We believe sustainability lies in creating beautiful, thoughtful, and enduring design.
In the US, buildings account for 40% of all energy usage, and more than a third of greenhouse gas emissions (more than any other sector of the economy). As architects, we have a professional responsibility to clarify and present green building options to our clients, and to implement selected strategies effectively. In addition to benefitting the planet, properly designed green buildings are measurably more comfortable, healthy, durable, and energy efficient than their standard counterparts. As budgets allow, these benefits far outweigh initial higher costs and are repaid by rebates, reduced utility and maintenance costs, and an enriched quality of life.
The correct implementation of sustainable strategies requires an understanding of building science and experience designing buildings that exceed industry and code standards. For instance, while generally accepted as an energy upgrade, adding more insulation to an exterior wall can actually cause degradation to the building components if not properly detailed. eMZed Architecture has over fifteen years of experience designing green buildings and the accumulated knowledge necessary to put high performance building techniques to work for the benefit of our clients. We use a team approach with client, contractor, and any consultants, to arrive at an integrated solution benefiting from the combined perspectives of everyone involved.
Most importantly, sustainability is not only about building strategies – it is also dependent on design excellence. Long-term building resilience requires careful, thorough, and inspired design to achieve timeless beauty that continues to bring delight and flexible solutions that can adapt to changing conditions.
As a demonstration of our values and design approach, we invite you to tour our net zero energy home and studio, either here or in person. See below for more on high performance, net zero energy building.
These benefits enrich quality of life, while doing much the same for the planet.
Passive House and Net Zero Buildings
There are a variety of techniques and standards for achieving energy efficiency. Among them, Passive House is an internationally accepted approach focused on increased insulation, reduced air leakage, and efficient mechanical systems that include a constant supply of fresh air. Using these high performance methods, a Passive House-designed structure consumes significantly less heating and cooling energy than a typical code-conforming one. When designed correctly, the above strategies also lead to greater thermal comfort, healthier indoor air, and increased durability of materials. Together these benefits enrich quality of life, while doing much the same for the planet. Though actual Passive House Certification is strict and at times difficult to achieve, its high performance principles can be applied to improve any project.
Net Zero Energy buildings take the above benefits an important step farther. Once a building’s energy needs have been significantly reduced, they may be able to be met or exceeded by the addition of a renewable energy source. Solar panels are the most common option; the higher the energy efficiency, the fewer the panels needed, which is the ultimate goal (since roof space and access to sun can be limited). Net Zero Energy buildings remain tied to the utility grid, supplying excess power to it or drawing from it as necessary. Over the course of a year, the amount of energy supplied and drawn net out to zero, dramatically reducing the building’s carbon footprint and achieving a high order of sustainability.
When a project needs to be undertaken in phases, Net Zero Ready buildings are designed to function in a net zero capacity, once a renewable energy source is added in the future.
To date, eMZed has designed more than a dozen net zero energy buildings, and our goal is to help many more clients achieve this goal, or to be net zero ready. And for clients who don’t have the opportunity or space for renewable energy production on site but want to lighten their footprint as much as possible, we recommend pursuing a high performance, low energy consuming design and purchasing green power from the local utility service.
I've worked with eMZed Architecture on many single-family home projects, including their own home / office space, which achieved our highest tier of Earth Advantage Home Certification: Zero Energy. They understand the importance of focusing on the building envelope first, and the value of carefully designed mechanical systems, including fresh air ventilation systems. They also recognize the importance of 3rd party inspections, performance testing, commissioning, and building certification.
Ryan Shanahan, CPHC, PHIUS+ Rater, Zero Energy Certifications Manager