Thursday, February 28, 2013
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Physical capital - Most discussions in the construction industry are object based. So, starting from the point of current knowledge, we know that these buildings were designed to shelter people. That is the first minimum requirement of the code, to provide “life-safety. While the sheer existence of the building creates physical capital, shelter is just the bottom rung of Maslow’s hierarchy. How well can the spaces be adapted to specific homeowner uses? Can the house flex with family sizes? Does it help blend indoor with outdoor space? What about providing for human activies beyond the "being sheltered?"
Financial wealth creation – Real estate wealth is created through investment in tangible assets that increase in value over time. This investment outlay is a function of first construction costs, interest rates and time. However, another chunk of change is spent monthly on utility bills and repairs - none of which contributes to financial wealth creation. A colleague relayed to me the story of an older couple, who had chosen to forego the brick siding on their original home construction in 1960, in order to save $500. Over the last 50 years, this “savings” resulted in expenses of over $10,000 dollars in repainting and replacing the siding. The $500 would have been wealth creation, while the repairs was money thrown to the wind. Are the materials durable? Is the mechanical equipment easily accessed for repairs or upgrades? Will the net value of this investment grow over time?
|Indoor waterscreen - "scrubbing" air, white noise, decorative|
Natural capital - Sustainability has been interpreted as a strategy of reducing harm, but there is an opportunity through regenerative design to improve soil, air, and water. For example, many states will allow graywater for garden irrigation, or rainwater capture for retention and regeneration of ground water. Urban developments has traditionally capped and buried streams into culverts or into concrete canals. This lack of riparian zone deprives wildlife and removes the natural overflow capacity for extreme water events. What about waste food composting, and soil renovation? A great job for a budding young entrepreneur would be to develop a small vermiculture composting farm for the neighborhood food scraps and yard waste. This could also include the composting of the fall leaves, saving the city the cost of removal, and providing soil amendments for the neighborhood gardens. For air cleansing - think of waterscreen scrubbers, dense foliage landscaping, windbreaks. Is the landscape just a backdrop, or an extension of living? Is there a connection with the food stream? Does it provide space for recreation, reading a book, playing in the dirt? Is it a closed loop cycle, or is purchased compost brought in, only to have compostable materials thrown into the garbage?
Friday, February 22, 2013
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
|Video from inside ICF house during Sandy|
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
|Solar Installers - help with Survey|
Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and Georgia Tech Research (GTRI) have set out to explore the difference soft costs. These costs, including customer acquisition, install labor, and permitting /connection costs now account for more than 60% of the price of the US rooftop PV panel. In Germany, these costs are 75% less. One might imagine that the labor costs in Germany are comparable, so the goal is to identify the key differences in the installation, and develop best practices. Solar rooftop installers are encourages to participate in the survey , by clicking on the link on Rocky Mountain Institute site.
|Rocky Mountain Institute|
Tuesday, February 5, 2013