Sustainable You

Sustainability and the Built Environment

Wk 6: Energy Vampire

Response due at the beginning of class on 9/24.

"Buy this attitude - Save Energy" Photo by Orocain

"Buy this attitude - Save Energy" Photo by Orocain

Take a glance at this  media article regarding the fact and fictions of energy consumption. The author,Lori Bongiorno, does a good job breaking down “Energy Vampires: Fact versus Fiction.” I found the information really helpful because I often hear things about what I should be doing, but I don’t really know why I should be doing it, or what is the real benefit, if any. Articles like this make it easier for me to tackle the fact vs. fiction aspect of energy consumption issues.

After reading the article, ponder and share your thoughts with us regarding the following questions:

1. What types of standby power productsfrom the list made by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) did you see that when compared in the ON/OFF status made you want to consider turning them off when not in use?

2. Watch the “Lose your excuse” Commercial running on TV right made by the Department of Energy – Share your thoughts on the commercial (see section energy EXTRAS, then see VIDEOS, the video with April cracks me up). What are your thoughts about these types of PSA (public service announcements)?

4.  Please visit Georgia Power’s page for Home Saving Tips.  Take the “Virtual House Tour” for as many rooms as you like, but definitely for the HOME OFFICE.  Seeing this 3-D rendering and tour of a home office and ways to make it more energy efficient may stimulate ideas for you to show sustainability in your home office perspective for board 3.  What information on the GP website did you read and learn from?

3.  Do you think it is important for you to be  knowledgable on energy consumption issues and solutions when you enter into your future career?


Filed under: Energy, Sustainable Design, Weekly Assignment, , , ,

New look to site


I felt the need to change the look of the class website.  I never loved the last look and found this and felt it is a clean slate for a new year.  Hopefully, it will work well for our class needs of weekly posts and links to outside helpful websites.


Filed under: Weekly Assignment

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.


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

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 2: Interview on Sustainability

Response due at the beginning of class on 8/27.

Please watch this EXCELLENT interview with Susan Globus. She is the ex-president of ASID and discusses so clearly the challenges of sustainable GlobusPicdesign. The video is 28 mins and the questions will take you some time to answer – please be sure to have the time to offer thoughtful answers.

1.  How does Susan Globus explain what is Interior Design? 

2.  Susan Globus explains how the field of ID has changed since we’ve started including sustainable principles into our practice.  Can you discuss some of the main ways she articulates the field has changed?  (i.e. research, time for research, client interaction etc..)

3.  Please define the 3 parts of sustainability “3 legged stool”?  What are the 3 parts and how will you address each part in your career?

4.  How does Susan Globus suggest you tell if a product is green or greenwashed?

5.  Please discuss something from this interview that is new information to you. Explain what you learned and why it is of interest to you.

Filed under: 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.

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