Making it Easier to be Green
Green design includes energy conservation, but that's not what it's all about. It's about having good air quality both indoors and outdoors, making the environments in which we work, live, study and play healthier and more comfortable and conserving all of our natural resources.
This site will provide a balanced, holistic view that includes advice about saving energy, water and other natural resources, improving indoor air quality, using environmentally responsible design and construction techniques and minimizing waste.

I will be focusing on interiors for three reasons:

  • We spend about 90% of our time indoors.
  • Buildings in the United States annually consume about 30% of our total energy and 75% of our electricity.
  • As a New York State Certified Interior Designer and a LEED Accredited Professional, I want to share my knowledge and expertise with you.
Sustainable design and construction can be done in many different styles and using a wide variety of materials. There are examples of healthy, sustainable, comfortable and inviting interiors for commercial, not-for-profit and residential clients on the web site for Interior Design Solutions.
You can use the labels on the sidebar to locate entries that you want to read. For instance, most people might want to look at the entries for "Green Homes," but "Green Finance" would be of more interest to professionals involved in the design, construction, management, financing and marketing of buildings.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Solar Decathlon 2013 - Viva Las Vegas!

I was honored to recently serve on the Market Appeal jury for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon for a second time. The Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build and operate sustainable solar-powered homes that are beautiful, comfortable, and affordable. All 19 houses were net-zero energy or better in the measured competition, and most of them effectively addressed a number of sustainability issues.

My colleagues and I awarded first place to Team Las Vegas’ entry, DesertSol, an eloquent architectural response to the Mojave Desert climate. The architecture creates a sense of place, celebrates the beauty of a unique ecosystem and emphasizes the importance of an increasingly scarce resource, water. The team defined their central inspiration as a commitment to demonstrate the residents’ relationship with water as well as conserving water in many different ways. The focus on water is particularly appropriate, since Las Vegas was originally founded on the site of natural springs that dried up in merely 50 years due to overdrawing, and there’s danger of repeating history by overdrawing the area’s current water reserve in Lake Mead.

The spatial organization and open plan of this compact, 754 square foot home make it seem much larger than it actually is, and it beautifully combines sustainable design and luxurious amenities.

The layout and finishes of the bathroom make it feel like an elegant, rejuvenating spa. Panels of shimmer glass tiles in the shower and behind the custom sink evoke waterfalls.

A particularly striking feature is the central entry, a space framed between the private and public parts of the house. The entry overlooks what is supposed to be a water feature but was actually more effective than originally planned in emphasizing the vital importance of that element. The team envisioned “a shallow pool of water with a bubbling center, reminiscent of the springs, designed to collect the precious four inches of precipitation each year and store the rainwater in a cistern.” But because there was no rain to fill the cachement system, the house centers around an arroyo (dry creek bed).

The rainwater cachement system was to be used, together with grey-water, to provide any water needed for landscape irrigation. But not much water would be required because the team used native desert plants that require virtually no watering once their roots are established. The plumbing fixtures and the appliances all help save water.

The Mojave is a harsh environment, the exceptional dryness, the intense contrast of sunlight and deep shadows have a profound impact, and the team’s material selection responds to these challenges positively by choosing natural, durable materials that age well in the desert. The silver-gray wood (recycled fencing) and rusted metal of the exterior reference the ghost towns of western lore. The connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces is emphasized by the use of the exterior wood on the walls of the entryway.

Movable perforated steel screens provide privacy for the bedroom and shade in the summer. The pattern evokes light filtering through the leaves of mesquite trees.

For Additional Information on the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon 2013 Visit the Web SiteSolar Decathlon 2013

Photos by: Jason Flakes/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon


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