Architects may be the top influencers when it comes to housing. What home buyers see and builders build is typically driven by what architects design and specify. When it comes to innovation and green building the architects can make a huge difference in the quest for energy savings.
This is important since homes use a large percentage of the energy consumed in the U.S. with about half that use going to heating followed by water heaters. Designing more energy-efficient homes can be a big factor in reducing dependence on foreign oil and carbon levels in the atmosphere. It can also save a home owner thousands of dollars annually in lower utility bills.
A recent story from the East Bay Express in the San Francisco Bay area features some very innovative ideas on how to design homes to cut down energy use. Architects in the Berkley are bringing innovative ideas, like using salvaged car roofs, to home design. They are embracing solar energy where recent better technology and favorable leasing programs have resulted in a record year in 2012 with a 76% jump in megawatts installed on rooftops, according to the story. They also specify green building materials like cellulose insulation.
Cate Leger, of Leger Wanaselja Architects emphasizes the importance of recycling and using nontoxic materials as these innovative ideas gain momentum. We agree with her assessment in the story:
While insulation is important to energy efficiency, Leger stressed the importance of using nontoxic materials, such as blown-in cellulose insulation, which is composed of shredded newspapers and cardboard. “That’s a super-low, light footprint,” she said.
Architects can have a huge impact on lowering the energy consumed by homes and also reducing the carbon footprint in housing. CIMA has sponsored the Carbon Challenge, a program run by the APA to encourage architects to design homes with lower carbon footprints.
It’s encouraging to see more architects embracing the ideas and innovation noted in the East Bay Express story and by the continued participation in the Carbon Challenge. Hopefully, these leaders will help to influence their peers who as a group can be the most powerful influencers in bringing more emphasis on lower carbon nontoxic building materials that also reduce energy consumption.