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Pritzker Prize for RCR Arquitectes – Wonderful and Sad News

Posted: March 3rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: architecture, energy policy, green building | Tags: , | No Comments »

I have been involved with cutting-edge design from the very start of my career in architecture, but to me, the saddest thing is that we have not evolved.

Sustainable ArchitectureRCR Arquitectes recently received the Pritzker Prize. The firm is a remarkable manifestation of artistic and material excellence, very much like Tadao Ando with his Alvar Aalto and Pritzker prizes many years ago.

I live in a world where the United States alone wastes a trillion dollars a year in energy. I have not seen one single program – even in our Ivy League schools – where students are guided to understand the principles of the global responsibility.

Today, there is NO NEED to design a building that wastes energy – NONE. Period.

Buildings that are not energy efficient continue to exist today only because our clients insist on using current codes and standards that protect our energy suppliers’ futures. Energy suppliers sit on our boards and in our meetings to make sure that the code does not hurt their future of WASTE, and thus their stock prices.

I have yet to see one prize, whether it’s the AIA national award in the U.S., or in my home country of birth, Finland, or my adopted interim country, the United Kingdom, where I received the best energy – before it was called green and passive – and design information par none from 1974-77.

If we keep rewarding people like Ando, and all the well-meaning others whose buildings don’t give any regard to energy efficiency and conservation, how am I going to greet my children and say you are going to be OK?

We don’t have many years to go on. We have burnt the atmosphere and oceans beyond the point of a return to normality.

Regards,

Tapani Talo, AIA
Principal


Philip Johnson in Memoriam

Posted: January 25th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: architecture | Tags: | No Comments »

Helping the Unknown Young Architects

Remembering some of the round table conversations we had while we worked on designs.

The things I wanted to share today are not normally associated with Philip Johnson. Last week I made some comments on Glass House, which took two years to design. And, as he said, it takes a minimum of a year to have a great design with hard work, study, conversations and constant revisions.

Remembering Philip JohnsonWe all know Johnson’s intelligence and tenacity in following the latest painting, sculpture and literature and critics, and his competitiveness in getting projects.

BUT …

He did choose to use his intellect to spar with his intelligent friends carefully all throughout his life. That is how he kept himself ever “current” and not dropping off the design edge like some do eventually as we mature. We would be working on an issue for the project that I was assigned to and I would come to his office and sit with him around the big round table. Every so often, the telephone would ring and his peers would call to tackle a thorny issue in their lives with clients, and he would act like an elder statesman, making relevant helpful comments and encouragements.

For instance, there was a time when we had to find a new head for MOMA and the search went on for quite some time. It turned into a global effort, and it was most fascinating time for me to listen to the names that were considered and why.

Remembering Philip JohnsonEvery now and then he would also dwell on his luck and fortune being associated with MOMA in it its conception and traveling with Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Alfred Barr in Europe, gaining invaluable insights to what is strong design and what is fleeting.

But mostly the fact that Hitchcock clearly understood the “new European” architecture better than anyone, and saw the deeper intellectual and sociological implications. This was what Philip admired most.

This is what he wanted the next generation to understand, appointing and supporting younger intellectuals.

He would point to a small drawing by an obscure Norwegian architect and be almost in tears from admiration. He embraced Zaha Hadid immediately and gave her critical guidance and help, without which she would never have made a good start. Frank Gehry he admired, dialogued with and advised for decades.

In the ‘60s, Robert Venturi’s groundbreaking house for his mother was most important project since Robie House by Frank Lloyd Wright. Johnson then sought to bring Edwin Lutyens’ genius to the forefront to support Venturi’s mother’s house.

Philip Johnson in MemoriamOthers who benefitted included Daniel Libeskind in his early efforts in Berlin. We even proved one time that his structure was viable as the jurors in a Berlin competition had said it was not. We changed a hotel design so that we would test the structure to prove it was also economically viable.

But most importantly, he was trying to find a way to support young unknown architects. He kept asking me what could be done.

At that point I said to him that I had originated the NYC Architecture League Young Architects program in 1982, as I was part of a small committee trying to find ways to do just that. I had found that most buildings that we admired in history books were done by architects when they were younger than 30, so we devised a competition structure that allowed only young architects to submit their efforts. Looking back, I think this is probably the most valuable and important “matter” for mankind I brought to life in my own life staring 1983.

Hopefully in the next 20 years, I will find a way device a method for our Congress and Senate to finally understand that only architects and engineers can COOL the world and avoid the up and coming environmental disaster – dramatic changes in climate and water level increases of 50 to 100 feet eventually.

Regards,

Tapani Talo, AIA
Principal


Real Income for USA

Posted: November 22nd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: architecture, energy policy, green building | Tags: | No Comments »

Trillions of dollars each year if we think correctly using proven methods – Think and operate like Apple does.

3,500 Foot Tall Projected Building in BeijingWe just had a political earthquake, but instead of fixing matters it is opening fissures that will hinder real innovative thinking by the brightest professionals and overall growth.

It is no one’s fault but our unique history of easy access to almost unlimited resources that has created a relaxed attitude what needs to be done in the long term. Our quarterly approach to finance and expectations of companies’ positive cash stream is not helpful for long-term change and innovation. Our new president has used the old methods of building cheap – even cheaper using every tax loophole there is. His method – and that of many developers in general – is first low cost with most glitter possible.

iPhones are innovative as the market place is brutal to Apple if they don’t. If were using the same means as iPhones that have improved energy usage each year, our buildings would not need the grid, be safer and infinitely more usable and comfortable.

Let’s just look at buildings and transportation. Since 1973, both have had green thinking on the agenda but it has been vigorously opposed by utility companies and builders. I can understand utility companies, as they are mandated to provide the best return possible for shareholders.

What I do not understand is builders objecting to green codes. For them, work is work, and they get paid by their effort. But the pressure is the developers whose wallets depend on competitive cost over competition. Our nation pays dearly for this. We complain about taxes, but these kinds of savings are equal to the annual budget of the USA, fiercely fought over on Capitol Hill in Senate and the House.

This isn’t chicken feed – it would show that we were as smart as Apple is – or better. Architects have wanted to do this for decades, but never allowed to.


World’s Tallest Buildings

Posted: May 10th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: architecture | Tags: , , | No Comments »

We have a love affair with super tall buildings – those 3,500 to 4,000 feet tall, or the “mile-highs.” It not only needs to be safer than others, it has to be flexible and green, and preferably meeting a passive standard.

In one design this year for another super tall building, I was very unhappy about many of the safety-related aspects that I had to do, as the site dimensions dictated hash constraints – a usual situation for us architects.

So I took the experience and started to think about how look and function would look if as many things as possible were addressed. SoI composed the super tall building called “Bentley ACHOsim Symphony” – named for the best software around for dealing with also very large projects. I designed this to be as safe as it possibly can be – very green, with a sacrificial glass layer (with solar PV) exterior so it can be replaced without disturbing future clients.

Mega-Tall-5500 feet-NY City by Tapani Talo-s-It has vertical inner chimney turbines so that the height is utilized rather than wasted. It has eight exterior turbines harnessing wind all along the vertical facade and few at the top, depending on the final location and height beyond 3,500 feet (to about 4,000 feet). Extra stairs and exterior elevators can be called for both maintenance and rescue, and helicopter landing areas – plural – are there for immediate rescue and first aid.

Floor plates are as flexible as possible, which helps to make them also quite powerful, while in the upper regions, sky atriums give respite rather than forcing occupants to travel down to the city streets.

Since I am from Finland originally (and grew up in Aalto Campus), and as a painter and photographer, the building’s softer features offer a feeling of height with immense vertical clarity – it’s just as tall as it should be. With Philip Johnson in particular I learned to tackle high rise design, which is actually even more difficult than “normal” building.

There are plenty of towers that are super tall, but God forbid if something serious happens in the middle part of the building – as it did few months ago when flames engulfed several floors of the iconic Torch skyscraper in Dubai. In these situations, What happens to the people above it? The Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, like many others in the same category, is a good example of the “needle” approach. I will get back to tower design, but I do want to say that the good building principles of the super tall towers are no different than the smallest single-family houses that I have created – they just have some added constraints.

One has to understand what makes buildings comfortable and easy to run (and economically viable with the least amount of equipment). In tall buildings, there are thousands of small pieces of equipment and controllers that all consume power, for instance, and up till now, nobody paid attention how much power they consumed. The passive building standard in Europe has finally shone a light for the benefit of our entire profession.

Architecture, like any other art or profession, requires experience. Accepting and understanding “good” is the goal and loving it, as architecture is a lifetime of learning, honing skills, perfecting balance and focus – the prize of losing the rush of the new and seemingly just different versus great. That’s why lucky architects who have had good clients, and thus good team of consultants, are in the position to offer great buildings to great clients. Without a great client, some great buildings – like Bank America Tower in New York City, for instance – simply couldn’t exist.

Working with Edward Barnes and Philip Johnson, I found that real architecture for real clients were so much better with age – just like Impressionistic painters started their real thing in their 50s.

I am starting with Philip Johnson in architecture (Barnes was similar, but 15 years younger, so Johnson is more suited for this example). He was 80 when I joined him, and I was six years into working as a principal designer on many projects around the world during those years. What was so beautiful was the fact that we did not flutter around options like in the many instances in the past, but were able to focus on real issues of current artistic thought and practicality (program and construction price). There was a sizzling atmosphere in our thoughts – although in retrospect, other results were not earthshaking, but good at least in each instance. And if we look around, good is hard to find. Good new cities with rich street life are nearly impossible to find. That needs travel, study and understanding people and their culture. Architects too often build objects, quite often as clients want it and demand it. But many objects in a row create a very dull and deadly cityscape.

The one thing we could not do, as we still cannot, is making a client able to understand the green of our means and methods. There is no room for extra time (cost of architects, engineers and consultants) or extra technology (small cost and payback over seven years) – developers need year-one, immediate payback. The fact that the country suffers from this approach is never entered into the equation. To talk about the planet means immediately being fired, so only clients who are already interested can get those goodies.

If one is to talk about young architects, yes, general design can be achieved, but for them to have an internal and external consultant team that can give real deep detail, material and truly green info at the right moment is nearly impossible. The showmanship of big comes to my mind – interesting-looking buildings, but not cheap, nor green, despite somewhat loud language trying to say so.


An Architect’s Profession: Career and Value to Society

Posted: March 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: architecture | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Frank Lloyd WrightWE admire beauty, to the extent that we admire even F.L. Wright, whose buildings often reached 10 or 20 times their original budget. We architects working today cannot even add 7% to the building budget that would make it totally passive, green and over a lifetime produce enormous savings and comfort to the owners.

What’s the most precious thing in life – beyond personal health?

Peace

Water

Heat (in winter)

Sustenance

AND

Power/fuel (no food, water, movement, heat or communication without these)

In all these categories, architects and planners have enormous possibilities to make things either perfect, safe and near everlasting. If we keep doing what we have been doing, itmeans the end of the world. There is no other profession that can shape the world for the better. Yet people think of us as? what exactly?

Guess…

Near USELESS, that’s what. This isbased on the fact that we are not able to do anything to make the world more peaceful, use water more efficiently, build buildings that do not need heat or cooling and could provide even sustenance and power – nearly for free. Peace is easy if most people have what they need in life, and if we do not waste, more people would have what they need.

Couture or Start architects are barely surviving these days. Half of our professionals from 2005 are no longer in architecture.

Yet in every developed nation, buildings alone in general use most of the energy, bleeding our scarce resources into WHAT – outdated utility companies and energy production? No one seems to know that a TRILLION in a year is unsustainable in the long run, even for the wealthiest nation in the world. It cost about 6 trillion to do the 10 year war in Iraq (and the same for Afghanistan), and that was considered HUGE and unsustainable.

If architects’ and professional salaries and fees – along with respect for real professional ability to do good and green – were respected, we could fix this issue in a reasonable time frame, and stop focusing building fancy bubble gum (high tech, one of a kind, difficult to maintain) architecture (in fashion these days in order to stay in the news).

Naturally, only if the incentives from our government would make it financially viable to provide the extra 7% in cost to make buildings (and efficient transportation) 90% to 95% more energy efficient for the developers.

This 7% would make nuclear power stations obsolete and many conventional ones too. As a nation, we would save a trillion dollars a year in today’s money…and the little power to live from can come from solar and wind nearby. And in buildings that can operate without a grid, it makes business possible even with outages.

Professional planning / zoning would help to provide local substance, but who seems to care as we shop at ease in our super markets with enormous parking lots around them.

So why is it that the only profession that could make FREE money in trillions a year, that is trained and works as hard as doctors, gets paid a fraction and has no respect or proper use these days?

It started in the 70’s when lawyers took away fees that were based on job difficulty, and replaced it with competitive bidding. First, we lost the ability to train which meant that continuity and office experience was lost as soon as people moved on or were laid off. Then came computerization that temporarily allowed efficiencies, and thus survival for few years. Then came overseas drafting to cut cost in China and India. Then recessions, and so we were left with a skeleton crew of offices that have started to collapse into a  few ‘collectives’. What is next in store? Neither architecture schools nor industries have yet to wake up for the national or global) security dilemma. Only extreme effort can save us now, by being totally GREEN beyond our wildest imaginations.

Any nation that depends on long fragile power and food supply as we are now) cannot enter a world conflict, and yet the general view is that the world with its hunger for endless resources will sooner (possibly within a decade) again go through the unthinkable (WAR) due to stresses in energy and raw materials, geo politics, coupled with growing number of people in our little fragile planet.

We have seen in New Orleans and NYC what happens when power is no longer available. To see the whole nation / continents in this state of affairs is catastrophic and yes, very biblical. Even green passive structures and healthier ways of producing food and conserving water cannot completely save us, but they do buy time to rebuild and survive…for some, but certainly not for all.

Regards,

Tapani Talo, AIA

 11 Heatherbloom Road, White Plains, New York 10605, USA. Tel: 1- 914 – 645 2940,

Email: talo.tapani@gmail.com

www.NYSUPERSTUDIOARCHITECTS.com


DOE, Energy Waste, Taxes and Average American Pocket Book – Now and In Long Term

Posted: December 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: architecture, green building, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

50 years ago John F. Kennedy said: Don’t think what government can do to you, but what you can do for your country – to save our children’s future. This kind of thinking fuels green architecture and planning, especially in and around New York City. NY Super Studio Architects lives by such a philosophy. If only other institutions did the same, such as the DOE (Department of Energy).

If DOE would change its front page for residential (On the commercial built environment side, the same applies ) recommendation to match 2013 knowledge and capabilities, our nation would be on the way to save Trillion dollars a year avoiding wasted energy alone. Plus avoid a catastrophic set of climate and geopolitical events that are gathering pace within a decade.

But that’s not all.

  1. Each of us would earn more than our general life time earnings by cutting mortgage payments as we know it! Most of the cost of our purchase price goes to interest. If energy savings income is funneled to paying principal, ones saves the amount of mortgage in 20 years. No that is REAL income towards retirement. Not only income but being able to live in an incredibly comfortable house or office building that can operate without the grid power when done right.
  2. Our military presence in many parts of the world is based on our energy on our energy insecurity. It is lot cheaper to make our own country operate smartly and better, as then we are not creating more enemies by playing shifting political games around the world.
  3. Maybe Universities would produce students that understood that focusing on Wall Street careers only will ‘burn this earth’ and if actually living smartly and making money at the same time would save them…and their children.

On the residential AND commercial sector we ask builders and developers to build cheaply, but WE (the people) are the ones who pay each day, month and year enormous wasted utility costs, TAXED BY the building owners for supplying it, much like banks charge us for CREDIT cards. By and large we STILL build largely the way it would have been state of the art BEFORE the oil embargo 1973. This isn’t very green, isn’t it? Nor is it very smart!

We complain about taxes and big government, but if most of us understood how much each of us would save if our bright government agencies hired the best brains AND allow them to do what is done in other countries. For instance, NOAA’s chief scientist and head of the Earth Space Research Lab, Dr. Sandy MacDonald – has made it possible through a five-year project to save our country from an energy crisis by making our power network 93% efficient with mere 150 billion. This allows us to connect not only existing power providers, but also wind and solar power ACROSS the country anywhere. This – if implemented – could almost reverse our planetary carbon increase in the atmosphere (particularly if China did the same). This would give us time to implement 90% reduction in energy losses in buildings (and hopefully in transportation too).

Somehow we trust corporate leaders, with a grain of salt, banking leaders bit less as we have paid ENORMOUS taxes to bail them out. WE have more universities than any other country, but we don’t seem to be able to teach common sense and how to make smart collective decisions. In numerous historical phases in the past, one thing stands out: we either pull the same rope (think what is good and smart bottom line in LONG term for the country) or perish. Particularly in the USA, each state, city and school district seem to have a different agenda and pulling a DIFFERENT ROPE.

50 years ago John F. Kennedy said: Don’t think what government can do to you, but what you can do for your country. As a people, we must embrace that ideology once again. If green architects can do it, why can’t the nation as a whole?

For more information on this topic, the below books are a good place to start.

If you have any questions regarding NYC architecture or construction, or curious about zero energy architecture, contact NY Super Studio Architects today!

Regards,
Tapani Talo, AIA


Toll Brothers and Trump vs. Greener USA as a Nation

Posted: November 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: architecture, energy policy, green building, New York | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Toll Brothers housing and Trump Towers are synonymous in US of ‘quality, power and prestige’.

But neither have energy savings to talk about. Because it does not translate to IMMEDIATE income for them. The energy losses and costs are passed on to the purchaser, so why bother to go and help them or USA as a nation?? 90% improvement with 7% extra cost hurts Mr. Trump and Mr. Toll. And we cannot blame them. We can only blame our own shortsightedness for this and pay trillion dollars a year in WASTED energy, and 1/3rd larger than our US military budget or our annual Healthcare and transportation expenditure.

Until we have financial tools and incentives that Toll Brothers and Trump will use, we do NOT have the right approach.

And we architects are measured how cheaply we can make the building and still make it seem prestigious and thus sell. If we try and talk to them while designing, they find another architect who does his work without comments.

Romney (and the GOP in general) spoke constantly about drill drill drill bay, instead of let’s use our brains and knowledge.
We have known for TWO generations how to make buildings zero energy, now it is even easier with new technologies that are lighter and smarter.

It’s time that the common man and woman has right to be proud being professional, give them proper financial SIMPLE tools and use our ingenuity to produce the best and least energy hungry products. And I wish the best to our newly voted president to handle the congress in this respect.

Obama had a great speech in his first inauguration 4 years ago, except for one paragraph. He said that our way of life is our right. I challenge that our way of life before WW2 was right because we knew the value of prudence with less waste and making sure future generation can enjoy fruits of our sincerest work that leaves the planet hopefully in a healthier place rather than the current – let’s spend the resources first and worry about the results later.

Regards,
Tapani Talo, AIA


US Energy savings bill – architect’s re wording of first paragraph

Posted: August 17th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: architecture, energy policy, green building, New York | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Energy Savings bill
First paragraph:
The secretary shall support the development of national model building energy codes, including the updating of ASRAE and IECC model building energy codes and standards.

An example:

A couple came to me for help.

They had their house designed and foundations poured, but realized that it had very little insulation. Their contractor and architect had said to them, that’s ok. They said that it meets the code, but it was far from it. In their area there are no inspectors, and thus they do what they feel is expedient.

The wife wanted to fix the insulation and make it low energy and comfortable for future! Her husband doubled the incoming power and wanted to add electrical floor heat – the most expensive and wasteful method imaginable.

I have found that men are inclined to love BIG motors of all kinds. HVAC, Cars, Boats, Planes, nuclear plants… and rarely (not a statistical number) think the other way around, how to get from A to B efficiently.

Surely it is more fun to commute in a Lamborghini than an electrical car. But there is HUGE series of material, gas and labor involved in producing and maintaining a Lamborghini or most other cars, equipment, fine roads, houses, services.

In the next decade we will have 1 billion more people and if each of them use just one 60 watt light bulb for 4 hours, the world needs 50 some power stations to do the task. Just count how to multiply our standard of living and one starts to sense HOW much energy and material we are consuming (twice the Europeans alone and WHY?), and why there will be a catastrophic pressure in the world to provide for them and us. Just 2 years ago there were riots in populous parts of the world when food prices went up, and like in the past world history when this happened, nations and rulers collapsed.

The very point of this is that US energy Bill 1000 now in congress does not start with right premise. – First paragraph: The secretary shall support the development of national model building energy codes, including the updating of ASRAE and IECC model building energy codes and standards.

It should start with: NO NORMAL BUILDING (designed hopefully by professional architect) should be allowed to compensate poor old fashioned design with EQUIPMENT that requires use of energy from national grid unless deemed impossible without and if the national grid goes down, any of these buildings should be able to function in minimum way, with power source no further than nearest school or hospital – which powered by solar and wind energy, or other renewable sources, could avoid taxing our energy supply.

Good buildings and other man made items these days have no reason to be healthy, well lit, comfortable and extremely economical to run. The fact that we nuclear power stations is embarrassing. Just one of them melting in an earthquake like in Japan would wipe out huge section of United States. There is no price tag big enough to cover this sort of event, and we have 56 or so of them.

What this would do to our country would be energy security that would withstand catastrophic environmental events, or worldwide, large conflicts of any kind.

We HAVE this ability, and had it for the past 30 years, but our national economy direction is to build bigger and more, rather than smarter.

Nearly 100 years ago Holland and Germany made sure that canals were not silted over and made sure rail roads were serving every nook of their territories. Each pound of material transported with these means save the nation 90% over one done on road transport. So in a century this saving is HUGE.

The same in medical field, early detection in general and taking care of children at early age (same as well-designed building at early stage) save huge amounts in medical expenses, Canada and Europe has proven it with longer life expectancy than we have, for ½ the price.

Architecture, like all other professions can be useful, but at the moment, the way we educate architects, engineers and other consultants for building industry, is in its infancy at best in terms of helping our nation in the long term.
We architects have to please the way developers and builders operate, build as cheaply as possible now (others – our children will fix our problems later) -.

And yet we spend a fortune in university education…. What is it that we teach?

Regards,
Tapani Talo, AIA


Ideal Green building pre-requisite

Posted: August 17th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: architecture, energy policy, green building, New York | No Comments »

Ideal Green Building is possible ONLY if CODE insists on ONE EXTRA FOOT for wall thickness past zoning envelope:, and excluded from rentable or buildable foot print’ as long as wall thickness reduces usable area for tenants, no sensible building can be built in USA.

Ideal Green Building, whether it’s high, middle, low rise or a house, would not look much different from current buildings if local zoning tax credits allowed them to be ‘smart’ without penalty to the owner. The construction industry is still a generation behind being truly able to apply current technical products and thus design innovations. Innovation is thought to add to costs due to changed thinking and procedures, and thus creating some initial procedures inconvenient to all parties. It takes a special client like Durst in NY City to be in meetings himself and make sure everybody plays their part correctly. But the end product can be up to 90% more efficient, 90% healthier and thus not only saving energy and related costs forever, but keep occupants healthier – which in studies save companies many times over the cost of building healthier. Daylight is truly number one, comfort in (fresh) air and heat and cool second.

I, for instance, could redesign the Philip Johnson’s ‘Glass House’ in New Canaan to be a zero carbon one with new details and new glass products that are on the market close to same look if I had a client for it. And it would be as comfortable temperature wise as any other building. But it is very difficult to renovate masonry buildings, or classic highly detailed Shingle style buildings of any kind to be state of the art without adding a new skin hiding the masonry or other ornate materials that conducts cold and heat like electricity.

So where is the difference and what should – could be done?

The current weakest link is the windows with R-3 to R-5 at best in every building type. In the South, shading is best initially combined with insulation that has a reflecting surface, along with glass that is R=13 or better (coming on the market shortly) combined with heavy insulation + masonry exterior. R-13 glass has been around for 15 years, but it is still considered an oddity.

In the Northern U.S windows for residential lowrise should be a combination of low-E GLASS shutters over low-E regular windows (R= 13 with film also in between glass panes) or better (like mine that is R-12+ which is 4 times better than best normal residential windows today). Northern climates benefit from R=40 and R= 60 to R-80 roof insulation most.

In office buildings double curtain walls are a must, but we do not have domestic manufacturers and thus a price point to make this possible without appropriate tax incentives. This would be a huge market for US industry if we allowed it to happen.

For existing buildings in general, zoning almost never allows for a thicker NEW outer wall, as the house or (commercial) building is already built to its maximum outline. And so we need ENERGY allowances for zoning for this to happen in houses, as well as in High Rise buildings. This outer wall would also stop the rusting of existing steel, and thus prolong the life of the building tremendously. Imagine the savings of being able to reuse structure these days with steel prices going through the roof.

Each building should have a ONE FOOT + curtain wall that is not calculated as part of the rentable or zoning area. Without this, the USA cannot advance. Southern USA should be able to shade the windows without zoning penalties — for instance, with a wrap-around porch or something similar to cut down the solar heat that creates most cooling needs.

This one foot extra thickness in commercial buildings of any kind would allow them to have internal shading between glass and curtain wall inner and outer planes planes and thus create proper insulation at the edge of the slab – which is the WEAKEST link in any current commercial or, especially, residential high rise project. By eliminating the thermal bridge, a building becomes almost indestructible! The integrity of any curtain wall in current buildings will fail within 3 decades. Sad indeed. The glass seals are currently designed to last 15 to 20 years, which with proper double wall construction can be doubled.

In houses, we can make them thermally active as well as properly insulated, as mentioned above. Between solar and geo, an emergency wood burning fireplace, and with a heat wheel ventilator one can survive a total electrical blackout for weeks or months, whether they are in the Southern or Northern U.S.

Apart from the fact that Geo heating and cooling are very quiet, they are also comfortable enough to grow orchids and collect art and antiques year round without the additional cost of mechanical heating, humidifying and cooling. One is also able to walk around the house with Adam’s dress even in zero degree weather!

This kind of comfort can be described best in car terms: it is like driving the best car on the market, whether it’s a Bentley, MB, or Ferrari for speed – but for very little cost!

Green building should be safe too. In the South, in tornado areas, by using insulated concrete blocks, green buildings become shelters, with an additional secondary shell preferably at ground level and surrounding the kitchen, bath and bedroom(s).

In the Northern U.S, the same rooms should be double insulated with fire-proof separation for safety, as well as sound. This way, in extreme loss of power, one barely needs a candle or two to keep living comfortably at key areas, and a single fireplace or equal keeps the house comfortable.

Sadly the weakest link in America is not in our building industry, but in our Senate and House

of Representatives. By not supporting tax and zoning as incentives that make truly innovations and practical building possible, we will keep trotting like Neanderthals.

THE WAY and infrastructure energy suppliers in their quest to give us more energy instead

of making us use 90% less, we cannot use our ingenuity, industry and energy to change our

Country for the better. And if we don’t, we will have to fight for our share of oil in the manner that

Mankind has done for too long in our history, manual fighting and losing our boys in vain.

Regards,

Tapani Talo, AIA


Energy Savings Bill

Posted: August 17th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: architecture, energy policy, green building, Senate energy bill | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Energy Savings bill
First paragraph:
The secretary shall support the development of national model building energy codes, including the updating of ASRAE and IECC model building energy codes and standards.

An example:

A couple came to me for help.

They had their house designed and foundations poured, but realized that it had very little insulation. Their contractor and architect had said to them, that’s ok. They said that it meets the code, but it was far from it. In their area there are no inspectors, and thus they do what they feel is expedient.

The wife wanted to fix the insulation and make it low energy and comfortable for future! Her husband doubled the incoming power and wanted to add electrical floor heat – the most expensive and wasteful method imaginable.

I have found that men are inclined to love BIG motors of all kinds. HVAC, Cars, Boats, Planes, nuclear plants… and rarely (not a statistical number) think the other way around, how to get from A to B efficiently.

Surely it is more fun to commute in a Lamborghini than an electrical car. But there is HUGE series of material, gas and labor involved in producing and maintaining a Lamborghini or most other cars, equipment, fine roads, houses, services.

In the next decade we will have 1 billion more people and if each of them use just one 60 watt light bulb for 4 hours, the world needs 50 some power stations to do the task. Just count how to multiply our standard of living and one starts to sense HOW much energy and material we are consuming (twice the Europeans alone and WHY?), and why there will be a catastrophic pressure in the world to provide for them and us. Just 2 years ago there were riots in populous parts of the world when food prices went up, and like in the past world history when this happened, nations and rulers collapsed.

The very point of this is that US energy Bill 1000 now in congress does not start with right premise. – First paragraph: The secretary shall support the development of national model building energy codes, including the updating of ASRAE and IECC model building energy codes and standards.

It should start with: NO NORMAL BUILDING (designed hopefully by professional architect) should be allowed to compensate poor old fashioned design with EQUIPMENT that requires use of energy from national grid unless deemed impossible without and if the national grid goes down, any of these buildings should be able to function in minimum way, with power source no further than nearest school or hospital – which powered by solar and wind energy, or other renewable sources, could avoid taxing our energy supply.

Good buildings and other man made items these days have no reason to be healthy, well lit, comfortable and extremely economical to run. The fact that we nuclear power stations is embarrassing. Just one of them melting in an earthquake like in Japan would wipe out huge section of United States. There is no price tag big enough to cover this sort of event, and we have 56 or so of them.

What this would do to our country would be energy security that would withstand catastrophic environmental events, or worldwide, large conflicts of any kind.

We HAVE this ability, and had it for the past 30 years, but our national economy direction is to build bigger and more, rather than smarter.

Nearly 100 years ago Holland and Germany made sure that canals were not silted over and made sure rail roads were serving every nook of their territories. Each pound of material transported with these means save the nation 90% over one done on road transport. So in a century this saving is HUGE.

The same in medical field, early detection in general and taking care of children at early age (same as well-designed building at early stage) save huge amounts in medical expenses, Canada and Europe has proven it with longer life expectancy than we have, for ½ the price.

Architecture, like all other professions can be useful, but at the moment, the way we educate architects, engineers and other consultants for building industry, is in its infancy at best in terms of helping our nation in the long term.
We architects have to please the way developers and builders operate, build as cheaply as possible now (others – our children will fix our problems later) -.

And yet we spend a fortune in university education…. What is it that we teach?

Countries should be like corporations, focus on changing to better habits, but how can we do it when media pumps the opposite and instant gratification???

Regards,
Tapani Talo, AIA