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.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Solar Decathlon 2013 - Small House, Big Picture

Team Middlebury College presented one of the most comprehensive, holistic approaches to sustainability that I’ve seen, incorporating environmental, economic, and social responsibility. Their InSite house is a charming, comfortable, and compact family home designed using principles that the team describes as “Five Points of InSiteful Design. Inspired by Le Corbusier’s ‘Five Points of Modern Architecture,’ these are five universal principles that serve as a guide to local living and can be implemented in every community – from new construction to home improvement.”  The principles include living in a walkable community, prioritizing social space, centralizing energy systems, engaging the street, and using local materials.

One especially innovative aspect of Middlebury’s project that demonstrated that the team was mindful of the “big picture” of sustainability was their decision to design and build a house that they shipped cross-country by rail, greatly reducing the carbon footprint associated with truck transport. 

The house is pursuing Platinum as a LEED for Homes project.

Solar Decathlon houses cannot be larger than 1,000 square feet, so many of the teams designed houses used large expanses of glass to integrate outdoor and indoor spaces and make their compact houses seem larger. Middlebury’s house was thoughtfully designed to maximize comfort and privacy and minimize energy use in its urban in-fill setting in Middlebury Vermont, which is often very cold in the winter. InSite features a tight and well-insulated thermal enclosure and significantly less, more strategically placed, glass than many of its counterparts.
This comfortable, warm and inviting house was designed for a couple with one child.  The high ceiling of the open-plan common area makes it feel more spacious.  It provides ample shared space for the living room, dining area, and kitchen.

The practical, functional layout includes two bedrooms that are separated by a shelf-lined hallway for privacy. The team took advantage of every inch of space, including using the thickness of the exterior wall to create a window seat.

The solar array is separate from the house, which is a very clever way of illustrating the relative ease of adding renewable energy to an existing house.  The solar panels are visible to anyone passing by the house, fostering ideas for a solar carport, porch, or tool shed. The panels are steeply pitched so that they will normally shed snow, and can easily be cleaned from the ground using a squegee.

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

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

Bottom Two Photos from Middlebury College Decathlon Team
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