Monday, October 27, 2008

World Hoteliers going green to help save the planet article

This is from Reese Halter , Canwest News Service (please see the link below to the full article)

'Hotels around the globe are competing for customers in a changing world that is demanding green.

So far, The Green Building Council has certified only four U.S. hotels as "green," while more than 800 office buildings already have its seal of approval. All this, however, is about to change as the race to build energy-efficient hotels has begun in earnest.......

................A recent survey found almost 20 per cent of travellers choose hotels because of environmental practices, including housekeeping services that only use non-toxic cleaning agents.....Going green in the hotel industry is not just in vogue -- it's sound business to consume less energy, less water and create less waste. For instance, the Marriott's only green-certified hotel, in College Park, Md., uses 33 per cent less electricity than a comparable property, which means it can charge the same rates as rivals yet earn a far better profit."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Zero Energy Communities and Net Zero Homes

Are homeowners across the U.S. interested in living in Net Zero Homes or Zero Energy homes as they are called elsewhere and or building them?

I am curious how much market demand there is right now in my Northeast / New England Region and other regions of the country for Net Zero homes. I am also interested in how much interest there is in other cold climate areas around the world. Please send me any examples of projects whether a single building or community.

A little background....A Net Zero or Zero Energy home means a dwelling which produces equal or more energy then they consume through use of active renewable energy systems (solar panels, geothermal, wind) versus passive systems (passive solar etc.) They can also be in combination with one another in small communities or even large cities. It's something businesses and institutions can do too! One very valuable offshoot of doing zero energy buildings is they by their very nature help provide economic security and predictability given the reduced impact of rising energy costs or fossil fuel future scarcity.

These homes are usally very energy efficient as a starting point but can stylistically vary widely. Please let me know what you're finding in your marketplace? Or what questions you have. I'd like to grow my network of people talking about this. I am new to this conversation. I am actually curious if this term can be morphed to become "Energy producing communitities" or "surplus energy homes" as the highest and best possibility is making buildings which can make more than they use and offer more options for locally generated power and thus more stability.

Best, Steve

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Recent house design drawings

These watercolor studies illustrate a design showing a small lakeside dwelling with connections to the outside and evocative of natural rugged materials. The interior focuses on a substantial hearth and gathering area while allowing ample daylighting, gracious dining and being within nature.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Telephone Booths and Away Spaces in Workplace Design

Workplace design & strategic planning is a theme this blog will explore over the coming months. Through recent experiences designing workspaces for various commercial clients we have observed the need for increased variety of open more collaborative spaces shared by many to more private quieter spaces. This isn't necessairily a new idea but one which we had read about and heard about but now are experiencing it first-hand with our clients.

These smaller spaces are used by one, two or three to five people to assist in focus work, private conversations and the like. These smaller spaces, called various names like "telephone booths", "cave spaces", "team space", "away spaces" are generally not owned by anyone but shared by all. They aren't conference rooms per se, but something else.

Depending on the meeting style of your company, how much interaction there is between various team members and group sizes these kinds of meeting spaces may or may not be relevant. However, when they are used it can free up other areas to be more open and collaborative in spirit, more dynamic and yes even noiser. By having them in a office space planning program they can provide more flexible design of workspace and help increase employee satisfaction and possibly productivity. This can reduce overall per person workstation size and need for hard walled offices by reducing needs for privacy options at the work area by providing quieter away spaces shared by all. This can potentially save money in reduced workstation costs.

They may be able to be signed out for limited usage, used first come first serve to usage on a routine regularly repeating basis. The type of seating and furnishings can be informal such as couches, easy chairs with white boards and good lighting to tables with chairs grouped around. Sometimes these rooms can be completely unplugged with no phones intentionally for quiet work to fully wired with teleconferencing capabilities for teaming work beyond the workplace.

Special away spaces such as breast feeding rooms to quiet rooms for meditation or reflection, periodic napping can also be integrated into office programs which may enhance further work / life balance and employee wellness. Send me your examples of such spaces and let me know if they're working for you or if other solutions have presented themself to you.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Net Zero Putney School Field House Ground Breaking

Last Saturday, one of our institutional projects had ground breaking. Go to the Brattleboro Reformer link below to read more.

What's really interesting is it's an ambitious net zero project with a LEED platinum predicted level. There aren't too many projects like this right now, especially in prep schools.

Best, Steve