Posts tagged with "Photovoltaic panels":

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Solar panels get a much-needed design makeover

Let’s face it: no one has ever characterized a solar panel as being particularly attractive. In fact, they’re eyesores. While the environmental and business cases for photovoltaics are relatively easy to make, their aesthetic dimension has long been a losing proposition. “In states like California, solar is half the price of the local utility, even without subsidies,” explained Ido Salama, co-founder of Sistine Solar. “At the same time, it feels like all solar products look the same: they come in either black or blue, and, while solar panels work great, many people would describe them as ugly. At the very least, they look out of place on a roof,” he added. Rather than attempting to convince people to appreciate solar for what it is, Salama and company set out to build a solar panel that appeals to their sense of aesthetics instead. To that end, Sistine Solar introduced its SolarSkin technology—described on the company’s website as “solar with curb appeal”—in 2013 when its developers won the renewables track of the MIT Clean Energy Prize. Since launching SolarSkin, the company recently introduced its online Design Studio platform to allow anyone to design, customize, and price a solar installation.

How it works

Developed by MIT engineers, SolarSkin is a thin film specially coated with ultra-durable graphics and integrated onto high-efficiency solar panels. The technology employs selective light filtration to simultaneously display an image and transmit sunlight to the underlying solar cells with minimal loss in efficiency. The product is available in any number of colors and patterns, is compatible with every major panel manufacturer, and is available for both new and existing roofs. The end result is essentially a kind of camouflage for the typically drab photovoltaic panel. Sistine Solar’s new SolarSkin Design Studio is an online tool that allows architects, designers, and homeowners alike to design and order a customized solar system from a desktop computer or mobile phone. With a $99 refundable deposit, end users will receive a preliminary system design using LIDAR mapping, a detailed panel layout, guaranteed production figures, a realistic rendering, (where suitable image is available), and guaranteed delivery within 90 days. The Design Studio is intended to get customers more excited about solar, according to Salama. “Homeowners appreciate the transparency, customizability, and especially the ability to match their solar panels to their roof,” he said. “Architects and designers love it because for the first time, they have a product that allows them to showcase solar in a way never before possible—integrated, congruent, harmonious." In spite of the improvement to aesthetics, however, solar technology still faces a number of challenges in terms of market transformation. “Soft costs is one barrier,” he said. “Solar is so complex because every municipality has different rules when it comes to permitting solar.” Noting that it may take one to three days to physically install and wire up a solar system, Salama points out that it can take up to three months to get a permit. “If soft costs could be reduced—like streamlining the permitting process—we would see a radical transformation in adoption,” he suggested. Of course, affordable storage is an ongoing issue with solar technology. “When solar and storage become more economical than buying from the local utility, we will see a huge shift towards distributed generation and plenty of homeowners cutting the cord,” Salama predicted. Now that solar panels are eligible for a makeover, however, there’s one less hurdle to overcome—making the future of solar technology a little more attractive.  
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Steven Holl Architects’ colored photovoltaic glass design wins Doctors Without Borders competition

Steven Holl Architects, in collaboration with Rüssli Architekten, has been selected by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) to design the organization’s new Geneva Operational Center. The winning proposal’s playful design was selected unanimously over international proposals from Pool Architekten & Mak Architecture, Sauerbruch Hutton, Emilio Tuñon Arquitectos and Ruckstuhl Architekten, Blue Architects, and Consortium Sou Foujimoto with The New Talent Workshop. Broken up into several distinct cubic volumes and clad in a boldly colored photovoltaic glass curtain-wall facade, the building has been nicknamed “Colors of Humanity.” Much more than a decorative element, the glass is composed of 40-percent-transparent solar cells. By changing the color and permeability of the glass across the Operational Center, the facade can shade, cool and power the building all at once while still allowing operable windows. When combined with the more efficient photovoltaic panels nestled within the roof garden, and the Geneva district Genilac lake water loop, 72 percent of the building’s electricity will be self-produced. Providing workstations, meeting rooms, classrooms, and social spaces for over 250 Doctors Without Borders employees, the design also offers an inherently flexible approach to programming. By overlaying criss-crossing passages throughout the interior with seated alcoves and meeting spaces, the firm set out to spur spontaneous conversation and collaboration among the many different types of staff. “These centers serve as a friendly catalyst for interaction, acting like social condensers within the building,” Steven Holl Architects explained. Providing support for more than 6,300 employees across 23 countries, the Center will house several other international project teams such as the “International Office,” the international secretariat, which includes activities related to the Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, and various pilot projects. Keeping the diversity of the organization’s work in mind, the Center’s form and photovoltaic systems were designed with the possibility of expansion in the future. “Steven Holl Architects’ project is the opportunity for MSF to integrate its core values like independence, impartiality, neutrality, altruism and dynamism in a challenging new architecture and project itself in the future," said Mathieu Soupart, Logistics Director for the Geneva Operational Center, in a prepared statement. With an expected start date of spring 2019, the Geneva Operational Center will neighbor the Higher International Studies and Development, designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates, and the Terra and Casa Foundation expatriate housing by Bonnard Woeffray Architectes.
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A “New Blue House” in Germany brings together energy industry, science and public sector

"To make sure that all sustainability criteria are considered, we coordinate an integrated general planning team with clear communication structures and a customized working process from the first conception until the phase of use." - kadawittfeldarchitektur

Kadawittfeldarchitektur has built a modern energy efficiency center on the campus of Hochschule Niederrhein in Mönchengladbach, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The zero emission building is constructed to Passive House standards which require thermal bridge free design, superior windows, ventilation with heat recovery, quality insulation and airtight construction.  The driving idea behind the project was to unite the science and energy industry with the university in a collaborative effort to share innovative energy technologies with the public. The building accommodates an energy center for NEW, an energy and water utility company, along with an academic library, a startup center for new business ventures, and an energy laboratory for students. The building is designed to be an object in the landscape – a “solitaire” according to Mathias Garanin, Project Manager for kadawittfeldarchitektur.  “Due to its conception as a solitaire, it is a building without a rear elevation, a building that faces public space in all directions.” Garanin and the kadawittfeldarchitektur project team say the building volume was based on setback distances from neighboring buildings, creating a compact, five-sided volume clad with oppositely inclined blue tinted glass and photovoltaic panels coordinated with the orientation and incidence of solar radiation. “The NEW-Blauhaus building is kept at a distance in order to establish new relationships.” Benefits to the volumetric shape of the building include a favorable volume-to-surface ratio for energy efficiency and a relatively short interior travel distances to maximize collaboration.
  • Facade Manufacturer ertex solartechnik GmbH (photovoltaics), SUMMER facade systems (glazing)
  • Architects kadawittfeldarchitektur
  • Facade Installer SUMMER facade systems, A.Frauenrath BauConcept (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Rache Engineering GmbH (engineering)
  • Location Mönchengladbach, Germany
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System curtain wall system on five-story reinforced concrete structure
  • Products black aluminum profiles; floor-to-ceiling sashes with exterior soundproofing, fall-protection panes; dark-blue enameled panes; photovoltaic elements integrated in opaque panes; exterior solar shading device
While the architects have produced a formally engaging homogeneous skin, loaded with performative features acknowledging insulation requirements, acoustics, durability, and user comfort, perhaps the most important role of the building is to clearly communicate a high performance energy agenda. This is achieved in two ways: in the facade, which is clad with photovoltaic panels, and at the base of the building, where an energy center doubles as a showroom visible to onlookers from the exterior. Here, visitors can engage in displays showcasing sustainable energy, along with a specialized highly efficient reversible heat pump system involving an ice storage tank and chiller plant. kadawittfeldarchitektur says the facade is the building’s most exclusive means of expression. “As a significant part of the advanced energy concept, it communicates the approach to conserving resources to the outside and determines the identity of the architecture and its users in the urban environment.” A 4-foot structural grid establishes stacks of window and photovoltaic units that are variably rotated to most effective solar angles. Soundproofing panes located in front of the widow units work to compositionally complete the building envelopes patterned ornamentation. The window units are operable, providing individualized user comfort as required. The north facade receives enameled glass in place of the photovoltaic panels along the north facade were omitted from the design due to performative issues, and replaced with an enameled glass. The elegance of the envelope system inspired an interior design scheme of clarity and communication through “color blocking.” Based on the activity of the building as an energy generation system from dusk to dawn, the coloration of interior spaces combines hues of a defined color spectrum found in sunset and sunrise conditions.
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French proposal to pave roads with solar panels could provide power for 5 million people

French authorities have announced that it plans to lay over 600 miles of solar roads within five years. Research from a five year study in collaboration with highway company COLAS indicates that the roads could provide power to up to 5 million people, or 8 percent of France's population. However, some claim that the French government is merely subsidising French companies and not following the best road for alternative energy solutions. Project "Wattway," as it is being called, was launched last October with the French Agency of Environment and Energy Management stating that just over 13 feet (4m) of solar road (215 square feet to be precise) could meet the energy demands (except heating) of one home. On that basis, 5,000 residents could draw on their energy supplies from as little as 0.62 miles of solar road. https://twitter.com/RoyalSegolene/status/693861761179611136?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Five years of research deduced that French roads are only occupied by vehicles "10 percent of the time" and that the solution could pave the way for solving future energy demands. Looking at the specs, the surface uses polycrystalline silicon cells, which are "encapsulated in a substrate," forming high yield solar panels. Only 0.28 inches (7mm) thin, the panels have an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio which allows them to deal with the weight of pretty much all motor-vehicles. For those thinking that driving on solar panels has the potential to be hazardous, fear not. Snowplow tests have been passed and the panels com equipped with all-weather skid-resistant coating. “These extremely fragile photovoltaic cells are coated in a multilayer substrate composed of resins and polymers, translucent enough to allow sunlight to pass through, and resistant enough to withstand truck traffic,” said COLAS. It's not just homes the roads could potentially power. Outlining the possibilities for "intelligent roads," COLAS said how they could be used for real time traffic management, self-driving cars, charging moving electric vehicles and eliminating black ice. What's more, COLAS said that the panels can be "directly applied to existing roads, highways, bike paths, parking areas, etc., without any civil engineering work." On top of that, the panels can last up to 20 years in areas that see infrequent traffic, meanwhile COLAS estimates the lifespan of the panels in regular traffic conditions to be 10 years. For example, if the quickest route from Caen in the North of France down to Marseille were to be covered, residents in both cities could be powered for 52 years if the panelled road lasted 10 years (and was removed afterwards). How Legitimate are COLAS's claims? France gets 1,600–2,000 sunlight hours per year. Taking the minimum of that, and subtracting 10 percent (road occupancy from vehicles) that leaves 1,440 sunlight hours per year. Interestingly, COLAS's claim of powering one home every 13 feet arose from the presumption of roads receiving only 1,000 sunlight hours per year, indicating that they are being extremely stringent with their study. Unsurprisingly, COLAS's panels have a lower percentage yield than current photovoltaic market solutions, offering 15 percent solar yields compared to 19 percent, but one can presume that this is a byproduct of making the panels roadworthy and their altered angle of incidence. This equates (by COLAS' calculations) to the panels costing $6.73 per Watt. However, according to Olivier Danielo of DDMagazine, this is "six times the cost "of large-scale photovoltaic cells." Danielo has reason to be skeptical. COLAS specialize in highway construction and by creating an "energy efficient" solution actually implement roads that have a shorter lifespan than regular roads, thereby giving themselves more work. Surely it would be far more efficient to equip houses who can utilize the optimum angle of incidence in conjunction with the most efficient photovoltaic (PV) technology? Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance ("Solar Insight Team") backs Danielo's claims up.  https://twitter.com/solar_chase/status/696658947252609024 Danielo and Chase aren't the only ones concerned, either. French engineer Nicolas Ott said that the energy payback from rooftop PV's is 7.5:1 compared to Wattway's 1.6:1. COLAS also claim to have "invented" the solar road when this is not the case. SolaRoad, a bike path in Krommanie in the Netherlands produced better than expected yields. However, when compared to three rooftop PV systems in the same area of the prototype road, data showed that rooftop PV's was double that of the SolaRoad per square meter over the same period. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-ZSXB3KDF0 Nonetheless, installation of the French solar road panels is set to start soon with funding coming from raising taxes on fossil fuels. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZNJhcNq9q4
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Koning Eizenberg blends old and new

In 2006, the 28th St. YMCA was added to the City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments List, and in 2009 it was added to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places.

In 1926, just three years after becoming the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Paul R. Williams designed a landmark YMCA building on 28th Street in Los Angeles. Nearly ninety years later, the building has been restored, and transformed, into a modern multi-family housing complex. Koning Eizenberg Architects (KEA) worked on the project for Jim Bonner, FAIA, architect and executive director of the nonprofit affordable housing organization Clifford Beers Housing. The architects restored the historic 52-unit building, reorganizing the layout into 24 studio apartments, and constructed a new 5-story, 25 studio apartment building next door.  The project features a perforated metal screen scrim wall, an integrated photovoltaic panel wall, restored historic stone work. and a shared roof deck that programmatically connects the historic building with it’s modern neighbor. There were two very different projects involved: a substantial restoration and a 5-story new infill construction building. Brian Lane, Managing Principal at KEA says these two projects were “married at the hip”: “We were digitally analyzing Paul Williams’ work on top of crafting our own work.” The architects carefully looked at shadow lines to understand the restored, cast-stone balcony and other components, generating drawings from a careful analysis from historic photographs, looking at shadow lines to understand profiled depths of the historic work. This commitment to digital analysis is most noticeably exploited on a new perforated metal scrim wall, visually buffering the apartment buildings’ circulation system from the sidewalk. The patterning and tabbing of the aluminum metal panels are derived from digitally-controlled abstractions of historic ornamentation found on Williams’ building. In addition to the two-dimensional surface treatment of the aluminum, the panels are assembled on a sub-frame that incrementally rotates outward to provide views of nearby downtown Los Angeles. Julie Eizenberg, Founding Principal of KEA, says that this move creates an effect that is “less rigid,” and “loosens where things begin and end.”
  • Facade Manufacturer C.R. Laurence
  • Architects Koning Eizenberg Architecture
  • Facade Installer Alpha Construction Co., Inc.
  • Facade Consultants C.R. Laurence, Parker Resnick Structural Engineers
  • Location Los Angeles, CA
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System lightweight perforated metal screens with aluminum substructure framing, wall-mounted photovoltaic array, stucco cladding
  • Products Tinco Sheet Metal (metal panels), Sunpower (photovoltaic system), Sun Earth (solar hotwater), Series DPS200C Deluxe Perforated Panel System, Shamrock Stucco applied by Ken Harges Plastering Co.
The wall system is the result of a collaborative and iterative design process with LA-based C.R. Laurence who, among other things, fabricated the panels.  KEA exploited design opportunities of die-cut metal fabrication after discovering a significant cost savings over newer water jet-cutting technology.  This included experimentation with the perforation process: various radii were tested, and they developed a “hanging chad” perforation style that cuts and bends the metal at a controlled 37.5 degree angle.  The architect’s iterative process during the design phase of the metal screen wall included studies of numerous digitally abstracted patterns, laser-cut study models in chipboard, and mock-ups of the panels. By selectively controlling which perforations remain connected to the panel, a secondary pattern becomes visible in the panel. Lane says there was significant value brought to the project through this low cost fabrication method: “We got a real richness and depth to the panel in a very affordable way.” One of the successes of the screen is the dynamic visual quality of the screen through various lighting conditions. Sunlight is reflected off of the perforated screen during the day, while a soft backlit glow is emitted through perforations during the evenings. On the south facade of the building, a “rainscreen” made of jet black photovoltaic panels is set one foot off of the stark white stucco building facade. While some efficiency was lost by orienting the panels in a vertical array, locating the panels on the facade was done out of necessity. With the rooftop area taken up by various building systems, the south facade became an opportunity to integrate renewable energy features. In the spirit of this “low-tech/high-value” type of project, the PV array helps to block direct gain, while promoting air circulation behind the assembly. Architecturally, the project has been celebrated for it’s novel organization of building systems, its “low-tech” approach to adding value to standard building components, and its dialog between old and new (namely its registering of a digitally manipulated image of historic architectural ornamentation prominently on a primary facade). Outweighing the architectural innovations are the social and cultural benefits to the design, which re-establishes this building’s role as an important cultural community resource by bringing living quarters in compliance with contemporary standards and offers a sense of dignity to low income housing residents and staff.
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Hord Coplan Macht Pushes Performance at CSU

Ultra efficient curtain wall system marries transparency and sustainability.

For some institutions, building "sustainably" means doing the bare minimum—checking the boxes of government or in-house requirements and then moving on. Such was not the case at Colorado State University, where campus officials aspired to a higher standard for the new Suzanne and Walter Scott, Jr. Bioengineering Building. Though mandated by state law to achieve LEED Gold on new construction, the dean urged the architects—design architect RATIO Architects and architect of record Hord Coplan Macht (previously SLATERPAULL)—to aim for Platinum. At the same time, school authorities placed an extra emphasis on a tight envelope, having had difficulty maintaining pressurization in another recently-constructed facility. Thanks to a combination of an ultra-efficient curtain wall system, spray foam insulation, and exterior and interior sunshades, the designers exceeded the client's performance expectations without sacrificing the program's focus on visibility and connectivity. The ultimate goal of achieving LEED Platinum directly shaped the facade of the classroom and office building. "[The dean] wanted to get to Platinum," recalled Hord Coplan Macht's Jennifer Cordes. "We knew the only way to get there was if we had a significant building envelope designed to add photovoltaics." The PV panels themselves would have to wait, due to budget constraints. In the meantime, Hord Coplan Macht focused on two other challenges: the desire to prevent any loss of pressurization; and the need to rectify the design architect's vision of a glass box with the reality of the Colorado climate. "When we added these issues together, we had to get creative with the building envelope," said Cordes, who also acknowledged the role local municipal rebates played in incentivizing a high-performance design. The design concept for the Suzanne and Walter Scott, Jr. Building, said Cordes, "was to create the space in between. The space between the research laboratories and the student classrooms was really where the students were going to learn from the researchers." The architects arranged the labs along the north side of the building; faculty offices and teaching spaces line the south elevation. The programmatic separation allowed them to sequester the two components' mechanical systems—a boon to efficiency—and to carve the center of the building into a naturally-ventilated three-story atrium that is a perfect space for casual interactions among students, faculty, and staff.
  • Facade Manufacturer Kawneer (curtain wall)
  • Architects RATIO Architects (design architect), Hord Coplan Macht (architect of record)
  • Facade Installer J.R. Butler (curtain wall)
  • Facade Consultants Pie Consulting & Engineering (design review)
  • Location Fort Collins, CO
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System ultra high performance curtain wall system with sandstone accents, spray foam insulation, integrated external sunshades, internal sunshades
  • Products Kawneer 1600UT System1 curtain wall, Kawneer Trifab 451 UT thermal framing, Kawneer Versoleil SunShade outrigger system, Kawneer GLASSvent windows, SunGuard SuperNeutral 68 low-e glazing, SunGuard SuperNeutral 54 low-e glazing
Elsewhere, the focus on connecting students with faculty and researchers is materialized in large expanses of glass. Hord Coplan Macht's principal challenge was to rectify the emphasis on transparency with the mandate to minimize thermal gain. "We started to look at the window to wall ratio," recalled Cordes. "Our first [number] was outrageous. [So we looked] at how we could insulate a curtain wall system and get an R-value of 20 even within that." The solution, which the architects developed in concert with Kawneer, involved back-panning, adding polyiso behind all the spandrel glass to effectively decrease the window to wall ratio. They then added a sheet metal back-panning system inside the curtain wall frame for vapor barrier, plus insulation and GWB. Large panes of stone backed with spray foam insulation provided additional energy savings. "Spray foam insulation is very cost-effective, and you get a high R-value per inch," explained Cordes. "It allowed us to get some significant walls into our system." On the vulnerable south facade, the architects deployed both external and internal sunshades. On the exterior, an integrated sunscreen helps cut back on solar gain. On the interior, the designers sloped the ceilings to help bounce light into the space. The internal light louvers they used, which Cordes compares to "good-looking mini blinds," are "pretty impressive and work really well," she said. The interior shading system "managed the glare and also increased the daylighting, pushing light deeper into the space." All of the exterior glass carries a low-e coating, but the architects chose a higher visibility glass for use on the south facade, to further enhance daylighting. Installing the thermally broken Kawneer 1600 curtain wall system proved trickier than Hord Coplan Macht had anticipated, said Cordes, in part because the contractors—working during the winter—installed the back panning from the inside out, rather than the reverse. But the extra coordination was well worth it, as the project's LEED scores and post-occupancy energy and water use data have demonstrated. "With the caveat that the building is being used a little more than was projected in the model, it's performing better" than expected, said Hord Coplan Macht's Ara Massey. "Per the facilities manager, it's one of the best performing buildings on campus." For Cordes, no reward could be greater. "I think the one [thing] we're most proud of is that it's performing so well," she said.
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Perkins+Will Builds a Sustainability Beacon

Building technology research center features wood, integrated photovoltaics, and green wall.

When John Robinson began formulating a vision for the University of British Columbia's (UBC) Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), he did not start small. Robinson, who is responsible for integrating academic and operational sustainability at the university's Vancouver campus, dreamed of constructing the most sustainable building in North America, a monument to and testing ground for energy-generating strategies. Invited to join the project in 2001, architects Perkins+Will sought an approach combining passive design and innovative technology. Featuring a facade of locally manufactured wood panels, high performance glazing, solar shading with integrated photovoltaics, and a green wall sunscreen, CIRS is a living laboratory for the research and practice of sustainable design. The initial concept for the building included 22 goals centered on three themes, explained Perkins+Will's Jana Foit. First, CIRS was to have a net positive environmental impact. In addition, the structure was designed to provide an adaptive, healthy, and socially generative workplace for researchers, staff, and students. Third, CIRS would utilize smart building technologies for real-time user feedback and testing. The building envelope was a critical component of the project's overall environmental strategy on both conceptual and practical levels. "The overarching design idea is to communicate sustainability, to make it visible and apparent," said Foit. In terms of pragmatics, the architects focused on reducing heat gain and providing 100 percent daylighting to the interiors.
  • Facade Manufacturer Silva Panel (rain screen), Kawneer (curtain wall), Green Screen (vegetated screen), Solarity (PV panels)
  • Architects Perkins+Will
  • Facade Installer Heatherbrae Builders (rain screen), Glastech (curtain wall)
  • Facade Consultant Morrison Herschfield
  • Location Vancouver, BC
  • Date of Completion 2011
  • System wood rain screen, fixed sunshades with integrated PVs, green wall, high-performance glazing
  • Products Multiple Ply Cedar Panels from Silva Panel, Kawneer glazing, Green Screen vegetated screen, Solarity PVs
To reduce solar gain, Perkins+Will reduced the window area from the current code of 40 percent maximum to 31 percent. They installed fixed and operable triple-glazed windows on the ground floor, and fixed and operable double-glazed windows above. For cladding, the architects selected Multiple Ply Cedar Panels from locally-developed Silva Panel—one of the first solid wood products designed for rain screen application. "The exterior panels were detailed and designed to be removable, to allow for material testing and research," said Foit. CIRS' two-pronged solar shading program includes a network of fixed shades with integrated photovoltaics and a green wall. The former results in 24,427 kilowatt-hours per year in energy savings. The architects designed the green wall, meanwhile, to protect the west-facing atrium, which lacks a mechanical heating or cooling system. Together with a combination of solid spandrel and vision glass, the living screen achieves 50 percent shade during the warmer months. "The plants are chocolate vines, which lose their leaves in winter, allowing passive heat gain into the building," explained Foit. "In the summer, when the vines are in full bloom, the leaves provide shading for the atrium." In an important sense, the CIRS story did not conclude once construction was complete in 2011. Rather, the proof of CIRS' value as a demonstration tool is in its ongoing operations. The building returns an impressive 600 megawatt-hours of surplus energy to the UBC campus each year—and continues to rack up sustainability prizes, including the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada's 2015 Green Building Award. But perhaps more importantly, thanks to publicly available performance data and a "lessons learned" document compiled by UBC, CIRS has fulfilled Robinson's dream of promoting green design through the construction of a transparent, replicable model.
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Chicago’s Field Museum becomes just second such building to get Gold under LEED EB O+M

Chicago's natural history museum, the Field Museum, announced Monday it has earned a Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council under the LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance (EB O+M) program, becoming just the second museum in the nation to do so. (The Madison Children's Museum is the other.) Two of the museum's halls already achieved LEED certification separately, including its Conservation Hall, which is LEED Gold. But Monday's announcement marks a building-wide rating seldom seen for such building types—the hulking museum, made of limestone and Georgian marble, comprises nearly half a million square feet. Its 3D Theater is also certified under LEED for Interior Design & Construction. Greening a museum that dates back to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition was no simple task. (The current building opened in 1921, originally planned by Daniel Burnham and designed by his associate William Peirce Anderson.) In many places its neoclassical stone walls don't have an air gap with the interior brick and plaster, making it difficult to regulate the building's temperature. And, as was made clear when the museum applied for LEED certification, it doesn't function on a typical building's schedule. “A normal building might shut down at 5 [o'clock], but not for us,” said Ernst Pierre-Toussaint, the museum's director of facilities, planning and operations. More than 99 percent of the museum's collection is in storage, which has to be climate controlled and monitored constantly. Pierre-Toussaint said improving energy efficiency has been a goal for at least 15 years. Working with the Delta Institute—an environmental consultant that worked with the Field Museum on the project—Field Museum staff replaced about 30 percent of the building's 6,700 incandescent bulbs with LEDs, and installed 100 kilowatts of rooftop photovoltaic panels. Pierre-Toussaint said they hope to install up to 220 kW more—enough to offset 10 to 15 percent of the building's peak electricity demand —by 2025. The museum accounts for all of its natural gas consumption by purchasing renewable energy credits and carbon offsets. Much of the certification work came down to mechanical system logistics. The museum has 11 separate electric meters, and 13 for water use. Since some collections and accessible areas need to be heated—even during summer—while others are cooled, the museum installed demand-control ventilation to regulate air in sensitive exhibits individually. “We made huge strides over the past two years and are proud to share the results with our visitors,” said Richard Lariviere, the museum's president, in a press release. “One of the big challenges is planning long-term,” said the Delta Institute's Kevin Dick. “You can certainly make quick fixes. But you know an institution like this isn't going anywhere. So in 40 years what will this look like?”
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Steven Holl designs an addition to Mumbai’s City Museum inspired by Indian well architecture

Steven Holl Architects have been selected to design a new addition to Mumbai’s City Museum, besting finalists including OMA, Zaha Hadid Architects, Amanda Levete, wHY, and Pei Cobb Freed, among others. The 125,000 square foot white concrete addition will include 65,000 square feet of galleries, each with carefully calibrated natural light filtering down from overhead. Light is used as a device to draw visitors through the spaces. In addition to providing natural light, cuts in the roof form channels that feed a large monsoon pool adjacent to the museum. Inspired by India’s monumental well architecture, the pool serves a contemporary function: Lined with photovoltaic cells, the pool will generate 60 percent of the museum’s energy. Guy Nordenson & Associates is engineering the project, and Transsolar is serving as sustainability consultants. The international competition was the first ever held for a public building in India. Construction is expected to begin in 2015. steven-holl-museum-mumbai-07 steven-holl-museum-mumbai-06 steven-holl-museum-mumbai-04 steven-holl-museum-mumbai-03 steven-holl-museum-mumbai-02 steven-holl-museum-mumbai-01
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Public Votes University of North Carolina Solar Home as Decathlon Choice

This past weekend, a jury of architects, engineers, and market experts scored Team Austria’s home entry as the winner of the United States Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, a student design competition aimed at educating and encouraging thought about the affordability and efficiency of solar homes. As AN reported, the Team Austria private residential design is environmentally sensitive and easily adaptable, chosen for its overall energy efficiency, attractiveness of design, cost, and comfortable living conditions. However, of the 19 designs by collegiate teams from the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, and Austria presented in Irvine, California, the public had a dissenting opinion about the Decathlon winner. The People’s Choice Award vote went to UrbanEden from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; this concrete and glass-based modern structure was the majority’s favorite home entry. UrbanEden is a four-room home designed for ease of indoor to outdoor flexibility. It is envisioned as existing within the urban city of Charlotte and has been designed with materials for noise reduction as well as energy efficiency. The structure is built of geopolymer cement concrete, which the team claims is “one of the first-known uses of a geopolymer mix in a building envelope.” Inside its walls are a series of tubes circulating cool water to remove heat inside the house without a compressor or refrigerant. The entire south wall is constructed of glass windows and leads to an exterior patio that can be covered, weather permitting, by a retractable photovoltaic panel roof. The patio has a vertical garden to provide greenery, privacy, and a potential food source. With these innovative technologies, the entry won third place in the Solar Decathlon Engineering Contest. However, in aesthetics, the home also makes an impression. Light-filled rooms and the easy accessibility to an outdoors terrace provide a balance of nature within an urban environment. With the beauty and comfort of its design, the DOE believes that UrbanEden earns its People’s Choice Award. Solar Decathlon comments: “UrbanEden is a house people can imagine themselves living in. A house that could easily become a home.” All Images Courtesy DOE Solar Decathlon.