Design

The Cloud Shower: Disruptive Shower Technology?

There are two types of technology change: Incremental and Disruptive. As a designer, disruptive is way more fun.

Incremental: How do we get more with less? For showers, building codes limit their consumption to 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) while green building rating systems are pushing manufacturers to get more with less; down to 1.5 gpm. The problem is that at a certain point there is a physical limit to the incremental change and efficiency gains will level off. My gut says that for shower heads this point is somewhere around 1.2 gpm. Any 50% reduction is something to be proud of, but it has taken a long time.

Disruptive: What if we ask a different question altogether: “Is there a better way to take a shower?” A couple startups are trying to answer this question with what they call a cloud shower. Previously only available as a luxury shower add-on, the technology is similar to a type of commercial humidifier. They claim that their technology not only uses 75% less water, but also provides a much more luxurious showering experience: providing more even coverage and rinsing more effectively. We now have a sudden 75% drop in water consumption, which also results in a major drop in the amount of water that needs to be heated, which in turn saves a lot of money. All this by simply swapping out a shower head! Brilliant!

Categories: Design, Education, Energy Efficiency, Technology | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Crozet Pocket Neighborhood #2: St George Cottages

Crozet, Virginia is becoming a vibrant, bustling, livable and walkable center. Within walking distance of all the amenities that this growing town has to offer in the heart of an existing neighborhood is the possibility of yet another community that shifts the focus away from the personal automobile to personal interaction. Click here to see the full design.

If you want to live here, invest in the concept, or help make it a reality please contact us.

Categories: Announcements, Architecture, Communities, Design | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Building January Luncheon: Creating Healthy Places

gvgbclogoOn January 10th, Dr. Matthew Trowbridge, Associate Professor in the UVA School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine and Director of the UVA-USGBC Green Health Partnership will discuss his work to simulate application of an integrative process to advance public health and well-being outcomes in the context of building design and construction. The Green Health Partnership seeks to answer the question “How might we establish a culture of health by creating healthy places, together? By applying green building principles of market transformation to promote healthy places, the partnership looks to better define the value proposition for health promotion within the built environment, develop tools for building and public health practitioners to create healthy places, and build technical capacity to apply health promotion tools. Work towards these goals includes the development of frameworks, such as a LEED v4 pilot credit – Integrated Process for Health Promotion, training and workshops, partnerships such as with Enterprise Green Communities and GreenStar Australia, and market development through engagement with real estate investors and GRESB.

Dr. Trowbridge will be joined by Julia Monteith, UVA’s Senior Land Use Planner and Andrea Trimble, UVA’s Sustainability Director, who will discuss the application of research work in relation to UVA’s on-Grounds planning, design, construction, and broader sustainability initiatives.

—————————————————————————————————–

This luncheon will be held at City Space, 100 5th St. NE, on the Downtown Mall, Charlottesville, VA. Doors open at 11:45 and the Seminar begins at 12:00. Luncheons are open to the public. Lunch is provided, attendance is free for GVGBC members and $10 for non members. Register Here

 

Categories: Announcements, Architecture, Design | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GVGBC September Luncheon: Biophilic Design for Cities

Join us at noon next Tuesday, September 12th for the monthly green building talk…

Biophilic Design for Cities: How Can it Transform Health and Wellbeing?

biophillic

Biophilia refers to our innate tendencies to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. This presentation will explore how biophilic design at a city-wide level can generate positive health and wellbeing. Firstly, it will present a theoretical framework that explains why nature has a positive health effect, together with a model of ‘green health’.   Examples of this model will be presented across three themes: mental health focusing on stress regulation; the life span (children and older people) and chronic health conditions (Alzheimer’s and Cancer Care) with examples drawn from around the world.

Speaker:  Jenny Roe is Professor of Design and Health, and the Director of the Center of Design and Health at the School of Architecture, University of Virginia in the US. An environmental psychologist, she has expertise in how the design of the built environment can maximize human flourishing and mental wellbeing.  Before her move to the USA, she worked alongside environmental scientists and health professionals as Leader in Human Wellbeing and Behavior Change for the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) exploring how best to build sustainable, resilient and healthy cities. Her research has pioneered methods for quantifying the health benefits of good urban design, using physiological indicators such as cortisol – the stress hormone – and mobile electroencephalography (EEG) to explore emotional activity on the move in cities, a form of ‘neuro-urbanism’. Much of her research explores health inequities in economically disadvantaged communities, including racial/ethnic minorities, children and teenagers, the elderly, and people with chronic health conditions including severe mental health problems.

This luncheon will be held at City Space, 100 5th St. NE, on the Downtown Mall, Charlottesville, VA. Doors open at 11:45 and the Seminar begins at 12:00. Luncheons are open to the public. Lunch is provided, attendance is free for GVGBC members and $10 for non members.

Register Here

Categories: Announcements, Communities, Design, Education | Leave a comment

Crozet Pocket Neighborhood

Crozet, Virginia is becoming a vibrant, bustling, livable and walkable center. Within walking distance of all the amenities that this growing town has to offer in the heart of an existing neighborhood is the possibility of a community that shifts the focus away from the personal automobile to personal interaction. Click here to see the full design.

r8

If you want to live here, invest in the concept, or help make it a reality please contact us.

Categories: Announcements, Architecture, Communities, Design | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ecovillage Charlottesville Updates

Check out the latest and greatest plans for the buildings of Ecovillage Charlottesville designed in collaboration with Øesch Environmental Design featuring compact, energy efficient living spaces in the form of flats and townhouses with a large indoor/outdoor shared kitchen and dining area spaces on the rooftop and the utmost attention to livability, natural light, privacy, energy efficiency, and functionality.

See the latest designs here:

Townhouse Exterior

Categories: Announcements, Architecture, Communities, Design | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GVGBC March 8th Luncheon: Pemeable Pavers

Join us downtown next Tuesday, March 8th downtown Charlottesville for the monthly seminar on green building.

This month’s luncheon gets into the nuts and bolts of permeable paving. We will learn how to utilize interlocking pavers to turn impervious surfaces into stormwater management tools, improving the area’s waterways.

The luncheon will be held at City Space, 100 5th St. NE, on the Downtown Mall, Charlottesville, VA. Doors open at 11:45 and the Seminar begins at 12:00. Register Here

shadowbox_paver_ecobay_james_01_13

Categories: Announcements, Design, Materials | Leave a comment

GVGBC Green Spaces Design Competition 2015

Check out the winning design of the Greater Virginia Green Building Council‘s 10th Green Spaces Design Competition. Each year the competition focuses team’s creativity on a forgotten space or building to reuse it in a new, sustainable and exciting way. This year’s competition focused on a beautiful historic high school building and grounds in Clifton Forge, Virginia.

main rendering 3b  fire pit 3  Courtyard

 

Categories: Announcements, Design | Leave a comment

North Country Natural Swimming Pool Project

Natural swimming pools are somewhat of a magical unicorn in the United States. Luckily that is beginning to change as people begin to re-evaluate the chemical processes that we have become accustomed to.

Here is upworthy’s article on this great swimming pool project that is challenging the industrial swimming pool.

nat pool

I wonder how this is the first of its kind, and it seems like there are very few professionals who understand this type of plant based system. If you’re wondering what to study in college, it is plant based alternatives to industrial processes and mechanical systems (yes, conventional swimming pools are an industrial process).

Categories: Design, Technology | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Bamboo Deck String Lights

Humans are predictable creatures. For some reason we feel more comfortable in places that are the right proportions and scale for the activity that occurs there. If you have found this post, then you are probably looking to make your deck more intimate, romantic, or inviting for reading, dining or talking. Lighting has long been used to “enclose” outdoor rooms to make the great outdoors feel more comfortable, and string lights have become a very inexpensive and effective way to do this.

DSC_0068

Bamboo Uprights

In order to get the deck lighting high enough to create a “roof” over a deck, the lighting needs to be 8 to 10 feet above the floor. Most decks have railing between 3 and 4 feet tall, so extra height will be needed to make the desired effect work. Bamboo is a very strong, extremely fast-growing grass that can grow in a large variety of climates, so it is a low-impact and in a lot of cases free choice for making the uprights (ie posts) that will hold the lights up. Above and beyond being very strong, renewable, and cheap, bamboo’s characteristic shape offers a few extra features that can reduce the amount of mechanical fasteners that you need to use.

Sourcing and Preparing the Bamboo

Do not plant your own Bamboo: the plant is not native in most locations and will quickly take over your yard and spread to your neighbors’. Look around where you live for a bamboo patch, chances are that the people whose property it is on will be more than happy to let you have a few twigs. If you are a bit shy, some garden centers may have it in stock.

Look for pieces that are between 10 and 14 feet tall, so that when the small top branches are cut, you will be left with a roughly 8 to 10 feet pole between ½” to 1” in diameter. On a deck, the number of uprights will either be the number of deck railing posts or every 6 to 8 feet. Cut the bamboo down close to the ground, then trim off all of the branches. When trimming the branches, leave ½” to 1” of the base of the branch attached to the pole, these branches sticking out just a little bit are how the string lights will be attached.

20150523_152310  20150523_152248

Attaching the Bamboo Uprights to the deck

The way that the bamboo uprights are attached to the deck will vary based on the deck construction but the concept is the same for all decks. The pole needs two points of attachment to the deck to make it stable and sturdy. Special brackets (think tiki torches) are available for just this task, but they will probably cost more than the string lights themselves. If you do go this route make sure that they are made to withstand the outdoors or they will break or rust all over the place.

In my case the deck railing overhangs the railing posts by an inch, so a simple bracket would not work anyway. two 3” long pieces of notched 2” x 2” treated lumber per bamboo upright did the trick nicely. Drill a hole to allow for a zip tie to grab the bamboo and use two exterior deck screws to attach the pieces of lumber to the outside of the railing post. Attaching the bamboo is as easy as tightening the zip ties because the natural bulge every 8 to 12 inches along the bamboo upright will act as a positive stop and keep the upright from slipping downward with gravity.

20150521_191605

20150521_190839  20150521_190646

Choosing String Lights

There is now a huge variety of string lights available. When using bamboo uprights, the huge commercial bulbs with thick cords will look too large, so pick ones that have thinner cords and smaller bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are a waste of energy so luckily LED technology has come a long way in the past few years.

The first thing to consider is how bright do you want the lights to be. There are really only two choices: mood lighting and illumination. If you are just looking to make the deck a more inviting place, then mood lighting is all that you need, and if you only need mood lighting, then solar powered string lights are a great way to go. They always turn on at dusk, don’t require any outdoor electrical plugs, don’t cost anything to operate, plus they still allow for stargazing and watching fireflies. Outdoor lamps can be used to supplement the lighting in the areas and times that it is needed.

lights

If you must have more light, then you need to look into plug-in LED string lights. When looking for LED string lights, look for reviews online to make sure that they do not strobe; cheaper sets often flicker at 60 hz, which can drive your eyes insane and will completely ruin the effect of calm. Make sure they are rated for continuous outdoor use.

lights2

The second thing to consider is the color of the light from the bulbs. LEDs are available in any color imaginable, so if you really want purple lights, go for it. I personally like the warm white type of lights (2700K) which produce a glow similar to incandescent bulbs.

Attaching the String Lights to the Bamboo Uprights

This is by far the easiest part of the process. Be gentle when hanging the string lights, especially with the solar powered ones. Pick a height on the bamboo uprights that looks right (start with 8 feet if you can’t decide), and wrap the string lights one turn around each bamboo upright above the closest branch to the desired height, then push the loop down to the branch and notice that the bamboo branch provides a stop so that the lights can’t slide down the upright.

20150521_191115

If you want your string lights to hover above the deck and attach the your house you have to get a little creative. Is it best not to drill any more holes in your house than there already are, and coincidentally most houses have attachments on the side like gutters or radon pipes that can be used to attach the lights to. Pay attention to any sharp objects that could cut the light string so use things like spring links (carabiners) to make the attachment to the house less straining.

20150521_190926

I hope that this has given you some more ideas about how to create an outdoor room that invites you to enjoy the outdoors.

DSC_0076

Categories: Design, Landscape Architecture, Technology | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.