Friday, December 9, 2011

Government Center Photovoltaic Now Open

New photovoltaic covered parking and vehicle charging stations at Clark County's downtown Government Center are now open to the public.  Our studio is proud to have contributed this design to help Clark County "Go Green!"  If you own an electric vehicle see how to use the free charging stations on ChargePoint's website.

Explore animations about how solar photovoltaic systems work and see real-time data for Clark County's solar installations here... 

Learn more about this project by clicking here and scrolling down...

This project is part of Clark County Real Property Management's (RPM) Energy Management program and is primarily funded by grant funds targeted for Energy Efficiency and Conservation under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).  Cesar Ceballos is RPM's Design and Construction Administrator for the project.  Our design team includes Wright Engineers and KJE Consulting Engineers.  Contractor is Jetstream Construction.

Friday, November 25, 2011


A whimsical Thanksgiving treat from one of our favorite websites, Inhabitat..."Design will save the world."

Explore the textured architecture of food with Matthew Carden's surprising and artistic photographs of enlarged food.  Link to story here...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Eco Home Fair — Saturday 10/22 10AM-4PM

Eco Home Fair is at Element Hotel in Summerlin this Saturday. This free event is all about families having fun and learning green living strategies to live well, cut costs, and help the environment. You will be amazed by the easy, green ideas and choices for everyday living and delighted by the arts, entertainment and the activities for kids.

Come out and meet undersea explorer, filmmaker, and eco champion Scott Cassell. He is on site to meet the public, talk about why he is committed to green living, and showcase his electric submarine. You’ve seen him on Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and National Geographic.

Additionally enjoy interactive demonstrations, local green merchant and professional vendor booths, and great green giveaways.

Anne Johnson, AIA will be there to answer questions and provide brief consultations for greening your home and office with sustainable architectural strategies. We would love to visit with you at Eco Home Fair.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Greening Our Office: Part 2

Anne Johnson, AIA challenged ourselves to green our office more in 2011.  We are using Harvard’s green office program to evaluate how we are doing in nine impact areas.  The process involves four leaves, or levels, of discovery and commitment to green office practices.  The following is our Leaf One:

[1. Energy] We shut off computers and the lights when not in use, saving energy and cost. (Tips & Tricks HQ)

[2. Recycling] Easy to access bins encourage staff to reduce, reuse, and recycle paper and plastic goods. We are creative with repurposing and reusing office furniture, including our shared office and conference space.

[3. Waste Reduction] E-mails and phones are our primary contact tools.  To further reduce waste production, we limit the use of hard-copy files. We print or copy on both sides of a page whenever possible, and keep a pile of reusable scrap paper near our printer.

[4. Publication] For marketing publications, we use an e-newsletter and limit mailing campaigns to once a year.

[5. Events & Meetings] We provide reusable cups and mugs at meetings.

[6. Transportation] Our 2011 office relocation combines all our needs with a short commute saving time and energy while reducing our carbon footprint.

[7. Kitchens & Breakrooms] During lunch and breaks, we provide reusable dishes, cups and utensils.  We also have a bin for spare napkins from take-out.

[8. Purchasing] Our office uses paper containing at least 30% recycled content.  When sending out print jobs, we specify recycled paper and black and white printing as much as possible.  For new purchases, we’ve adopted a policy of getting Energy Star or EPEAT certified models.

[9. Participation] We actively challenge ourselves and vendors to practice sustainable approaches.

Simple steps like these help save money and the environment. We encourage everyone to make a commitment to greening your office.  Each choice makes a difference.

Read about how we started here... 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ongoing Construction at Government Center

Monofacial photovoltaic (PV) panels cover this LED-lit structural steel shade structure over 20 visitor parking spaces.  This solar power array generates Renewable Energy Credits for Clark County and offsets their electric utility bill.  Electric vehicle charging stations are available to a majority of the parking spaces.  The project also includes an accessible, public, interactive kiosk at the main entrance to Government Center.

This project is part of Clark County Real Property Management's (RPM) Energy Management program and is primarily funded by grant funds targeted for Energy Efficiency and Conservation under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).  Cesar Ceballos is RPM's Design and Construction Administrator for the project.  Our design team includes Wright Engineers and KJE Consulting Engineers.  Contractor is Jetstream Construction.

Read more about Clark County's newest photovoltaic projects by clicking here and scrolling down...

solar-powered charging stations for electric vehicles
PV installation in progress
PV installation in progress

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Photovoltaic Project Amps Up

Work is progressing steadily at the Clark County Government Center Photovoltaic project.

Our design team includes Wright Engineers and KJE Consulting Engineers.  Contractor is Jetstream Construction.

Read more about the project funding here... or see the finished result here...

More photographs here... 
structural steel frame shoring


courtesy of Jetstream Construction

completed structural frame
x-brace detail at beams

Read more about the project here...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Straw Bale: A Winning Choice for All Projects

Once regarded as reserved for residential outposts, straw bale construction is gaining attention in the public sector.  High energy efficiency, qualification for LEED points, and the ability to use community labor can tip the scales in favor of using this traditional building method.  For the following projects, all of the positive qualities of straw bale added up to a win-win for the owners and builders.

Transit Facility
The Santa Clarita Transit Maintenance Facility is a LEED Gold-certified building by HOK Architects.  The facility includes a 22,000 square-foot administration building, 25,000 square-foot maintenance building, bus wash facility, [compressed natural gas] CNG fueling island for city buses, and a publicly accessible CNG fueling station.  Completed in 2006, the project cost was $20 million. (Harnack, Leah. "Going Green in the Maintenance Department,"Mass Transit Magazine, March 14, 2011.)
Read more about it here.
Photos by HOK.

High School Classroom
Using an EPA grant, donor funding, and student designer-builders, the Conservation District of Southern Nevada (CDSN) built an approximately 400 square feet straw bale classroom and an adjacent demonstration garden for Moapa Valley High School at the school-owned Moapa Valley Farm in Clark County.  Four years in the making, this eco-friendly structure is a testament to persistence and hard work, and has been featured in a Library of Congress green building article.  Lucchesi Galati architects and UNLV landscape architecture students provided pro bono designs. This community spirit extended to the construction as in-kind donations included re-purposed leftover paint, stucco, electrical fixtures, and other building materials from Southwest Homes, a local homebuilder.  All materials except for the straw bale came from within a 100-mile radius.  A "truth window" by the main entrance allows visitors to see the material at the heart of it all straw bundles from nearby southern California.
Read more about it here.

Small-town Colorado discovered the benefits of straw bale when they built the Naturita Community Library.  The 4,400 square feet architect-designed structure's planning began in 2006 and construction was completed in 2009 for an approximate total project budget of $1,250,000.  It has received recognition as the 2010 Colorado Association of Libraries Library Project of the Year and Library Journal's 2011 Best Small Library in America Award, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  When initial construction bids came in high, the Montrose Regional Library District director, Paul Paladino, took on the role of General Contractor, and got the project built on budget.  Naturita now has an attractive library beloved by the community.  It's energy efficiency is a plus for nature-loving Coloradans, but the real benefit is that it frees up more operating budget for the library's mission to “educate, enlighten, enrich, and entertain” and “to foster interest in reading and lifelong learning.”  In fact, given the location in the western Rockies, its $400 per month average total utility bill is astounding!
Architects: Patrik Davis Associates

Read more about it here, and more here by Paul Paladino.

Straw bale quick facts:
  • Good energy efficiency for temperature extremes
  • R-values typically range from R-30 to R-45
  • Structure options: 1) Post-Beam with bale infill or 2) Structural Straw Bale "Nebraska" style
  • Able to use unskilled labor
  • Stucco exterior finish: lime-wash or conventional
  • Able to use excavated earth with sand for interior stucco finish
  • Straw bales available in Nevada
  • Local building code acceptance must be assessed in pre-design phase*
  • Seismic resistance (UNR test)
  • In use since the late 1800's
*Straw bale guidelines were adopted by Nevada legislature in 1995.

Get more straw bale facts here.

Explore straw bale for residential: 
Minden, Nevada straw bale residence

Friday, May 27, 2011

HeliOptix – Energy Generating Windows

Usually, solar panels are visualized on the roofs of buildings, or scattered somewhere in the desert.  However, thanks to thin film photovoltaic and other new technologies, we will start seeing more building integrated solar production, known as BIPV.

One new solution for a solar-powered building surface is the HeliOptix solar façade.  Syracuse University’s Center for Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems is the first place this new and innovative solar façade is being tested.

HeliOptix has designed an integrated, tracking solution that uses the concentrating power of Fresnel lenses.  These windows generate energy by using an array of tiny generators that “follow the sun like a field of transparent flowers.  Each lens-and-solar-cell molecule collects light onto a photovoltaic cell while heating up a trickle of water.  (Ferris, David. “Innovate: Windows That Generate Energy”  Sierra Magazine, March/April 2011: Page 22).
Click here to view a video of the HeliOptix facade at work! 

The high performance in this design draws energy not just from light, but also from heat in the form of water, a process known as cogeneration.  Given Las Vegas’s near constant supply of sun, this would be an ideal type of solar generation, especially in commercial and hospitality uses. Imagine these panels being placed in a LEED certified buildings such as those at City Center.  If it lives up to its promise, Heloptix's solar facade will deliver concentrated performance and sparkle too!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

New in the Studio

It's a pleasure to intersect with the arts for a Dance Classroom addition to Winchester Cultural Center.  Anne Johnson, AIA will provide full architectural and interior design services.  In keeping with their tradition, space will be provided for future public art.  This project is funded by HUD's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Earth Day 2011

Make a positive impact with Earth Day Network's A Billion Acts of Green campaign, by committing to action lasting well beyond Earth Day.

Our pledge? To cost-effectively integrate green into our work for you, and review sustainable practices in our own office.

At the same time attention is focused globally, take a look at our own amazing back yard...enjoy a hike in the Valley of Fire, check out a local CSA like Meadow Valley, or simply enjoy the weather at an Earth Day Festival.

Local Events:

Friday, March 18, 2011

Accessibility Solutions

Accessibility covers a broad range of needs, including the elderly, persons in wheelchairs, the blind, and persons with other disabilities.

Unfortunately, non-accessible properties can expose property owners and managers to litgation.  Have you ever heard of someone falling because of a lack of railings on a property or broken concrete sidewalks?      

Property owners and managers often find themselves in need of cost-effective non-accessibility mitigation to address these hazardous and illegal situations.

Together with civil engineer Ken Erlanger of KJE Consulting Engineers, we are using our expertise to provide solutions.   Homeowner's Associations (HOA), Residential Property Management groups, and Commercial Property Development groups, among others, can all benefit from a consultation.  Call us for assistance with your or your clients' needs.

Anne Johnson, AIA design services include ADA, building code and feasibility analysis consulting.  Ken Erlanger, P.E., has expertise bringing existing projects up to current code and fixing existing site deficiencies.  His knowledge includes ADA accessibility standards, drainage and grading.  Both Anne and Ken have completed training for American Disabilities Act, ANSI and Fair Housing Act.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Greening Our Office

Over the remainder of 2011, we're reviewing sustainable practices in our office.  Although accustomed to many "green" habits, we've never evaluated our office's process and progress.  

Many of you have also adopted some of these first steps of greening:  turning off equipment and lights not in use, recycling, printing on both sides of paper, and using teleconferencing whenever possible.  What are areas for improvement?

Using Harvard’s green office program as a basis, we’re using checklists in nine impact categories to discover how we can grow greener.  You’re invited to join us in this year of discovery.  Please post and share your experience too!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Charged Up About Photovoltaic

We’ve been busy in the office with a few government projects, as well as some additional design opportunities.  Two of our projects are focused on energy production in the form of photovoltaic covered parking.  Both are funded through the Department of Energy, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).   We're optimistic that President Obama's new Better Buildings Initiative for energy efficiency will bring new opportunities in the commercial sector.  Energy efficiency combined with energy production is an ideal mix for retrofits.

Clark County Development Services' Russell Road Campus is home to a newly constructed steel parking canopy made up of photovoltaic panels covering 17 employee parking spaces.  An interactive, public kiosk is provided in the main lobby to demonstrate the renewable energy production process.   

Starting construction this spring, Clark County Government Center will be home to a newly constructed, unique canopy made up of bi-facial photovoltaic panels and structural steel that covers 20 visitor parking spaces.  Electric vehicle charging stations are available to a majority of the parking spaces.  The project also includes an accessible, public, interactive kiosk in the main lobby rotunda.

The canopy is designed to assimilate with the architecturally significant Clark County Government Center building and also reflect the advanced technology of solar energy production. 

A light footprint minimizes visual disruption of the existing building and colors complement the existing design palette.  Four tilted columns reflect the bold sundial element at the top of Government Center’s rotunda and cantilevered beams mimic “Viga” elements in Southwestern architecture. 

Semi-transparent, bi-facial photovoltaic modules create dappled shade and enable visitors to see the technology of photovoltaic production.  Signage invites them to visit the monitoring kiosk in the Lobby to learn more.  At night, columns are highlighted with up/down LED lighting and additional under-canopy LED lighting enhances safety.

Knowing that these projects will give people the chance to research the amount of energy produced by the PV panels, perhaps inspiring them to start their own photovoltaic project, is truly gratifying.

Our design team includes Wright Engineers and KJE Consulting Engineers.  Contractor for Development Services is Martin Harris Construction.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Changing the Way We Eat" Webcast February 12

Green Drinks Las Vegas is hosting a viewing party for TEDxManhattan's “Changing the Way We Eat” on Saturday, February 12.

Sustainable agriculture goes hand in hand with sustainable design as it also embraces the triad concepts of environmental, social and economic viability.  Just like design requires careful choices, understanding where our food comes from, and the impact of its production, allows us to make food choices that support the health of the planet and its inhabitants.  Supermarkets and farmer's markets aren't our only options in the Las Vegas valley.  Perhaps you'll be inspired to give urban farming a try in your own backyard.

From the Green Drinks website:
This is a one-day event in NYC highlighting the sustainable food movement and the work being done to shift our food system from industrially-based agriculture to one in which healthy, nutritious food is accessible to all.

Attendees are invited to bring healthy recipes and local produce to share, trade, and donate. Leftover food will be donated. Don’t miss LIVE Vegan Cooking Demo and Tasting with Chef Mayra. Learn and meet others concerned about sustainable and local food options in Las Vegas.

S P A C E Studios | 8 E. Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89104
Join us on February 12th for a session or the whole day.

Session 1 – What Happened? 7:30 am
Session 2 – Where are we? 10:30am
Lunch – Chef Mayra Vegan Cooking Demo & Tasting 12:15pm
Session 3 – Where are we going? 1pm

For more information contact Tara at 702.556.8619 or

TEDxManhattan's webcast will be live and viewable anywhere in the world. Visit the link now to see a video about past TEDx's around the globe.