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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!

Tapani Talo, AIA

Architecture and Humanity

Posted: May 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | No Comments »

Before returning to ‘Green and Savings’, I’d like to go back to my roots – architecture and humanity, and the idea of Man and Woman and our children.

We love to be in cities, or at least visit them beyond our work for all that they offer. Varied, rich cultures of all kinds exist in larger cities like NY, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco.

These days, cities are struggling to retain excitement as people move out due to cost, density, or other issues like lack of required level of education or places to play for children. This in turn changes local buying power, and creates an issue with diminishing vibrancy of street life with cafes, small stores, small intimate movie houses, etc.

So cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, try to make waterfronts and cultural institutions more accessible. Inner city has turned into day business districts with ever higher looming high rise towers and dull storefronts with mega stores – none green in ANY way due to all the restrictions for the landlord.

Landlords maximize rental income within a zoning envelope (this in turn makes curtain walls thin and are expected to last 30 years, no more! How to replace is a good question.) and there is no local population at night. But these areas too depend on local population and not just visitors. So WATERFRONTS (or PARKS) are truly important last ‘forts’ for vibrancy and for keeping active people in the city itself before they relocate to car culture suburbs (which will be addressed in a future blog).

Our (USA) public image is at stake too as businesses and tourists visit these locations more than others. The fact that our great plans for real linear parks along the water front have withered to mere strips of pedestrian and bicycle paths at most places is still better than it was before. We have access to the river at least.

The common element that keeps the waterfront out of use (by local people or tourists) is access. If public transportation is not close, both housing density changes, and also the usage of the waterfront. The success of Central Park in New York City is because of its size and excellent transportation.

Had New York City built the lower Manhattan Hudson riverfront based on our proposals in late 1988, the entire lower Manhattan would have more families living there longer than the usual early career professionals. This in turn would have created a need for new subway line, better serving waste areas in now off the beaten track areas.

No real parks have been created since Riverside Park in New York City in 1910, one hundred and ONE years ago. Thinking of our children would have been a reason enough to create some. (The attached images from my first prize winning competition serves a quiet footnote to what could have been, and what is).

Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco have also all cleaned up and enriched their waterfronts but the dream where real people stroll every day and enjoy various activities is a gone era.

As a point of reference, within the top 10 cities in the world for livability, 8 of them are on waterfronts that are highly usable. And personally I have to agree knowing most of them well.

Tapani Talo, AIA
NY Super Studio Architects
NY Architecture Firm

How a Sound Engineer for the Rolling Stones Became a Green Architect

Posted: April 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

After 30 years of architectural practice, half of which was with the most renowned masters of Architecture in US; Edward Larrabee Barnes, Philip Johnson, James Polshek and Steven Holl, it took my late wife Judith Feder’s eight and a half year battle with stage 4 cancer to bring home the true meaning of GREEN and its ability to bring comfort and security.

Last year with winter temperatures hovering around 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit, we had a seven day power blackout due to a severe snow and wind storm in White Plains, NY and my wife was 4 weeks from her passing. She needed the temperature to be exactly 72 degrees to feel comfortable, not more and not less, as she had lost all her body mass at that stage. And we were able to do this due to our Green Insulation, high efficiency windows and one wood burning fire place in the basement. Otherwise she would have had to go to a hospital or hospice, which she detested. All of our neighbors had left the first day to hotels or distant towns with power and relatives.

So I was absolutely a happy architect to have achieved this improvement in our house mostly during her eight and a half year battle with stage 4 breast cancer. During these years I had also helped a few willing clients (some with solar and geothermal heat and cooling too) to have this remarkable security of being able to live whatever the world throws at us and to do it at our own premises. In the next few blogs I will elaborate on these unique individual clients and projects.

But Green thinking started 40 years ago with the Rolling Stones! I was working as a sound engineer with them and with their ‘The Rolling Stones Mobile’, and staying at Keith Richard’s house at Cheyne Walk in London when the 1973 oil embargo hit. There was no hot water, no heat, so I flew back to Finland to my childhood home in order to see through the end of the year in normal comfort with showers and heat.

After travelling two years recording (and photographing) the Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, The Traffic, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, I felt that I needed to go back to my original goal of Architecture. I had seen so much of Europe; cities, hotels, houses and a huge amount of Art Museums at that point, that I felt I needed to help the world with my observations of town planning and Architecture.

I was accepted to North East London Polytechnic Department of Architecture, and they had the MOST advanced Green Program in the world at the time (and that particular program would rate as such probably still). For the next 3 years I studied Architecture and still worked with The Rolling Stones mobile around Europe, refining my views and knowledge in architecture and town planning.

In the next blogs I will create the whole picture of creating ‘a Green architect’ in full –as becoming an architect and artist sort of started 10 years earlier– and has continued ever since.

I will also comment on the fact that building codes for all building types are one generation behind instead of AHEAD of what is needed for ours and the world’s security. We have already used all the available economical resources, and the rest is something that each nation has to fight for with HARD WORK, discomfort and sacrifices — all those things that none of the people born after World War 2 have ever really experienced or know what to do with it.

So see you all with 29 more blogs and thank you!


Tapani Talo, AIA


NY Super Studio Architects