At Virginia Tech School of Architecture, back when computer drafting was still pretty much 2d (feeling older now), we used to build models a lot, by hand. We all got pretty good with an Olfa cutter. Chip board, foam core and Homasote were some of the products of choice. Homasote was rigid but soft, light, and a neutral grey which made for good backgrounds for more dramatic architectural statements. I have fond memories of the product. I recently attended a continuing education seminar and was reminded of Homasote as a building material. More so on a larger scale this time as a sound absorbing layer in wall and floor construction.

Homasote has done the testing so as to provide sound deadening assemblies to STC 60 for walls and STC 53 for floors. A great solution for projects where code or program require a sound absorption.  With 98% Recycled content (newspaper) you cannot get much Greener.


Recycled Snowfence

As a practicing Architect I have sales reps stop by often with their latest and greatest product. Sometimes I am busy and don’t have much time to talk and other times I likely take to much of their time. Working alone gets lonely sometimes and I will be a bit verbose. Some of the presented products are better than others and some I cannot wait to use on some future project.



I ran across this product a while back called EarthStone. They are 3cm granite tiles made from the recycled cut offs of large commercial building stone cladding projects. They have a heavy press with pattern dies that they then punch their shapes from the remnants. Polished face up for interior applications, rough for exterior. Very affordable. Great choice for Green product selection and LEED credits if you are trying to quantify your projects ‘Greenness’. See www.earthstoneproducts.net


Climate Change

The reason for a Greening of Architecture is most often discussed as a result of climate change. I will not debate the existence of climate change. I would debate the existence of climate stagnation, a common misconception. The view that the climate of the world we live in does not change without human action or that the climate change we see now may be halted to stagnation by human action is ridiculous. The climate of this planet is constantly changing. Of course the planet has been warming. It always is, except when it is cooling. If we lived in year 1911 or 1861 and had the same recorded 100-150 years of actual (not modeled) data we would likely see the same trend with spikes during the most recent years. If you question this look up “Little Ice Age” on wikipedia. The earth warms and cools dramatically on very irregular intervals based on many more causes than we can even begin to contemplate. That being said, there is no doubt that the greenhouse emissions released during the continued Industrial Revolution are altering the earths climate in ways we can only beg to understand. This effect is no doubt accelerating a trend already underway. I hope through human action we might slow this warming trend as well our descendants slow the next cooling trend. A more stable climate with moderate variation, like all cyclical phenomena, will be easier to handle. As a practicing architect I have the possibility to alter more than my own actions toward this change. I am not alone. My profession, as a whole, concurs; not necessarily with my view of a constantly changing climate, only that we have the ability and duty to act beyond ourselves.

To further elaborate on this constant climate stagnation misconception I ask you recognize our methods of tracking climate. They are flawed and lead further to this misconception that climate is stagnant. The averages we use to discuss temperature, precipitation, storm ferocity are all extremely misleading. They imply that the predicted temperature on a given day should be measurable to a decimal degree or that the predicted rainfall in a given location over a given month or year should be accurate to the hundredth of an inch. When looked at over the entire recorded history, 100-150 years, there may not have been a single day with this exact high or low temperature or a recorded rainfall with the exact amount of rainfall. Our thinking of climate as stagnant is precipitated by this narrow comparative process. Would it not be more accurate to say that the majority of the average temperatures for a given day, month, or year fall with a range from _ to _ degrees. This by itself opens up the chaos that is our climate to a more accurate acceptance.

The external and internal arguments relating to this topic are limited in true understanding and rich in emotion. The future is uncertain except to know that there will be, sometimes dramatic, cycles of climate change.