ANDY THOMSON   architect

Ecotecture

CARBON FOOTPRINT FACTOR 10 DESIGN NET ZERO ENERGY REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE HI-PERFORMANCE ENVELOPES DESIGN FOR EXTREME CLIMATES INDOOR AIR QUALITY BIOFUELS READY PASSIVE SOLAR DESIGN PASSIVE COOLING SOLAR DOMESTIC HOT WATER PHOTOVOLTAIC (SOLAR) ENERGY HEAT RECOVERY VENTILATION RAINWATER COLLECTION FSC = SUSTAINABLY HARVESTED PROPANE READY 100PSF SNOWLOADS 100MPH WINDLOAD RESISTANCE RAINSCREEN DETAILING ACH - ENVELOPE AIRTIGHTNESS OFF-GRID CAPABLE WATER FILTRATION WIND TURBINE NO FORMALDEHYDE NO PVC NO VOC CONTAINERIZED DESIGN SIPFS SLAB ON GRADE FOUNDATIONS CRAWLSPACE FOUNDATIONS PERVIOUS HARDSCAPING ECOLOGICAL BIM ROOFGARDENS

Short for ecological architecture – ecotecture is a term coined by my German friend and mentor Rudolf Doernach. Doernach was a pioneer of the living building movement in Germany in the 1970’s – and as a consummate wordsmith and eco-philosopher – inspired many to question whether a building can claim to be ‘good for the environment’.

When one considers that construction and demolition activities constitute almost 70% of total global waste, and that many building programs could be satisfied by pre-existing buildings, or better uses of technology (home offices and/or telecommuting), and that most commercial buildings are largely unoccupied most of the time (after the 9-5 hours and weekends) – the very question of whether a building should be built at all really should be asked by architects. This question might sound like professional suicide – but this is the dilemna of the green architect. We make our living now by picking the lesser of evils for our clients, when we could be asking how we might create the best possibility for current and future generations. Ecotecture is about asking deeper questions, and only then, in the context of finding an optimal, least destructive solution, can the best practices outlined below find their proper place.

My portfolio represents work that demonstrates the greenest buildings possible, of the very highest quality, and for the lowest possible cost. With patience and experience, I have been rewarded with the opportunity to work on buildings that are the best in class in each of these categories. I also believe one shouldn’t pay for the things that nature gives us in great abundance, namely light and heat from the Sun, Air, Wind, and Water. Projects strive to take optimal advantage of these energies and resources to reduce environmental footprint and lessen building operating costs.

While there are many standards such as LEED, Passivhaus and many others that seek to define environmental performance in terms that are acceptable to the entire AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) space, my time in Germany and in Canada’s R2000 program taught me that it is possible to go much further than even these stringent environmental building standards, and that in fact, if we are to survive at all as a species, we had better start looking at ideas like Factor10 as a design strategy for almost everything – which states that a general per-capita reduction in materials and energy of 1/10th is in order to reduce developed nations impact on the planet and equalize the rapid growth of developing nations, such that we don’t require an untenable 10 additional planet Earths to sustain our current growth. Factor10 translated to a per-capita metric for the typical North American might look like the following;

ECOTECTURE SHOULD STRIVE TO:

A. Uses less than 1,000 Watts of Electricity per Day (unless produced renewably)
B. Have a Design Heatloss of no more than 10,000 Btu/hr per Occupant
C. Produces less than ONE Metric Ton of CO2 (GHG) per Occupant annually and…
D. Conforms to stringent material specifications for health, sustainability and durability.

The following features should also be given consideration (each icon represents a specific environmental goal that was initially developed with the miniHOME project, but that has subsequently expanded, text descriptions are further down):