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

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???

Tapani Talo, AIA

US Congress and Senate has the key for Green prosperity – worth 1/2 billion + each year on fuel savings

Posted: July 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: architecture, energy policy, green building, Senate energy bill | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

I’d like to reiterate something I mentioned to Congressman John Tierney the other night at North East Geo Professional association meeting in Boston: We do not support long term savings in building or infrastructure projects, and instead rely on instant gratification.

1. Buildings are built and developed to make income instantly at the LOWEST possible cost. However, it takes only 7% more upfront spending to produce 90% more efficient energy use in a building, and thus would save half a billion annually from borrowing each year if applied across the board.

2. Greater energy efficiency would provide a huge number of new jobs -both in construction and engineering and product services, especially if the current stock were to be retrofitted. Retrofitting can and should strive for 75 to 90% efficiency, instead of the standard 15 to 20%, as it takes almost the same amount of effort for both of them.

3. As an example, every time each roof is replaced, by adding three to ten dollars worth of insulation, depending on building type, the roof insulation values can be increased from average R=10 to R=60. This alone would reduce heating and cooling loads enormously – by a factor of 10 or so, across the entire US, as most buildings are low-rise in our country.

4. Our walls and windows are still in infancy compared to our present common sense technical knowledge. Windows – Glass and shading is again the cheapest solution. If our rental or zoning calculations were not measured to the exterior face of the building, we could actually BEGIN to see potential state of the art exterior walls. The new current Green solutions in New York City are already a reality. This allows 6″ thicker wall without penalty to the owner. This in turn gives owners the ability to build an extra new surface or new GOOD state of the art wall. This extends the building life by 50 to 100 years, as exterior wall then protect the framing and slab edge, the two most vulnerable parts of building leading to eventual demolishing. Roofs are the other elements where separate layer gives protection and ENERGY efficiency.

5. If combining new wall / window glass, proper wall protecting the building frame (and giving new found beauty to the property) – + coupling the building with solar panels, geothermal, and hopefully local windmills in the neighborhood – like at each school, or university or hospital complex, (and using LED lights inside), the entire power grid load would nearly disappear, and thus nuclear plants could be dismantled.

6. My own house, as well as my latest clients’ houses are 80% or more efficient than they were 20 years ago. The next final step for my own house is solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling, a low profile horizontal wind generator for power, and then I am free from utility grid.

7. Since the 70’s my primary curtain wall supplier, Germany-based Gartner, has shown that buildings can be made 80% more efficient through proper exterior wall, day-lighting, and now with LED lighting and solar and wind power. What are needed are the proper tax incentives, and new building codes that support efficiency and not the Utilities and equipment suppliers. We need new training of engineers, architects, contractors in EVERY BUILDING department in US. There is an appalling lack of knowledge in each of these categories. Young professionals are forced to follow old fashioned approaches in each project, and by the time they are in charge, we have lost their (possible) fresh new knowledge from universities (as most education is still not facing reality and demanding that each building should be considered ZERO carbon, zero utility at the start each project). If every building had a mandate to do this, with tax penalty increasing when building moves away from the goal, then US ingenuity would start to raise its head, and we would see the miracle or our spirit. Buildings currently use 70% or more of our energy, currently only helping to make our planet bit warmer by the day, but as usual we don’t worry about it, as we think our children will fix this (just as we did)


Tapani Talo, AIA