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    ArchitectureWeek Notes No. 545
    Dear ArchitectureWeek Readers,

    ArchitectureWeek No. 545 is now available on the Web, with these new design and building features, and more. This Notes edition is sponsored by Autodesk:

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    The Konkol Residence, designed by TE Studio, is a certified Passive House, sporting a 22" thick exterior wall section with an R-value of 70. Photo: Chad Holder

    Passive House Divided
    by Christine MacDonald

    Passive House-certified buildings may take next to nothing to heat. But conflict between the German creators of the Passive House energy performance standard and their U.S. affiliate continues to generate energy months after it spilled into public view.

    The Passivhaus Institut (PHI) of Darmstadt, Germany, severed ties with the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) of Urbana, Illinois, in an open letter released on August 17, 2011.

    The letter from Passive House co-creator Dr. Wolfgang Feist of PHI alleged, among other things, that PHIUS, which had been PHI's sole U.S. affiliate, had issued an official certification to a house that was not up to the Passive House standard — one of the world's toughest when it comes to energy efficiency.

    A few days later, Katrin Klingenberg, executive director and co-founder of PHIUS, fired back, denying the charges and leveling allegations at PHI, including breaches of contract and business ethics.

    Beyond the specific accusations, the dispute entwines the direction and pace of the growth of the Passive House program in the United States, where the standard officially arrived in the late 2000s. Elements of the clash include cultural differences between Feist's German headquarters, which operates as a business, and the U.S. institute, which, like the U.S. Green Building Council, is a nonprofit group.

    Feist and Klingenberg are both are known to be tireless advocates of Passive House, and they are also both known as difficult to work with. The U.S. schism is not the first struggle Feist has had with PHI affiliates outside of Germany. Klingenberg, meanwhile, has ruffled feathers in U.S. green building circles with a personal style that some have found blunt and remote.

    Passive House

    Inspired by the superinsulated homebuilding movement that took hold in the United States in the 1970s, Wolfgang Feist and Swedish professor Bo Adamson came up with the Passive House concept in the 1990s, creatively applying accepted building physics methodology to address ventilation, air quality, and mold problems that had stymied the first generation of superinsulated houses.

    A Passive House-certified building — which can be any kind of structure, not just a residence — uses only about 10 percent of the energy needed to heat and cool a conventional structure built to the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code. The huge energy savings are achieved through an airtight building envelope with heat-recovery ventilation, elimination of thermal bridges, and lots of insulation.

    With 90% energy energy savings over new buildings built to code, the performance level of Passive House buildings is currently unique among available green building and energy certification systems in a very important way.

    Only Passive House buildings are required to perform today at the energy efficiency levels that we can expect for all buildings sometime around 2050 — in less than 40 years.

    Putting it another way, nearly every new building that is built today to less than Passive House standards can readily be predicted to become obsolete, in terms of energy performance, in less than 40 years.   >>>


    Built by Transformations, Inc., the Farmhouse II model home in Easthampton, Massachusetts, scores a near-net-zero 2 on the HERS energy rating index.

    Best of Build Boston
    by Evan H. Shu, FAIA

    Build Boston, the largest regional conference and trade show for the design and construction industry in the United States, recently demonstrated again why it has earned such preeminence.

    More than 14,000 architects, designers, construction and facility managers, and owners attended the 27th Build Boston conference, hosted by the Boston Society of Architects in November 2011. The trade show floor boasted some 300 vendors — up 6% over last year — who plied their products with the usual vigor.

    But it was the conference programs themselves that suggested the breadth, depth, and direction of the industry itself. Attendance at these sessions — consisting of over 150 workshops, presentations, meetings, and tours — rose over 10% from 2010 levels, suggesting that many design professionals are ready to move forward and invest in increasing their knowledge base for a new year they hope will be more productive.

    Some key themes of the conference were energy efficiency, digital technology innovation, construction detailing, and new building codes.

    Rating Energy-Efficiency

    In the last few years, the architecture, engineering, and construction industry has matured greatly in its production of energy-efficient buildings. More tried-and-true methods have been established that point toward making our buildings not just more efficient, but even able to reduce net energy use to zero, with some buildings going so far as to generate surplus electricity to feed back to the grid.

    Cited in a number of seminars was a relatively new (2006) measurement tool established in the residential sector called the HERS Index, which stands for Home Energy Rating System. It was developed as a residential energy-use standard by the nonprofit Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET). The HERS Index is accepted by the U.S. federal government for programs such as tax incentives, rebates, and Energy Star ratings, and has been incorporated into uniform building codes and into a growing number of state building codes.

    The HERS Index is relatively easy to understand. The reference point is an "American standard" new house, built to the standards of the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Such a home earns a HERS rating of 100. A net-zero-energy home scores a zero, while many homes would receive scores above 100. A house built to the 2009 IECC standard would be rated at 70, or at 65 if over 3,000 square feet (280 square meters).   >>>

    P&P Image

    Renzo Piano designed the new wing of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. The beautiful addition opens on Thursday, January 19, 2012.

    People and Places
    by Nancy Novitski

    Boston — 2012.0111
    The new wing of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, is scheduled to open to the public on January 19, 2012. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the 70,000-square-foot (6,500-square-meter) addition provides purpose-built spaces for concerts, exhibits, and classes, along with enhanced visitor amenities. It is located behind the existing 57,000-square-foot (5,300-square-meter) museum building, built in 1901 along the Fenway. The design unveiling for the addition was covered in this column in January, 2010.

    The new building features a transparent first floor of glass, above which four floating volumes, clad in pre-patinated copper and red brick, are organized on an axial circulation system. Visitors will enter the museum through a new entrance facing Evans Way Park into the glass-enclosed lobby. A three-story-tall special exhibition gallery features an adjustable ceiling, skylight, and north wall of glass.

    The largest space in the new wing is Calderwood Hall, a cuboid, 300-seat music performance space designed in collaboration with acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics. Adjacent to the main lobby, a working greenhouse with a sloped glass facade stands two stories tall, with two artist apartments on the second level. The new wing also houses conservation labs, an education studio, a gift shop, and a restaurant. ...   >>>


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    Glass Specification Tool
    Walker Glass is proud to introduce the first three-part specifications on acid-etched glass, mirror, and anti-slip glass. These editable documents provide architects and designers with a great tool for specifying acid-etched products in a more elaborate way. 
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    ThyssenKrupp Elevator Americas has launched the 2.0 version of its Energy Calculator, a free online tool for predicting the energy consumption of elevators. Of interest to architects, elevator consultants, facility managers, and building owners involved in new construction and building modernization projects.

    IBM Researchers Make 12-Atom Magnetic Memory Bit - BBC, 2012.0113

    Engineering Slimmer Solar Cells - Nature, 2012.0111

    Software Speeds Up Construction - Boston Globe, 2012.0108

    Nanoscale Wires Defy Quantum Predictions - Nature, 2012.0105

    New Product


    Product News - Clay Brick Permeable Paver

    Pine Hall Brick offers the StormPave™ clay brick paver for use in permeable paving systems. The pavers allow water to drain between them thanks to large spacer nibs, while joint openings are kept narrower than one-half inch (1.3 centimeters) to comply with ADA requirements. Strong, durable, and colorfast, the pavers offer a high infiltration rate when installed in a "best practice" permeable pavement system, and can contribute to LEED credits. ...


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    Contents, RSS, and Surface of the Week

    Pedimented gable roof dormer and shed-roof dormer (CR-093)


    Architecture Quiz this week's new question...

    Art Nouveau is associated with what decades? How did the name originate?

    Architecture Answer for last week's quiz...

    Match each name with the architectural style it is associated with:

    1. John Ruskin
    2. Charles Bulfinch
    3. Thomas Jefferson
    4. McKim, Mead & White
    5. Antoni Gaudí
    6. James Renwick

    A. Federalist
    B. Shingle
    C. Gothic
    D. Romanesque
    E. Neoclassical
    F. Art Nouveau



    Classic Home 030 — Full-porch Colonial by Whitman S. Wick

    "This type of simple, economical Colonial house is favored where it is necessary to conserve the original investment. The house is of frame construction throughout, with wide siding and a chimney of brick. A broad porch extends the entire width of the front, and entrance is into a small hall from which a central staircase leads upward. Doors open to the right and left into the living room and dining room. An open fireplace is provided in the living room, with the additional feature of a small den. "


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    Five years ago in ArchitectureWeek:
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    Ten years ago in ArchitectureWeek:
        Aga Khan Award for Architecture, by ArchitectureWeek

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