SUSTAINABILITY

 

Simply stated, our goal for sustainability is to meet the current and future requirements of a building with the minimum use of resources throughout its lifetime, resulting in socially responsible, sustainable designs. At EJA, we have undertaken a deep commitment to improving and sustaining the performance and long-term viability of the sites and buildings we design, construct, and inhabit.

 
 

EJA’s Floating Peak House in Newton, MA uses a variety of technologies and design techniques to minimize its energy use and environmental impact

 

Our Commitment

While, in general, we use a common-sense approach to sustainable design, we have experience with the use of today’s evolving technologies, including:

  • Geothermal ground source heat pumps

  • Hydro-air HVAC systems

  • Low-energy air displacement HVAC systems

  • Radiant floor heating and cooling

  • Solar hot water collectors

  • Photovoltaics

  • Energy-efficient glazing

On a project-by-project basis, we strategize with our clients to determine the best means to reduce energy use, specify safe, durable, and efficiently-produced materials, and integrate the project into the natural conditions of the site.

Beyond environmental benefits, these practices can also enhance the comfort and health of building occupants, lower annual energy bills, and raise property value. The end result is a building that is in harmony with the rising and setting of the sun, the path of the wind, and the flows of people, water, and wildlife: in short, a building actively engages with —and protects— the environmental conditions of its site.

We will assist in seeking available financial incentives based on the scope of your project. For the latest sampling of available financial incentives in your state, visit www.dsireusa.org.

Reducing Energy Use

 
Roof Level Plan showing sustainable features,    Floating Peak House   , Newton, MA

Roof Level Plan showing sustainable features, Floating Peak House, Newton, MA

 

We will work with you to identify cost-effective means to reduce energy use in buildings, starting with lowering heating and cooling demands through:

  • natural ventilation paired with heat recovery systems

  • passive heating and cooling: storing heat/cold in thermal mass, maximizing glazing by orientation, solar shading in the summer months

  • geothermal heat pumps

  • landscaping (green roof as insulation & runoff reduction; deciduous trees as shading, windscreens)

  • increased insulation of wall cavities and roof

  • reducing air leaks and increasing insulation in older buildings

  • smaller building size

Other techniques we have employed to reduce energy use include:

  • onsite energy production

  • solar hot water heating

  • energy-efficient appliances

  • self adjusting comfort systems, from sensors responding to internal and external variables such as outdoor air temperature and rain, or indoor CO2 levels and air temperature

  • energy-efficient lighting fixtures, controls and natural 100% daylight autonomy (no daytime electric light)

When various elements of the Building Sector are combined, such as industry to produce materials and transportation, the non-profit Architecture 2030 has found "the data from the US Energy Information Administration illustrates that buildings are responsible for almost half (48%) of all energy consumption and GHG emissions annually; globally the percentage is even greater. Seventy-six percent (76%) of all power plant-generated electricity is used just to operate buildings."

User-Responsible Materials

Kitchen featuring Energy Star appliances and natural daylighing, Floating Peak House

Stair clerestory acting as solar light, recirculating hot air, and hot water collector, Floating Peak House

Domestic water heated with solar collector, and room handled with natural daylighting, Floating Peak House

INDOOR AIR QUALITY

Many building materials emit harmful vapors for many years after installation. Low-VOC paints and carpets and low- or no-formaldehyde insulation and wood veneers are some of the products that can improve indoor air quality and reduce pollution during the manufacturing and disposal of the product.

REDUCING RAW MATERIALS USE AND EMBODIED ENERGY

Embodied energy is the non-renewable energy used in the production and distribution of a product or material. Presently the embodied energy of building materials contributes anywhere from 15 to 20% of the energy used by a building over a 50 year period (source: architecture2030.org).

Some of the ways we have worked to reduce raw materials use and embodied energy include:

  • use recycled and renewable materials

  • reduce building envelope size

  • source materials locally to limit transportation needs

  • use materials with 100-year lifespan or recyclable/reusable materials

  • use materials manufactured with less and renewable energy, less water, and less waste

In the U.S., building construction and operation account for 30% of raw materials use and 30% of waste output (U.S. Dept. of Energy).

Responding to Site

Response to Site Features,    Floating Peak House

Response to Site Features, Floating Peak House

House Formed by site, climate and orientation,    Floating Peak House

House Formed by site, climate and orientation, Floating Peak House

A sensitivity to the sun’s path, wind direction, and landscaping can unite energy reduction strategies with onsite energy production. Strategies to allow water to stay onsite, rather than run through storm drains, can be beneficial to the larger watershed and reduce irrigation needs. We evaluate these and other possibilities to better integrate each project into its environmental conditions:

  • onsite energy generation through photovoltaics or micro-wind turbines

  • creating a permeable site that allows for ground water recharge

  • harvesting rainwater on site for landscape irrigation

  • planting native species that require less watering and insecticides

  • planting a green roof to hold water onsite and better insulate the building

  • low-flow plumbing fixtures

  • integrating gray water systems (wastewater recycling)

  • plantings to divert wind in winter, sun in summer, lowering energy consumption

  • deciduous trees to shade the home from unwanted summer sun but let in winter sun as the leaves fall in autumn

In the U.S., building construction and operation account for 12% of potable water consumption (U.S. Dept. of Energy).