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Fri Dec 22, 2017, 08:54 AM

In praise of Invisible Sustainability

https://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/praise-invisible-sustainability.html




In praise of Invisible Sustainability
Saskatchewan Conservation House, late 70s

Architect Carly Coulson coins a new term that describes a philosophy of green building.

In 1977, in response to the energy crisis of the time, a team of clever architects and engineers built the Saskatchewan Conservation House, which had a compact design, continuous super-insulation, high-efficiency mechanical ventilation and summer shading. They had been asked to design a solar-powered house but Harold Orr wrote that they "came to the conclusion that solar heating of a home in Saskatchewan was not appropriate" -- so instead, they came up with the simpler, passive approach.

Today we face a different carbon crisis, and some architects and engineers are responding with the American Institute of Architects' 2030 commitment that calls for "all new buildings, developments, and major renovations to be carbon-neutral by 2030." One architect in very cold Duluth, Minnesota, is on target for 2030 right now. Carly Coulson describes her approach as "Invisible Sustainability", and it sounds very much like the Saskatchewan Conservation House:

With a conservation-first, keep-it-simple approach, we focus on the building envelope and elimination of heating and cooling loads. This alone can achieve a 70 -to-80 percent primary energy reduction without renewable energy systems....Integrated into our creative design process, energy modeling is used to analyze the methods and details that achieve deep energy reductions. We focus on solutions that are permanent and passive:

Compact building form
Continuous super-insulation
Winter passive solar heating
Summer shading
Elimination of thermal-bridges
Air-tightness
High-efficiency mechanical ventilation

Avoiding the trap of technology-creep, this passive approach simplifies and liberates. There is no dependence on complex systems that demand constant monitoring, maintenance, and eventual replacement.... Energy reductions are built-in and will last the lifetime of the building.

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Reply In praise of Invisible Sustainability (Original post)
NeoGreen Dec 2017 OP
Sanity Claws Dec 2017 #1
HeartachesNhangovers Dec 2017 #2
dembotoz Dec 2017 #3

Response to NeoGreen (Original post)

Fri Dec 22, 2017, 09:08 AM

1. What is used for continuous super insulation?

I remember some houses from this time period used some kind of foam whose fumes were toxic or at least deleterious to health. I forgot the name of the foam.

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Response to NeoGreen (Original post)

Fri Dec 22, 2017, 11:28 AM

2. What about ventilation?

I used to live on the CA coast where we could leave windows open all the time except for a few days a year. Now we're in southern WA where it gets a lot colder in the winter (high of 39F is forecast today), but not nearly as cold as most of Canada or the interior US. During the winter now, we close the windows at night and try to remember to turn off the heat and open the windows for a couple of hours a day. It gets pretty stuffy if we don't - even moreso when one of us cooks.

I remember reading years ago that there was possibly an increase in asthma or other respiratory ailments when buildings (especially office buildings) started getting more energy efficient in the 70's and 80's - basically they were being sealed up to avoid heat or cooling losses.

Is ventilation being overlooked? Is there already a solution I don't know about? Am I just a spoiled ex-Californian?

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Response to NeoGreen (Original post)

Sun Dec 24, 2017, 11:00 AM

3. There are trade-offs I am sure

Bet we can do a better job than we are doing now

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