Strategic design and financial development for individual projects, large developments anywhere in the world.

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


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.


Saving $300K to $600K Without Effort in 30 Years

Posted: July 25th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: energy policy, green building | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Plan before having children with near or full passive house savings

Now that we have a summer holiday from super-high energy costs, it is actually the best time to plan ahead as they will be returning with a bang soon enough.

Green Energy HomeBut how many of us understand the potential guaranteed savings in 30 years of $300,000 to $600,000 dollars for normal house (plus or minus 2,000 square feet)?

We plan our own education for careers (expensive these days), marriage (we manage the costs) and having children (costly but necessary for two reasons – education and housing) and a that is close to a school of choice and convenient to work and leisure.

Cars are one of the biggest variables, though. The cumulative cost for vehicles can be more than the house cost in most of the U.S.

But the house needs real forward thinking, and that is NOT in our general mental training in the USA. I find ever-so-few smart professionals who understand this. They hire SMART investors to invest smartly, they hire as good as possible lawyers to be safe and, naturally, the same applies to doctors. But almost none of them hire smart green passive architects, and with green, every client will have guaranteed savings as long as they live in the building – no ups or downs like in stock markets.

Energy Saving HomeWhy Does this Occur?

Naturally there is a cost-fixing typical American house, ranging from $40,000 to $80,000 on average, but that is the cost that many people pay for a higher performance car.

The house is the same way: higher comfort, but lower cost over the period of raising a family in one school district.

But if one sells a “green house,” like my clients who have relocated, they will often find they can recover the cost in an instant and sell their homes fast – and with a premium.

In addition, when storms like Hurricane Sandy and other power outages occur, one has no need to find a friend or hotel for the weeks when there is no power. A green, self-sufficient house still has a comfortable 72 degrees inside 24/7, a working refrigerator and power for computers available.

Why We Still Don’t Understand One of the Professional-Side Largest Expenditures

Energy Conservation at HomeThe idea that we will not have economical oil, clean air and fertile soil forever – let alone for our next generation – just does not resonate in the USA. But it is the reason why Europeans have more stable life. They plan long term at the government level, and they save for those cloudy days when jobs and investments fall short.

In the next blog, I will make a similar comparison for Class A office buildings that are built right.

In Northern Europe, it hardly matters where you live. Education is equal where ever you are, and transportation is exemplary, meaning that cars are more convenience than necessity.

Thank you!

Tapani Talo, AIA
Principal


Why Should Solar PV Be the Last to Be Installed?

Posted: February 23rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: energy policy | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

DSC_0112Solar PV Should Not Be Installed Until….

If one was to add up the usual culprits for an energy bill, it’s always best to start with the worst, largest abusers? Not just the largest, but also with ones that bring real comfort and safety home? We certainly spend more time under our roof than in our cars, but we spend A LOT more on cars just for looks, status, and performance. These days, cars under $20,000 are just as good as higher end models except for a few perks. But who really needs to get to 60 miles an hour one or two seconds faster for $20,000 to $100,000 more? None of us!

The same is not true for houses—your investment matters. As one of my clients said when confronted with the choice, “I’d rather make my house nice and comfortable than get a fancy car for the next few years.” One easily saves $30,000 to $100,000 dollars in ten years by improving a house’s efficiency.So when one buys a house, let’s say at the age of 35 and stays there until retirement, there is a $100,000 to $300,000 difference in savings and if one plugs that money to paying capital in mortgage, one doubles that. I would like anyone to show the same kind of return on capital in the stock market!

Unfortunately, the current thoughts around house design are much like cars, where no one makes real money making really smart simple lightweight cars, only complicated ones with a steady stream of expensive spare parts and labor pay off dividends – again at our wallet’s expense. It’s the same with buildings, as contractors and people supplying services are the ones making a living with hard-earned income.Highly efficient buildings are healthy, comfortable, easy, and economical to maintain, as there are hardly any parts to go wrong or wear out. The good news is that by addressing some basic aspects of our homes, we can change this equation in a way that’s good for our wallets and for the environment.

Our most demanding requirements are cooling and heating, and both can be eliminated by permanent simple generous economical insulation. Starting with the roof by raising it to between R = 60 to 80,80 preferable in New York or further north, but even in the south for cooling highly insulated roofs make even more sense.

High efficiency R = 10 windows or more are equally important, but so few professional even know about them. and they have been around for more than two decades! I personally had them in my previous house since 1995, and in the next one. the design is based on the availability of them. Even in the winter months, being able to sit next to a picture window without feeling a chill is like driving a luxury car for free. With great walls and the right roof, one can eliminate 90% of heating and cooling, and ALWAYS have your home at 72 degree 24/7 without having to pay for it.

By switching to LED, one saves 85 % of a major part of the rest of household power requirements, and for real, avoid the fluorescent fixtures, as they have such a poor color rendering making everything gloomy.

Hot water is another area where for some reason energy companies are so entrenched in avoiding good solutions – like solar hot water and geothermal pre heat. Hot water is truly the major component in utility costs, as we all have daily showers and use several gallons of the precious heated material. Just think how long it takes to boil a pot of water and multiply this several times, and then the number of members in the family. Tanks are rarely even insulated to meet code minimum. And the code as we know it is itself a minimum, not what smart professionals should request to best meet their clients’ needs.

If one has geothermal wells installed, it’s good to have a well water line included at the same time. This way, one will not lose the garden that one might have spent years caring and designing during long dry spells, as solar PV will pump water when needed in an emergency too.

New induction ovens and cook tops are fantastically better than anything out there, and don’t have the oxygen-grabbing feature that gas stoves (or old type fireplaces) have, which need huge amounts of fresh air to be safely used. The cool gourmet gas stoves need a large window open to get enough oxygen to operate properly. Good luck trying to find that fact in the brochure for the stove!

DSC_0147-smRefrigerators are bit of a joke even today, and it’s hard to find one that could be called ‘efficient’. The market is so driven by the cost and the thinness of the wall to maximize the interior space that our energy bills (and wallets) are barely considered.

Once we have done all of the above, our electrical needs can be reduced 90%, and with solar panels, we can be totally grid free and able to operate when powerful storms ravage our power grids for days or weeks at a time.Even better, in winter storms, a small wood burning fireplace guarantees total comfort even in blackouts. My clients and I can testify to that! You can’t put a price on not having to find a hotel when thousands of others are doing the same, to not worrying about bursting pipes, or losing your frozen food during summer brownouts.

Grid Lock in the Capitol Hill – How Expensive Is It to Tax Payers in US?

We architects are a strange breed, as we are as qualified as doctors in terms of education, but we are not able to prescribe medicine with efficiency like doctors do.

Since the 1970’s oil crisis, there has been a minimal understanding of how to make our country a smarter place. We applaud the fine stock market evaluations of the software based institutions in Silicon Valley, California, but rarely look at the BIG picture. Our media is much more like Low Fat Milk these days where serious analysis is treated like a heart clogging fat, to be avoided at all costs. And since the media is so spread out between different platforms, there is simply no focus or common thread. The loudest sound bite rules for the next few seconds.

I wrote about many of these issues in the One Trillion Dollar Waste a Year blog in Fall 2014 celebrating my 50th year since wanting to become an architect, so I will not repeat some of the issues laid out. Instead, I’d like to discuss the broader framework in which these problems play out. When assessing the health of our country, the deficit and banking crises should be at least secondary to primary threats, like energy insecurity and environmental damage. But we seem not to have suffered enough to have common sense. Europe took two major world wars to find religion. The fact that we pay 1/2 the cost of the oil in comparison to rest of the world has lulled us to keep living the ‘American Dream’ and this shell oil is more like an Indian summer day in duration before we are truly stuck with the rest of the world’s REAL WORLD difficulties.

Ask what happens to the economy if you double oil price from 4 dollars a gallon and double the heating and cooling bill in one’s house – PLUS the related increase in food costs due to the same increase in processing costs. That is the WALL that we’ll face in about a decade and are we prepared? No IPAD or GOOGLE stock evaluation will help us there. We’re doomed.

Banking used to be for supporting industries that actually MADE things that could be sold. If one looks at the Fortune 500 listing, one begins to find industries in making things somewhere between 400 and 500, so the first 400 is reserved for service based and similar companies.

There should be a way to reward directions that are BETTER for your overall healthiness as country, as a whole than what we are doing. The example of trillion dollar loss a year in energy waste is just one aspect. There are more, but in Capitol Hill, the game is power and helping our (each Senator’s and Congressman’s) local constituents.

Just as an example, why do we need medical insurance companies that actually are sometimes more painful than the disease itself when trying to solve treatment options as to what is covered and what is not? A cap is important in anything, and if the individual can, let them pay more out of their own pocket. Medical costs cannot grow with current rate any more than building simply stupid buildings or driving cars that they claim to be good mileage cars when the speed limit is 30 MPH instead of closer to 100 MPH. That’s what we should be having by now. What do you think?

Regards

Tapani Talo, AIA

Principal

New York , USA  Tel: 1- 914 – 645 2940,

Email, – talo.tapani@gmail.com

www.NYSUPERSTUDIOARCHITECTS.com

 


Diminishing Resources and the Role of the Architect in Society

Posted: October 20th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: energy policy | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Tapani Talo Architect est. 1984

Tapani A. Talo, AIA Principal

Architect and Artist

 

To: The United States of America

Re: Trillion a year wasted energy alone since 1977 original speech by Jimmy Carter

Architect’s 50th year Trillion-dollar ‘Moral Equivalent of War Speech – 2014 version!

 

A short background and reason for this speech.

As an architect, my professional life revolves around interpersonal relationships, the often one-on-one interactions with clients, engineers, and construction workers. Here, I want to reach out to as wide an audience as possible, to anyone interested in the future of our nation and what we leave for our children. Why would an architect reach out like this?

It is because of Cancer. When my late wife Judith was diagnosed right after 9/11 with stage 4 breast cancer, I had to completely change my career. I stopped travelling and searching for big business opportunities wherever I could, and found a way to operate locally and be with my family rather than bid for jobs around the world.

Despite a wide ranging career that took me from photography to working as a sound engineer for the Rolling Stones, my travels convinced me that I needed to be an architect and planner – my original ambition since the age of 14 – to make the world a better place. I was fortunate to begin learning about this career with professors in the UK who taught their students about green architecture from the very first second because, as they said, it was the only way to bring about a real change. But until Judith’s cancer, I had no time to stop and think about where we were heading, what was happening to all of us, and how I could really implement these lessons.

I was fortunate to be a leading designer in charge of technical innovation with architects like Edward Barnes, Philip Johnson and Steven Holl. I worked on projects in Times Square, high-rises, Museums, Class A international Airport terminals, sports fields, retail and hotel projects, the headquarters of CNBC and Turner Broadcasting, and numerous custom, green residential properties.

All this allowed me to commiserate with best thinkers in engineering, and to realize the stunning fact that by adding just a small amount to the average construction budget, 7% at most, buildings can be 90 to 95% more energy efficient. In turn, this pays exponentially greater financial dividends in terms of the health of their occupants, the savings from reduced energy bills, and the long-term resilience of these structures.

9618580_SThis sort of efficiency has real life significance. In 2010, when a winter storm knocked out power and my wife Judith was in the late stages of her illness, and when the outside temperature averaged 10 degrees, I was able to keep our house at 72 degrees for 8 days with a 100-year-old wood burning fireplace in the basement. It allowed us to maintain a high quality of life and to keep her comfortable at home, and allowed me to support her wishes – she did not want to die in a hospital.

That was the moment when all the payback from the effort go green was seared into my consciousness like nothing else, a branding iron that defined where to go and how to dedicate my life and work.

 

Dear Fellow Citizen,

Trillion is formidable number, even in our energetic country, and saving that much by making our built environment 90 to 95% more efficient a year with 800 billion in energy savings with current energy prices, and 200 billion in other efficiencies creating a new employment and proper industry, education and codes to help every builder and designer to build it right.

INSULATION

INSULATION – the cheapest – most modest – most powerful source of saving – in large quantities

All it takes is insulation: R-70 roof, R-40 walls and R-12 to 20 windows, and bit of standard orientation and correctly figured plan(s) – so anyone with slight training and with new correct local and national codes could do it! (with office buildings, bit more knowledge, but mainly correct financial incentives – we have to know how)

We would become leaders rather than laggards in to be independent on energy – and thus safer in crisis – and turn the clock back on climate change. Architects and engineers are the answer.

In President Obama’s Inaugural Address on Jan 20, 2009, he said: We will not compromise in our way of living – and this was after Bush had just spent over a trillion dollars alone fighting for oil on Iraq – which WE TECHNICALLY NEVER NEEDED!

In a Financial Times book review from August 30, Nobel Prize winning professor Joseph Stieglitz said: “In the list of fundamental drivers of today’s distress [Martin Wolf] leaves out the structural transformation (from manufacturing to services) of advanced countries.” But even Dr. Stiglitz (as well as economists such as Paul Krugman) with his credentials leaves out THE MOST IMPORTANT driver of distress – the invisible continuous waste that results in a near trillion dollars a year in Energy (and equipment) loss in buildings alone.

The impact of this loss on housing / building sector in general – not mentioning infrastructure – is BIGGER than the cost of our army and medical care put together. Our beloved country could be so much more wealthy and productive, our foreign policy would be so much healthier and planet Greener if architects and engineers were ABLE TO DO OUR job!

If we architects were able to do our job much like doctors or good lawyers, with professional fees that reflect professional thinking and research required in each and every project type, our buildings would need 90% or less energy that we use today, be 90% more comfortable (and like cars be really ‘cool’ and fast without expense) and in the event of natural or manmade disaster, fully operable. This would mean that we would not have to run around the world securing oil reserves with the world’s MOST expensive military troops but use them to build better AMERICA at home, and if bothered, defend our soil.

Nor would we need nuclear plants, or fracking that will supply only for next 2 decades or oil and gas prolonging our old BAD habits of waste. Our power grid and LARGE politically powerful utility companies are 80 to 90% NOT NEEDED, and very vulnerable to natural and manmade crises – as most of us have seen in the past 6 years with storms and outages here in the North East alone. We all remember what SANDY did in just one day to Manhattan and the east coast. What happens if in the event of a large, say 5 statewide disaster, natural or manmade. Relying on individual generators will not work in a war or major earthquake situation as supply lines are all but gone, and where the buildings are still energy hogs.

Homes and buildings (and cars for instance) that operate without utility companies are extremely economical in the long run for our nation, comfortable, healthy. Combine this with public transportation that combines school and local bus system with wind generated power and we could see a dramatically transformed, safer, and more economical and forever sustainable system.

We cannot rely on ACADEMIA, again the most expensive one in the world, and presumably the best. Creating a curriculum is a long process. One needs professors who are capable and willing to think out of the box FOR REAL. I was trained by an experimental group in London 1974-77, and energy saving and providing most comfortable buildings became second nature to us. But this program vanished with 80’s Regan and Thatcher thinking.

It takes 15 years to create a program, and other 15 years for the students to become leaders. That’s 30 years. We have about 20 years when our current energy, water, food, mineral supplies are becoming politically crisis due to costs and related instability in the world. This piece of math is scarier than the previews of the latest violent blockbusters at multiplexes.

One quick way to face this problem would be to train people through the equivalent of a national 12-month long Military service, which could include classes on how to build energy efficient houses and buildings, along with necessary skills to protect our country in case of emergency. A mandatory service would create in 12 months a group of people capable of thinking INSTANTLY in the way that we have not done ever before. So we would have the next generation would learn both survival skills in crisis and prevent crisis from happening by learning to build correctly. We do not have builders capable of understanding green matters in a way that they can be adequately bid out and not be prized out.

Currently architects AND engineers are not treated like serious professionals since our fees became competitive by bidding rather than what was needed for a good job and training our next generation of architects and engineers in our offices: They are given a bone or a meal almost as a curtsey. They are not listened to or given the latitude to protect our clients, or our country’s future or security.

Our professional mandate from clients and real estate professionals is to follow our building codes (40 years out of date) and NOT TO SPEND a dime beyond it. Our building codes are a result of years of hard bargaining with utility, construction and real estate professionals who desire a quick profit after the project is completed. None of them can think long term we don’t have mechanism like in Germany where buildings, canals, railroads are measured and supported to protect the health and well-being (MONEY)  of the country in the long run. With the amount of education dollars we should be TWICE as good and efficient as Germany.

If doctors were treated like architects and engineers, the operation table would have 3/4 less staff, time, and equipment AND thus: How many of us would allow ourselves to be on that table?? WE architects are squeezed on every project so hard that we cannot even train the next generation like we were 40 years ago, as it is the most important measure of professionalism and future.

If we took the trillion as a benchmark that we would start to aim at, like Carter had said in his famous Moral Equivalent of War Speech 1977, where he gave the 10 principles for the plan, I would not be giving this sobering 50th anniversary speech as an architect to you.

But this principle of focusing on smart society should not stop on just building our buildings through smart incentives AND hard slaps on the wrist for not doing it. The benefits if they are spelled intelligently out make it no brainer:

Why cannot we have real estate REALTORS lay out the cost of running the building like car dealers. This house is supremely comfortable, has hardly any equipment to break down,  Cooling this much 30 dollars a month in the summer, heating in the winter same amount in the winter max, GOOD lighting and hot water is provided by solar.. Passive green houses don’t have utility costs to speak of. So one can pay that amount off the loan principal, and save over 15 years period the price of house mortgage for instance.

Or by informing people of the inefficiencies like the fact that people in Manhattan pay 30 dollars a square foot for unnecessary heating and cooling a year? Or my local doctor friend who complained about 5000 a month cooling bill for his 6000 sf house.

We cannot continue on our current energy path. We have lost 50% of top soil of our farmland in the past 25 or 30 years due to industrial method of farming corn and such. What happens when it is all gone, and the oil that produces the fertilizer in prohibitively expensive as oil’s in rapid decline due to increased usage and less production AND doubling world population wanting to be like us.

The true cost of possible nuclear disaster clean up insurance would shut our current plants in one day…The nuclear cloud rolling over our country would be like someone would have used a eraser across it, very much like what happened in Russia and lately in Japan.

Our political system should apply the same principle of less waste to ALL sectors of life, including financial industry (as they don’t really produce but are more like service industry) , cars should be minimum of twice as efficient, weight should be taxed correspondingly rather than sought after by car industry for bigger profit. Weight is (like space in buildings) inefficiency as it needs corresponding fuel to move and operate, and safety hazard against smart fuel-efficient cars. If everyone had smaller cars, we would have less deaths on the road.

There is no other country more unusual than The USA. We can do anything that we want, but the only criteria is WHAT we want. Peace and security is taken as for granted, as our focus seems to be measured via advertizing – cars, media, food, clothing and sports. Our friends who grew in the 1930’s Depression still store food, take care of their savings, are careful to make sure their offspring’s are safe for the foreseeable future.

Since 1950’s, the world has seen its greatest prosperity and comfort. It has never totally easy, but it has allowed serious calculated academic worry about diminishing resources to be all but forgotten beyond- maybe one out of 100 peers of mine, engineers, friends, professionals, or political leaders – including Capitol Hill

I am SO worried for my children’s sake, as even Rockefeller Brothers Fund director Stephen Heintz said the move to divest from fossil fuels would be in line with oil tycoon John D Rockefeller’s wishes,

“We are quite convinced that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy,”

This is a good start, but it is the dumb wasteful consumption due to poor building practices that we need to redline;

Regards

Tapani Talo, AIA

Principal

New York , USA  Tel: 1- 914 – 645 2940,

Email, – talo.tapani@gmail.com

www.NYSUPERSTUDIOARCHITECTS.com

 


Shale = Shame

Posted: January 15th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: energy policy | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

As New York City’s premier green architectural firm, we are very concerned about energy use in the country. In order to save our children and planet, we must undergo a 90% improvement in energy use. That way, we would save 5.4 trillion a year with CURRENT energy prices in US spending. However, because of shale discovery, we have once again turned away of   effective programs to change or habits in resource usage . If we follow on the path we’re currently on, improvement is completely out of the question and destruction glaringly apparent.

green architecture

Around 2006, we saw a nice increase in oil prices, continuing to 2008 and then it finally hit us: we thought of conservation, energy savings the smarter way. Now, it seems that we are above it all! However, despite this aspect, our consumption is normal, and no one seems to think of why we use 90% or more energy than the current state of the art thinking and technology would require. Shale fog, optimism, andeuphoria. What do our children use after shale is gone? We are burning through it like never before – in cars, houses and factories.

This last resource of easy energy should have been a reserve for our kids, not a fun filled ‘keep doing the old thing – and be a gas guzzler’ thing. EACH of us in US uses 312 million British thermal units (Btu) in a year (1,000,000 BTU is 293 kW-hrs. At 20¢ per, that is $59×319 million per person =18.000 dollars a year). $18000 x 319 million persons = 6000 billion = 6 trillion a year – so 90% improvement would be 5.4 trillion savings!

Nevertheless, the federal government spends less than $5 billion a year on energy research and development, not counting one-time stimulus projects. About $30 billion is spent annually on health research and more than $80 billion on military R & D – wars that kill and destroy even more than we can imagine – the entire planet.

Like in medicine, prevention has no money in it, so we do not promote effective prevention, but spend $8.200 a year per person. All the current ENERGY SAVING programs that we are doing – like NYSEDRA is on average 20% improvement, but with same amount  of thinking, we can do a 90% improvement.

All the wars in the past have been about resources, to have more or to just have enough. The next one will be no different, with the planet doubling the population in mid century. By adding 7% to each project, we would indeed save 90% on energy and related resources, and that would really help the people, air, global warming, and resouces – and create a safer politically motivated world.

There are only 314 million of us, but right now, 2 billion harder working competitors out there in the world. They are likely the ones to call the shots soon enough. Information is a click away for them too. No more boundaries for us or other developed nations to stay in our cozy ivory tower.

If architecture – or architects – were educated, supported by proper incentives and used properly, 3/4 of the energy usage would be eliminated. We might even be called professional, and paid a living professional wage.

If you have any questions about this, or any of our wonderful, energy-efficient projects, 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