Author Archive

ESI.info does It’s a Knockout!

14/09/2012

Susan Sinclair, Publishing Executive at ESI.info, is always on the look-out for a bit of fun and, where it raises a some cash for charity, all the better.

A few months ago I spotted in a magazine that came through my door that Strathcarron Hospice, a local charity, was looking for teams to take part in an It’s a Knockout challenge to help them raise funds. Being the right age to remember Stu Hall’s legendary commentary on TV I thought that it sounded like just the kind of thing my ESI.info workmates would love to get involved in (well, I would anyway!).

ESI.info kindly agreed to pay the initial entry fee and then the search was on for willing participants who wouldn’t mind getting soaked, ridiculed, bruised and bumped! With that, Blood, Sweat & Beers (a mixture of sales, publishing, IT and research staff) was born!

Back row, from left: Martin Evans, Vito Canale, Chris Johnston, Bill Strachan, Ian McIntosh. Front row, from left: Susan Sinclair, Heather Ballantyne, Emma Garrell

On the afternoon of Sunday 2nd September we turned up to a lovely sunny King’s Park in Stirling, along with our supporters and another 9 other teams, for the last of 3 sessions of the day. There were a few anxious faces as we watched the earlier teams complete the course, and then our team trouped out piggyback-style, and already soaked from having buckets of water chucked at us.

Over the next couple of hours we had to throw ourselves, quite literally, up over and through various inflatable assault courses, whilst carrying buckets of water on our heads, pulling rubber rings with a ‘Bathing Belle’ and all her trophies through obstacles that just didn’t want to move (thanks to the mischievous ‘helpers’ from Graham Fisher’s It’s a Knockout team), amongst other things. Of course, the copious amounts of a certain washing up liquid being splashed over everything didn’t exactly help, or leave a pleasant taste in our mouths (it may be kind to hands, but not to tastebuds)!

Chris tries to squeeze the Bathing Belle through

The finale was the ‘Arc de Triomphe’ where we had to jump through a filthy pool of water that 16 teams of 8 had passed through already that day, run up/slide down foamy slopes with Vito up top to help pull us up with our various items (swag bags and the like), throw our items to Heather in the ‘Prison’ and do it all over again on the way back. Last over was Bill (on his second trip) who had to bring the ‘prisoner’ back with him. I totally struggled to get on it in the first place; Emma made a valiant attempt considering she’d had no glasses on for the full course; Chris got a complete soaking; Ian arrived back with a facefull of suds; and Martin was the team star when he sprinted over the whole thing in lighting-quick time without any need for Vito’s help.

Vito watches as Martin shows how it’s done!

Finally, it was time for the cool-down conga, presentation of souvenir medals, and burgers courtesy of Cumbernauld Rotary Club.

All in all, Blood, Sweat & Beers showed great team spirit and we had a fantastic time before heading off full of smiles – and foaming trainers!

In total, we collected over £650 in sponsorship for Strathcarron Hospice and it was well worth every aching muscle, bruise and graze!

Could there be a Blood, Sweat & Beers II: The Return? Wait and see…

Strathcarron Hospice provides specialist palliative care, free of charge, to people in central Scotland suffering from incurable illnesses such as cancer, respiratory and heart conditions, and neurological diseases.

Care is provided wherever it’s needed, either in the hospice itself, or in patients’ homes, Forth Valley Royal Hospital, care homes and community hospital settings. Care is also extended to families and carers. To keep delivering care to those that need it the most, Strathcarron has to raise around £3.5 million each year.

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Solar power and feed-in tariffs

08/09/2011

A sunny day after the endless wet of August got me thinking about solar power.

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Solar Energy System - Jeremy Levine Design on Flickr

In April 2010 the government introduced a feed-in tariff (FiT) to encourage low carbon electricity generation, particularly by organisations not traditionally associated with electricity generation. In effect the government was paying a generous fixed price for electricity being fed into the grid from small-scale renewables projects.

– Anaerobic digestion
– Hydro
– Micro-CHP
– Solar PV
– Wind

In February 2011 the government announced it wanted to reduce the incentives for large solar farms, although by targetting installations over 50kW in size this included larger rooftop installations on public and private buildings, as well larger field sites.

A reduction in the feed-in tariff from around 41 pence/kWh down to 19 pence/kWh (or less) for schemes completed after the 1st August 2011 has now been implemented.

(more…)

Go and put another jumper on: strategic steps to a low-carbon UK

11/05/2011

Wool jumper

Halfway I hope... by ingermaaike2, on Flickr


Let’s start with a quick question.

The UK is currently committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least what percentage by 2050, relative to 1990 levels?

[Answer at the bottom]

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has a section on its website relating to a low-carbon UK and the above commitment.

There’s a fascinating calculator tool that allows you to balance the UK’s energy demand with the energy supply and monitor the resultant greenhouse emissions.

It’s a bit like playing SimCity and other ‘strategic life-simulation computer games’.

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Consider what the average temperature of homes should be.

DECC reports that the mean internal temperature of UK homes during the winter months was 17.5°C in 2007 compared to 16°C in 1990 and 12°C in 1970. Historically, the temperature people choose to heat their homes at has increased over the years.

You’re offered various choices ranging from letting this growth trend continue to 20°C by 2030 through to reducing average internal temperatures to 1990 levels.

The commentary is amusingly sobering. ‘Householders can experience today’s levels of thermal comfort whilst also reducing energy demand by wearing warmer clothing or by heating the house in a smarter way.’

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Or how significantly should home insulation be improved.

This time your choices range from reducing leakiness by between 25 and 50%, with varying percentages of the existing housing stock being upgraded (floor insulation / cavity wall insulation / triple glazing) and all new houses being built to Energy Saving Trust or even PassivHaus standards.

The most stringent level would half the power required to maintain a given temperature, although this would be partially offset by a growing housing stock and any failure to reverse the trend towards warmer homes.

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And it goes on to cover how we heat our homes and businesses, the efficiency of our lighting and appliances, how we travel and how goods are moved around.

And then it’s on the supply side. How many nuclear power stations should there be? Or carbon capture and storage power stations? How many wind turbines? How much of the agricultural land should be devoted to growing biofuels? Should the numbers of methane-producing livestock be reduced? Have you considered harvesting marine algae?

And what level of energy security do we need? What do we need in reserve if there’s a cold snap or an incoming pipeline is closed down?

It’s actually quite difficult to do.

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There are also example pathways from experts and interested parties.

Everyone broadly agrees that demand needs to be reduced by around a third, which usually encompasses electrifying domestic transport, shifting up to 50% of freight off roads to electric railways, making planes more fuel efficient and building to PassivHaus standards.

It’s on the supply side that there are disagreements. Friends of the Earth achieves the 2050 target with no new nuclear or carbon capture and storage, and a heavy emphasis on onshore wind turbines, solar energy and geothermal electricity. Whilst the Energy Technologies Institute take a broader mix of supply sources, including 13 new nuclear power stations along with wind, wave and hydroelectric sources.

Have a look – it’s thought provoking.

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[80%. Which is a lot.]

Sports stadia and the need for meaning

01/04/2011

The recent contretemps over what should happen to this (see picture) after the London 2012 Olympic Games have finished confirmed my worst suspicions regarding modern sporting arenas.

Olympic Stadium, London - tompagenet on Flickr

Olympic Stadium, London - tompagenet on Flickr

Two football clubs were the bidders. West Ham were prepared to keep the athletics track, whereas Tottenham planned to completely rebuild the site as a football stadium and redevelop the Crystal Palace athletics facility. West Ham won.

We spend c£550m on a new stadium and then debate whether we should knock it down afterwards and rebuild it. I mean …

Every Olympics and every World Cup brings more stadia that look much the same. They’re a bit like cars: 15 years ago they had boxy corners, whilst now it’s soft edges, swoops and curves. Identikit capital expenditure.

It might be sacriligeous to say but I can’t even get that excited by the Beijing National Stadium, aka the Bird’s Nest. But I do remember what happened there.

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.curt. on Flickr

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friskytuna on Flickr

A real stadium has soul. Its greatness comes not from its physical form, but from the store of memories we can draw upon. And inevitably the memories are to do with people. A stadium becomes great when it is remembered not as a place of concrete, steel or timber but as a place where remarkable things happened.

(more…)

Architecture & movement

28/02/2011

Movement in buildings

The other day, I was reminded of the Nationale-Nederlanden building in Prague, Czech Republic, which was designed back in 1992 and finished in 1996.

One of the architects who worked on this project was Frank Gehry. Known for his deconstructivist architecture, Gehry was last year described described by Vanity Fair as “the most important architect of our age.” His controversial building was originally named Fred and Ginger, after dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but is nowadays known as The Dancing House (and even The Drunk House). The words ‘drunk’ and ‘dancing’ effectively describe this building; it is full of unpredictable movement. Sat amongst its historic neighbors the building looks as though it might at any time take off and dance along the Vltava river.


But there are buildings that move, and there are buildings that really move.

Buildings in motion

Designed by architect David Fisher, the world’s first ‘building in motion’ is expected to reach a staggering 420 metres. Comprising 80 floors, each floor will be capable of rotating independently from all other floors, so that externally, the building will appear to twirl seamlessly. Apart from looking spectacular, the building will also be self-sufficient; wind turbines will be placed between each floor, utilising the wind to produce enough electricity to power the entire building. It will also be the first skyscraper to be built in a factory from prefabricated parts, reducing the required workforce by over a half.

Unsurprisingly, the Rotating Tower (or Dynamic Tower, as it is also known) is to be first built in Dubai; the land of all things grand, ambitious, and expensive (and that’s just the architecture). (more…)

Questioning what sustainable construction really means: USA, India and Ancient Greece

18/01/2011
Socrates - bigger on sensible construction methods than you realised - Alun Salt on Flickr

Socrates - bigger on sensible construction methods than you realised - Alun Salt on Flickr

I like these pieces / polemics on sustainability. Each makes the point that sustainability doesn’t mean build what or where you want and then try and address issues with technology or greenwash. Rather sustainability requires us to think more carefully about what we build in the first place.

1.
Lloyd Alter doesn’t hold back on some of the latest energy-efficient homes in the US. Mumbo-jumbo is exposed and supposed green standards are ridiculed.

Ultimately it is, as Nic Darling so aptly put it, just polishing a turd.

Alter concludes

… if we are going to building really green, we have to start thinking about not adding stuff, but using less in the first place. Less land, smaller frontages, less concrete, fewer green gizmos, fewer “flex spaces” that really aren’t.

2.
Sunita Narain makes much the same point in Green buildings: how to redesign, which focuses on India.

Take the glitzy airport building Delhi will soon get. Developers say it will come with a green tag. This is because the airport is investing in energy-efficient lighting, sewage disposal and rainwater harvesting.

All these are important initiatives but the question remains: could the airport have been designed differently so that it used much less energy in the first place?

But planners first think of building the biggest structures and then try sugarcoating them.

She also goes on to suggest that ‘Indians have forgotten how to build for their environment’.

Instead, modern buildings are examples of monocultures—lifted from the building books of cold countries where glass facades are good to look at and appropriate for their climate.

The same building in India is a nightmare; the glass traps the heat. The building cannot be naturally cooled because windows cannot be opened. It needs central air-conditioning and heating. In this situation, turning the building green means using very expensive glass to insulate better.

Builders avoid this. So the only band-aid green measures left are to include a few token items like efficient lights and water-saving devices in the toilets.

3.
And if you were thinking this is a C21st concern, then Raymond Bliss’s article, ‘Why not just build the house right in the first place’, from 1976 is instructive.

Bliss complains that we would be better advised to do what the title of his article implores, rather than engineer post-construction solutions to winter heating and summer cooling.

From a national energy conserving standpoint, enormous fuel savings would be possible if the yearly flood of conventional construction could be built with an eye to better fuel saving.

And if you think 1976 is a bit recent then Bliss also quotes Xenophon (c. 430 – 354 BC) on how Socrates approached house building.

In houses, then, that look to the south, does not the sun, in the winter, shine into the porticoes, while, in the summer, it passes over our heads, and above the roof, and casts a shade?

If it is well, therefore, that houses should thus be made, ought we not to build the parts towards the south higher, that the sun in winter may not be shut out, and the parts towards the north lower, that the cold winds may not fall violently on them?

A most excellent philosopher.

A changing retail landscape and urban design

16/11/2010

A couple of weeks ago C4’s Grand Designs featured a home-build project by Alan Dawson, the owner of Alan Dawson Associates Ltd, an art and architectural metalwork company that, in Mr Dawson’s words, has grown over the last 25 years supplying bespoke services to shopping centre developers.

And this was the rub. Shopping centre development has ground to a halt, so ADA has little business coming in. So Mr Dawson designed his own steel-framed house, had it prefabricated in the ADA workshops and – an hour later – it was transported to the site and quickly installed.

It’s easy to put the downturn in shopping centre construction down to the recession, but I was wondering what other factors are shaping the retail ecosystem.

I read recently that Walmart will be opening a series of smaller stores in the US – only 30,000 square feet or so. One reason is a desire to get into smaller urban markets. This would seem to equate to the emergence of express versions of Tesco and Sainsbury’s in the UK’s suburbs and city centres.

But two of the other reasons given were intriguing.

First, people are finding it hard to find things in the bigger stores. There are so many different thing stocked that tracking down a specific item can be difficult. Or once you’ve found it, getting it down from the third tier of the pallet rack can be more than a nuisance.

And, second, the car parks are so large that getting from car to shop and back again – families with children, older people, full trolleys – may not be that easy.

Walmart are concerned that people are prepared pay a little more, but find what they want quickly and leave.

I came across a short piece on SustainableCitiesCollective on the future of urban retail.

It picked up on the bricks-and-mortar versus online divide and suggested that to predict the future you simply look at what is done more effectively on the high street (food, immediate need items, experiences, services) and expect to see more of it, whilst there will be fewer shops for holidays, books / games / music and specialist goods that are more profitable online.

The British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) published an interesting research piece, which you can download, titled Future Shopping Places.

The objective of the research was ‘to describe the key trends in architecture, urban design, building design regulation and construction that will determine the form of retail places over the next ten years.’

Heightened competition adds an even more pressing need for dynamic approaches to refreshment, redevelopment, and radical transformation over the coming decade.

The principles of good urban design must sit at the forefront of strategies for renewal and new development and differentiation must be a priority in order to achieve destination pull.

E-tailing is creating a heightened requirement for convenience and is increasingly affecting the design of shopping places.

However, the future must see the increased use of sustainable construction techniques and design features for both new and redeveloped shopping places.

Place-making will be at the forefront of strategies for retail development. But in pursuit of competitive advantage, shopping places will seek to innovate by becoming highly differentiated environments.

Which simultaneously chimes and jars quite nicely with a quote from Ron Johnson (Apple’s head of retail) on Future Changes regarding where Apple plans to put its stores.

If you want to enrich their lives, you can’t be in a parking lot, off a highway. You gotta be where they live their life. You gotta be right where they work, where they play, where they live, where they shop. The only way to enrich their life is to be part of their life. They’ve got to walk 10 feet to your store, not drive the car 10 miles. That’s what enriching lives would take.

Both Apple and BCSC agree on the need for the place to be special, but Apple wants to be where you already are, whilst BCSC thinks you’re quite happy to drive there.

And finally … Purple Flag is an accreditation scheme from the Association of Town Centre Managers.

It ‘aims to raise the standard and broaden the appeal of centres between 1700 and 0600’ and ‘recognise excellence in the management of town and city centres at night’.

Just as Blue Flag is an indicator of a good beach, Purple Flag is set to be the indicator of where to go for a good night out and will bring positive publicity for successful town and city centres.

Right.

Product literature libraries in an online world

18/10/2010

It’s surely no more than a coincidence but as Oxford University opens a new book storage facility in Swindon the product literature library here at ESI HQ in Stirling is being dismantled.

 

The Bodleian Library's new book storage facility

The Bodleian Library's new book storage facility

 

Quick facts on the the Bodleian’s new depository
– 153 miles of shelving and space for 8.5m volumes
– 11.4m high racking, and 71m long aisles
– 31 aisles totalling 3224 bays with 95,000 shelf levels
– 2196 tons of steel
– 4550m of safety rail
– Over 25,000 nuts and bolts
– Over 1,000,000 rivets
– Over 18,000 floor fixings

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One of the features of our office over the last 10 years has been the grey bulk of the product literature library which bisects the length of the office.

Once an important resource, the Berlin Wall, as it has come to be known, has being doing little beyond gathering dust for the past few years.

In a digital world it seems easier to search for product information online rather than walk 15 feet. A few key catalogues have been plucked out, but everything else is being recycled.

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I’ve been trying to think through why this is so.

At a top level it’s simply the way of the world.

There has been a fundamental shift in people’s relationship with information. The internet empowers individuals to search for, use, evaluate, create, compare and reject information. And this is at the expense of more centralised models of information management and control. It’s slightly beguiling to feel you’re doing what you want rather than what you’ve been permitted to do. And people like it.

Or, from a different perspective, people have very quickly become habituated to a Googlised world where what they can access from the comfort of their seat is good enough. And they are only to happy to take the path of least resistance.

At a practical level there are probably three specific criteria which have cemented this transformation.

1. Cost of maintenance
Product literature* libraries are expensive to create and maintain. It needs care and attention if it is to be used. Could that resource be being used elsewhere?

* The key here is that this is information which you have paid nothing for; it is different for information with monetary value (technical guidance, legislation, standards etc).

2. Up to date
There was always a slight sense of doubt when you pulled a brochure with a light veneer of dust on the top. It’s dated a year ago. Is it the current brochure or has it been updated? I quickly check online and whilst I’m there I find what I wanted to know and that slightly dusty brochure sits where I left it.

3. Time
I need the information now. Right now. If it’s not in the library it may as well not exist. I just can’t phone up the manufacturer, battle through the sales lead questions and wait two days for it to arrive. So I download the PDF, skip the human interaction and the online habit becomes that little bit more engrained.

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This is a paragraph from Chapter 5 – ‘Sources of information’ – from The Architect in Practice (9th edition / 2005) by David Chappell and Andrew Wills.

The second type of information that needs to be held is technical information on products. Some will be in the form in the well-prepared and fully illustrated catalogues, preferably in strong, clearly-marked loose-leaf binders … Other information will be in pamphlet form which can be stored in folders kept in open-ended boxes for ease of retrieval. Again, it is essential that all information is up to date; some practices go so far as to acquire new information every time it is wanted. There is a great temptation to take information that is 2-3 months old and assume, often quite wrongly that it is still current; some material will almost certainly have been withdrawn and new introduced with concomitant numbering alterations.

I just couldn’t imagine this being included in a 2010 edition. Every time you need something it is ordered? All filed away in boxes for easy retrieval? This is what the internet delivers without the overheads.

To be fair, later in the same chapter, a brief mention is made of information technology, but it’s in relation to ‘Acts of Parliament, Statutory Instruments and law reports.’ No mention of products.

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However, most people will have by now experienced a key flaw in the information revolution.

Google does its clever stuff – ‘About 2,040,000 results (0.43 seconds)’ – but the heavy lifting is left to the individual user, and minutes or hours are spent sifting the results.

For a professional specifier or contractor time is money.

Della Pearman, a freelance librarian, information consultant and researcher, sums it up nicely.

Busy professionals may think that they don’t need librarians or researchers any more – they have Google! – but Google can be a sledge hammer, when what you need is a nutcracker!

If you find that it is taking hours to find the piece of vital information that you need on the internet, then it might be better to spend a short amount of time briefing an expert in research and Internet searching, than wasting your own much more expensive and fee-earning time.

Her solution is one way of making sense of the problem.

Here at ESI, our focus is on giving construction professionals the tools they need to do it quickly and easily themselves.

Junkitecture – repurposing construction materials

31/08/2010

Jonathan Glancey wrote a piece on the subject of junkitecture in the Guardian a few weeks back.

The Jellyfish theatre, which opens next week, is being built from the detritus of markets, timberyards and building sites; from redundant school furniture, hand-me-down front doors, recycled nails and pretty much anything that local residents and businesses have contributed

The Jellyfish theatre in London. Photograph: Graeme Robertson

The Jellyfish theatre in London. Photograph: Graeme Robertson

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I was suitably inspired to track down other examples of architectural repurposing.

Superuse.org was partly initiated by Rotterdam-based 2012Architecten, who ‘design products and buildings and develop strategies to facilitate the transition to a sustainable society.’ Or , rather more snazzily – From Superuse to Recyclicity.

Here are some of their projects – more details on their website.

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Wind turbine wings reused in a playground

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Re-used steel beams and cable reels at Villa Welpeloo

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Re-use of aluminium window frames for an espresso bar

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Car windows as shelving in a shoe shop

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The Loading Dock is an interesting website. It’s a non-profit building materials reuse centre in Maryland, USA, and serves as a national model for communities interested in starting a reuse facility.

Its mission is improve living conditions for people by providing inexpensive housing improvement and building materials, whilst at the same time keeping material out of the waste stream. Stock includes paint, timber, plumbing fixtures, doors, cabinets, windows, caulks, mouldings and appliances.

It’s architectural salvage with a clear social mission. Donors – including both contractors and individuals – save on storage and / or disposal costs, whilst housing organisations, community centers and neighborhood improvement groups get access to materials for minimal handling fees.

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WRAP - Reclaimed building products guide

WRAP - Reclaimed building products guide

And for building professionals in the UK there’s a useful WRAP publication – A guide to procuring reclaimed building products and materials for use in construction projects – which you can download here.

80 pages of detailed information, including quick wins and a catalogue of product pages for 33 common reclaimed materials from roof tiles through to carpets.

And the WRAP website aimed at reducing construction industry landfill waste by 2012 is here.

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And finally, if you ever find yourself with a spare 1965 Boeing 727 fuselage you could do something like this.

A repurposed Boeing 727 fuselage

A repurposed Boeing 727 fuselage

The master bedroom

The master bedroom

As re-used by Hotel Costa Verde, Costa Rica.

LUMENHAUS: energy efficiency, innovation and sustainable housing

16/08/2010

Solar Decathlon is ‘a competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy in which universities from across the globe meet to design and build an energetically self-sufficient house that runs only on solar energy, is connected to a power grid, and incorporates technologies that maximize its energy efficiency.’

The 2010 competition was held in Madrid, with teams from Spain, Germany, Finland, the UK, France, China and the US taking part. Over the ten days of the competition the 17 houses produced three times more energy than they consumed (6,177 kWh against 2,579 kWh).

The judging criteria were:

• Architecture
• Construction and Engineering
• Solar Systems and Hot Water
• Energy Balance
• Comfort Conditions
• Usage
• Communications and Social Media
• Industrialization and Market Viability
• Innovation
• Sustainability

Solar Decathlon 2010

Solar Decathlon 2010

Night light display

Night light display

Rotating facades and roof

Rotating facades and roof

Comfort and usage

Comfort and usage

Vegetated wall

Vegetated wall

The winner was VirginiaTech’s LUMENHAUS.

Inspired by the glass pavilion-style Farnsworth House designed by Bauhaus architect Mies Van Der Rohe, the house features a flowing, open plan that connects occupants to each other within the house and to nature outside.

LUMENHAUS emphasizes integrity and endurance. Choices of materials and components are based on the basic requirements of environmental conservation and energy use, as well as the longevity of each product. General concepts for sustainable architecture – compact volume, little air infiltration, strategic insulation, natural/cross ventilation, passive heating, and integrated geothermal energy sink – are articulated with appropriate technologies.

1. Photovoltaic array and electric actuator
LUMENHAUS is completely powered by the sun. A powerful array of photovoltaic (PV) panels provides carbon-neutral energy to the house. The PVs, arranged in a single array that covers the roof, are built into the house during construction. The panels are bifacial, meaning they use both sides to increase energy output by up to 15 percent. Using an electric actuator, the entire PV array can be tilted to the optimal angle for each season (from zero degrees to a 17-degree angle in summer and to a 35-degree angle in winter).

2. Interior lighting
The energy collected during the day will be symbolically radiated back out at night through a low-energy, long-lasting LED lighting system. LED lights are extremely energy-efficient light fixtures that emit a very high-quality white light. They produce more lumens per watt than traditional incandescent bulbs. They also have extremely long lives and are very durable, being resistant to heat, cold and shock.

3. Rainwater collection and greywater recyling
LUMENHAUS is not only energy-efficient; it is water-efficient, too. The roof is sloped to collect rainwater that is filtered for potable (drinkable) use in the house, while water used in the house (greywater – from the shower, bathroom sink and clothes washer) goes through a series of bio-filters in the surrounding landscape where it is cleaned for non-potable use.

4. Passive energy systems
LUMENHAUS optimizes the use of passive energy through day lighting, natural ventilation and natural passive heating and cooling.

Day lighting is the natural lighting of the house through means of windows and other openings. In this case, the entire south and north facades are either translucent (when the insulation panels are closed) or transparent (when the insulation panels are open).

Natural ventilation is the ventilation/cooling of the house through means other than mechanical/electrical-powered systems. The house can be naturally cooled and ventilated by opening any of the sliding doors on the north and side facade of the house. These doors include bug screens to keep bugs out of the house and to let in fresh, clean air.

Natural heating of the house comes through the ability to capture the sun’s heat in the polished dark-gray concrete floor. When the sun hits the concrete slab in the day, it absorbs and stores heat, which it radiates to naturally heat the house throughout the night.

5. Modular design
The modular design of LUMENHAUS allows it to grow with your family. Multiple units can connect or stack with plug-in stairs and entryways to create two-, three-, and four-bedroom houses with the same efficient use of space of the single module. If used as a part of a community, the houses have the potential to become even more sustainable than the single house. For example, if a single person were to originally move into a single module, but then later got married, he or she could add another module to expand the space with little difficulty.

[All LUMENHAUS information from the technologies section on their website]

LUMENHAUS at the Solar Decathlon

LUMENHAUS at the Solar Decathlon