[GSBN] Embodied/embedded energy figures

strawnet at aol.com strawnet at aol.com
Fri Oct 28 09:50:53 CDT 2011

 Very well said, Andy and Derek! Thanks! A highly useful frame of reference.

David Eisenberg



-----Original Message-----
From: Derek Roff <derek at unm.edu>
To: Global Straw Building Network <GSBN at sustainablesources.com>
Sent: Fri, Oct 28, 2011 7:33 am
Subject: Re: [GSBN] Embodied/embedded energy figures

I agree, Andy, that we have a world-wide problem with people becoming more passive about all kinds of things.  And comparing with previous generations, we are more ignorant of the parts and functions of systems, even those that we interact with constantly.  The complexity of technology and modern systems makes it easier to give up trying to understand.  Most designers put a lot of thought into hiding function, and further isolating the user from control and interaction with their environment.  The goal of many modern designers is to present the user with one button, and they usually want to make that one invisible.  

I want to encourage the opposite- to increase the user's understanding of the systems, to provide feedback and control at many levels, to help connect the user with her environment.  At the same time, a good design recognizes human factors and human frailties.  Our biological feedback mechanisms respond well to some stimuli, and are unable to detect others.  I like your principle of "passive houses with active owners", but the concept needs to be intelligently implemented in the design.  

Ventilation is an area where humans need help from designers, to achieve a good balance.  We have ten thousand years of evidence on housing, showing that most people, across cultures, climates, and millennia, will choose to remain in buildings with significantly unhealthy indoor air quality.  Given that people will tolerate in their homes various negative factors that they can see, such as smoke, dust, excess or insufficient moisture, and mildew, it is no wonder that they will be oblivious to things that they can't perceive easily, such as insufficient fresh air exchange, radon, carbon monoxide, excess carbon dioxide, unburned hydrocarbons, and a cocktail of respiratory pathogens in the heater ducts.  

The building designer who asks house residents to "open a window when necessary" will guarantee bad indoor air quality, if the house is fairly tight.  In a heating climate, this approach will guarantee both bad air quality and low energy efficiency.  

The design question is, how can we design a home that encourages the residents to be connected to their environment, and active in a meaningful way, while ensuring good indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and comfort.  That's a tall order, but it's an important facet of building design.  

Best wishes,

On Oct 28, 2011, at 4:14 AM, Andy Horn wrote:

Way I look at it is…. what kind of world do we want to live in? ….relying on high tech mechanical ventilation such that we have ACTIVE BUILDINGS AND PASSIVE PEOPLE …or can we get up and open a window or door etc when it gets too stuffy….SO WE CAN HAVE A PASSIVE HOUSE WITH ACTIVE PEOPLE….but then up until now I have had the luxury of working in a far less of a colder environment that those of you in Canada, UK etc.


Derek Roff
derek at unm.edu

GSBN mailing list
GSBN at sustainablesources.com

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://sustainablesources.com/pipermail/gsbn/attachments/20111028/7e51bf14/attachment.html>

More information about the Gsbn mailing list