Tuesday, December 23, 2008

D9 or EO?

As far as I know, I am not lysdexic. (Brad, I'm not making fun of you)
I could have picked up on this much earlier, but honestly, I just couldn't have believed the depth and breadth of the ineptitudes. The saga of the Stompaz' D9 Apocolyptic Jerzeez is full of that made-for-the-big-screen drama, and surprises around every corner.
The latest intrigue comes from our D9 logo / stencil that was irreversibly reversed on the sleeve. You may note that it says, "EO" instead of "D9."
Since we carry around mirrors to remind ourselves that we're not vampires, we can use them to see the D9 as a proper D9.

As usual, SteveZ is on the task of backtracking through confidential documents to get this sitchewation rectanglified. Do not panic. Do not worry.

Happy Chriztmaztime.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Valley Journal 12.18.08

CARBONDALE, Colorado — The type of community organizing that defined President-elect Barack Obama’s early political career might just be an answer for Carbondale businesses as they look for ways to help each other survive the current national economic downturn.

Namely, Carbondale could benefit from a more inward focus when it comes to an organized, concerted effort to encourage local residents to support local businesses and services.

These same ideas were promoted by the Carbondale Economic Localization group that had been meeting in recent years, pointed out Steve Novy of Greenline Architects during a roundtable discussion among local business leaders last Thursday.

“At the core, Carbondale is much more savvy than a lot of other communities when it comes to working together to find solutions,” Novy said.

The meeting was part of a two-day “Community Conversation on the Economy” sponsored by the Carbondale Chamber and the town of Carbondale.

That “conversation” will continue next month when business and community leaders are asked to reconvene, and this time bring at least one more person each to the table. The next meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 8 at Town Hall.

“The most intriguing thing to me is that Carbondale already has this ability to be self-supporting, and self-sufficient,” Novy said. “It’s a concept people have embraced, and it’s a way to stay healthy in a weak economy.”

But that’s not to say the effort to maintain and build the local economy should stop at the town limits, pointed out Adam Odoski, owner of the Via Viva imports store in downtown Carbondale.

“We are forced to come together and think about each other in tough economic times,” Odoski said. But that also means marketing Carbondale on a broader scale, he said.

“Carbondale is a tricky spot to do business,” Odoski said. “There is a seasonal draw, but there is not as much going on year-round to attract people to Carbondale.

“We need to come up with a brand, and push that brand regionally and even on a national level,” he said.

The event began with a Wednesday panel discussion bringing together three local financial experts to assess how the national economic crisis evolved, what’s being done nationally to address it, and what local communities such as Carbondale can do to weather the crisis.

“One of the things we can do is keep things local, and work together to encourage people to shop local and focus on our local economy,” said Farrah Roberts, senior vice president of Alpine Bank in Carbondale, and a member of the chamber’s board of directors.

Joining Roberts on the panel were Ron Speaker, president and CEO of the Carbondale-based Equus Private Wealth Management, and Dan Korleski, chief investment officer for American National Bank.

“Be glad you are in Carbondale, Colorado, because it is a better place to survive this crisis,” Speaker told the 75 or so citizens who attended.

That’s because the kinds of unique solutions required to pull through a major recession are more likely to catch on in smaller communities that are already used to working together to address problems locally, he said.

The crisis on a national level was a result of too much greed and too many consumers spending beyond their means, the panel agreed. The recession will likely prompt consumers to rein in their spending habits, but what spending they do is more likely to be done locally, they said.

Carbondale resident Wendy Anderson turned it back onto the bankers on the panel to help the local community find solutions.

“Banks are getting bailed out, but we’re not,” Anderson said of the recent $700 billion federal bailout package. “We need you to stand up as leaders and help bring it back to Main Street, and look at what kinds of things can be done in the way of grants to small businesses and micro-enterprising.”

Friday, March 14, 2008

Going Whole Hog on Green Homes

As green architects, we are often asked to design a truly green home. Here’s how we do it:

There is so much complexity and there are so many choices in designing a green home, we use what we call an integrated or “whole systems” design process. This process looks at the interaction of all the systems in and around the home with the intent of having all of those systems work together to gain maximum efficiency in the design and operation. Whole Systems Designs integrate all of the site, building and occupant needs. They also set the bar for reducing impacts on the earth.

No single system, like solar hot water panels, can make a home green. So, to get to truly green designs, we take cues from historical architecture and add to that what we learn from design in nature. This can be a somewhat challenging task. To achieve this level of design, we address all the following issues:

Appropriateness of the site for development: (Some places shouldn’t be developed!)

Aesthetics: (Just because its green doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful; it must be.)

Comfort: (Green buildings are naturally comfortable.)

Space efficiency: (Smaller is better when you’re trying to reduce impacts.)

Energy efficiency: (An energy efficient home costs less to operate and demands less from our municipal infrastructure)

Quality and durability: (Houses should last a long time, 75 years or more, and materials should last, too, and be low-maintenance.)

Responsible material use: (Materials should be from rapidly renewable sources and should be found locally whenever possible, such as engineered wood products made from aspen trees.)

Healthy indoor environments: (Great indoor air quality makes for a healthy home.)

Reuse and recycling: (Materials can be selected that have an “afterlife!”)

Lifecycle design: (Finding out how long it takes for a system to pay for itself helps you decide which system to use.)

Reduced water use: (The utmost in importance in our arid mountain and high desert climates.)

It’s quite a list, I know. To do it right takes a small team of talented individuals. You may have an architect, a builder, a structural engineer, mechanical engineer, lighting designer, acoustic engineer … it all depends on the project and the priorities of the owner.
We assemble this fantastic design team in what we call a “design charrette.” A design charrette can be as simple as having the owner, architect and contractor at the table for key meetings, or as involved as a two day marathon with all of the stakeholders in the same room hashing out design ideas. The advantage gained from a design charrette is that the team members get to know each other by working together up front on the project. Great amounts of information can be analyzed and synthesized into design ideas when the entire team is working together; essentially, multiple heads are better than one for brainstorming creative solutions to tricky design challenges. And everyone walks away from the design charrette with a clear idea of his responsibilities on the project and his next tasks.
You’re probably asking yourself: Does it cost more to get really green using this whole systems approach? Probably in the design, but not necessarily in the construction. The beauty of a fully integrated, whole systems design is that many of the systems get downsized and sometimes even eliminated! What we’ve found is that if you attack the problem from all angles, you arrive at a solution that is so efficient that it becomes simple and cost-effective.
So, be creative, understand your impacts, and whenever you can, go whole hog!

By Steven A. Novy
March 12, 2008

For more information on Whole Systems Design, Google: Building Science Corporation, Living Building Challenge, LEED for Homes, and Built Green Colorado.

Steven A. Novy, AIA is a principal and partner in Green Line Architects, PC. A small collaborative firm in Carbondale, Colo., that is committed to designing truly sustainable, beautiful, functional homes.