There is a lot of attention being paid these days to the idea of “green” building. It is high time for this since we are addicted to fossil fuels for energy and buildings are responsible for a large percentage of our energy consumption. Before we rush into the “feel good” state of automatically calling for the use of recycled materials as our major response to environmental concerns lets step back and look at the larger picture.
Over the last 50 years the size of the average American dwelling unit has more than doubled. Larger is not necessarily bad; we design with generous proportions for our clients. It is worth taking a good look however, at what we really want and need; since the larger the house, the more materials required to construct it, and over time, the more energy required to maintain it.
How much space do you really need? Does doubling the size automatically equate to an increased quality of life?
RESPONSE TO THE CLIMATE
A cookie-cutter design located irrespective of the building location is anything but a “green” approach. As an example, a thoughtfully designed house on the Northern California coast will look much different than one located in the Sacramento Valley. Design responses to the sun and the wind will vary greatly in these two locations. Do we welcome the sun or do we protect from it? Do we welcome the wind as a resource for cooling or do we shelter from it in order to conserve energy?
Where will your house be located?