Our project for this term’s Studio is a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) prototype infill redevelopment in the Lowery area at the Buckley Annex, the old USAF national finance and accounting site. The City of Denver has asked our studio to examine the project and the site to develop a national ZNE prototype for sustainability and high performance. Our graduate studio, the last one of their university careers, will examine this large infill site’s sustainable urban design and high performance architecture. We have focused on developing a sustainable urban design master plan for the project as well as individual building and project ZNE strategies. Our task is to showcase sustainable urbanism relating to a broad pallet of sustainability principles and developing ZNE building prototypes for true net zero operations showcased within high performance and technology prototypes.
The City and County of Denver is collaborating with the Lowery Redevelopment Authority (LRA) to pursue a Net Zero Energy (NZE) community at the former Buckley Annex Air Force Base. The goal is to achieve NZE on the existing LRA Master Plan, and to break ground on this project in 2013. The project specifications are based on NREL’s definition of a NZE community: a development that generates as much on-site renewable energy as it consumes over the course of a year.
Studio Mission Statement
Our mission for this term is to gain a better understanding of how ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ are quantified in building design and to determine if the built results match the design goals/projections.
Reflections with the majority of the semester done
We set out this semester to gain understanding and hopefully some confidence in ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ building strategies. We wanted to know what some these strategies were, how they were put in place, how effective they were, and how these results were quantified. We believe that with the semester almost over, we have done a good job attaining that goal. Added to that goal; we want to understand how to implement these strategies with the existing context of the building industry. The purpose of that is to determine a way in which to provide energy efficient design with a very low or non-existent barrier to entry. We want to make a compelling argument for energy efficient design and to that end, to understand the economics of energy efficient design, the impacts of it on owners and designers, and the benefits of energy efficient design over traditional design.
After a foray into Master Planning, we set out to design a prototype net-zero home for the Buckley Annex development. A clarification, net-zero as we are using it here is defined as a house that consumes as little energy as possible and what energy is consumed is offset by on-site generation. This entailed a large amount of research into all the building strategies that could get a house to net-zero. What we discovered in our research is that ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ building design is a reality and one that has been tested, examined, and tested again over the history of building. These concepts of sustainability are not new; rather, they were intuitively practiced designers and builders throughout history only to have been sidetracked by the relatively recent phenomenon of cheap energy. What designers are learning essentially amounts to re-learning common sense building practices. There are technological developments to understand and incorporate, but the principles remain the same and as simple as ever.
We began with the basic strategies that are implemented without any technology, truly passive strategies. These included siting, orientation of the structure with respect to wind patterns and sun movement, interior layout of spaces and uses that corresponded to the orientation, simple building massing decisions to reduce energy loss, shading solutions calibrated to our climate and location, planting decisions in regards to the climate and the natural flora of the area. After these basic issues were analyzed and determined, we then entertained active approaches. We incorporated into our design the accepted strategy of photo-voltaics and investigated a newer strategy; micro-wind. Both of these approaches would in theory provide enough power to offset the energy demands of the house
that weren’t met through passive strategies. Thus using a combination of primarily low –tech design strategies with the inclusion of some high-tech exploratory solutions.
Over this process of research and finally design, we kept records what we learned, what we tested, and what we discovered. This resulted in a log-book of sorts that chronicled our process over the course of the semester. With a bit of editing and re-arranging, we believe that this book can be turned into a primer of sorts on energy efficient, potentially net-zero design in Denver, Colorado. This concept dovetailed with an interest expressed by the City of Denver to have a set of guidelines that explained in more detail, how net-zero was going to be achieved in the development. It is a happy coincidence that our method of note taking could result in a reference document for net-zero design.
The remaining piece is the testing and quantifying of our strategies through the use of energy modeling. We will hopefully accomplish this over the last couple weeks of the semester. Another benefit our research provided was the discovery of scads of data concerning how net-zero houses should perform taken with every metric imaginable. Measurements have been taken and there are comparisons to what we’ve done. They aren’t exact but they are close and enough to work as a guide for us.
Our goal for the semester was to gain understanding and confidence in ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ building strategies. After a foray into master planning with the entire class, we chose the residential blocks 9 and 5 and began our research and design. Our chosen direction at the outset of the project was to develop a set of design and energy standards that could be used by the developer, the City, or the contractor to create net-zero residences. Additionally, we wanted our residences to be competitive within the market and as such, we needed to keep track of the cost impact of our strategies. To that end, we focused on passive strategies that required little to no technology or energy to function. Our research generated an outline of passive design strategies that can be used in residential design. Further, we accumulated data regarding passive design specific to our site in Denver. This research was compiled into a book and formed the basis of the energy and design standards for the project.
The final phase of our project was to implement these standards into residential designs for the site. We created seven prototype houses which incorporated our design standards. Our houses included passive strategies in the form of building massing, shading and window design, wall systems, insulation, building orientation, and interior program design. To test these ideas we ran simulation through an energy modeling program, Vasari by Autodesk. We were able to generate numbers that supported our hypothesis behind the passive strategies.
Below are some images taken from our research book, more to come…
Architecture for the Greater Good. Jess Weyandt & Emily Gallant Bulchis.
I. Statement of Project Purpose:
Goals of economic, environmental, and social viability establish data that dictates a level of density, activity, and economic prosperity important to the success of establishing a sense of ‘Place.’ This is achieved by synergistically integrating complex variables to form a symbiosis between building fabric, the environment, economics, and its people.
Dual design ideologies emerge from this: Architecture for the Greater Good and Complex Concepts Simplified. Architecture for the Greater Good speaks to designing environments that support humanity’s self-realization and conscious experience. Complex Concept simplified refers to a conceptual re-evaluation of the established norms of real estate development design.
An architectural backdrop can function as a tactile, sensory, memory-imprinting, anthropomorphic, sustainable entertainment Experience. Where its visitors leave with a healthier brain, a lighter heart, and a deepened connection with their environment.
This takes form as a sustainable, green technology, mufti-use, entertainment center designed to appeal to humans from all walks of life and of all ages.
The environmentally responsive aspects of the architecture itself function as an experiential, educational component. The net-zero green technologies are building integrated systems that illustrate their function to the participant by providing a tactile, interactive experience of green technologies at play. For instance, environmentally responsive design decisions can be elucidated to educate, illustrate, enhance coordination, and overall world-view, especially for children in a family focused region of our site.
Project Introductory Backdrop:
The advent of globalization, mass production, consumption, and the automobile have created complex issues demanding the interdisciplinary collaboration of designers, economists, developers, community members, and politicians; among many others.
Nearly a half-century after A Pattern Language has been published, the philosophical analysis that dictated such a prescriptive design is used to understand what a Pattern Language of Net-Zero New Urbanism might look like. Our purpose in referencing academia is to understand how architects can bring community design to the next level to establish and emanate a sense of place for its residents and visitors.
Denver lacks physical geographic limit and is considered a mid-latitude steppe; which
Considered a mid-latitude steppe, Denver lacks true geographic limits in its physical geography. and is landlocked. Due to these unique contextual constraints Denver faces, a case study of New Urbanist development from another climate cannot be used as a resource.
Method based techniques such as New Urbanism or form -based design in Denver are used to reclaim the brown and greyfields of forgotten developments. While the success of projects such as Belmar, Stapleton, and Lodo are debatable, these are a step in the right direction, with their lessons and guidance providing guidance.
Thus, concrete sprawl and urban infill, a suburban building fabric, and water management constraints demand a unique approach not yet realized. The harvesting of natural elements such as wind and sun become paramount in the pursuit of a new-archetype for the net-zero community and buildings.
II. A Net-Zero, New Urbanist Pattern Language for 2012. Common Sense Design Techniques combining historic knowledge and sustainable data.
Sense of place:
-Accessible roof top decks.
-Second story courtyards.
-concentrated nodes of activity and density.
-Internal to external connections with visual landmarks and way finding devices.
-Parking that is convenient yet does not kill density by surrounding retail.
-Circulation is celebrated.
-Use of technology that illustrates and educates the environmental technologies at play. This does not include anything within the gaming genre or similar. The goal is to bring people to life through greater presence, not to numb them out.
-Tactile experiential learning about Net-zero design that appeals to people of all ages and thus is accessible at a variety of scales to be inclusive to all.
-Data informed design
-local business ratio
-Co-operative Marketplace with a merchant integrated cashier free checkout.
-Choice of stores that generate revenue but that aren’t consumption based. This includes eduction, social empowerment, childcare, community connection, recreation, experiential etc.
-Permeable landscaping and gabians.
-Environmentally optimized orientation, materials, ventilation, and day lighting.
-Building integrated energy generation and efficient systems.
-fixed/ flexible oriented design so that things can evolve through time without the demolition and remodeling practices typical of current construction.
-Establishment of a humanistic net-zero aesthetic for the Denver area.
III. Process Images illustrating our Process:
IV. Mid-term process work and boards:
V. Exploration and Experimentation with Modularity:
VI. Final Project Boards:
My mission for the semester is to create a project that incorporates and informs ideas of sustainable urbanism in a way that inspires and excites people to live in the community and apply sustainable strategies in everyday life.
This semester I would like to become more familiar with, as well as incorporate green building technologies/testing into a responsible, inspirational, and unique development successful to Denver, as well as a forefront prototype of new urban development in the United States.
To synthesize the original goals we had at the beginning of the semester, we both had ideas of creating neighborhoods in a sustainable and inspirational way. We want our ideas of net-zero energy to have the ability to be reproduced. Doing a brewery, there are several active systems that are used. Through the use of a few separate high-tech active systems, the brewing functions are a closed loop cycle that can sustain itself. Within the brewing process, the collection of waste and the systems therein cease to be a cost-center and can be used to cycle back into the brewery system, both saving money and creating energy in the meantime. Using the wastewater from the brewery, they are filtered through a wastewater treatment plant in the form of an anaerobic digester. This not only allows for the water to be cleaner leaving the system than when it enters it, but through the treatment, biogas can be trapped and used to run through fuel cells and creates energy to offset the other processes within the brewery. Throughout these processes, significant heat is produced, particularly within the brewhouse. By creating a central atrium in which this heat is easily captured and control, a thermal lift is created by creating temperature variance within the atrium. This highly controlled temperature zone in the center of the building allows for the air intakes around the building (also temperature controlled through water pipes within the walls). Having controlled air intake, as well as controlled temperature in the center of the building, allows for air to flow through the building, heating or cooling as necessary, and venting out through the top of the atrium. This exciting means of melding active and passive systems is used to create a netzero building.
Below is a diagram of the energy flow within the brewery, along with the final boards for the presentation.