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.

Best of Twitter 4: My own green thoughts

Flickr CC photo from Jim Linwood.

Flickr CC photo from Jim Linwood.

Blogging about Applied Sciences, Inc, the world’s third largest producer of carbon nanotubes – tech that could double the Volt car’s milage. 4:32 PM Feb 12th

If it’s true that the first passive solar building stateside will be in Yellow Springs (near here), I’m on it like weatherstripping. 8:51 AM Feb 19th

If we kept all compostables from landfills, they’d be smaller but have more concentrated toxicity. & do compostables help break down toxics? 3:46 PM Feb 21st

I’m passionate about the “triple bottom line,” AKA “People, planet, profit.” I love responsible companies. 10:57 AM Feb 25th

I literally just smuggled home glass bottles from my in-laws’ trash can in order to recycle them. My wife would be appalled: “Recycle Nazi!” 6:19 PM Mar 15th

I made a narrated slideshow about a company whose carbon nanofibers double the capacity of any li-ion battery. http://tinyurl.com/cj5pcd 2:01 PM Mar 26th (See next tweet, also)

Yes, that’s right – capacity doubled for electric cars, trains, laptops, everything. Don’t know why this hasn’t hit the NY Times front page. 2:04 PM Mar 26th

Which is greener to store and ship food: recyclable cans, recyclable glass jars (not reused), or non-recyclable Tetra Paks (trademark)? 5:15 PM Mar 26th

Are there Superfund sites near you? Could they still hurt you and yours? Find out: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/index.htm 11:39 PM Mar 28th

Looking for green organizations, whether media, literary, academic, causes, or products? Check out who I follow- I’ve tried to be selective. 1:15 PM Apr 2nd

Ever wondered what companies or gov’ts in your area have permits to pollute waterways? It’s as easy as a zip code: http://tinyurl.com/d2lqg 39:33 PM Apr 4th

I had been thinking about switching to a straight razor because a single blade can last 7-10 years. Lotta waste saved! #ecomonday 10:08 AM May 4th

Green bloggers out there: plan to attend the Investigative Reporters and Editors (ire.org) conference next year. This year’s was rockin’. 10:59 AM Jun 16th