Payette Director of Building Scientist, Andrea Love shares insight on how architects can positively impact the climate in the Architectural Record feature ‘Achitects’ Original Sin’.
Last fall, Pope Francis declared that “to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God.” In late January, the conservative media mogul and evangelical Christian Joseph Farah put it differently: “Sin, not carbon, causes climate change.”
Either way, if climate change is a sin, much of the burden belongs to architects.
Conventional wisdom has it that transportation and industry are responsible for the lion’s share of greenhouse gases. For example, in February a Boston Globe editorial identified fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles as the best strategy for New England to compensate for the expected void in federal leadership on climate change under the Trump administration. In actuality, however, transportation accounts for only a third of annual CO2 emissions in the U.S., with industry comprising another fifth, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The building sector alone represents nearly half the country’s energy consumption and emissions and three-quarters of electricity use. By far the biggest challenges with climate change are in the built environment.
Change our values
“Sealed, glazed facades, now so ubiquitous, lead to higher heating and cooling loads as well as glare and thermal comfort challenges,” explains Andrea Love. Yes, glass allows for more daylight and expansive views, but there’s a point of diminishing returns. Love’s analysis for a Science Center project found that a typical double-paned glass facade offered no additional benefits for daylight beyond 25% glazing, and thermal discomfort started at 30% glazing. The more glass, the more glare, unless the envelope design compensates for this with effective (and potentially expensive) sun shading.
Read the article.