Passive House New England Symposium review

By | education, good ideas, super insulated | 5 Comments

Passive House New England Symposium
Saturday, October 27th I went to the Passive House New England Symposium to see what’s what so to speak. I came a way with lots of good information about where to take my own practice, where the state of the art in building science is at, currently, in New England, who is involved with Passive House, how Passive House technology is being used and what my next steps as an architect will be. Read More

Occupant Behavior puts a kink in the calcs

By | mutterings, super insulated | No Comments

From Martin Holladay on Green Building Advisor in an artivle titled “Occupant Behavior Makes a Difference” Engineer things all you want but when you put Americans into a house the metrics tend to change. This is pretty funny.

It didn’t take long to figure out what was driving the high energy bills. “There is a very large plasma TV, plus a second TV on the porch,” said Panish. “There is a DVR. The two TVs and the DVR use 600 watts when they’re on and 100 watts when they are off, and the TVs are on for an average of 6 hours per day. The loads for entertainment and computers are high. There is an old freezer in the basement. There is a basement dehumidifier. The lighting load is 600% of what was predicted. It seems as if all the lights in the house are left on all the time.”

Tiny House Plan for Sale

By | business, products, projects, super insulated | 4 Comments

Now Taking orders for the plans for the Brattleboro Tiny House. The size is 16′ x 22′ with a sleeping loft. Super insulated double stud construction using advanced framing techniques. An excellent do-it-yourself project. Replace your old garage with something that can make an income as a rental unit or build this as a guest house/studio/office/….. Contact me at bob@swinburnearchitect.com if you are interested and/or have questions.

Plan sheet for 16' x 22' Brattleboro Tiny House

Tiny House in Brattleboro

By | projects, super insulated, traditional vs modern, working with an architect | 5 Comments

I’m working on a new project – a tiny house in Brattleboro Vermont. The house will be about 320 square feet and will replace an existing garage and serve as a rental unit. The goal of the owners is to build this this for under 30k. Obviously, that includes doing the general contracting themselves. My job, aside from coming up with a nice design that everybody will love, is to thoroughly vet the products and techniques in order to achieve this goal. There is a difference between designing and detailing to hand off to a regular G.C. and what I do for an owner builder. Especially when it comes to super-insulation and budget issues. The clients are blogging about it Tiny house in Brattleboro, Vermont for under 30k (hopefully) blog The context and budget seemed to indicate to me a more traditional form. I may play with materials a bit on the exterior.

Heating Options for a Small Home – Fine Homebuilding

By | education, links, products, super insulated | No Comments

Fine Homebuilding magazine has run a lovely and concise article by Martin Holladay this month (March 2011 actually) that covers the options for a small, low heat load home (my favorite type to design) What I like about this article is that it is simple and clean enough that I can ask clients to read it as a primer. Many of my houses are about 1/2 again energy star but only 2/3 passive house in terms of insulation. This is a low load house but not a no load house, a house that doesn’t need radiant heat but everybody wants to spend the extra money on it anyway. There is rarely the budget for heat load analysis and heating system design by an engineery sort so what gets installed is a regular old boiler. In recent years this is not so much a problem because there are so many good options out there for modulating boilers and the regular heat folks are familiar with them. A decade ago, this meant a non-modulating boiler would be installed capable of putting out 100,000 Btu/hour even when the house only really needed 30,000. This meant the boiler cycled on and off and wasted lots of energy. ($$$) The article covers “using a furnace anyway” as well as providing brief information on Direct vent gas heaters, electric heat (good for very low heat load houses especially if you put the money saved by not installing a conventional heating system into photovoltaics), Minisplit heat pumps – an excellent, low(er) cost option that can also provide air conditioning and are very simple to install although you usually need a certified person to do the installing in order to obtain the warranty. And also connecting a simple hot water coil to your ERV of HRV. You do have one of these in your new house….don’t you?
The article is not available online without paying something (I suspect) so pay or pick an issue at the newstand.
The Graphic below was an old scheme from when I was considering selling stock plans myself. My current collection (numbering exactly 1) can be accessed at Houseplans.com

Vermont Simple House 1 stock plans are finished !

By | affordable modern, business, projects, super insulated | 8 Comments

Vemont Simple House 1

Plans are now up and for sale on one of the largest stock plan publishing houses houseplans.com in their “exclusive architects” section!
My plan is to produce a series of similar houses increasing in scale and amenities and see how it goes. Houseplans.com is a progressive company with a good vision as to where the market is headed. They also have huge site traffic numbers. Keeping my fingers crossed. It took me forever to finish the plans and model for this first house, I suspect I am being a perfectionist again.

Recent Project on Green Building Advisor

By | press, projects, super insulated | No Comments

Green Building Advisor, a website where I spend a lot of my online time learning, well, lots of trade related stuff just ran an article featuring a project for which I did schematic design and brainstorming on a few years ago. The article makes no mention of me of course – the architect on these projects often gets forgotten after the ball gets rolling especially when he doesn’t do a lot of drawings. The builder is Dwight Homes, Energy Consultant, Doug Snyder of DS Greenbuild LLC and Integrated Solar Applications of Brattleboro was the mechanical contractor

House renovation-retrofit on Cow Path 40 road in Marlboro Vermont

retrofit on Cow Path 40 in VT

Robert Swinburne in Brattleoboro, VT on Houzz
Robert Swinburne in Brattleoboro, VT on Houzz

Contact

Robert Swinburne Architect, LLC AIA, NCARB, CPHD, DAD bob@swinburnearchitect.com 802.451.9764
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