Orleans prefer?

"All those solar panels from the first eco-boom in the 1970s, and those clunky, angular houses they sat atop? Most are demolished and gone. “The carbon footprint of a building is meaningless once its parts are carted off to a landfill in a generation or two,” Mouzon told the crowd. The rebuilding of New Orleans by the people who love it, he suggested, may provide the most lasting green lesson of all."

An article in the latest Atlantic explores construction of green homes in New Orleans. Some are distinctly New Regionalist in nature, and some are eco-boxes designed by architecture students. Guess which ones residents prefer?