By Christopher Purvis, Principal, Christopher Purvis Architects
This coming year is full of promise for those embarking on architectural projects. There are a number of recent innovations in the building industry which allow our buildings to be more energy efficient. These include increased insulative values of windows (using various kinds of coatings on the glass), skylights (using gel filled cavities), as well as improvements to the design of other structural elements that reduce the energy consumption of our buildings.
Another innovation is the ability to adjust any electronically controlled aspect of your built environment from almost anywhere. For example, with the currently pervasive internet connections you can adjust the settings on the stove, the heat, or the lights as you drive away in your car. Also, with the addition of occupancy sensors, the house can be more responsive, which means more comfortable as well as more efficient. The sensors work to ensure that only the part of the house you are currently occupying is using energy. There are controls that learn your habits in order to predict where and when to turn on the lights, adjust the heat, open the windows, and play the music. The systems that we use to make our houses more comfortable have also become more energy efficient. Heating systems can now be run by sealed combustion turbocharged boilers which are 90 percent efficient. Cooling systems can be run using hyper-efficient air-to-air heat exchangers which use 30 percent less energy. And light sources can use LED lighting systems which use 90 percent less electricity, and they no longer appear to turn everything blue.
Now that the 21st century has dawned, there are numerous web sites such as Houzz.com and mydreamabode.com which allow you to envision the possibilities included in a successful project. This used to be done by creating scrapbooks and notes from visual sources. Manufacturers are also putting up their own versions of these sites. The gathering of information is thus greatly facilitated. Information and models from these sources are downloadable to the 3-D virtual tours that your architect can create for you.
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