Thursday
Feb242011

Our Friends at Animal Architecture

Check out this website curated by our fellow Houstonian, Ned Dodington!


Ned started the Animal Architecture blog while completing his thesis at Rice University. Since its inception, the blog has grown to become a reliable platform for news and discussion regarding the role of ecology and biology in architecture. 

www.animalarchitecture.org

Saturday
Feb192011

Building with Bamboo

Over the past decade, bamboo has gained notoriety as a sustainable alternative to hardwoods. While traditional hardwood trees can take 25-120 years to reach maturity, bamboo, a rapid renewal resource, reaches maturity in 3-5 years. 

Most of us have seen bamboo floors, known for their strength, durability, and resistance to moisture and insects. Yet, flooring is just the beginning of bamboo's potential in the building industry. Bamboo has tensile and compressive strengths similar to traditional lumber. 

Plyboo and Kirei offer architectural bamboo plywoods. Both products are formaldehyde free and have excellent dimensional stability.  

Lamboo Structure is a line of high performance structural engineered bamboo. Their laminated beams offer structural capacities that surpass timber, allowing one to achieve longer spans with less material. Structural bamboo is also more stable than wood in moisture and temperature changes making it a great structural alternative here in Houston.

Other companies have developed bamboo dimension lumber, doors and windows, and veneers. 

 

 

Saturday
Feb192011

On Insulation

Whether you have an existing home or are building a new home, a properly sealed building envelope, with sufficient insulation, can account for up to 20% savings in your heating and cooling costs1. Insulation's ability to reduce heat transfer is measured in R-values. The higher the R-value, the greater the thermal resistance. Here in Houston, the US Department of Energy recommended minimal R-values vary depending on the install location:

Houston Attic: R30-R60, Wall Cavity: R13-R15, Cathedral Ceilings: R22-R38, Floor: R13-25 (If your home is outside of Houston, find your local recommended insulation values here.)

Insulation comes in four main types: rigid, cellulose, batt, and spray-foam. Each type, properly installed, is effective in reducing heat transference. Yet, new technologies give us the option to choose sustainable insulations with minimal environmental impact, that are recyclable, and that won't have an adverse effect on our indoor air quality. For example, many cellulose products are made from 3/4 recycled content (newspaper, straw, corn) and 1/4 flame resistant materials. UltraTouch Natural Fiber insulation is made from 85% post-industrial cotton fiber, has no VOCs, and is 100% recyclable. If you go the batt insulation route, be sure to specify a non-formaldehyde product.

Check out the US Green Building Council's Buyer's Guide to Green Insulation, a great resource that breaks down insulation options with their pros and cons. 

1 EnergyStar Energy Savings Calcuations

2 US Department of Energy: Insulation Tips


Friday
Feb112011

Knowhow Shop LA

If you're in LA this Saturday, head to 6019 Echo Street and check out Knowhow Shop LA's latest creative installment! They asked a group of illustrators to design an updated series of shop safety posters. The posters will be on display and available for purchase this Saturday. If you feel like getting inky, you can even screen print your own articles while you're there!

Above is the poster CONTENT designed for the show. If you're dying to get your hands on one of these babies but can't make it out Saturday night, check out Knowhow's Etsy store after the show!  

The Safety Show> Saturday, Feb 12, 7pm-11pm :: 6019 Echo Street LA 90042

***

EVENT VIDEO HERE!

Thursday
Jan132011

CONTENT has a new home!

We've moved to a new office location! You can now find us at 3221 Milam Street, just south of Elgin. Look for the blue door and come upstairs. 

 

Wednesday
Jan052011

New Living Greenius Desk

We're really happy to have New Living, a green building and home store in Houston's Rice Village, as a resource. The folks at New Living are dedicated to helping our community discover the means to create healthy, safe, and sustainable environments. 

Starting this month, New Living has invited a select group of local, green building and healthy home professionals to offer their insights with customers. We were honored to be asked to be part of the first "greenius" group! 

Learn more and see the Greenius schedule here.

 

Sunday
Dec052010

Campaign for Sustainable Building!

We're really excited to be working on a graphic campaign for Haywood Community College in Clyde, NC. We are working closely with the students to develop a strategy that allows them reach out to their community as well as build awareness of the Green Building Program.

Here's a sneak peak. Check back in the next few weeks as we develop the concept!

Thursday
Dec022010

House on Lake Okojobi Headboard

Work we enjoy: House on Lake Okojobi Headboard by Min|Day

Studying the morphology of water rippling, Min|Day created a 3-Dimensional representation of the kinetic energy created by a single drop of water.  To achieve this effect the designers digitally mapped the parameters of the wave(s) then used those constraints to construct a computer representation.  Next, that digital file was then sent to a CNC router which stands for "Computer Numerical Control", which works like a standard printer.  A CNC router, however, is on the Cartesian coordinate system, therefore it also considers the Z axis as well as the X and Y, thus producing a 3-Dimensional finished object. 

 

Designed by Min|Day

Monday
Nov292010

The Difference Between EER and SEER

A common point of confusion is the difference between EER and SEER when identifying energy efficiency of a HVAC unit. These values are not equivalent and should not be considered so when installing a new heating and cooling unit. EER values are on average about 85% of the SEER rating. However, it can be generally stated that the higher the rating the more efficient the unit (and more costly).

EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio where SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. They both obtain their values from the total BTU (Britsh Thermal Unit) output per hour and divide it by the watts of electricity consumed. The difference, simply put, is as the name implies, it's seasonal. The EER is calculated for a controlled environment where the SEER takes into account seasonal temperature variations and on/off cycling. Because of this seasonal variation the relationship between EER and SEER value depends on where the unit is located as temperature and humidity play a big role.

The most important point to remember is that they are not equal values and the SEER value is always a higher number. If you are on the search for a new unit with an EER rating of 14 don't be convinced a SEER value of 14 is the same thing.

To qualify for Energy Star the minimum SEER value in the US is now 14 and the Federally mandated minimum is 13. Currently units can be found with SEER values as high as 23.

Friday
Nov262010

Choosing a Roof Material for Sloped Roofs

Whether you're re-roofing an existing structure or deciding on a roofing material for your new home, we've compiled a short list of factors you should consider before choosing:

  • CONSIDER YOUR CLIMATE: In Texas, having an energy efficient roof in our hot, humid climate can put a substantial dent in your cooling costs. "Cool roof" systems use solar-reflective surfaces to keep roof temperatures low. According to the US Department of Energy, while a traditional dark roof can reach temperatures of 150 degrees in the summer (absorbing almost 90% of the incoming solar energy), a cool roof under the same conditions is typically 50 degrees cooler. A cooler roof means less heat being absorbed into your home and less energy spent on cooling. On a larger scale, a cool, reflective roof helps reduce heat islands in cities. If you're in a coastal region, like we are in Houston, also keep in mind durability in strong winds and heavy rain. A roof with a higher wind uplift rating may cost a little more but award you in home insurance discounts.
  • MATERIAL CONTENT & RECYCLEABILITY: The recent focus on green, sustainable products has yielded a lot of new roofing options. There are hundreds of roofing products made from at least 50% post consumer content. Many of these offer 50+ year warranties. Metal roofs are typically made from at least 25% recycled content, are highly durable, and are also 100% recycleable.  
  • LONGEVITY & COST: When choosing your roofing material, keep in mind that a cheap initial cost could be offset by a short lifespan. For example,  in a 50 year period, an asphalt roof may need to be replaced 3 times before a metal roof wears out, more than offsetting the cost. Additionally, spending a little more money for a reflective, "cool roof" can increase the lifespan of the roof and greatly decrease your cooling bills. Energy Star rated roofs may also be eligible for tax rebates. 

Green Roofing Technologies:

Asphalt: Today we have more energy efficient options than the typical asphalt shingle. New reflectivity coatings allow GAFs Timberline Cool series shingle to meet Energy Star standards for "cool roofs." 

Metal: Today's metal roofs are virtually maintenance free, highly durable, reflective, and are made with recycled metals. Check out: MCBI and Mueller

Recycled Rubber: RuBBur Concepts offers a roof shingle made from recycled tires. The shingles come in a variety of shapes and sizes and come with a double life-time warranty. 

Recycled Content: Authentic Roofs offers a synthetic slate shingle made from 100% recycled rubber and plastics. They have a 50-year transferable warranty and are non-toxic and have no carcinogens (great for potable rainwater harvesting). Also consider: EcoStar and EcoTech roofs.

 

 

Thursday
Nov252010

Houston's Gingerbread Build-Off

 

The Gingerbread Build-Off is hosted by Architecture Center Houston, C2 Creative, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, and Houston Management Downtown District and will be held at Market Square Park, Saturday December 11, 10am to 3pm.

25 teams of up to five people each will compete in this year’s build-off and will have only a few hours to construct a Gingerbread Building using nothing but edible components. Winners and select competitors will be featured in a one week exhibition, free and open to the public, at Architecture Center Houston.

Team registration is $50 and is available online or by contacting Architecture Center Houston at arch@aiahouston.org. The public is invited to attend this free event, cheer on the teams, and construct a mini-gingerbread building at the kids table for free.

Heather at CONTENT designed the posters for this year's Gingerbread Build-Off!

Tuesday
Nov232010

Appliance Rebates in Texas

Purchasing energy efficient appliances can pay for themselves faster than you think. Starting December 20th, Texas will begin offering mail-in rebates on Energy Star appliances. The rebates range from $40-$1,000. 

Go to http://texaspowerfulsmart.org for more information about Texas Rebates. 

Additionally, you may be eligible to receive federal tax rebates on your new purchases. For more information check to the Energy Star website.

 

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