Tag Archives: LEED

A glimpse at the ideas re-shaping building design from the science up

Passive house image

I wrote the cover story to the special September edition of “Green Building + Design,” a design-porn glossy that doesn’t shy away from hard questions about its subjects. (I, for one, balk at the consumerist trend to “be green.”)

I wrote about the mantra–and standards–called Passive House, which uses modelling and analysis to incorporate remarkable efficiencies without breaking the bank.

In choosing photos, of course, the magazine has to cater to its audience, which craves pricey aesthetics.

Here’s the PDF of the 10-page spread, but in case you want to get a feel before jumping in, I’ve pasted the leading paragraphs below.

When you’re old and frail, or maybe when your kids are old and frail, textbooks may refer back to the early 2000s as the time when we started applying the same rigorous science to the design of our built environment that for a hundred years already we had put to work in our cars, entertainment, and communication. Those future readers might wonder, “What took us so long?”

Nobody is doing more to advance building science today than the people behind Passive House. They advocate super-tight envelopers, extreme insulation and specialty windows, window placement that accounts for solar gain, and heat-exchanger ventilators and heat-recapturing appliances. They’re thoroughly mindful of thermal bridging–properly insulating I-beams from the outside, for example, since in the winter they suck heat out.

One of the Passive House movement’s most significant achievements is analytical software that ties together all these techniques and materials and provides predictive power based on real analyses of houses built before.

Advertisements

Green campaign at my former school

A prefab modular home with LEED Platinum certification. Chicago should have its first Platinum-certified prefab residence in 2011. (Flickr photo from Heather Lucille. CC.)

Here are some links to my 2009 project to reduce Cedarville University’s environmental impact. I was collaborating with school administration to implement the project when I moved to Chicago to attend a more well-known journalism school.

CU/Green on transportation

CU/Green on clothing and consumer goods

CU/Green on building upkeep and construction

CU/Green on water use and landscaping

CU/Green on good air and energy

CU/Green on our refuse

CU/Green on everyday stuff

Before I left Cedarville University in May ’09, I was one of the founding members—vice president—of the environmental organization on campus. I got that gig in part because of the extensive plan I had proposed, above.

The plan took into consideration what was feasible for the college’s budget at the time, as well as what was socially responsible. One thing I stressed for administrators was that once our campus learns how to weatherize buildings, we should go into our community and do it for lots of residents there, many of whom are poor. Why? Free labor from students, minimal expense from the college, savings that make a big difference for families, and massive PR.

We could even serve as a knowledge hub for the community about “green” choices, and as a pilot program for similar universities across the country, I demonstrated.

P.S. — Here’s a link to an article on colleges who have voluntary student-funded offices of sustainability. Here’s a link to the only organization that evaluates colleges’ efforts toward sustainability and transparency, something the group considers essential to continuing sustainability.

Clout City

115303021_b1a4a0e7fa

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley speaks at a celebration for a building’s LEED certification. (Creative Commons-licensed photo from the Flickr account of the Center for Neighborhood Technology)

Move over, Tribune, there’s another watchdog in town. No one seems to follow the mayor’s corruption (yes, I said it) more intently than Mick Dumke of the Reader.

If you haven’t already read the cover story he wrote with Ben Joravsky, Chicagoans, it’ll blow your mind. And get you hooked on Dumke’s blog. And give you a reason to object when your friends say “I vote for Daley ’cause I don’t know why I wouldn’t…”

I wish I had done work like this at the two papers I’ve written for in years past. No regrets, though. After reading this article and archives of the blog “Clout City,” I’ve armed myself for next time: with source gumption and due persistence.

Maybe someday I’ll do my part to help edge representative democracy back into Chicago.