Star Wars and an Empire of Climate Denial

It was a perfect Summer evening in June of 1977. I was all of 6 years old, and throngs of people circled the block around Huntsville’s only cinema. I had never seen such a sight, and the excitement and anticipation of the first local showing of Star Wars held a kind of still magic in […]

Air is Life

While the current debate over the human diet seeks to settle the question of optimal health, both for the individual and for the planet (keto? veg? local?), few realize what a significant role the air we breathe has on our overall health. The fact that we can’t see, and can only vaguely smell the quality […]

Skateboarding, Sprawl and Carbon Control

The neighbourhood I grew up in, Burlington, Canada was about 1km by 1km. It was a classic mix of 1970’s social housing towers with townhouses and townhouses with public hallways we called ‘maisonettes’. As a kid we used to play on the street.  Right in the middle of it. There were hockey nets, bicycles with […]

Architecture & A Green New Deal

“Yes: this will be expensive. Like a war. Or a tax cut for the rich. Or bailing out banks and automakers. Unlike those expenditures (which are never subject to the “but how will we pay for it?” smackdown) this plan will massively increase the tax base, create full employment for a generation, improve everyone’s quality […]

Thomson Architecture; A Family Legacy, sortof…

Architecture is not an easy business. Just as with any career in a creative field, it’s not nearly enough to be talented. My grandfather, George James Valence (GJV) Thomson had an incredible eye, was a skilled craftsman, and had the education of an Architect from both Pratt Institute in NYC, class of 1933, and later […]

Earth Rise Apollo 8

Earth Rise and Architecture, 50 Years Later

Today is the 50th anniversary of the iconic photo, Earth Rise, captured by the crew aboard the Apollo 8 spacecraft in 1968. I was a child of the groovy, mellow, and high-tech 1970’s. The Space Shuttle wouldn’t fly until 1981, but it was promised to follow in the footsteps of the Mercury and Apollo programs. […]

Total Energy Use Intensity (TEUI) for Dummies

We have made this handy calculator that lets you determine the energy performance of your home or building in the units of the most widely used Building Energy energy metric, the TEUI or Total Energy Use Intensity. The units are the amount of all energy sources in Kilowatt Hours (kWh) required as a function of […]

How many Miles per Gallon does your building get?

OK, so buildings don’t move of course, but the funny thing is we have an easy way to evaluate energy performance when we buy a car – why not buildings? Even the flawed Miles per Gallon Standard has been around for at least 100 years, albeit only officially imposed since 1975.  And improvements to measurements […]

Robot Architect

If anyone had told me last year that starting in 2018 I would be using a robot to create measured plans of existing buildings, I would think that either a) they are whackos that over-estimate the capabilities of current technology or b) they must assume that I have unlimited funds to buy such equipment.  Neither […]

Electric Motorcycles

Transportation architecture is a thing. Vehicle designer is a thing. Vehicle Architect? Nope. But here I will try. My hobbies have always involved going fast on/in a vehicle of some sort. In winter this has been snowboards, skis, even kayaks downhill! On water, windsurfing. On asphalt, bikes, skateboards and electric cars. And soon … eBikes. […]

Dodecahedron Rafael Araujo

From Pythagoras to Pizza

Who didn’t love making their first circle with a compass? Although a love of building blocks and form in general appeals to every kindergartener, it was this subtle abstraction of  the ‘geometry’, the graphic description of the rules of form that took hold of my imagination. I imagined that every footfall, the arc of every […]

Strong Communities through Affordable Housing

Ordinary homes have become too expensive for ordinary citizens. The growth of housing costs have far outstripped income growth in recent years, resulting in what is now called the ‘affordability gap’. Many, if not most people will find themselves on the brink of over-extension if they try to find a way to purchase what is on the pages of the weekend […]

A Note on Passivhaus vs. R2000

I have lived and practiced green design in Germany, and I witnessed the introduction of the WSVO (Waermeshutzverordnung) firsthand in 1994. These were mandated changes to the levels of insulation required to be placed in the walls, roofs and floors of new buildings. At the time of my first R2000 build near Stuttgart (1996), I […]

Tiny Homes – Are They Legit?

    Tiny homes are everywhere in popular media and the internet, and the meme has persisted for well over a decade now. With click-bait headlines like, “Man Builds Tiny Log Cabin For $500” and “You Can Turn A $2000 Shipping Container Into An Epic Off-Grid Home!” we get seduced into believing that if only we had […]

90,000km Later, Do I still Love Tesla?

  • April 11, 2014
  • Economy
  • 0 Comments
  • Andy Thomson

I have wanted an electric car since I was 16. Global warming and pollution was at the top of my mind. I biked everywhere, and imagined that in a future not so far off – EV’s would be widely available. Fast forward 26 years. Yes, that is how long it took. I expected my first […]

The Eco Trailer Park

WHILE SMART GROWTH AND ECO-DEVELOPMENTS HAVE BECOME PART OF THE MAINSTREAM PLANNING DIALOGUE, TRAILER PARKS DEMONSTRATE A FORM OF SUSTAINABLE INFRASTRUCTURE AND DEVELOPMENT PATTERNS THAT ALREADY EXIST.  THE OFT-SNUBBED TRAILER PARK IS PROBABLY THE MOST OVERLOOKED FORM OF SUSTAINABLE AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING, A TRUE DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH.  WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM GREEN DESIGN, […]

Reinventing the Trailer Park

In 2009, Lisa Selin Davis wrote for Grist.org, which the Guardian subsequently picked up – article here –  about my vision for a greener trailer park – which I see as the future of suburban development for a number of reasons; the footprint is lighter on the earth, there is no disruption of landforms, infrastructure […]

Structural Insulated Panel & Finish Systems – (SIPFS)

  • November 10, 2009
  • Research
  • 0 Comments
  • Andy Thomson

INNOVATION #1:. SIPFS: A Structural Insulated Panel and Finish System consolidating primary structure, thermal envelope and finishing system in a durable, modular system that assembles rapidly and easily on-site PROBLEM: Conventional construction is often per- formed on-site where builders are at the mercy of the elements as well as light conditions, dirt and debris and […]

The Green Machine

THINK GOING OFF THE GRID MEANS A BIG CASH OUTLAY FOR SECLUDED LAND AND SOLAR PANELS? THINK AGAIN. VANCOUVER ECO-ACTIVISTS HAVE FIGURED OUT A WAY TO GO EASY ON THE EARTH, AND THE POCKETBOOK. July-August, 2002, by Rebecca Atkinson EXPENSIVE AND EXCLUSIVE, GREEN HOUSING IS TOO OFTEN RESERVED for those in the middle-age, high-income bracket. […]