From the category archives:

Buildings & Environment

A recent screening of an in-progress film, The Architecture of Life by Stephen Kellert and Bill Finnegan at the Yestermorrow School in Waitsfield, Vermont, started me thinking about the connection — or more possibly the disconnection — between biophilic design and environmental design. The former focuses its efforts on the user, attempting to provide a [...]

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On a sunny day in July, I was happy to find myself in Boothbay, Maine for the grand opening of our most recent net-zero project, The Bosarge Family Education Center at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Heralded by the press as “The Greenest Building in Maine”, this educational center is the first net-zero commercial/institutional project [...]

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I recently had the chance to travel to Montreal and present one of our Vermont projects, the net-zero Putney School Field House, at the international ASHRAE conference. This was an exciting chance for us to share with others how it really is possible to achieve net-zero in the cold climate of Vermont. This was also a [...]

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Image via Wikipedia There are many measures used for building energy efficiency: total kBtu, kBtu/sf/yr, kWh/yr, therms/yr, kWh/sq.m/yr, $/yr or kBtu/person, and more. But determining when to use which metric, and even more important, how to make sense of a comparison of the energy efficiency of two different buildings, is no easy task. An Example [...]

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Net-Zero Energy Buildings: Semantic Antics

Pat Heffernan on October 26, 2010

Is obfuscation one of your goals? I didn’t think so. It does seem to be a goal in many architectural, energy efficiency and sustainability circles though. The terms zero energy building, net-zero carbon, net-zero energy cost, zero net energy, net-zero energy site, net-zero electricity, near net-zero, and net-zero ready…are all tossed about to describe a [...]

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Net Zero Energy and Innovation

Pat Heffernan on September 24, 2010

I tend to think of net zero energy as a mindset rather than a single end point. True, there are those who favor purity, specific definitions and exact measurements whenever the term net zero energy is used, but for a layperson like myself interested in change, there’s value in thinking in terms of a never-ending [...]

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Building Design Choices at UVM

Pat Heffernan on August 21, 2010

As pleased as I was to see the new Jeffords building at the University of Vermont featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education, I must confess to being somewhat disappointed by the article. Although Dean Tom Vogelmann appears amiable and approachable in the first photograph, the remaining photos do little to convey the “functional elegance” [...]

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Image via Wikipedia Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) recently invited Christiane Egger from O.O. Energiesparverband, an organization similar to VEIC located in Upper Austria, to visit Vermont. O.O. Energiesparverband functions to promote energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in the federal state of Upper Austria. What is interesting is that the state of [...]

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Zero Carbon Britain before Zero Carbon Vermont?

Pat Heffernan on June 19, 2010

I’m jealous. I know it’s not becoming, but I can’t help it. We’ve been outdone not once, but twice. As a firm believer in the theory you’ll never get there if you don’t set a stretch goal, a BHAG, it’s inspiring but galling to find out from Alex Steffen and Amanda Reed that Britain has [...]

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The Promise A recent opinion piece by Alec Appelbaum in the New York Times caught my eye. In “Don’t LEED Us Astray,” Appelbaum wrote about the promise represented by the grand opening of 1 Bryant Park, a new LEED platinum-certified office tower in New York city. The tower is the first to rate platinum, the [...]

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