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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Windows as Heaters

With energy modeling tools now available to architects combined with the latest in window technology new homes for cold climates can now be designed to significantly reduce the energy needed to heat the home by leveraging freely available solar heat gains. In essence, while the sun is out windows can heat your home even when temperatures are well below zero.

The most advanced windows are being manufactured in Europe with some manufactures in Canada coming close in performance. These advanced windows combine an insulated frame, glazing that allows a high percentage of solar heat to enter the home - high Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), and air tightness.

Single panes of clear glass allow around 85% of solar heat to pass through. However the early single pane windows were little better than a hole in the wall in preventing heat from escaping from the interior of the house. As factory production became more sophisticated and glass coating technologies were invented the capacity of windows to prevent heat from escaping was greatly improved. Sacrificed in this development though was the glass’ ability to allow solar heat to pass through reducing the SHGC to around 30%. This is still true for the majority of domestically manufactured windows.

Roughly speaking the European manufactured windows from countries like Germany, Switzerland, and Austria have twice the insulation value, allow twice the amount of solar heat gain, and maintain more air tight seals. All these qualities are particularly important for energy efficient buildings in cold climates. Installing the latest in window technology in new construction in cold climates should be considered a conservation measure and given higher priority over adding renewable energy systems.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The House the Land Built

The House the Land Built
2x2 No. 4 presents the journey of two high school sweethearts who, after 26 years of marriage, are transitioning from Minneapolis city life to 60 acres of restored prairie on bluffs overlooking the Whitewater River in Southeastern Minnesota. Locus Architecture clients Linda Nelson and Michael Larsen share their transformative experience navigating everything from material reclamation centers, composting toilet manuals, energy cost spreadsheets and meetings with off-the-grid gurus.
They'll explain how a transcendent connection to their land inspired it all.

Saturday February 26, 2011, 7:30 pm

Locus Architecture Studio, 1500 Jackson St. NE, Suite 333, Minneapolis

Bring 2 guests to make your own 2X2! RSVP before Monday, February 21st to secure a spot

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Planning Little Earth Keyhole Garden Plots

 Placement by size , harvest frequency, and compatibility.  Setting our life size plan out helps define spaces and previsions the summer feast.
Seen in these images is LEUT garden farmer Dawn Segura.  All plants are open pollinated from Seed Savers, High Mowing Seeds, or Native Harvests.

Friday, February 11, 2011

PRI - Southwoods Design Classes

 Twelve designers filled the papers with well planned perennial designs. We met each Thursday for four weeks of classroom instruction and assignments. The little cabin classroom helps us focus on pour designs and the process of building a ecologically supported landscape.

We had designers working on plans for properties in California, Vancouver Island, B.C. as well as large holdings in Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota. Residential lots were well represented and developed solutions for tight spaces.  

Thanks to Lynn Mayo for taking photos.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cold Climate Challenge #1 – HEAT

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m only a wannabe permaculturalist. My background is in construction and architecture. However as I sit all day in front of a computer designing houses I wish that I were outside in the elements among the plants and other beings. I enjoy attending permaculture events and learning in more depth the in and outs of the interbeing of local species and all about which plants you can put in your mouth.

Hopefully I can contribute to larger discussions of appropriate cold climate living from my experience in residential architecture. I’ve had the fortune to work on a home recently which is energy modeled to produce more energy than it uses on an annual basis. Monitoring equipment has been installed it to see how well the actual performance compares to the model. Before talking about that project in specific I would like to point out an interest growing among the residential architecture professionals in the U.S.

Most of you are likely aware of the pioneering efforts to reduce residential energy consumption in the early 70’s with techniques like passive solar design, super-insulated construction, and the installation of photovoltaics. In the 80s as the mainstream construction industry in the US lost interest in energy saving measures, researchers and designers in Germany understood the potential of these pioneering efforts and continued to develop them to overcome many of their pitfalls – uncomfortable buildings due to high fluctuations, overheating, excessive energy loss through windows, etc.. Tools, methodologies and building components were advanced culminating in the world’s most stringent energy standard - Passivhaus. Currently in Germany and other European countries thousands of buildings have been constructed that require factors less power to heat and cool conditioned spaces. This is primarily achieved through a principle well understood among permaculturalists, “Capture and Store”, which in this case is referring to the heat manifest within the sun’s rays.

To avoid too long of a post I’ll expand on this further in subsequent blogs.

For now I will leave you with a picture of the next generation of windows appropriate for a cold climate (image credit – Optiwin Windows) and the fact that we in Minnesota have the same passive solar resources as the Mediterranean countries.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Thanks PRIcc.

I only was able to go to a small part of Penny Livingston's presentations, but gathered some great concepts.
Anyone take photos?


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Welcome to the Permaculture Discussion Group for the Twin Cities.

We are here.  Got a link, a photo, an idea, solution, design, or a concepts?  Lets get the ball rolling. Upload photos with your entry if you want, but drawings, sketches, designs are good too. If you are a follower, you will get e-mails of entries. If you are an author you will also get alerts to comments on your entries. Authors are invited or apply to create new entries and discussions. You can also go back and edit and add to a previous entry.  The direct url is:


Dan, your Co-Author.