This modern addition in Albany, NY is energy efficient and speaks to the owner’s passions.
Creative Solutions for this Addition
When first meeting with the homeowner about an addition, a LEAP architect discovered an impressive back yard: brick pathways, planting beds with beautiful gardens, outbuildings with wooden patina, and a stone fire pit. So, instead of thinking about the addition in terms of expanding the existing house into the yard, the architect decided to expand the yard into the house.
Instead of expanding the house into the yard, we decided to expand the yard into the house.
Modern Addition: Why Does it Look Like That?
Flat roofs, high windows, and simple geometry are utilized for both economic and environmental reasons.
Flat roofs are less expensive than gables, and allow the water to be controlled without gutters (gutters have to be maintained and often times replaced after ice and snow storms). High windows allow day light to penetrate deep into spaces, and reduce the reliance of electric lighting. Finally, and most importantly, simple geometry is less expensive to build (every corner adds dollars to a project), and is also more energy efficient than buildings with additional jogs or bends in the shape of the exterior.
Reduced Carbon Footprint
The resulting design utilizes steel posts instead of the conventional concrete foundation. The construction is lifted from the ground similar to a deck, and all concrete was removed from the design. Concrete is extremely resource-intensive, and contributes to a large carbon footprint of any construction project. By removing it, the architect saved tons of carbon from being produced, further contributing to the conservation of resources for this addition. Other environmental factors include the use of spray foam insulation that utilizes a water-based blowing agent: high R-value with less of a carbon footprint to install.
Site Analysis and Building Geometry
Design of the building’s geometry matters. All of the windows in the existing house were replaced with more efficient units, but are small and punched-through walls so daylight was at a minimum. The new design places glazing near the top, and allows the sun light to be reflected deep into the space reducing the amount of electricity needed for lights.
Net Zero Energy Strategies
Many buildings designed by LEAP have the potential to achieve net-zero energy use. Net-zero energy designs produce as much or more than the energy they consume. NYSERDA has launched its Low-Rise Residential New Construction Program to encourage such buildings, both through financial incentives and technical assistance.
To learn more about how to achieve net-zero energy use, contact LEAP Architecture. Also, you can read about Passive House strategies here: PASSIVE BUILDING: HIGH PERFORMANCE CONSTRUCTION STANDARDS