Sustainable You

Sustainability and the Built Environment

Wk 5: Indoor Air Quality

Response due at the beginning of class on 9/17.

Sustainable design focuses on healthy indoor spaces. We’ve all heard terms such as “sick building syndrome” or “healthy homes” or “VOCs” or “Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)”, “asbestos,” “carbon monoxide,” “Formaldehyde” “Lead (lead paint)”, “radon,” “mold,” “dust mites” and more.   But what are these issues, and whose job is it to to make sure we have healthy indoor air quality?  Many people do not realize what contributes to IAQ. More, many people, including professionals in design, can not explain what is a VOC and how to prevent them.

This information is KEY information for you to understand in order to successfully implement sustainable principles in buildings and homes.  When working with LEED one of categories is Indoor Air Quality (EQ) and part of the EQ LEED credit is a prerequisite that the home be approved by Energy Star Qualified Homes. 

This week please visit the US EPA Organic Gases: Indoor Air Quality – this is an invaluable resource for designers to access when needed research based IAQ information.  Please answer the following fun questions using your own words:

1. What is asbestos? What are asbestos health effects?

2.  What are biological pollutants?

3.  What is carbon monoxide (CO) ? How does LEED for Homes address CO issues (see multiple approaches in LEED-H EQ section)?

4. What is Formaldehyde and pressed wood products?

5. What are the issues with household cleaning, maintenance and personal care? How do we as residential designers address this issue of cleaning, maintenance and care?

6. What is radon?

7. What is the issue with stoves, fireplaces, and chimneys?

8.  What is the issue with pesticides?

9.   Using your own words, explain VOC’s in general and how they will relate to your design practice.



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Wk 4: Phase 1 Reflection

Response due at the beginning of class on 9/10 by each individual (not a team answer).

Congrats on finishing the first stage of your Cottages at Hilltop! The learning objectives for the first stage of this project were as follows:

  • Establish a design team that works together, has trust and can advance the project by sharing work responsibility.
  • To develop an understanding of a sustainable design team.
  • To work within client restraints while simultaneously improving on the clients existing design agenda.
  • To focus on the design process of planning, programming and schematics.
  • To focus on floor plan relationship (adjacency) to the site plan.
  • To design an efficiency size floor plan.
  • To begin working with the complex concept of sustainable design.
  • To begin working with a type of sustainable design which is LEED for Homes.
  • To design a presentation concept board that focuses on programming and process.
  • To build confidence in your design agenda (i.e. your ability to explain why you made the design decision you did).

Your assignment for Wk 4 is to reflect on the work  you’ve done during these past four weeks.  Please answer the following 4 questions:

  1. List the skills you have developed or improved that are beneficial towards your career interests?
  2. What are the benefits to working in a team on this project?
  3. What  skills have you contributed in the group (can be everything from your technically skills to organizational skill to your diplomacy, etc..)?
  4. You’ve had 4 weeks worth of exposure to sustainable design concepts – what are your current thoughts regarding sustainable design?

Please be sure to take the time to enjoy your accomplishments thus far on this project.  You’ve all been patient with the allowing the design process to build and you’ve been very present in your current tasks.  I’m looking forward to beginning Phase II of the project and starting Design Development.

Filed under: Residential Interiors, Sustainable Design, Weekly Assignment

Wk 3: Sustainable Space Planning

Response due at the beginning of class 9/03 by each individual (not a team answer).

After visiting the job site and calculating the available square footage, one of your main design challenges on this project is designing to Cottages_Preliminary_Platmaximize use of your square footage.  As Winchip (2007) explains, “It is important for existing buildings and new  construction to minimize the size of the buildings while maximizing the effictiveness of the interiors” (p. 144).   Ironically, residences in the U.S. have increased in size over the past 50 years even though family size has decreased.

There are many reasons why . Please read this article and consider what other reasons people are choosing homes with efficient square footage Tiny House Article .

To best optimize the square footage on your Cottages at Hilltop project, please read Winchip pages 144 -147, and pay special attention to Box 6.1 Principles of Spatial Strategies (p. 146). Winchip lists many ways to space plan to optimize your square footage. Please read through the spatial strategies in Box 6.1  and answer the following questions:

1.) In your project, what approaches from Box 6.1 will you utilize to maximize your square footage?  Please discuss atleast 5 different strategies and explain why you think those will work with your house plan on Lot 15.

Filed under: LEED, Residential Interiors, Sustainable Design, Weekly Assignment,

Wk 1: Sign up for Listserves

Response due at the beginning of class on 8/20/2009.

Please subscribe to the following listserves/newsletters and registration. We will use the information from these listserves frequently throughout the semester. It is imperative you sign up by 8/20 to be prepared for future class expectations.

  1. ASID Eye on Design (weekly every friday email sent) . An email will directly be sent to your email. Please be sure to follow the instructions in the email. This excellent newsletter will be sent on Fridays. It will keep you up to date on newest articles, products and jobs in the ID field.
  2. USGBC Atlanta Chapter  (Monthly). Confirm your email address to sign up for the USGBC ATL chapter.  This site will provide you for information regarding local sustainable design events (i.e. mixers, awards, training, etc..). Click here to learn more about the USGBC Atlanta Chapter.
  3. High Point Market (random emails).  Use the High Point site for access to product information.
  4. Informedesign (bi-weekly newsletters). Use the Informedesign site and newsletter for access to latest design research.
  5. (weekly emails).  Register as a student. It takes a few days for TODL to approve your free membership registration, so watch for a follow up email with your account info/password. TODL will be your lifeline in the future for finding product and product information such as pricing and specs.
  6. Inhabitat (daily emails). Inhabitat will keep you up to date with the latest and most innovative aspects of sustainable design and living. 

To receive your participation point, please respond by posting a “Comment.” Confirm that you signed up for all 6 of the above listserve/newsletters.  Please answer the following questions.

1.  Have you visited any of the above websites before this activity. If so, which sites and why?

2.  Find the “Green” product section on and search through their products. Find a product they are promoting and that you think seems truly sustainable and not greenwashed.  Greenwashing occurs when false claims or misleading information are made about the sustainability of a product.

3.  Share with me and your classmates a design related website that you like to visit. Tell us why you visit this site and how long you’ve been visiting the site.

4.  Confirm that you signed up for the above six listserve, newsletter and company access to TODL.

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