Archive for the 'space planning' Category

Energy Performance Ratings Coming to a Home Near You.

You may not have heard of an Energy Performance Score (EPS) rating for your home, but you will soon. Developed by Energy Trust of Oregon, it is the equivilant of the MPG rating on your car. It is a clear and quantitative way to compare a home’s energy use and costs. The lower the score, the more energy-efficient the home.

ENH_TP_EPS_Certificate_pg1The EPS allows homebuyers to compare new homes based on energy efficiency, utility costs and environmental impact. It also gives homebuyers a sense of how many energy upgrades were made to the house beyond code requirements. It provides a good picture of what the utility usage of a prospective new home will be. These scores are now available on the MLS listing so ask your real estate agent.

Many builders today voluntarily have newly constructed homes scored as a matter of course. But what about older homes? How do they get scored?

First an energy audit is done. The audit measures a home’s energy use through the structure itself, the ducting and windows. It looks at onsite energy generation for heating, cooling, lighting and the heating of water. It looks for energy-efficient appliances and lighting. All of this is calculated to create the EPS and compares it to the building code requirements at the time the home was built.

As a homeowner, this is valuable information that can be used to upgrade the energy efficiency of your home. From there you can look at federal and state tax incentives to determine what upgrades make sense for you. And don’t forget the added benefit of increasing the value of your home.

In the UK, homes that meet higher energy performance standards benefit from lower mortgage and insurance rates. We aren’t there yet, but Oregon has set a deadline of 2030 for new homes to meet a net-zero standard. Meaning that a structure’s energy consumption will be will have a net-zero impact.

There are so many options available now. Getting your house scored a good first step in evaluating what the next step is for you.

Space Planning. Which comes first, the space or the furnishings?

floorPlans1bedA regular reader of this blog, recently asked if I would talk a bit about space planning. She and her husband are working with an architect on a remodel of their beach house. The question is…Does one plan a space around furniture or design the space and then determine the furniture placement?

The answer is neither and both. Let’s assume that the parameters of the remodel have been established, i.e. footprint of the house, budget, timeline, etc. The structure of the house really shouldn’t be driven by the contents. That’s a bit like the tail wagging the dog. You want to consider the function of the space, traffic flow and maximization of any available views, passive solar, etc. And of course you and your architect want to make sure that the space will accomodate your needs…how many beds, how many do you want seated at your dining table, or do you want/need separate living and family rooms? The physical space should allow for these functional considerations.

That said, you and your architect need to make sure that the the design will accommodate the obvious…a sofa, dining table etc. I know that seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve seen plans that don’t allow adequate space for the basics. Also if you have pieces that may need a specific type of space be sure to plan for them. Maybe you have an antique armoire or an art collection. Be sure to allow enough wall space to show these pieces off. Many open floor plans today have very little wall space, especially if you are lucky enough to have a view. Perhaps you have a large sectional sofa you really want to utilize in the media room. Will the room accommodate it and still allow for easy traffic flow? Once you and your architect have considered all of the options, you’ll know where you can compromise and where you need to redesign.

So JCM, have I answered your question? Feel free to contact me for more direction. Now what design challenges can I help YOU with?


Contact the Author

martha@mmdsf.com 541-330-5899 www.marthamurraydesign.com

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