Posts Tagged ‘Green build’

Notes from HEED workshop

Hmm… I have a few fun, summary notes from the PEC class I attended, but I almost forgot to post it. Well, here it is!

Designing High Performance Homes with HEED

  • It will not beat the accuracy of hand-calculation, but it is good for getting a quick insight. It is sort of like SketchUp for architects. You can make the shape and even a presentable perspective, but it can’t really make presentable floor plan or detail section.
  • If you work in the build/construct/energy industry & don’t have Climate Consultant or HEED, download it anyway just for fun. I will admit the graphic is not the most attractive or flexible, but that’s what photoshop does.
  • There’s a few bugs, but they are small things to smile about – just a bunch of instruction pop up. In fact, Pablo jokes about it, blunting inviting those of us in the room to send a massive group complaint to his friend in a single day. Considering that there are only 4 UCLA guys working on the program for free, the bug is understandable. In fact, it is already down right amazing.
  • Love the Vintage Home option that they are working with, especially since my prep day volunteer at Rebuilding Together and my water audit class at PEC reminded me the importance of building age.
  • Climate Consultant is as I remember it. Maybe a bit clearer in term of graphics. It also have the climate files preloaded now – no more going online to look for the right file. I did, however, learn how to twit the psychrometric chart to see how different recommendation changes the graphics. It’s pretty neat.

2012 PG&E Class and CES Credits

Finally, the 2012 class list for PG&E center is here. I got both their mailed calender and email alert. I have took Daylighting Fundamental when the Lighting Expo was hosted at Cuesta College, but I have been curious about their Lighting Fundamental class for a while, ever since I took their Lighting Software class in December (It was a 7-hour class on the Visual software, which sounds a bit gruesome but worth it. The computer effect is amazing, and it is pretty intuitive in its use. Sadly, it’s designed for Mac. I used PG&E’s PC laptop for the class). Naturally, the first thing I did was to sign up for the earliest Lighting Fundamental class. I also signed up for “Designing High Performance Homes with HEED” in May, since I have wanted to learn more about HEED ever since I heard about it in the college classes on environmental design.

PG&E also have a SketchUp class in March, which is not open for registration yet, but I have put it on my calender since I am fully prepare to register the moments it’s up. I found SketchUp’s ability to do lighting studies very useful in projects, so the more I learn about it the better. The class is intended for intermediate practitioner, but since I had used SU for lighting studies and knows the basic Solar Geometry from my classes, I think I should be fine. Mostly, I just to remember my computer adapter and hope that my 5-year old MacBook don’t  freeze on me (Yes, my MacBook do actually freeze now – it’s been with me since I was Freshman, and it is getting tired… *pets computer and sighs*)

Since I have time, taking class at places at PG&E let me stay in touch with the industry, and it lets me fulfill my AIA CES credit in the mean time.

So far, I took Daylighting Fundamental, Lighting Design & Software for Outdoor Calculations, Energy Fundamental, and Smart Grid Fundamentals. With the Lighting Fundamental class, I would get 6 HSW. The HEED class will give me another 3.5 HSW credit, and Energy Fundamentals already gave me 2.75 HSW. All together,  I will have 12.25 out of 8 required HSW credits – hmm, I actually went past the requirement without realizing it.

The Lighting Software for Outdoor Calculation class gave me 6 CES credits. Counting the HSW-qualified credits, I have 18.5 CES completed out of the required… 18 credits.

Ah, that feels good! I may still be looking for work, but at least I got (or will get) my CES credits out of the way!

Yerba Mate Mixer… I Mean Mingling with Yerba Mate in Hand

Hmm… I thought I published this, but it is still in my draft box. A bit later, but here it goes:

Just attended the SF Bay Bridge Branch New Member Mixer at Herman Miller Showroom. I wasn’t sure I can go initially because I wasn’t sure I can get a ride, so I didn’t attempt to rsvp until Tuesday night. It turned out that the rsvp ended already, but the event was free with ticket available at the door, so I decided to go.

I arrived right on time. USGBC printed out name tag stickers for everyone who registered. Since I didn’t register beforehand, I just wrote my name on my tag sticker.

As title suggested, I grabbed a bottle of Yerba Mate for my drink of choice at the entrance. The mixer itself seems to be mostly wine in terms of drinks. But since I rarely drink alcoholic drinks, I decided to play safe and grabbed the Mate. Besides, Guayaki Yerba Mate is actually the result of a Cal Poly senior project. Since I am a Cal Poly graduate, what better way to bring a little bit of Mustang spirits? Considering that probably 99% of the people going to the events are people that I have never met, a bit of Mustang spirit would be a good thing to have. (In the end, it was 100%. Which was nice in a way, since I get to meet a lot of new people!)

Once I walked pass the entrance, I was… slightly lost. Where’s the back? I wandered around a bit before I found the back, where the food is. But no one had touched them yet. In fact, no one was there yet. So I stepped out of the backroom and wandered around a bit.

The location is quite nice – the Herman Miller Showroom. The walls and furniture are artistically playful, which made them fun to talk about. Of course, the food was an interesting selection as well – no pretzel and chips here, as it was real cooked food. So yes, many of the topics started with wall features, furniture, and food – the conversations are very normal yet very architectural now that I think about it…

The group though, composed of people from different occupations. I only met a few architects, and there are people from construction, engineering, real estate, and more.

Some time in, the USGBC branch members gathered people together to give their speech. It consisted mostly of welcoming everyone – especially new members – and the different events and volunteering works that are coming. Greenbuild was brought up in the talk, since it will be host at San Francisco this year. Last year, it was Toronto, and as a new grad in the mist of moving back to the bay area and working on my job portfolio, I only got to read the twitters and articles about the event. I can’t wait until November when I can finally attend it in person! I would love to go the LEED certified coffeehouse at Toronto. Why don’t San Francisco have a LEED certified coffeehouse? That would be a heaven for a coffeeholic (namely me).

By the way,  jones | haydu completed a coffee bar project at Mission. Definitely bringing my camera when I finally visit there…

Anyhow. *cough*

After that, the event was ending. I stayed a bit longer to finish my drink. I went over to the chair display at the front, where they have labels depicting each chair’s history. After reading them, I started looking around the room to try out the actual chairs (they have them on display and scattered around the room). I wished I had been there back when I was getting ready for the Vellum Furniture Competition.

It’s my first time attending an architecture-specific networking event, and I have to say I really like it. It was a bit awkward at first, but starting conversations gets easier each time I try, and it is fun getting to know different people. With experiment comes experience, and so, I shall keep moving forward in my quest to explore the city!

But for now… I am going to sleep.

Visiting the LEED Plantium Gottfried Tesla Home

It’s times like this that reminds me of why I went into architecture.

Last Saturday, I had the joy of visiting the Tesla House by David Gottfried with a house tour by that very designer, whom described himself as an “author, green building activist and keen entrepreneur” and was the person whom started the first green building council, in the form of the much-familiar USGBC.

Those whom know me back in high school know that I went into architecture for a very simple reason. Excuse my language, but many San Francisco and urban housing sucks. Many units are old, impractical, uncomfortable, and sometimes downright illegal. I went into architecture because I wanted to create an atmosphere people wants to live in – a dream house for everyday common people.

If I have the money today, I would buy the Tesla Home that is selling now.

The first word for the Telsa Home that came to mind after my visit was warmth. The house has many wonderful, modern features. It was certainly a very green house, both in term of passive design and technical design. But what moved me was the fact that I can imagine myself as a child, running around and exploring the house with excitement. I think a lot of the houses in professional magazine looks really modern and clean, but sometimes they lack the sense of mystery, fun, and warmth that many people seek in a home.

The area

The Telsa House is sited at a beautiful community in Oakland. When people think Oakland, they think gangs and guns. But actually, Oakland have some very beautiful communities, this was one of them. Located at the Rockridge Bart station, it is a hub of tasteful antique stores, bookshops, marketplace, and coffeehouse. If the road isn’t so cracked from neglect, I would have thought I was back in San Luis Obispo! I walked around and explored the neighborhood after the house tour, but that’s a different story. Let’s get to the house:


The little house sat behind the richly grown front-yard – no lawn here. I could tell that most of those plants were California-climate plants. It reminded me of a small cottage house hidden in a secret garden, though the garden didn’t covered up the stair-elevated house.

Upon entering the door, the atmosphere already had distinguished feel to it. I loved the feel of its enclosed porch. I was literally surrounded by wood. The wood wasn’t painted and kept its light and natural feel. I know people who think that unpainted wood is too informal, but when properly done, it’s quite beautiful. I love how it worked out – uniform yet a bit informal, giving off a very relax feel to it.


The center of the room, I feel, is the dinning room.

I tried taking the photo in two different camera setting, but it didn’t really capture the atmosphere. With natural lighting from only one side and window that are high and narrow, the dinning area is a bit darker than the rest of the house. But it’s not the cold, scary kind of darkness. With the open, well-lit kitchen adjacent and the antique-feel wooden furniture inside,  the dining room felt quite intimate – I can imagine a small Thanksgiving dinner with candles and close family member there.

The kitchen feels much more lighted and airy. I don’t think I would ever forget that they have a mechanical-sliding vent!

Look like a flat table, right? But the metal at the top of the range is actually the vent. Push the right button, and it will slide up into a vent! There was quite a bit of similar technology like that in the house – hidden gadgets that makes the house function well but still look warm and colorful. The house had a hidden attic ladder that looked very fun. And take a look at this:

Can you guess what it is? For a moment I thought it was a decoration or some sort of foldable table. The next picture gives a better clue:

It is a radiant heater! They are done so well, I didn’t even notice this one until I was about to leave the house.

They also have a fireplace in their living room, with a new glass enclosure and damper as required by LEED for Homes.

Yes, the living room was very well-lit. It faced the street, and the window blinds could go up and  was made of a mylar-like fabric, letting in light while preserving privacy.

In term of cooling, there was also fans that spins both direction, which can push heat up or down.

Solar powered studio, bench chairs, vegetable garden… David knows how to relax.

Look, there was even an outdoor shower!



The house’s energy and water is gathered through various different devices.

Turns out that David is selling the house since he was planning to move out into a larger house for his daughter. I wonder how his new house will turn out, considering how functional and fun his current house is.

End of the day

I saw a green book at David’s studio and in another room. At first it didn’t really register in my mind, which was being so distracted by the house (it’s a wonderful place to be distracted…). Then, before I left, I decided to look at the book more closely… and realized the book was by David!

And now I patiently waits for David’s first book “Greed to Green” to come from the library. I am debating about “Greening My Life”. It’s not available at any libraries in the California system, and I generally don’t buy books unless I read them before. I would love to try out the ebook version, but the price is $9.99, which I am sure I can get for cheaper with a physical, used book – and I prefer physical books. I guess I will read “Greed to Green” first and see how I like it.

Oh, totally irrelevant, but I got a Nook!!!!

*Cough* So umm… yes, I will probably end up buying the ebook if I like “Greed to Green”. Anyone else visited the house?

Book Review: Understanding Green Building Guidelines by Taci Rose Rider

First, I realize that because of my background of architecture, I subconsciously expects a portfolio book whenever I saw a horizontal bound book, and therefore I tend to skim the pages before I realize what I am doing.The horizontal layer also makes it difficult to flip the book while I am taking a practice exam. (I have taken the habit of reading books while answering questions in the LEED practice exam – multi-tasking for the maximum study time.)

Second, why is there a lack of pictorial explanation in LEED books when a large majority of readers are in architecture – a visual career? Well, I guess ink price could be the reason. But it is a a but annoying.

The book, Understanding Green Building Guidelines by Taci Rose Rider, is good for students and older professional that are just getting into green build. It is essentially a somewhat detailed overview of the various current green build certification system and programs; it does not go into extreme detail about any of them. If you have already studied the LEED material for a while and is looking for more assistant, this is not the book. Consequently, this is not a very useful book for me right now as I am reading to study for the LEED Exam. BUT, if you are curious about the various programs going on, this is a pretty good book. It’s well-organized and have just enough detail to satisfy the somewhat curious without overwhelming the reader or making readers feel like they are reading an exam book.

Other than LEED, the book included: The Natural Step, Green Globes, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and local green building guidelines in Austin of Texas, Arlington of Virginia, North Carolina, Portland of Oregon, Santa Monica of California, Scottsdale of Arizona, and Wisconsin. Some pages also have an sidenote box of programs that the book chose not to focus on, such as Earth Advantage.

Second Trip to Academy of Science

Apparently, this never got posted because I saved it as a draft, but here is a sequel of my Academy of Science visit.

Being a perfect sunny, third Wednesday at San Francisco, I headed over to the Academy of Science this afternoon (Third Wednesday means free entry). I spend the first half hour getting a Pomegranate Paradise at Jumbo Juice (They were having a one dollar sale for “Superfruit Smoothie”. It’s a long, long line.) I got a very creamy and spongy coffee cake at a nearby Chinese bakery (in a Chinese bakery, when they say coffee cake, they mean “coffee” and “cake” separately. It is rectangular and soft coffee-flavored sponge cake with whipped cream layer – not the cake that people eat with coffee.)

The entry is crowded with people, but the line is fairly quick. Meanwhile, I took a look at the DeYoung. The skin’s getting darker, I think… (the copper skin, which is supposed to change color with time)

When I entered, I was greeted by Mr. Dinosaur. Cute.

This time I am smarter, and I went straight to the green roof:

It’s so lovely! You can see the rock that serves as drainage guide, creating the grey crossing. The entire roof is covered by seas of purple flowers and green grass. Flowers are blooming, birds are chipping – they even have a little machine you can turn to hear the sound records of different birds. Very fun.

The roof look like it is really alive and breathing, especially with the rooftop openings.

Solar panel, the perfect resting places for pigeons. They seems to enjoy sitting at the edge and hanging out with their friends. The kids like to run around too. It’s pretty safe though. Behind the railing is solar panels and a lot more fields of green. Climbing over it would already draw attention. The parents have to be really air-headed to not notice it.

I took some picture, but it was too far to see in a photo. Being on the roof give you a really nice view of the landscape and the Classical building at the left. DeYoung is just right in front. I like this rooftop more than the tower of DeYoung, since I am in the air instead of tower building. My last visit to the DeYoung tower feels more restricted, where as this one is fresh and airy. But then, DeYoung is a art museum, not that the tower have any art work back then. It certainly could in the future.

Lovely view walking back down. I like the openness, which make it welcoming to even though its jam-packed with people. The waving pattern slides around the central glass sphere in a rather nice fashion. Combine with the sky light, it creates quite a stunning effect.

It’s nice how the light plays with the flowing structure….

After that, as always, I went to the aquarium. I wanted to go to the tropical forest part and the planetarium, but I missed them again because they are packed on free days like this. Next time, I should just set up an alarm clock to come in at 8 in the morning….

But then, I don’t think I can ever get bored with visiting the aquarium. Looking at them is always fun, and they have some new collection.

The turtle is still there though. It moves so slowly everyone though it may be just a statue for a moment. Until it begins to eat paper.

No, seriously, it was eating paper.  Apparently, someone dropped their brochure. The turtle tear it up and shared it with his fellow fishy friends.

I was tempted to contact an employee, but they are no where in sight. I hope they are ok…

They got more jelly fish now! Love jelly fish. (And dolphin, even though they don’t have it here.) They would be perfect for Halloween, with their glow-in-the-dark feature. They just have a small problem of being a bit deadly poisonous, but they are cute, aren’t they?

Giant fish! It’s as big as a kid! Couldn’t tell the scale from a photo shot, but it was amazing to watch.

I also got to touch a starfish later. There is always something to do in the Academy……. Hopefully, I can go there soon again!