Tag Archive for: sustainable

It’s Alive! Passive House Must Breathe.

In the next few posts, we are going to break down some of the key elements of Passive House Design. Today we examine the part of the mechanical system—proper ventilation and energy recovery.

Passive House Design Process

 

No One Likes Stale Air.

Passive buildings are designed to be air tight. Really air tight. But we want clean air to breathe, and keep our home feeling fresh. So how do we efficiently bring it in? In the northeast, the outside air is too hot and humid in the summer, and far too cold in the winter. This predicament traditionally necessitates the use of furnaces and air conditioners—the darlings of your utility bill.

Passive Building Design takes a more clever approach.

[box] Summer = hot air outside/cool air inside

⇒ use outgoing stale air to cool down incoming fresh air

Winter = cold air outside/warm air inside

⇒ use outgoing stale air to warm up incoming fresh air[/box]

And never the twain shall meet. Incoming and outgoing air streams are kept completely separate from each other, so stale air doesn’t end up back in your environment.

 

What Sorcery is This?

Let me introduce the star of the show—  ERV, or for those not into architecture acronyms Energy Recovery Ventilator. This is the preferred system here in the northeast US, due to our high humidity and wide temperature range. The beauty of an ERV is that is can harvest heat in the winter and reduce heat in the summer, while effectively manage humidity. The humidity component increases the energy harvesting efficiency of ERV and creates a more comfortable living environment.

 

ERV_graphic, passive house ventilation

Schematic of an Energy Recover Ventilator (ERV) for Passive Buildings.

In the summertime (cooling season), the system conditions incoming warm, humid air by passing it over coils or channels containing stale, cool air being exhausted from the house. Desiccants are used to remove humidity from the fresh air intake, which adds to the cooling effect. In the winter, the system uses warm, stale air being exhausted from the house to pre-heat the incoming fresh air. Humidity can be added to incoming air in order to maintain a comfortable level, preventing humans from drying out!

mechanical_ventilation, passive house

Mechanical ventilation diagram for Passive House Design.

Typical ventilation systems are set up to extract stale air from the “wet” areas of the house—kitchens, bathrooms and storage rooms—through the use of ventilation ducts that channel air though the ERV and exhaust it outside. Incoming air is ducted from the outside of the building, into the ERV, and then into bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms. Inline filters can be added to the incoming air stream to remove pollen and other particulates.

For typical homes, only a single ERV  and blower are required and they reside inside the house for a low maintenance operation.  Heat exchange efficiency can range from 50 to 90%, depending on the type of system and manufacturer. It is generally accepted that ERV can cut energy usage by 50%.

High-efficiency ERV systems ensure optimal indoor air quality and comfortable living for energy-efficient and passive building construction. The whole house ventilation system really is like the heart and lungs of a passive building.

[box type=”bio”] Eric Davenport, LEAP’s founder is Passive House Certified, and understands the ins and outs of these systems. If you are considering a new build, or even a retrofit, leverage our expertise to get the most out of your project.[/box]

 

 

2030 Challenge: Carbon-Neutral Buildings

Architecture 2030 issued The 2030 Challenge asking the global architecture and building community to implement carbon-neutral design by 2030. LEAP Architecture accepts this challenge!

All new buildings, developments, and major renovations shall be carbon-neutral by 2030

Buildings are the major source of global demand for energy and materials that produce by-product greenhouse gases (GHG). Carbon-neutral, also called carbon neutrality is a term used to describe the action of organizations, businesses and individuals taking action to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as each put in to it. The overall goal of carbon neutrality is to achieve a zero carbon footprint.

Slowing the growth rate of GHG emissions and then reversing it is the key to addressing climate change and keeping global average temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

To accomplish this, Architecture 2030 issued The 2030 Challenge asking the global architecture and building community to adopt the following targets:

 

Graphic showing the move toward carbon-neutral by reducing greenhouse gas emissions over time

  • All new buildings, developments and major renovations shall be designed to meet a fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 70% below the regional (or country) average/median for that building type.
  • At a minimum, an equal amount of existing building area shall be renovated annually to meet a fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 70% of the regional (or country) average/median for that building type.
  • The fossil fuel reduction standard for all new buildings and major renovations shall be increased to:
    • 80% in 2020
    • 90% in 2025
    • Carbon-neutral in 2030 (using no fossil fuel GHG emitting energy to operate).

 

These targets may be accomplished by implementing innovative sustainable design strategies, generating on-site renewable power and/or purchasing (20% maximum) renewable energy.

Graphic showing design strategy + technologies + off-site renewable energy will lead to carbon-neutral building

The Impact of the 2030 Challenge

The 2030 Challenge has been adopted and is being implemented by 80% of the top 10 and 70% of the top 20 architecture/engineering/planning firms in the U.S. In addition, the AIA, ASHRAE, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the federal government, and many other organizations and state and local governments and agencies have adopted the Challenge. In Canada, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Ontario Association of Architects and cities such as Vancouver have also adopted the Challenge targets.

Since 2006, the landscape for low-carbon building has been transformed, and building with sustainability and high performance in mind has become the standard approach. Zero Net Energy (ZNE) buildings have gone from being prototypes and experiments to being widely built and, in the case of California, being the standard that will be adopted for new residential buildings in 2020 and commercial buildings in 2030. Of course, this entire shift is not only due to the 2030 Challenge, but it has been key in helping focus the industry’s attention on the problem, and suggested a path to solving it.

 

For more information, visit: www.architecture2030.org

Modern Addition – With The Environment In Mind

LEAP designed this modern addition to completely transform this formerly run-of-the-mill house into something breathtaking. In addition to the clean lines and spaciousness, this home is energy efficient, uses recycled materials, and speaks to a client’s passions.

Modern Addition


The kitchen, before and after.

The kitchen, before and after.

Site Planning

When first meeting with the homeowner, a LEAP architect discovered an impressive back yard: brick pathways, planting beds with beautiful gardens, outbuildings with wooden patina, and a stone fire pit. So, instead of thinking about the addition in terms of expanding the existing house into the yard, the architect decided to expand the yard into the house.

Instead of expanding the house into the yard, we decided to expand the yard into the house.leap_architecture_residential_home_renovation-04

Environmentally Minded Modern Addition

The resulting design utilizes steel posts instead of the conventional concrete foundation. The construction is lifted from the ground similar to a deck, and all concrete was removed from the design.

Concrete is extremely resource-intensive, and contributes to a large carbon footprint of any construction project. By removing it, the architect saved tons of carbon from being produced, further contributing to the conservation of resources for this addition.

Modern Addition Albany, NY

Other environmental factors include the use of spray foam insulation that utilizes a water-based blowing agent: high R-value with less of a carbon footprint to install.

Design of the building’s geometry matters. All of the windows in the existing house were replaced with more efficient units, but are small and punched-through walls so daylight was at a minimum. The new design places glazing near the top, and allows the sun light to be reflected deep into the space reducing the amount of electricity needed for lights.

Read more about this addition’s before and after on our stories page.


LEAP Architecture

Businesses and families hire LEAP Architecture as their Commercial or Residential architect.

Whether in New York City or in Upstate from Hudson to Albany, in Saratoga or in the Adirondacks, a LEAP architect will help you develop creative design solutions.

Click here to contact LEAP Architecture

 

Have questions for the architect? Ask them here…

Saratoga Architect Designs Modern Sustainable Home

LEAP Architecture is the Saratoga Architect for your next project. Check out this modern home in Saratoga, NY we designed using natural materials.

Saratoga Architect for Sustainable Design

Massing of this highly modern design highlights subtleties between varied materials refined into timeless relationships on a woodsy hilltop. Corrugated metal, white-washed cedar and painted fiber cement board clad the three boxes of the garage, public living space, and the private quarters bridging the house.

Saratoga Architect NY house by Albany, NY Architect

LEAP Architecture designed this sustainable home in Saratoga, NY.

Net-Zero Energy Strategies

This home, like many designed by LEAP, have the potential to achieve net-zero energy use. Net-zero energy designs produce as much or more than the energy they consume.

NYSERDA has launched its Low-Rise Residential New Construction Program to encourage such buildings, both through financial incentives and technical assistance. To speak with an architect about how to achieve net-zero energy use, contact us at 518.669.9435 or [email protected].

 

Modern Architecture: Design Details

The owners delight in high design at an affordable price, and were open to experimentation with materials carefully detailed and located to emphasize a warm, nurturing modernism.

 

The House Plan

The easy floor plan is an innovative example of space efficiency and creates alluring passages throughout the home. Cultural expressions of the owners’ Japanese backgrounds are presented in formal entryway accented with natural elements, a sunken foyer, a bathing area separate from a simple powder room, and reminders and hints of the site elements that give the house a place in the environment.

 

*Project completed while working with Taber Studio

 


LEAP Architecture

Businesses and families hire LEAP Architecture when looking for a Residential or Commercial architect.

Whether in New York City or in Upstate from Hudson to Albany, in Saratoga or in the Adirondacks, a LEAP architect will help you develop creative design solutions.

Click here to contact LEAP Architecture

 

Have questions for the architect? Ask them here…

Corporate Office Architect Designs GE Battery Plant in Schenectady, NY

GE required a corporate office architect to re-purposed manufacturing space into a new, highly functional office. LEAP Architecture created the design.

Corporate Office Architect: Innovative design help grow businesses, both large and small.

GE (General Electric) needed ideas for their new battery plant office and administration spaces in Schenectady, NY, and LEAP’s architect designed office space layouts and geometry based on programming and site analysis. As a consultant to MOSAIC Associates, a LEAP architect helped GE determine how to best re-purpose an existing facility on their Schenectady campus.

The result is a responsive design utilizing and new atrium and various shading devices to temper daylight in work areas, and double as the backdrop to a dramatic atrium space. Various office functions needed by GE (project rooms, break-out conference “war” spaces, workstations, docking areas, and presentation and support areas) are sheltered behind various screens of densities determined by programmatic needs. Thus, a dramatic atrium entry was created as an impressive public space that doubled as a very functional design that filters and reflects daylight in the office spaces beyond.

 


 

LEAP Architecture

Businesses and families hire LEAP Architecture when looking for a Residential or Commercial architect.

From New York City to Upstate, in Saratoga to the Adirondacks, LEAP Architecture will help you develop creative design solutions.

Click here to contact LEAP Architecture

Architect Saves Clients Money: Common Materials Used In Creative Designs

Learn how a LEAP Architect saves clients construction dollars with creative design solutions. Picture above: Additional living space helps a husband, wife and their two children with more room for their growing family.

 

The husband designed some ideas with a Sketch-Up model, but they were not sure about what steps to take next.

 

When the family came to LEAP, the architect helped them prioritize their goals and then designed a living space to meet their needs, but with some extra bonuses. Read below to learn what these “extras” are, and get more insights into creative solutions provided by LEAP in other projects.


 

Architect Designs Creative, Affordable Construction

 

Concrete Floors

The clients for this addition in Saratoga Springs, NY had a tight budget and were not sure how to spend their money wisely.

 

So, the architect used the LEAP Method to achieve their goals.

Solution: Concrete Floors

The floors in this Saratoga Springs addition were made of concrete. Why?

Research during the LEAP Method for this project showed it was less expensive to pour slab on grade construction rather than wood frame a crawl space.

So, LEAP architects added a whitener to the concrete mix, and hand-selected the aggregate so that when ground and polished, the concrete floor is one of the main features of a warm and cozy living space.

 

Here’s a bonus:

The clients of this modern addition in Saratoga Springs, NY have a noteworthy vinyl collection, and the desire for uncluttered space. The photo below shows floor-to-ceiling fabric wrapped over wood frames, on bi-passing sliding door tracks. The fabric is speaker cloth, so when the stereo system is hidden with the rest of the books and items on the shelves, the turn-table plays unmuffled, and clear as if it were out in the open.

 

 Clean modern architect design

 

LEAP Architects Use Low-Cost Materials in Chic Designs

Agricultural bi-products (straw, saw dust, wood chips, stems) make up this pressboard in the gallery pictured here.

Pressboard in the gallery

Pressboard in the gallery

 

Clean, green and modern at an affordable price

Inexpensive, durable, and clear-coated with a sealer allows the space to be clean, green and modern at an affordable price.

 

Architects Help You Make Money-Saving Decisions

LEAP architects design to a budget, and siding systems, like traditional clapboard, can be labor intensive. But there are alternatives….

 

Modern Addition

Modern Addition

 

This modern Saratoga Springs addition utilized panels, cut to fit, which resulted in much less labor (less cost) and a quicker protective finish system than other more traditional siding applications.

 

Affordable Modern Living

Corner windows and floor-to-ceiling glass are trademarks of architects modern designs. However, they do not have to be budget killers.

Modern floor-to-ceiling glass

Modern floor-to-ceiling glass

 

The glass corner shown here is achieved with common fiberglass sliding door units, installed next to each other to help open the dining area to the deck outside.

Fiberglass doors and windows are less expensive than their wood and clad counterparts, and are much more energy efficient to boot.

 

LEAP Architects Help You Enhance Your Quality of Life

While Maintaining Your Budget

This amazing kitchen was designed with Ikea cabinets, renowned for their inexpensive but modern design.

Affordable built-in feel

Affordable built-in feel

 

Along with the cabinets, LEAP designed the surrounds and island out of panels that are finished with the same material as the cabinet faces, for an affordable built-in feel. The counter and backsplash are not marble, but rather a resin poured to perform in kitchen environments at about a third of the cost of stone. This kitchen looks like a $50K effort; but all in all, the materials were only $12K. (excluding appliances and fixtures).

~ Eric Davenport, AIA, CPHC

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.leaparchitecture.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/eric_davenport-blog-profile.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Eric Davenport, a native Up-State New Yorker, began LEAP Architecture in 2003 at age 23 while designing projects for Haitian education efforts and working to achieve efficient agricultural-based solutions for Haitian families. Eric’s projects in New York include both commercial and residential architecture specializing in energy efficient and net-zero buildings.

Questions about your next design project? Contact Eric.

[/author_info] [/author]

 

Have questions for the architect? Ask them here…

Passive House: High Performance Construction Standards in the US

Passive House Design [founded in the US, then developed in Germany as Passivhaus] is different than passive solar design since insulation and heat exchangers are utilized while solar energy plays a lesser role.

Passive House Design: Introduction and History

In the United States, passive house design standards dictate space heating energy of 1 BTU per square foot (11 kJ/m²) per heating degree day which equates to 75-95% less energy for space heating and cooling than current new buildings that meet today’s US energy efficiency codes. [1] Typical strategies implemented to achieve the standard include well insulated envelopes coupled with air barriers, air sealing, and the use of heat exchangers to recirculate indoor air. Other considerations include: passive solar design, landscape design, advanced window technology, airtightness, ventilation, space heating from internal heat sources such as equipment and people, lighting and appliance efficiency.

 

 

Modern sustainable architect in Albany designs Saratoga, NY home

Passive Building Attributes

Advantages of passive buildings include fresh, clean air, homogeneous interior temperature, slow temperature changes, and low energy loads that support renewable energy sources. Passive buildings could be up to 14% more expensive upfront than conventional buildings. [2] However, when designed to balance budgets, the mechanical system costs and alternative energy system costs are reduced. These reductions in system costs off-set the money spent on better insulation, windows and doors. And, owners get the payback dollars for insulation, windows and doors permanently in the building, as opposed to spending money on replacing mechanical and alternative energy systems 13-15 years down the road (just as they started getting pay-back!).

 

Passive House Design Process

Buildings can be certified as Passive with the help of a CPHC (Certified Passive House Consultant) via the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) or Passive House Academy US (PHAUS). Both residential and commercial buildings utilize the Passive House model.

 

Passive House Architect - Elevation

Passive Building: Principals

Passive building comprises a set of design principles used to attain a quantifiable and rigorous level of energy efficiency within a specific quantifiable comfort level. “Maximize your gains, minimize your losses” summarize the approach. To that end, a passive building is designed and built in accordance with these five building-science principles:

  • It employs continuous insulation through its entire envelope without any thermal bridging.
  • The building envelope is extremely airtight, preventing infiltration of outside air and loss of conditioned air.
  • It employs high-performance windows and doors
  • It uses some form of balanced heat- and moisture-recovery ventilation and uses a minimal space conditioning system.
  • Solar gain is managed to exploit the sun’s energy for heating purposes and to minimize it in cooling seasons.

Passive building principles can be applied to all building typologies, from single-family homes to apartment buildings to multi-story offices and skyscrapers.

 

Passive House - Largest

The building for Cornell Tech’s new campus on New York’s Roosevelt Island by Handel Architects, will be the largest Passive Building in the world.

 

Passive Building Benefits

Passive buildings offer tremendous long -term benefits in addition to energy efficiency:

  • High levels of insulation and airtight construction provide unmatched comfort even in extreme conditions.
  • Continuous mechanical ventilation of fresh filtered air assures superb air quality.
  • A comprehensive systems approach to modeling, design and construction produces extremely resilient buildings.
  • Passive building is the best path to Net Zero and Net Positive buildings because it minimizes the load that renewable energy sources are required to provide. [3]

Click here to watch a 90-second video explaining the “Passive House”

[1] Waldsee BioHaus architect, Stephan Tanner

[2] “Passivhäuser im Bau bis zu 14% teurer”. Franz Alt. Retrieved 2009-06-05.

[3] www.phius.org/what-is-passive-building-/the-principles

 


 

Have questions for the architect? Ask them here…

Affordable Modern Bathroom Design

Affordable Modern Bathroom Design is possible using common materials in creative ways.

Eric Davenport finds inspiration everywhere, and a trip to the hardware store is no exception. Here we show you 3 examples of Affordable Modern Bathroom Design using run-of-the-mill materials, that’s anything but ordinary.

Here’s a great reason to work with an Architect: 

Every Dollar Spent in Design Saves $10 in Construction

 

1. Soft Warmth

LEAP-Architecture, Affordable Modern-Bathroom-Design

Modern Bathroom Design — Acrylic, Masonite and Plywood.

This powder room has masonite (you know those press-boards with holes in them for hanging tools over workbenches?) on the walls, with an acrylic laminated to a plywood vanity. The acrylic has a white back to reflect light back through the material, giving it a glowing depth while the masonite helps enclose the room in soft warmth. The acrylic, masonite and plywood vanity are inexpensive materials that help save on construction costs: no tile or grout, no complicated millwork, no expensive hardware, and all with a modern feel that sets this experience apart from other rooms in the house.

 

 

2. So Fresh and So Clean, Clean

Durability and easy-cleaning was the goal, Affordable Modern Bathroom Design

Kids Bathroom -Bright, Durable and Easy to Clean.

This kids’ bathroom has plain white tile from the local hardware store which is used to wrap the vanity, the tub alcove, and the walls all the way to the ceiling.

The mirror is cut flush to the tile joints, and industrial light fixtures finish off the room with a little flair.

Durability and easy-cleaning was the goal, and the affordable price tag of the materials made this design exercise possible – and really fun!

 

 

 

3. ECO-Shiek

Bathroom Vanity, Affordable Modern Bathroom Design

Beautiful, affordable bathroom vanity made from…plywood!

This bathroom vanity is beautifully crafted, designed with thought, and also — ready? — made of plywood. A birch veneer with a sealer has stood up to the moisture and wetness of a bathroom environment for more than five years now (and is still going strong)!

The material costs for the wood, hardware, and sealer were less than $200.

 

 

Questions about your next design project? Contact Eric.

 

Have questions for the architect? Ask them here…

Albany Architect Designs Grist Mill Renovation

A LEAP Architect is helped a couple renovate an existing grist mill (formerly transformed into a residence) to include a master bedroom suite. This Grist Mill Renovation was an exercise in combining modern amenity with rustic design.  

 

New Design Brings Life Back to this Old Mill

The Grist Mill

The Grist Mill

Many existing features of the original mill exist throughout the home, like this grinding stone making its new home inlaid into the pavers of the patio. The architect usually designs with the intent to enhance existing features of buildings, adding value to what the owners already have.

Original Grinding Stone

Original Grinding Stone

The existing timber frame is throughout the home, and our next design moves will help compliment the amazing wood look and feel!

Existing Timber Frame

Existing Timber Frame

How to compliment the existing mill features?

Existing barn with old timbers and wood

Existing barn with old timbers and lumber

On the property is a barn filled with old timbers and lumber.

We spent a Sunday afternoon white-washing some samples of the lumber and will use it to clad the new interior design.

White-washed samples

White-washed samples

Selecting the right stain, and the right amount of coats is key!

Some of the results we have gotten from the old lumber is truly beautiful, and will compliment the existing interiors with its warmth and ability to reflect daylight.

When designed well, sustainability can be worked into projects in the form of recycled materials.

Salvaged wood

Salvaged wood

In this case, the salvaged wood will compliment the current structure, while providing a fresh modern warmth.
A master bedroom suite will be part of the renovation of the existing building.

The white washed, salvaged wood will be used to wrap the vanity + desk island, and also be selectively installed on walls at the entry to the space.

More information will be posted as the project progresses! We’ve finished most of the design work, and will be bidding the project to contractors very soon. Stay tuned.

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.leaparchitecture.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/eric_davenport-blog-profile.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Eric Davenport, a native Up-State New Yorker, began LEAP Architecture in 2003 at age 23 while designing projects for Haitian education efforts and working to achieve efficient agricultural-based solutions for Haitian families. Eric’s projects in New York include both commercial and residential architecture specializing in energy efficient and net-zero buildings.

Questions about your next design project? Contact Eric.

[/author_info] [/author]

 

Have questions for the architect? Ask them here…

Luxury Home Renovation on Long Island Sound

The design for a luxury home renovation and addition for a mid-century American-Mediterranean house on Long Island Sound transitions into spaces between Traditional and Modern architecture. 

Renovation of a Greenwich CT Home on Long Island Sound

Modern Architecture: Design Details

The existing house was fully gutted and outfitted with a newly designed aesthetic enhanced by amenities such as high-end finishes and millwork, whole-house integrated lighting, security, and Audio/Visual systems, along with complimentary interiors by Drake Design Associates with the landscape design by Janice Parker.

 

The House – Luxury Home Renovation in Action

Modern insertions designed into a traditional architectural style results in a cohesive, luxurious living space in the existing house, while a new guest wing comprises the addition, which includes a garage, pool house, fitness room, living space, kitchen and two bedroom/bathroom suites.

*Project completed while working with Taber Studio


LEAP Architecture

Businesses and families have hired LEAP Architecture when looking for a Residential or Commercial architect.

Whether in New York City or in Upstate from Hudson to Albany, in Saratoga or in the Adirondacks, a LEAP architect will help you develop creative design solutions.

Click here to contact LEAP Architecture