OUR PERSPECTIVE ON GREEN ARCHITECTURE
HISTORIC RENOVATION AND NEW CONSTRUCTION
At Paul Janicki Architects, our definition of green and sustainable architecture is more holistic - focused on preservation. Whether renovating a historic home or new construction, preserving as much as possible has been a guiding tenet to our work for over twenty-five years.
Tearing down a building and replacing it with another building is not green. A large amount of fossil fuels are required to build new, and typically all tear-down materials are destined for landfills.
Our practices, which include preserving as much as possible, using local materials and incorporating passive solar design, are rooted in traditional architectural principles that have been used for thousands of years.
The following tenets describe our approach to green and sustainable architecture.
1. PRESERVE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
When renovating a house, especially a historic home, preservation plays an important role in retaining the historic nature. But even new homes can benefit from preservation principles. Rather than sourcing new brick or lumber, new homes can be built using reclaimed brick, stone and wood.
An architect with a preservation mindset strikes a balance to preserving as much as possible with the requirements needed for modern day living.
2. USE LOCAL MATERIALS
Which has a lower carbon footprint—hemp rice husk panels shipped across mainland China, the Pacific Ocean in diesel-burning vessels, and 2,000 additional miles over land on polluting railcars versus local brick made 30 miles away? While you might have to make slight trade-offs, sourcing materials from as close as humanly possible reduces the carbon footprint and is ultimately greener.
Consider working with an architect who can guide contractors in identifying and sourcing local materials that will work best within a home.
3. REUSE AND RECLAIM
It can take legwork finding reclaimed materials, especially if you’re trying to minimize environmental impact by using local materials.
Architects used to dealing with preservation find ways to efficiently repurpose and recycle materials for other uses, while keeping the inherent historic beauty intact. They also know where reclaimed materials can and can’t be found in your area — eliminating the time-consuming process of trying to source materials that simply don’t exist.
4. PASSIVE SOLAR DESIGN
Passive solar design uses the sun's energy for heating and cooling of living spaces. Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Solar Hemicycle” (also known as Jacobs II) exemplifies this concept.
One popular method is using landscaping to shade the home in the summer and heat it in the winter. When it comes to new construction, rather than simply cutting down trees, architects employing a preservation mindset will work legacy trees into the design. It requires a bit more cleverness, but long-term benefits are well worth it.
5. EFFICIENT HOME ORIENTATION
With air conditioning prevalent, many homeowners don’t think about channeling prevailing winds and breezes to cool a house. But how your home is oriented and where windows are placed are among the easiest ways to reduce reliability on energy and increase your home’s “greenness”.
Ask any architect you’re considering working with if they consider these simple,
basic architectural tenets when working on projects.
Interested in discussing how to be green while renovating or building a home? Contact us for a free consultation.