Posts Tagged With: Passive solar building design

Green Building March 13th Luncheon: PHIUS+ Passive Multifamily Buildings

Large multifamily buildings in mixed humid climates present unique challenges and opportunities for energy efficient design. Dominance of internal gains from plug loads, lighting, appliance density, and base building loads create energy balance profiles where heat gains are a serious issue and solar gains must be carefully controlled. Come learn about the PHIUS+ Passive Building standard and how this approach optimizes design of this building type to minimize cooling demand and energy use, delivering buildings with superior comfort, air quality and durability. Case studies of several multifamily projects transplanted to C’ville and optimized for this climate will be included.

This month’s presenter is Prudence Ferreira; a founding partner and Managing Director of Passiv Science LLC. Ms. Ferreira is a licensed instructor for the Passive House Institute US and regularly teaches the Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC) training, WUFI Passive modeling, and Advanced Hygrothermal Analysis around the US. Prudence has served on the PHIUS Board of Directors since 2011 and is a founding member of the PHIUS Technical Committee. She has consulted on passive building projects across 7 different climate zones including sub-arctic, tropical and high altitude locations.

Free for members and $10 for nonmembers. Lunch will be served.

When:
March 13th, noon to 1:00pm (lunch provided)

Register for Lunch Here!

Where: 
City Space
100 5th Street, NE, Downtown Mall, Charlottesville, VA

 

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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

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Underground Greenhouses

Earth Sheltered Greenhouses use the fact that the earth is a stable temperature all year round to greatly extend the growing season. These were known to native people as walipini or “place of warmth”

http://www.inspirationgreen.com/pit-greenhouses.html

There are so many different types of greenhouses and clever adaptations that books upon books have been written on the subject. Has anyone seen really clever designs in action?

pitgreenhouse

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Underground Housing and Earthworks classes

Two great classes are coming up in the charlottesville area, both are donation funded and located at the Ivy Creek natural area. The first is an introduction to Underground Housing on Sunday, April 20, 2014 from 11am – 7pm. If you’d like to get a little background before you go, look up Malcolm Wells in google!

undergroundhouse

The second is an introduction on shaping the landscape to build soil, improve fertility, and make food for yourself! Sunday, May 4, 2014 from 11am – 7pm in the Ivy Creek Natural Area Educational Building. If you’d like to get a little background before you go, look up Permaculture Earthworks in google!

earthworks

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

Site Solar Shading Survey App How-to Guide

The first thing you need to do before building any sort of solar-powered project is to figure out how much sun the site receives. Trees, mountains and houses can all block solar energy from reaching whatever you have collecting it. In the olden days you would go out to the site armed with a compass, protractor, cardboard, string and a washer and plot out the obstructions on paper. Now we have some slick apps for android phones and tablets to help us. Here’s a guide for making a Solar Site Survey Chart using apps for android with a little post processing on a computer.

1. Use the Solar Shading app to make a new project and trace the solid horizon. Follow the directions for the app; there is no need to repeat them here.  Make sure that the program knows your position or things will be thrown off. It is important to trace just the mountains and other solid things that aren’t going anywhere because you certainly can’t change those. Use the share icon in the app to export the pdf of the report; it is useful as it is, but we’ll do more with it later.

dbh

2. Use the Solar Shading app to make another new project and trace the “green” horizon. This time, trace the outer edge of all the trees and any other objects that aren’t completely solid. Use the share icon in the app to export the pdf of the report; again, it is useful as it is, but we’ll do more with it later.

dbs

3. Download all of the reports from your phone to a computer.

4. Download a clean solar chart online for the survey location from http://solardat.uoregon.edu/SunChartProgram.html

Sun Chart - Charlottesville

5. Use Photoshop, GIMP, or another image editor that allows the use of layers to superimpose and line up the solar chart made in step 4 over the chart that the app made in step 1. On a new layer use the paintbrush and masks to make a clean horizon on the chart. Hide the chart from step 1.

SS - Powerline Trail-horizon

6. Now bring the solar chart that the app made in step 2 under the chart built-in step 6 just like you did in step 5. On a new layer use the paintbrush and masks to make a clean “green” horizon on the chart. Hide the chart from step 2. Put some text to let everyone know where in the world the survey was taken and you’re done.

SS - Powerline Trailsummer

7. Doing the survey with the less expensive augmented reality apps SunPlan and Sun Surveyor is a similar process, but is more labor intensive. Use the app to take augmented reality screenshots to create a panorama on a computer later. I like to turn on the winter and summer solstice sun paths in the app because it gives a nice reference point when using them later. It’s a good idea to take a panorama even if you used the Solar Shading app to make the solar chart because it shows what the obstructions are. They are the most valuable together.

SunSurveyor_2014_02_07_111537 copySunSurveyor_2014_02_07_111550 copy SunSurveyor_2014_02_07_111607 copy SunSurveyor_2014_02_07_111618 copy SunSurveyor_2014_02_07_111630 copy SunSurveyor_2014_02_07_111640 copy

8. Turn the images into a panorama using a panorama maker program like Microsoft ICE. The augmented reality pieces confuse these programs pretty badly, so it’s not going to be flawless. Let me know if you find a way to get a cleaner panorama!

SunSurveyor_2014_02_07_stitch

9. Download a clean solar chart online for the survey location from http://solardat.uoregon.edu/SunChartProgram.html

10. Open Photoshop, GIMP, or another image editor that allows the use of layers to open the chart made in step 9 side by side to the panorama made in step 8. On a new layer use the paintbrush and masks to make a clean horizon on the chart from step 9 using the panorama as a reference. On a new layer use the paintbrush and masks to make a clean “green” horizon on the same chart using the panorama as a reference. Put some text to let everyone know where in the world the survey was taken and you’re done.

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Site Solar Shading Survey Apps

The first thing you need to do before building any sort of solar-powered project is to figure out how much sun the site receives. Trees, mountains and houses can all block solar energy from reaching whatever you have collecting it. In the olden days you would go out to the site armed with a compass, protractor, cardboard, string and a washer and plot out the obstructions on paper. I’ll let Builditsolar.com describe how to do that in detail: http://www.builditsolar.com/SiteSurvey/site_survey.htm

Here’s what an old-fashioned solar survey looks like:

survey

Thanks to google sky map, everyone now knows that smartphones and tablets have all the sensors that one would need to make one of these charts digitally, plus a camera. The burning question is which app works the best and how do you make a chart with this technology? We pitted a few against each other using the same android smart phone hardware and here are the results. There is also a guide for creating this chart using some of the apps mentioned below.

1. Solar Shading: For the purpose of making a site solar survey chart, Solar Shading is by far the most capable app for android, which makes sense because it is the only one specifically designed to make this chart. The interface is a bit harder to get used to than the other apps, but it is by far the most powerful. You trace the obstructions to the sun either using the crosshairs with the camera or looking down the edge of the phone/tablet. Once you’ve completed tracing the horizon for a complete circle, the app generates the solar chart as well as two graphs showing the solar power generated and the penalty that the obstructions are causing during each month of the year. This app is easily the fastest way to accomplish the task and provides great looking reports, so it can be done at several locations on a site to find the optimal location on a site for a solar collector or a passive solar house. The only downside is the $16 price tag.

2014-01-24-13-49-562014-01-24-13-47-09

2014-01-24-13-47-51 2014-01-24-13-48-33

 2. Sun Surveyor: This is an “augmented reality” application that displays sun paths and/or moon paths on the camera preview. This is the smoothest, most polished, and most feature rich of this type of app that was tested. The 3D compass, compass calibrator, and map view are nice additions to your smartphone toolkit. The augmented reality view shows any sun or moon path that you would like to display, as well as degree grid lines, which are very helpful in building a solar chart back at a computer using the images captured with this application. These images can then be taken back to a computer and obstructions plotted onto a chart if needed. This is a nice companion to the Solar Shading app to have pictures for later reference that are geographically referenced. This app carries a $6.49 price tag.

2014-01-24-13-24-49  2014-01-24-13-23-53  2014-01-24-13-27-40

3. SunPlan: A little Less polished than Sun Surveyor, the augmented reality view works almost identical to it. Sunplan doesn’t have the 3D compass, Map view or moon information, but it has a shadow compass. At $3.99, it’s a little easier on the wallet if you don’t need the vast array of sun and moon data.

IMG_20140124_131137  2014-01-24-13-08-00

4. Helioserver: Works similar to the solar shading app, but the interface is confusing and not very polished. It probably does a lot of heavy lifting in the background, but only gives you an output of what direction to point solar panels; I wasn’t able to accurately come up with reference points from the output to plot the data onto a chart. I couldn’t figure it out, not to say it can’t be done.If it works for you, the $1.33 price tag is certainly the cheapest.

2014-01-24-13-18-28 landscape

Conclusion: After actually doing a few surveys with all of the software, I personally choose to use the Solar Shading app to do the heavy lifting. Its professional looking output can be imported directly into Photoshop and excel. It collects real data in a couple of minutes so that several locations can be investigated to find the optimal solar site location in a short amount of time. I also use Sun Surveyor and SunPlan to get a good panorama of the site for reference further down in design. They are both very similar, so use Google Play’s 15 minute refund policy to try them both out before you decide which one you prefer.

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Turning Straw Into Buildings

Strawbales are an excellent insulation material and because of their density, are also excellent thermal mass. They are also a rapidly renewable resource. Up to this point, however, they have been on the fringes of building technology because of the time it takes to build with the material. ModCell has come up with a viable way to turn stawbales into super-insulated building panels for commercial and residential use. They claim that these panels are zero carbon or better to create, which is infinitely better than rigid insulation can even think to claim. Brilliant!

modcell panels

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Green Building Material? Cross Laminated Timber

Here’s the idea, glue a bunch of small pieces of wood together from quickly growing trees and make yourself a massive chunk of wood. Make these chunks in to massive panels and design them so that they can be easily joined together in the field and super strong by alternating the direction of the grain.  It sounds a lot like plywood on steroids. This may seem against the tree-hugger in you, as well as going against the first R rule: Reduce. Actually this is a green technology, here’s why:

First of all, think about the building itself. Mass in a building helps to regulate the temperature of a building, much like a battery (or more technically accurate, a capacitor) it slowly gains heat from its surroundings and slowly releases it. Plenty of people have written about this already: Greenpassivesolar.com is just one. When you have massive walls you need less insulation to have the same effect. Bingo, less fiberglass or foams off-gassing into the building. Panels also take less time to put together in the field, so you spend less time with no roof and waste less material on the jobsite.

Second, think about the environment: Trees are some of the best carbon sequester-ers (I know that’s not a word) on the planet. By building something out of wood, one effectively stores that carbon. This principal is a green one only if the trees used are fast growing (rapidly renewable) and responsibly harvested. The building must also be built to be useful for a very long time.

Read more from europe here:

cross-laminated-timber (1)

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Design Tool: 2030 Palette

Architecture 2030 is a team of non-profit crusaders that want to radically transform the way that structures are built and how they interact with the environment. The 2030 Challenge is much like the EPA’s very successful CFC reduction program that let the Ozone Hole repair itself. Instead of CFCs, this challenge is to phase out the use of fossil fuels in buildings by the year 2030.

Not to leave everyone hanging wondering how to accomplish this goal; they are developing a great free resource of information on how to build carbon neutral and resilient structures and plan resilient communities which is called the 2030 Palette. The website is complete with pictures, descriptions and rules of thumb for many concepts vital to low impact built environments. Check out this fantastic tool for Architects, Engineers, Owners and people who want to learn more about how our buildings interact with the environment.

sol_y_sombra_2

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The Double Envelope Passive Solar Home

The double envelope passive solar house concept is explained well by Enertia here. The double envelope can obviously be expensive and I believe that is why it has a hard time being adopted as a mainstream building technique, but it can drastically cut energy bills if done correctly. Using the sun as a heat pump and fan while taking advantage of massive walls and southern windows make for a very efficient home indeed.

enertia-building-system-4

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