Timeless green design principles
As our homes take shape, we expand our green design considerations. We select green building materials that give our homes a rich patina of character with a conscience. Resource efficiencies in construction methods and building systems make our homes elegant high-performance machines. Keeping in mind the home’s interior ecosystem, we choose systems, materials and finishes that ensure a healthy indoor living environment all year round.
As advocates of timeless green design, we aspire to educate our clients and community that green design can and should lead to spectacular homes that are part of a healthy environment—now and for generations to come.
BuiltGreen: This local, point-based rating system measures sustainable achievements in homes. It is similar to LEED for Homes, but was developed specifically for our region.
Carbon footprint: A measure of the impact our lives have on the environment through the production of greenhouse gases.
LEED: The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) designed this point-based rating system to measure sustainable achievements in various types of construction around the world. LEED for Homes is the international standard for measuring single-family home sustainable achievements. It is our firm’s rating system of choice.
Sustainable design: Often called “green design”, this is the practice of thoughtful design that recognizes and addresses a multitude of inter-connected elements, as outlined below.
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Urban infill: The practice of building within an established urban environment. Benefits include close proximity to existing infrastructure (utilities, mass transit, etc.) and amenities (schools, restaurants, restaurants, etc.). The result is a significantly decreased carbon footprint.
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Erosion control: The management of soil runoff during storm events; preventing pollution of local streams.
Habitat restoration: The recreation of natural habitat to encourage the return of native wildlife.
Native vegetation: Plants that naturally occur in the region’s landscape. They typically require little to no maintenance or supplemental watering.
Pervious paving: A permeable system of hardscape—concrete or interlocking pavers—that allows storm water to pass through rather than creating runoff.
Rain garden: A landscape feature designed to store and manage runoff naturally.
Storm water management: A particularly important issue in the Pacific Northwest, this is the practice of managing rainwater runoff. The increase in impervious surfaces (roofs, driveways, etc.) results in a decreased capacity for soils to absorb rainwater. Solutions are very site-specific.
Xeriscape: Plantings that don’t require supplemental watering.
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Advanced framing: A technique for wood-framing homes that allows for the best of both worlds: better insulation and fewer large wood members, which would otherwise come from old trees.
Building science: The science of a healthy house, including good waterproofing and humidity control.
Durable materials: Patina
FSC: The Forestry Stewardship Council—which certifies wood as sustainably harvested. This wood can be used for framing lumber as well as trim materials and siding.
ICF: Insulated concrete forms—self-insulating building wall blocks that receive a poured concrete core to create a wall system.
Lifecycle analysis: A process of reviewing the expected price, performance, maintenance and longevity of various materials and systems to make educated decisions on specifications.
Locally sourced materials: Local sourcing reduces the building carbon footprint by reducing shipping while supporting local business. Local materials are often the most appropriate and aesthetically pleasing, too.
Low-maintenance materials: Part of the lifecycle analysis.
Modular construction: A method of construction in which prefabricated parts are put together to create a whole. Often the most efficient use of resources by prefabricating complex parts in a shop condition.
Prefabricated materials: Material assemblies that are completed in a controlled environment rather than on a construction site, allowing for better material efficiencies.
Rain screen: A construction technique that allows for moisture intrusion in a wall system to drain out. This is the idea of designing preemptively for eventual failure in the building envelope.
Rapidly renewable materials: Materials that are quickly and naturally replenished, such as fast-growing bamboo.
Recycled building materials: Why waste when you can reuse? Reused materials can be anything from reclaimed wood beams to salvaged building relics, such as lights and fixtures, which often add tremendous character to the building.
SIPs: Structurally insulated panels—prefabricated “sandwiches” of plywood over foam.
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Air infiltration: Air leakage through holes in the building envelope.
CFL: Compact fluorescent light bulbs—a dramatically more efficient option than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Cool roof: A design strategy that reflects solar heat rather than absorbing it, reducing the need for cooling.
Dual-flush toilet: A toilet with two flush modes to improve water efficiency.
Floor plan economy: A well-designed, efficient floor plan that allows for a smaller building—requiring fewer materials and resources.
Geothermal: A system that uses the constant temperature of the earth to heat or cool the home.
Green roofs: Vegetated roofs that reduce impervious surface and are cool roofs.
Gray water: The water from sinks, showers and laundries, which can be captured for reuse in irrigation.
LED: Light-emitting diode—a very efficient lighting source with limitless design possibilities. It combines long lifecycle with low energy consumption; dimmable.
Lighting control: A programmable control system designed to manage sophisticated lighting design and simplify it for owner use. With thoughtful programming, it can also reduce energy use.
Natural daylighting: The use of natural daylight in the home to diffuse and disperse light within the structure through design and detailing.
Passive heating/cooling: Smart design that allows structures to use sunlight and principles of air flow to create an indoor environment capable of heating itself on cool days and cooling itself on warm days—without the use of traditional climate-control systems.
PV: Photovoltaics—solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity.
Radiant floor: A heating distribution system that uses water coils within the floor system to heat a home.
Rainwater harvesting: Capturing of stormwater for use in irrigation.
Solar analysis: Smart design that incorporates an understanding of how the sun will affect a house.
Super-insulated envelope: The basis for any good green design. The “skin” or “envelope” of the house is designed to allow for highly efficient insulating systems.
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HRV: Heat recovery ventilator—a fan system that efficiently brings fresh air into a home.
VOC: Volatile organic compound—found in paints and glues that off-gas into a home and degrade the quality of the breathable air.
Whole-house vacuum: Once considered a dated technology, house vacs have made a comeback based on their ability to take interior dirt and dust and move it out of the envelope, as opposed to capturing it in a freestanding vacuum cleaner.
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