LEED Platinum CoLab Building brings first-ever CLT structure to Virginia

September 13, 2019 by  
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Earlier this summer, William McDonough + Partners and HITT Contracting officially opened Co|Lab, an innovative research space in Falls Church that has received LEED Platinum certification for its high-performance design. It is also the first cross-laminated timber structure in Virginia and the first commercial mass timber building in the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a beacon for sustainable design, the impressive building incorporates a wide swath of green features — such as Cradle-to-Cradle materials and roof-mounted photovoltaic panels — and is expected to achieve Zero Energy Certification. Located close to HITT’s headquarters in northern Virginia, the 8,650-square-foot Co|Lab serves as a research and testing center for emerging materials and technology . In addition to a double-height lab workspace that offers room for full-scale spatial and building “mockups,” the building includes flexible meeting and conference spaces, all of which are oriented for maximum access to natural light. The layout is organized around the workspace to encourage engagement between clients and team members through direct observation and hands-on interaction. Related: Interview with green architect and Cradle-to-Cradle founder William McDonough Per William McDonough + Partner’s commitment to circular economy principles, Co|Lab is constructed with high-value mass timber elements that can be disassembled and reused or recycled if needed. The use of mass timber also reduces the building’s carbon footprint and aids occupant well-being. Cradle-to-Cradle, Health Product Declaration, Forest Stewardship Council and Declare products were also used to promote human and environmental health. All of Co|Lab’s energy consumption will be offset by a rooftop solar array to ensure zero-energy consumption. “We designed HITT’s Co|Lab based on our concept of building like a tree,” said McDonough. “Instead of just talking about minimal environmental footprint, we talk about beneficial environmental footprint — not just minimizing negative emissions — we talk about optimizing positive emissions.” The building will also pursue Petal Certification from the International Living Future Institute. + William McDonough + Partners Photography by John Cole Photography via William McDonough + Partners

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LEED Platinum CoLab Building brings first-ever CLT structure to Virginia

Certified Passive House in New York generates all of its own energy

August 13, 2019 by  
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In New York’s Hudson Valley, a beautiful new beacon for sustainable, net-zero design has taken root. New York-based North River Architecture & Planning recently added another energy-efficient build to its growing portfolio of environmentally friendly projects — the Accord Passive House, a modern home that has not only achieved PHIUS+ Certification but also boasts no net energy costs annually. Located in the hamlet of Accord, the contemporary house is sensitive to both the environment as well as the local culture and history. The architects drew inspiration from the rural farm buildings for the design of a gabled , barn-like house that emphasizes connection with the outdoors and flexible living spaces accommodating of the homeowners’ changing needs. As with traditional farm buildings, the construction materials were selected for longevity, durability and low-maintenance properties. Related: Architect designs and builds his dream Passive House in New York Galvanized corrugated steel siding wraps the exterior, while a trowel-finished concrete slab is used for the floor inside and is visually tied to the xeriscaped pea gravel patio that requires no irrigation. “Trim materials inside and out were chosen for their adaptive reuse and low resource extraction properties, including the use of engineered lumber for trim work, salvaged white oak slats and carmelized cork throughout the project,” the firm added. “The cork was used inside and out for its sustainable harvest and broad utility for acoustics, water resistance and insulation value.” Topped with a 9kW photovoltaic array, the impressive net-zero energy build was also created to show how Passive House design can be beautiful, resilient and comfortable without incurring sky-high costs. The firm said it has achieved “a competitive price per square foot relative to regional costs for this market niche.” During construction, the architects hosted open-house learning events to promote open-source sharing of energy-efficient design methods and solutions with the local community. + North River Architecture & Planning Photography by Deborah DeGraffenreid via North River Architecture & Planning

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Certified Passive House in New York generates all of its own energy

De Stijl-inspired modern home generates all of its own energy

July 10, 2019 by  
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When a couple decided to “break free” from their cookie-cutter home and realize their long-awaited eco-friendly dream home, they turned to Chapel Hill-based architect Arielle Condoret Schechter to bring their vision to life. With their grown son now out of the house, the couple wanted to downsize to a simple modernist home where they could peacefully age in place. Nestled in a secluded place in the woods of Chatham County, North Carolina, the resulting sustainable home is custom-designed to meet all their needs, from achieving net-zero energy to its modernist design with architectural elements inspired by the Netherlands-based De Stijl movement of the early 1900s. Completed earlier this year, the contemporary zero-energy home embraces the outdoors without compromising the clients’ needs for privacy. Along the front, street-facing elevation, architect Arielle Condoret Schechter installed a natural cypress screen that filters light, obscures views and references the surrounding woods. The windows along the front are also placed high up along the fiber cement walls. In contrast, the rear of the property is completely open to the outdoors with a large outdoor deck with full-height windows and walls painted with geometric blocks of primary colors in the style of the De Stijl art movement. “We want a house just for the two of us,” said the clients. “We don’t want to socialize. We want to be left alone to enjoy our life…[and have] a sheltered place to sit outside and watch the rain.” To meet the clients’ needs for aging in place, the architect created an interior with zero thresholds, curb-free showers and oversized doorways. Meanwhile, the couple can watch the outdoors in comfort from the south-facing deck that’s protected by a deeply cantilevered roof. Related: Net-zero Maine house is designed to blend into the forest with age The large roof overhangs around the entire house also help reduce solar heat gain and support a rooftop solar array. Highly efficient insulation wraps the home’s three rectilinear volumes to create an airtight envelope, while an energy recovery ventilator keeps indoor air fresh without producing ozone. In addition to following passive design principles such as maximizing natural light and ventilation wherever possible, the architect also installed windows and doors certified for Passive House Construction to ensure that the house archives Net Zero performance. + Arielle Condoret Schechter Images via Arielle Condoret Schechter

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De Stijl-inspired modern home generates all of its own energy

Sublime net-positive energy farmhouse pays homage to the local vernacular

May 17, 2019 by  
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These days, homes are being constructed with any number of sustainable features, but this modern farmhouse in Lincoln, Massachusetts is a veritable powerhouse of energy efficiency wrapped up in one incredibly gorgeous package. Designed by ZeroEnergy Design and constructed by  Thoughtforms , the 2,800-square-foot home drew inspiration from traditional farmhouses found throughout the area. However, the home’s pitched roof and homey interior conceal an awe-inspiring system of energy efficiency that enables the LEED Platinum design to achieve an impressive net-positive energy performance. Built on 1.8 ares of farmland, the beautiful design pays homage to Lincoln’s agrarian roots with a few modern touches added. The design consists of the main home with an adjacent garage, which is attached to the main living space via a covered walkway. Clad in cedar siding, the farmhouse holds court in the middle of a large green field surrounded by a fruit orchard. Related: LEED Platinum home generates net-positive energy in Oregon Reminiscent of the area’s traditional farmhouses, both structures feature pitched roofs. The main roof is clad in a 13.1kW array of solar panels that generates enough energy for the four-bedroom home and then some. According to the architects, the farmhouse actually produces 42 percent more electricity than it consumes, effectively making it a net-positive energy building. The living space is exceptionally bright and airy with an open concept layout and plenty of communal areas for the family to enjoy. Once again, the beautiful design hides a sophisticated system of energy-efficient features made possible by a very tight envelope. Using dense-packed cellulose and a continuous rigid insulation, the home features ultra-thick walls and roofs, eliminating any thermal bridging. High-performance, triple-glazed windows add to the building’s super-insulated envelope . In fact, after testing, the home has been found to be one of the tightest in the country. In addition to the impressive efficiency and gorgeous living space, the design also concentrated on the exterior landscape . Before construction, the lot was cleared of any invasive species and replanted with apple, pear, peach and cherry trees. A rainwater catchment system is planned in the future and will be used to collect run-off from the roof to irrigate the gardens and landscaping. + Zero Energy Design + Thoughtforms Via Zero Energy Photography by Chuck Choi via Zero Energy Design  

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Sublime net-positive energy farmhouse pays homage to the local vernacular

Labour Party launches solar panel program for 1.75M homes

May 17, 2019 by  
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Britain’s Labour Party has announced a major new green program, pledging to install solar panels on up to 1.75 million government-subsidized and low-income houses. In what has been called the start of a U.K. version of America’s Green New Deal , the goal of the project is to radically address climate change while creating green jobs. The Labour Party will provide free solar panels to one million government-subsidized homes and offer grants and interest-free loans for panels on up to 750,000 additional low-income homes. The panels will be enough to power the homes, providing residents with free electricity and savings of approximately $150 USD per year. Any additional electricity produced from the panels will return to the national grid, which the party says will become publicly owned by local authorities. The program will also provide nearly 17,000 jobs in the renewable energy  industry. Related: Britain celebrates first week without coal power since 1882 When completed, the 1.75 million solar-powered homes will reduce electricity-related carbon emissions by 7.1 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to taking four million cars off the road. Like the Green New Deal, the Labour Party’s green revolution promises to benefit low-income people and spur economic growth. This so-called “just transition” provides democratic access to energy sources at affordable prices as well as support for current employees of carbon-emitting industries to gain skills in green industries like renewable energy and technology . The program is led by Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, who said , “By focusing on low-income households, we will reduce fuel poverty and increase support for renewable energy. Social justice and climate justice as one. Environmental destruction and inequality not only can, but must be tackled at the same time.” Critics of the program, however, argue that solar panels on private residences are a distraction from addressing and regulating large-scale carbon polluters . Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Labour Party launches solar panel program for 1.75M homes

Inspiring zero-energy church in Iowa embraces nature in more ways than one

April 5, 2019 by  
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An inspiring new church in Coralville, Iowa is lifting spirits and bringing people closer to nature — while generating all the energy it needs on site . Iowa City-based firm Neumann Monson Architects designed the church for the Unitarian Universalist Society; the solar-powered building embodies the Society’s core principles with its organic architecture emphasizing sustainability, accessibility and flexibility. The energy-efficient building is currently on track to achieve Zero Energy Building (ZEB) certification from the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). Located on an existing open clearing so as to minimize the building’s impact on the forest, the Unitarian Universalist Society was built to replace an old structure that had multiple levels and many steps. In contrast, the new building was designed for greater accessibility to create more inclusive spaces, and it radiates an uplifting feel with its high ceilings and sloped roof that culminates into a peak in a far corner. The 133,592-square-foot church includes seven religious classrooms and six offices. It was also designed with input from the congregation’s 300 members. Designed for net-zero energy, the church is an all-electric building powered with a geothermal heat pump system and solar photovoltaic panels located on the building’s west side. To further reduce the building’s environmental impact, the architects installed bioretention cells for capturing and filtering all stormwater runoff. The landscaping features native grasses and woodland walking trails that engage the surroundings and are complemented with accessible food gardens. Materials from the property’s existing residence — deconstructed by volunteers — were donated to local nonprofits. Visitors also have access to charging stations. Related: Canada’s largest net-zero energy college building opens in Ontario “The Unitarian Universalist Society facility harmonizes with its natural landscape to provide reflective spaces for worship, fellowship, religious education and administration,” the architects explained. “Beyond fully-glazed walls , the forest provides dappled intimacy. The sanctuary’s prow extends south, a stone’s throw from a mature evergreen grove. Services pause respectfully as deer and woodland creatures pass.” + Neumann Monson Architects Photography by Integrated Studio via Neumann Monson Architects

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Inspiring zero-energy church in Iowa embraces nature in more ways than one

Prefab timber complex shows off net-zero energy technologies in Beijing

January 16, 2019 by  
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Beijing-based architecture firm SUP Atelier has completed the Xuhui Demonstrative Project, a solar-powered community complex that serves as a demonstration project for net-zero energy technologies in Beijing. Built to follow BREEAM and LEED standards, the complex boasts an array of sustainable features ranging from low-waste prefabrication to green roofs. Real-time monitoring and smart automation optimize energy savings and comfort levels. Commissioned by Xuhui Group’s Beijing office for the Xuhui No. 26 Block in Shunyi District of Beijing , the Xuhui Demonstrative Project serves as a small-scale sharing space with rooms that can be digitally booked by residents. The project consists of three main buildings — a fitness center, a meeting room and a book cafe that doubles as an exhibition space — organized around a central sunken permeable courtyard that retains and purifies rainwater. Accessed via wooden boardwalks, each unit is prefabricated from timber; the modular design allows for flexibility and reduced construction waste. “As an experimental platform for prefabricated buildings with zero energy consumption, the project has established an integrated mechanism of the ‘design-construction-test-feedback’ process,” SUP Atelier explained in a statement. “With the help of information technology, the analysis of sustainable indicators can bring forth implementation methods, which can fit in newly built and renovated buildings in cold areas or serve as prototypes in both public and housing projects.” Related: MAD Architects to transform an ancient Chinese courtyard into a kindergarten with a “floating roof” To protect against Beijing’s cold winters, the buildings are wrapped in a high-performance, double-layered timber envelope as well as composite facades with photovoltaic double-glazed glass. Raised roofs with air-ducting devices help mitigate the summer heat and promote natural ventilation. Renewable energy is drawn from film glass, photovoltaic panels and a hybrid heating system that taps into solar thermal energy and an air-source heat pump. + SUP Atelier Via ArchDaily Photography by Su Chen and Chun Fang via SUP Atelier

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Prefab timber complex shows off net-zero energy technologies in Beijing

From farm to table, sustainability shines at the Belle Mont Farm eco resort

January 16, 2019 by  
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Anyone who has savored the beauty of the Caribbean can attest to its splendor. Not only are there captivating coastlines, but the islands in the area are accustomed to managing limited resources and are naturally focused toward sustainable development. One eco resort, Belle Mont Farm, has taken steps to lead the way in creating an earth-friendly luxury option in the region. The Belle Mont Farm on the island of St. Kitts, West Indies is a sanctuary that encompasses a lush golf course lined with crops and fruit-laden trees that you can enjoy as you play. The resort encourages physical activity in the surrounding natural environment, allowing you to skip typical paved walkways in exchange for miles of fertile farmland , tropical forest, cane fields, fruit groves and pastures. Related: Green-roofed eco resort on Easter Island designed to blend into the landscape In fact, an opportunity to immerse yourself in the physical environment is one of the main goals of the farm. From there, designers believe there are four pillars to sustainable development. The first is art and culture. Belle Mont Farm is dedicated to exposing visitors to the fine arts by hosting several festivals each year, ranging in theme from film to photography to music to culinary, and it hosts a film institute and resident art program. The second goal is to financially contribute to the local economy. The eco resort does this by hiring local vendors; the entire campus was built using local contractors. This has driven millions of dollars back into the community rather than exporting it elsewhere. Related: Stunning sustainable resort in Colombia built out of compressed-earth blocks and bamboo Social responsibility is the third element of sustainable development, which simply means that the Belle Mont Farm aims to maintain the culture and history of the island through consistent, heritage-based architecture that remains true to the fabric of St. Kitts. Finally, Belle Mont focuses on ecology by focusing on stewardship of the natural environment through sustainable practices and net-positive food production. Some of the steps toward sustainability include transitioning to complete renewable energy and making electric cars available to guests. Plus, the farm-to-table program creates a sustainable model for resort dining with fresh, organic vegetables and catches from the surrounding ocean. “My vision is to bring together community and culture, mindful conservation of natural resources, along with rewarding activities and learning opportunities,” said founder Val Kempadoo. “This means we can offer an unforgettable experience while bringing lasting, life-changing benefits to the local people and economy.” + Belle Mont Farm Images via Belle Mont Farm

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From farm to table, sustainability shines at the Belle Mont Farm eco resort

This beautiful Washington cabin meets net-zero targets even in extreme temperatures

September 13, 2018 by  
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Nestled in a historic mining area in Washington State’s Cascade Mountains, a holiday retreat offers luxurious comfort without compromising sustainability targets. Despite the region’s freezing cold winters and extremely hot summers, Bainbridge Island-based Coates Design Architects crafted the Tumble Creek Cabin to net-zero energy standards using renewable energy and passive solar strategies, rather than traditional energy consumptive cooling and heating systems. Powered by solar energy, the energy-efficient cabin boasts a contemporary design with an abundance of full-height glazing to look out on the landscape beyond. With a natural palette designed to evoke the region’s mining history, the 3,835-square-foot Tumble Creek Cabin is mainly built of stone, Corten steel and reclaimed barn wood. The steel and timber elements are left exposed throughout, while floor-to-ceiling glazing establishes strong connections with the outdoors. To minimize the home’s energy usage, Coates Design Architects oriented the home to follow passive solar principles and mapped the interior layout to conserve energy as much as possible. The self-contained entry vestibule and mud room, for instance, doubles as an air lock to stop chilly drafts and unwanted hot air from entering the main living spaces. Designed as “a legacy piece” for the clients’ extended family, the vacation home includes two primary bedroom suites and a bunk room in the main residence, and an additional guest room can be found in the separate extension. An L-shaped open-plan great room on the east side of the main house is anchored by a massive board-formed concrete fireplace and opens up to a spacious patio. A winding outdoor walkway leads from the patio to an outdoor spa and a freestanding garage on the southwest side of the site. Related: Weathering steel wraps around a solar-powered California home In addition to a 10 kWh photovoltaic array on the roof, the cabin relies on radiant underfloor heating and an energy recovery ventilation system; both systems can be monitored and adjusted remotely. Energy-efficient aluminum-clad wood windows and doors were installed, as is a Tesla Powerwall for electric vehicle charging. + Coates Design Architects Images via Coates Design Architects

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This beautiful Washington cabin meets net-zero targets even in extreme temperatures

Net-zero home brings sustainable design to a walkable Iowa City neighborhood

August 31, 2018 by  
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A 1960s home has been reborn into an eco-friendly abode with an impressive net-zero energy footprint. Designed by local architecture firm Neumann Monson , the Koser II is a single-family home that combines forward-thinking sustainable strategies within a contemporary envelope in a leafy and walkable Iowa City neighborhood. Powered by solar and geothermal energy, the home doesn’t sacrifice comfort or luxury in its pursuit of energy efficiency — it even includes a beautiful backyard pool. Covering an area of 2,850 square feet (including a 420-square-foot finished basement), the Koser II house is mainly spread out over a single level. To provide privacy, the street-facing facade is primarily clad in dark cedar planks and punctuated with few windows. A long slatted timber screen near the entrance also shields the home from views and frames an outdoor dining area. In contrast to its introverted exterior, the home’s interior is bright and airy with full-height glazing that lets in plenty of natural light and views. “The design bears the mark of the 1960s home that came before it,” the architecture firm explained. “Removing the existing house’s superstructure and incorporating its slab-on-grade foundation into the new construction makes the most of the predecessor’s limited potential. Additional foundations and a concrete collar support exterior walls of nine- and 10-foot pre-cut studs. Their height differential provides adequate slope to the 14-inch truss-joists spanning the 20-foot width. Operable windows extend to the ceiling plane, maximizing daylight penetration and encouraging cross-ventilation .” Related: After a makeover, this local “shack” becomes the envy of the neighborhood The renovated home also features foamed-in-place insulation and a continuous rigid insulation shell with R-24 walls and an R-40 roof. The light-filled interior is supplemented by LEDs at night and equipped with EnergyStar appliances. Radiant floor heating is complemented with a geothermal climate control system connected to an underground horizontally bored loop. A rain garden in the backyard mitigates stormwater runoff, while a 10.08kW solar array brings the home to zero-energy building performance. + Neumann Monson Images by Cameron Campbell Integrated Studio

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Net-zero home brings sustainable design to a walkable Iowa City neighborhood

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