Archive Monthly Archives: November 2010

Before Pictures (Nov 2010)

November 23, 2010
Here are some pictures of the house as it is today (November 2010) before renovation – 
Front of the house

This house was built in 1922 in the Craftsman style architecture.  The front door faces almost due north.  So the front of the house never is directly lit by sunlight.  This picture was taken in the afternoon with bright western light.  The large cement porch is in good shape.  The fake brick siding is curious.

Living Room
The front door opens directly into the living room.  I like how the glass on the door is highlighting the arts and craft style and giving the house more character. The natural wood used in the living room and the dining room is in arts and crafts style.
The living room has lots of space for entertaining.  The large window is facing the front towards the street and the small windows are facing east.
Dining Room
Lovely built-in “buffet” lines the western wall of the dining room.  This room has a really nice feel in the afternoon with light from the west floods the room.

Hallway
When you enter the living room you’ll see the hallway towards the south side of the house.  There are doors to 2 bedrooms on the left door to the kitchen on the right and another bedroom on the right.  Straight ahead is the bathroom.

Kitchen
Looking into the kitchen from the hallway —  The handles on the drawers are vintage 1920’s and so is the skirt under the sink.

Note the antique stove by O’Keefe & Merritt.  It still works!

The light above the stove top is charming.

Bedroom 1
This bedroom is along the east side of the house.  The morning light is pretty.

Bedroom 2
The southeast corner of the house is this bedroom 2.  Note that there is a window in the closet too.

Bedroom 3
Southwest corner of the house is bedroom 3.  An addition, bathroom and kitchenette, was built about 60 years ago.

Bathroom
There are 2 cute little windows facing the backyard from the bathroom.  Note the built-in cabinet on the right hand side behind the door.

Backyard
There are 2 productive apple trees in the large backyard.  This one has 3 or 4 different varieties of apples grafted on to this tree.

Exterior
The east, west and south sides of the house have stucco exterior.  Underneath the stucco is brown wood.

On Our Green Journey, We Discovered Passive House

November 13, 2010

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Last week, we had a chance to meet Dr. Wolfgang Feist in San Francisco, where he gave a free public lecture on Passive House at the California College of Arts.  Dr. Feist is the founder of Passivhaus Institut and is on the faculty of civil engineering at University of Innsbruck.  He was on his way to Portland, Oregon for the 5th North American Passive House Conference.  My post is a quick summary of the notes I took from that talk.  Just as a new student may not get all her facts correct, my notes below reflect my current state of enlightenment and ignorance.  OK?  Here it goes –
The Passive House is not an energy performance standard, but a concept to achieve highest thermal comfort conditions on low total costs.  The passive house buildings don’t have a particular look and or follow specific architecture.  The concept can be applied to different types and styles of buildings.  What we found impressive about passive house is the performance.  By following the passive house concept a building built in 1991 in Kranichstein, Darmstadt, Germany was able to reduce the energy consumption of the building by 80%.  The building performance was monitored from 1991 to 2010.  Amazing, isn’t?
There are 5 principles –
1.    Insulation.  Lots of insulation on the exterior walls, roof and the basement ceiling.  In the particular building shown in the case study there was 12-inches on the roof, 12-inches on the exterior walls and 10-inches on the basement ceiling.
2.    Free from thermal bridges.  Basically you want to eliminate the path that heat can flow.
3.    Air Tightness.  Warm air moving from inside to the outside of the building will deposit moisture into the building as it exits, causing problems for the building.  Air tightness of the building is achieved by applying special tapes and testing it using the blower door test.
4.    Energy gain window.  Triple pane windows allow more solar gain and less energy loss.  Note that the solar gain in the winter in central Europe is 1/5th of what’s in the Bay Area.
5.    Heat recovery ventilator. HRV is a quiet, hygienic and efficient device that provides conditioned fresh air to come into the building, providing comfort and reduced radon exposure.  The standard for HRV, by the way, is different between Europe and US.
Today all European countries have passive house demonstration projects.  Passive house demonstration projects are also found in other countries such as Russia, Japan, China, Korea, South Africa, Australia, Antarctica, Chile, Canada and United States.
To learn more about Passive House please visit Passive House Institute US and also the Passipedia site, where passive house information is available to the public and member postings are reviewed by scientists.