Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Structural Insulated Panels

If you are interested in building an energy efficient home, insulation is your top consideration and probably the most important component of the home. The design of the home, and in particular the kind and amount of insulation specified, can have a dramatic effect on the energy efficiency of a home by reducing or eliminating the need for heating and cooling.

For this reason, our
architectural firm prefers to design homes with Structural Insulated Panels (SIP panels). SIPs, sometimes known as stress skin panels, are made of an insulating foam core with OSB (oriented strand board) bonded to either side. There are two popular types of foam cores – EPS (expanded polystyrene - photo, right), XPS (extruded polystyrene) -- ranging in R-Values from 13 to 40 (R-value refers to a materials ability to resist transferring heat), far above what conventional wall construction with fiberglass or cellulose insulation can deliver.

SIP panels address the efficiency of the home and can be used in any climate. The structural insulated panel enclosure system creates an energy efficient building envelope, keeping your home warm in the dead of winter and cool in the hot summer months. (SIPs were even supplied for the International Science Station at the South Pole, where summer temperatures average minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit!)

A SIP building envelope provides high levels of insulation and is extremely airtight, meaning the amount of energy used to heat and cool a home can be cut by up to 50 percent (visit the Structural Insulated Panel Association website at
Do you have questions about using SIP panels in your project? Let us know!
For information on the importance of ventilation in a SIP panel home, check out these blogs:
Structural Insulated Panel blogs found on the Post and Beam & Timber Frame Blog.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Stylish & Practical Shower Drain Designs

FOUND: Shower drains that are not only beautiful, but smart, as well.

If you haven’t seen the new StyleDrain collection by California Faucets, take a look at these innovative, stylish designs!

As residential architects, we love the square shape design which makes installation much easier than traditional round-shaped drains. Plus, its flush grill features smooth edges and no visible screws, ensuring foot comfort.

A functionality benefit is that the drains have a fast-draining capacity that handles water flow at the highest level of efficiency, even when using simultaneous body sprays, rain bars, and multiple showerheads!

Check out more on these patent-pending designs at California Faucets.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Earth Hour for Climate Change

On Earth Hour hundreds of millions of people, organizations, corporations and governments around the world will come together to make a bold statement about their concern for climate change by doing something quite simple—turning off their lights for one hour. In the U.S. where we are already feeling the impacts of climate change, Earth Hour sends a clear message that Americans care about this issue and want to turn the lights out on dirty air, dangerous dependency on foreign oil and costly climate change impacts, and make the switch to cleaner air, a strong economic future and a more secure nation.

Participation is easy. By flipping off your lights on March 27th at 8:30 p.m. local time you will be making the switch to a cleaner, more secure nation and prosperous America. View the Earth Hour toolkits, to find out what else you can do to get involved including leading the Earth Hour movement in your community.

Since its inception three years ago, Earth Hour’s non-partisan approach has captured the world’s imagination and became a global phenomenon. Nearly one billion people turned out for Earth Hour 2009 – involving 4,100 cities in 87 countries on seven continents.

Last year, 80 million Americans and 318 U.S. cities officially voted for action with their light switch, joining iconic landmarks from around the world that went dark for Earth Hour, including:

Empire State Building

Brooklyn Bridge

Broadway Theater Marquees

Las Vegas Strip

United Nations Headquarters

Golden Gate Bridge

Seattle’s Space Needle

Church of Latter-Day Saints Temple

Gateway Arch in St. Louis

Great Pyramids of Giza

Acropolis and Parthenon in Athens

Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro

St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament in London

Elysee Palace and Eiffel Tower in Paris

Beijing’s Birds Nest and Water Cube

Symphony of Lights in Hong Kong

Sydney’s Opera House
See what it's all about and why you should get involved: