Sustainable Interior Architecture

Although interior designers have been at the forefront of green materials and indoor air-quality standards, the place-based aspects, specifically integrating sustainable energy and orientation, have been missing. Interior design traditionally has been design of the interior realm of an existing space within a building or of a building under construction. As in architectural design, the opportunity to connect to sustainable energies has not been addressed. With little or no regard to the orientation and location of the functions within the space, the relationship to other spaces within the same building, or the impacts from neighboring buildings, the opportunity for the space to function sustainably is lost.

An important opportunity lies in analyzing the space and functional components as they relate to the solar and exterior conditions and available sustainable resources (e.g., light, heat, and ventilation). Orientation of the functional design layout to solarand exterior-based elements (e.g., reflectance off other buildings, view corridors, prevailing breezes, solar-heat gain, and daylighting) can have positive impacts on user performance and well-being while reducing or eliminating use of nonrenewables.

As in sustainable architectural design, interior architecture that addresses the natural context of the project site has an opportunity to improve sustainability for the user. To this end a project was given to a second-year design class at Cornish School of the Arts in Seattle, Washington. The project program was to design a personal live-work studio. The site was their classroom, where they had already spent the better part of four months. The program was set up to learn the relationship between solar energy (light and heat) and the functional needs of the design program—a space for study, sculpture, computer-aided-design (CAD) work, food preparation, eating, sleeping, and entertaining.

The challenge was to understand the relationship between orientation and location of the functions within the space and to design using dynamic solar angles to determine the location of specific functions that had special relationships to light, glare, heat, and seasonal changes. The program challenged the students to decide— with the given orientation to the sun at the equinoxes and at summer and winter solstice—what is the best location for the elements of the design program:

1. A sculpture workspace

2. A computer

3. A dining room

4. A bedroom

The students were to analyze and diagram how the spatial requirement would be impacted by the changing solar incidence and adapt their designs to those solar

Like all design, interior architecture has an opportunity to be connected to natural energies. Using daylight, light shelves, orientation, and location of functions specific to solar access and natural-ventilation opportunities is critical to the programming and location of spaces. The challenge here was to bounce in enough natural light—all year— to read at any point in the room and make that free light available through the extreme seasonal changes in sunlight and reflectance.

changes in the summer and winter. The spaces were to be 100 percent daylighted, and the students had to work out how enough light for reading and sketching would get back into the space 30 feet from the windows.

They had to address the following challenges:

■ Bouncing, enhancing, and/or filtering the natural light to a usable light level throughout the space and to every function

■ Letting in light without heat

■ Letting in heat without light

■ Achieving functional layouts that respond to specific user needs (i.e., elimination of glare on monitors, wake-up natural light, use of light bounced from the outside surfaces)

■ Researching water use and reuse

■ Researching green materials usage

■ Modulation of building materials, anchoring systems and components to enable reuse of all building materials

■ Analyze how the space can function without using nonrenewables (function unplugged)

Through this assignment, the students were able to recognize the importance of integrating site design analysis into interior architectural programming and design and expand their knowledge of problem solving to include energy efficiency and passive interior architecture.

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Solar Panel Basics

Solar Panel Basics

Global warming is a huge problem which will significantly affect every country in the world. Many people all over the world are trying to do whatever they can to help combat the effects of global warming. One of the ways that people can fight global warming is to reduce their dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil and petroleum based products.

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