Creative, Sustainable Architecture & Design in the Home
More than two millennia ago, Socrates observed: “In houses that face toward the south, the sun penetrates the portico in winter, while in summer the path of the sun is right over our heads and above the roof so that there is shade.” More recently, when Mexican settlers arrived in the San Luis Valley of Colorado and wondered how thick to make the walls of their adobe homes in the new climate, they measured the depth of the burrows of the local ground squirrels and built to those exact specifications.
For a culture that takes pride in its scientific advances and the resulting technological, efficiency, and economic gains, we’re way behind the ancients and even those of more recent centuries when it comes to building in concert with local climatic conditions, a limited supply of natural resources, and our environment.
For example, buildings in the US use 40% of the nation’s total energy and 16% of its total water. Energy use associated with U.S. buildings contributes 35% of the country’s carbon emissions and 9% of global carbon emissions, the major cause of climate change. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, each year in the US, about $13 billion worth of energy – in the form of heated or cooled air – escapes through holes or cracks in residential buildings. Meanwhile, 20 days worth of solar radiation that reaches the earth equals the capacity of all our stored fossil fuel from gas, coal, and oil resources combined. Yet our addiction to fossil fuels and the lifestyles fed by an energy-intensive economy blind us to the finite nature of these reserves, the scale of our energy expenditures, and the availability of renewable energy supplies.
The good news is that globally and locally, people are using principles of sustainability to make lifestyle choices that feel best for their pocketbooks, health, environment, and our global future.
Sustainable design is design that considers environmental and human health and well-being and resource efficiency, in addition to the traditional criteria of function, cost, and aesthetics. This exhibit seeks to illustrate and celebrate the many ways that local people have explored more sensible, energy-efficient design models for their homes. By examining the site design, materials, methods, and spaces owners’ have used when making building and design choices, we can appreciate how these beautiful homes conserve energy and natural resources, while also creating comfortable and inspiring places to live.
Facts and terms from: Green Building: Project Planning & Cost Estimating, RS Means, 2002.
Photos by Marya Gendron, except where noted.
The exhibit, held during the Weekend at the Galleries in October 2006, showcased photographs by GRIP staff member Marya Gendron of innovative strategies locals have used to build green homes, including site and building design, energy efficiency and green and recycled materials. View the entire exhibit by choosing from the following categories:
Sustainable Building Principles
|SPONSORED BY:Adobe Techniques
Gila Sustainability Network
Mark Bighley Construction
Mark Richard Architect
|Richard S. Bigelow Construction Inc.
Santa Clara Woodworks
(Natural Building Resources)
Sun Bear Design & Build
Sun Cast Creations