Wednesday, April 9, 2014

green CALIFORNIA - Summit & Expo 2014

The Green California 2014 conference is just wrapping up today.  It was exciting to learn of the latest developments in California Green action and legislation.   Sessions included innovation, electric vehicles and EV infrastructure, government best practices, green schools, energy and buildings, funding strategies, water, farm to fork to fuel and an Expo with exciting new products.

Energy policy updates are of special interest since CALGreen and the updated 2013 California Energy Code are barometers for code updates coming regionally and nationally.   Other sessions explained current developments in renewable energy production--including renewable natural gas created from organic waste.  What an incredible way to divert from the landfill!  Learn more at the CleanWorld website.  Related to the CALGreen policies, were updates on water policy related to the current drought and graywater usage.

Our November post focused on the use of graywater in finished construction, but another sensible use is for construction itself. Why use potable water for concrete mixes? California’s Division of the State Architect (DSA) is preparing a clarification to allow this use.It seems that other construction uses could include water needed for curing, for dust control and other construction-related industrial processes. Proper training could ensure that workers only consume potable water.  Read more here...

Monday, March 31, 2014

Convene for Green Happening This Week

Hosted by Green Chips, the Green by Southwest Conference is a 3-day event held this week starting Thursday, April 3 and running through Saturday, April 5.  Events include:
  • leadership conferences
  • breakout sessions
  • professional education
  • expo and mixer
  • bicycling and walking tours
It's an opportunity to re-connect, learn and be inspired.  Hope to see you there!

Learn more at the Green Chips website and register at the USGBC NV website.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Global winner right here in Las Vegas!

image by Desert Sol team

The 2nd Place Global winner from the 2013 Solar Decathlon, Desert Sol, is now at its permanent home at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas.  Admission to DesertSol is free for members or with paid general admission.

Built by teams of UNLV students, the 754-square-foot sustainable solar-powered home took over two years to conceptualize, design and build.  Per the Springs Preserve website, its features include:
  • Solar panels
  • Low-flow fixtures and a multipurpose water system that combines plumbing and fire sprinklers
  • Remote access to temperature controls
  • Strategic window placement to promote cross-ventilation
  • A custom screen along the outdoor deck that filters sun in the summer and retracts to allow warmth from the sun in winter
  •  Intended primarily as a vacation home
The bullet points don't begin to describe the beauty and function of this home.  See it in person to experience the textured and weathered materials, contemporary interiors, artistic shade screen and vistas.

See our October post for the Solar Decathlon to learn more about this project and other Decathlon entries, here...

Directions to Springs Preserve, here...

Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2014

“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 
'What are you doing for others?" 
- Martin Luther King, Jr. 

A quote we're keeping in mind this week in memory of Dr. King and his stand for social justice.  In life, do our daily interactions treat others with kindness and dignity? In our work of architecture and design, are we creating functional and beautiful spaces for our clients?  What are we doing to enhance the lives of people in our community and world?

More inspiration can be found at The Kindness Wall.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Goods on Graywater

Being a native of the Southwest, and living in Las Vegas for a decade, I've eagerly awaited building codes that support graywater use in our region.  Our water is a precious resource, right?  Recently, our residential clients are beginning to inquire about graywater use as well.

What is Graywater?
According to the California Graywater Code, "Graywater" means untreated wastewater that has not been contaminated by any toilet discharge...and does not present a threat from contamination by unhealthful...wastes.  "Graywater" includes but is not limited to wastewater from bathtubs, showers, bathroom washbasins, clothes washing machines, and laundry tubs, but does not include wastewater from kitchen sinks or dishwashers.

How is Graywater used? 
Graywater is acceptable for use in landscape irrigation, however the landscape system must be designed to prevent ponding or spray of graywater.  If spray irrigation is part of the landscape design, for example at a turf area, then that system must be plumbed separately.  Indoor use is limited to flushing toilets and urinals, and requires an at-site treatment system and tank.  Use of graywater whether new-build or retrofitting an existing home can require parallel plumbing systems in order to segregate plumbing fixtures.  In other words, kitchen fixtures and appliances must be plumbed apart from other acceptable graywater source fixtures. 

Why is the separation of plumbing and uses required? Blackwater, or fecal-contaminated, waste water is obviously something you don't want watering your landscape.  Less obvious is the fact that Graywater can contain pharmaceuticals, salts or other trace contaminants, and even bacteria can be introduced at many points along the system.  While use for an underground drip irrigation system is reasonable, caution should be exercised to avoid exposure of humans or animals to chemicals or pathogens.

Building codes are developed for a broad population and take into account a spectrum of behaviors that can include playing in sprinklers, pets drinking from toilets, adding a vegetable garden to a back yard, disposing of medications or rinsing a cloth diaper in a sink.

What is the current state of graywater in Southern Nevada? 
Currently, a graywater application would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. This creates a lot of challenge and expense for early adopters.  An example of a project using reclaimed water is the Springs Preserve. 

Legislation to allow graywater and rainwater use is pending in California, in part as an outcome of Vision2020.  In 1991, San Francisco passed a county and city ordinance  requiring that buildings plumb for reclaimed water. This is a redundant system of purple pipes that allows for the use of reclaimed water once a source is available.  Now, the Eastside Recycled Water Project is preparing to deliver recycled water to tap by 2020.  The local utility, San Francisco Water Power Sewer also promotes the following programs, and hosts a design manual:
To pioneer the use of graywater in the City, we offer a Laundry-to-Landscape Graywater Program, a Residential Graywater Permit Rebate, and a Graywater Design Manual for Outdoor Irrigation. We also continue research on the effective and safe uses of graywater and other alternate water sources for on-site reuse in San Francisco.

It’s a fair argument to suggest that all new construction should be using this approach.  Just look around at the many drought notices throughout the United States. It’s likely that reclaimed water will be essential as a resource in this decade.  Some examples of the process of state code adoption include the following:

Typical graywater system features: 
  • Segregation of fixtures 
  • Requirements vary per single-fixture, simple, or complex systems 
  • Signage to distinguish graywater from potable water 
  • Evaluation of groundwater levels and soil absorption, including nearby water bodies 
  • Prohibition of graywater use for spray irrigation 
  • Prohibition of graywater for irrigating edible plants 
  • Requirement of special irrigation emitters and valves to rotate use between zones 
  • Indoor use limited to flushing toilets and urinals (at-site treatment system/tank required)
More resources:

Monday, October 7, 2013

DesertSol at Solar Decathlon

UNLV students have done an impressive job with their DesertSol house at this year's Solar Decathlon.  They are currently standing at second place, which is an outstanding accomplishment for the first year's entry for UNLV.  If you agree, give them a vote--or more--for the People's Choice award.  Voting is through this Thursday at 11AM at the site.

See all of the entries through next weekend, October 13 at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California or at the website.

The Solar Decathlon is a bienneal program hosted since 2002 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that, per the DOE, "challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive."
Read more here...

I traveled out to see the homes first-hand and was invigorated by the enthusiasm and innovation--inspiring!  Check back soon to see photos from the trip.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fresh Fruit Smoothie TI

Congratulations to Lisa Yao and the Fresh Fruit Smoothie restaurant opening!  We wish her much success!  Find them on Yelp* and treat yourself a fresh delicious smoothie--no powders used here.

This approximately 770 SF tenant improvement includes multiple food preparation areas, employee break area, restroom and custom shelving.  Our services included design, as-built drawings, and strategic code analysis.