The Journal
Resilience & Sustainability
Whitefish Architect's Journal - 400 Mile Per Gallon Architecture
400 Mile Per Gallon Architecture

Imagine you are considering the purchase of a new car that gets 40 miles to the gallon... when you learn about a similarly priced high performance alternative that is far better built, looks great, and runs 200 to 400 miles to the gallon, depending on your driving habits. It uses some German parts...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Carbon  Neutral Architecture
Carbon Neutral Architecture

The built environment is responsible for three fourths of annual global greenhouse gas emissions: buildings alone account for 39 percent.  Eliminating these emissions is the key to addressing climate change and meeting Paris Climate Agreement targets. The American Institute of...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - HERS Index:  The Home Energy Rating System
HERS Index: The Home Energy Rating System

 The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index is the industry standard by which a home's energy efficiency is measured.   HERS scores are designed for new homes (or homes after a complete renovation). When builders need to meet efficiency standards, they use the HERS Index, which has...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Design in Uncertain Times
Design in Uncertain Times

No one knows what twist of fate will materialize next week, or tomorrow, or even today. We live with a gnawing awareness that actions we take - or fail to take - now may have profound consequences that are often equally unpredictable.  What are the implications for architecture in this uncerta...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Rammed Earth: Deep Green by Design
Rammed Earth: Deep Green by Design

A view of earth from space reveals a trace band of blue - our atmosphere - just visible across the sunlit edge of our planet. Below, eighty percent of the globe is coated by salt water but a fraction of the depth of that atmosphere. The remaining surface area rising just above the seas supports an...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Shading Data - No Guesses
Shading Data - No Guesses

One of the many aspects of site specific architectural design now standard practice in our pre-design research process is to acquire a forensic understanding of the shading conditions that will alter how our architecture will be exposed to the sun over the course of each year.Designing high perfor...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Triple Glazed Window Benefits
Triple Glazed Window Benefits

Triple glazed windows are the new stars of window energy efficiency... but why should you care?  Comfort. Comfort is the reason you will want to use triple glazed windows. Before we get too far on why you should be excited about energy efficiency and comfort, here is a brief history of US windo...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Cakes Left Out in the Rain
Cakes Left Out in the Rain

That natural forces will act on, and ultimately destroy, any contribution we make to our built environment persists as one of the few things we can be sure of about the fate of any building. For architects, this presents a challenge somewhat analogous to that of medical professionals who, desti...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Your Home or Office Can Power Your Car
Your Home or Office Can Power Your Car

Passive House: Designing and building buildings so well for a specific site and climate we can eliminate eighty to ninety percent of the energy demands of space heating, cooling, and humidity control. This is fully achievable and affordable today, using readily available technologies and materials. ...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - The Possibility of Good
The Possibility of Good

"...to 'be less bad' is to accept things as they are, to believe that poorly designed, dishonorable, destructive systems are the best humans can do. This is the ultimate failure of the 'be less bad' approach: a failure of the imagination. From our perspective, this is a depressing vision of our spec...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Chemical Hazards in Consumer Products
Chemical Hazards in Consumer Products

Building with toxic materials is such a bad practice, in part because we are embedding them into environments where people then tend to have long term exposure to them. It's good to be aware that carcinogenic and toxic material is not only found in scores of products in the building industry, but ...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - David Suzuki Explores Rammed Earth
David Suzuki Explores Rammed Earth

In this short film clip, David Suzuki visits a home built with SIREWALL - rammed earth walls that are insulated, steel reinforced, solid sandstone. Unlike traditional rammed earth, SIREWALL is a top tier, cutting edge contemporary architectural material appropriate for any climate. ...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Travel and Architecture
Travel and Architecture

One of the most addictive aspects of a career in architecture is the level of ongoing learning that it engages one in throughout the entire arc of a career, of a lifetime. The sources of this 'continuing education' need not be distant or exotic travel. The insights offered by local interactions an...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - The Fulcrum of the Power Grid
The Fulcrum of the Power Grid

The railroad system that spans our continent represents one of the most ambitious historical achievements of our nation. Our infrastructure of power utilities gradually eclipsed that incredible achievement in both scale and significance. We are the beneficiaries of over a century of ongoing investme...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - The Intelligent Choice
The Intelligent Choice

Europeans have lived with high energy costs for a long time, and have a strong pragmatic awareness of the costs associated with heating and cooling buildings. So it may come as no surprise that the leading standard in energy savings comes to us from Germany: The Passive House standard. It's not a...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - The First Step to Net Zero Energy
The First Step to Net Zero Energy

A 'net-zero energy' building generates more energy than it needs. The most important item in Net-Zero design is reducing the demand for energy. This is the main principle behind the Passive House concept, so it should be a natural progression for architects designing to the passive house standard to...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - What Plants Can Teach Us About Storing Energy
What Plants Can Teach Us About Storing Energy

Biomimicry: What plants can teach us about storing energy... Good bye, fossil fuel dependency! The main challenge with sun and wind energy is storage. Because the sun isn't always shining, and the wind isn't always blowing, we need to be able to bank away renewable energy when it's available for ...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Building with Organic Materials
Building with Organic Materials

All the rivers run into the sea, and yet the sea is not full.  Ecclesiastes 1:7 Waste does not exist in nature. In the natural world, everything is cyclical; everything happens in closed loops and dynamic systems of loops. One familiar example would be the hydrological cycle, in which e...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Design for Future Abundance
Design for Future Abundance

The classical English pattern of using the village commons (that communally owned and used land which was available for pasturing private livestock) did not involve a conflict between public and private welfare as long as there was enough land. However, as herds increased, the over-grazed land becam...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Getting Off Oil - With Architecture
Getting Off Oil - With Architecture

It is no secret that our dependence on oil reaches into every aspect of modern life. This must change - actually, will change, whether we like it or not. Not only are we wreaking environmental havoc burning fossil fuels, it is certain the costs will continue to dramatically rise, impacting every cor...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Optimizing Walls for Energy Performance
Optimizing Walls for Energy Performance

We assign a very high priority to comfort in buildings - specifically, thermal comfort. One of the basic distinctions between being inside' and 'outside' is that when we are inside, we expect to be comfortable. We essentially live in two climates - interior and exterior - and the construction assemb...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - All Around Us, Obsolete New Buildings.
All Around Us, Obsolete New Buildings.

Because they use such exorbitant quantities of energy, new buildings built to code are actually going to be obsolete from day one of occupancy.  "Built to code is a euphemism for built to the lowest legally permissible standard." ~ Sam Rodell Most buildings currentl...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Restorative Intervention
Restorative Intervention

We designed and built our home on a site in a small development enfronting wetlands. Rather than extending the ubiquitous domesticated landscape of American suburbia into the native landscape, we instead pulled the wetlands and native landscape back into the domesticated realm of the housing devel...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Waste is Food
Waste is Food

A 'circular economy' is a term for an industrial economy that is, by design or intention, completely restorative.  In a circular economy, material flows are of two types: biological and technical. Biological nutrients are designed to reenter the biosphere safely, and technical nutrients are des...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Blackened Cedar Siding
Blackened Cedar Siding

The term "Shou-Sugi-Ban" is Japanese (焼杉板) and translates to "burnt cedar board". The term describes the centuries old Japanese technique of charring "Sugi" (cedar) planks.For centuries, Japanese carpenters used recovered driftwood from the coastlines of Japan for an artistic finish that als...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Designing with Sheets of Light
Designing with Sheets of Light

One of the most exciting and interesting aspects of architecture is lighting design, and emerging technologies are creating an ever expanding horizon of design possibilities. This is a flexible 'light sheet' that provides high quality lighting while eliminating many of the constraints and chal...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Phase Change Materials
Phase Change Materials

Putting Nature's Magic to Work For Us: Phase Change Materials We see it all around us, all the time; temperature changes make stuff freeze, melt, or vaporize. These 'phase change' transformations, in which molecules change from one state of matter to another, are so common we take them for grante...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Zero Net Energy Owners Speak Out
Zero Net Energy Owners Speak Out

A Zero Net Energy Home produces as much energy as it consumes, resulting in zero net energy bills and zero net carbon emissions. But the story does not end there. Zero Energy Homes have many other advantages over standard homes and so-called 'green' homes. They are very quiet, they provide f...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Environmentally Optimized Commercial Laundry
Environmentally Optimized Commercial Laundry

You might not think of architects as being particularly interested in laundry as a design issue, but we get really excited about saving our clients money and easing the impact that the facilities we create have on the environment. And when we're talking about thousands of tons of laundry being pro...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Reintroducing China to Rammed Earth
Reintroducing China to Rammed Earth

China is undertaking the largest building boom in the history of the world. A young and talented pair of Canadian architects are working to introduce SIREWALL rammed earth as a healthy, sustainable option for building beautiful and durable architecture in China. ...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - You are quietly being poisoned...
You are quietly being poisoned...

Most people assume there is some level of oversight protecting them from unhealthy building. That is not the case. No form of regulatory oversight is concerned with the levels of toxic materials embedded in building materials. Building codes, for example, primarily focus on issues like life safety ...

Whitefish Architect's Journal - Responsibility and Gratitude
Responsibility and Gratitude

"Our life work is built on a foundation of reverence, responsibility, and gratitude."  ~ Sam Rodell Imagine building a scale model of the earth 75 yards in diameter. The biosphere in this model would be roughly the thickness of the skin of a tomato. It is here, between earth and sky, where t...