Commonsense Sustainability

Everything is interconnected. My interest is linked to everyone else’s. Our survival and future are linked. Therefore the destruction of your so-called enemy is actually the destruction of your self….Daily Dalai Lama quote for 7/24/2011.

So it is almost a week later and I am wondering how I can tie a Tibetan holy man’s idea to building technology.  I think I will concentrate on the first part: creating shelter of necessity creates a system. A system that can be synthesized on a spreadsheet. If my insulation is twice as good, my heating and cooling systems may be half as large. More true in the heating than the cooling because a really well insulated building may not need any heating. An early active solar building I designed in the ’70’s was being (over)heated by a stuck 250 watt bathroom strip heater! Sprayed polyurethane combined with 6″ fiberglass. But remember:

  1. If the envelope is twice as airtight, the ventilation system has to be twice as good. Leaky old envelopes didn’t need make up air. New tight envelopes need controlled fresh air, usually with some sort of Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV).
  2. If the envelope is twice as tight, irritants are twice as irritating. (See #1).
  3. High performance glass can be wonderful thing in the winter, but mind the overhangs lest they cook you in the winter. This architects office had a plethora of vent fans in the great room/office.

    No southern overhangs!

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