As we approach Christmas, I am reminded of the days when my siblings and I would, one by one, make our way down to the Family Room on Christmas morning to count the number of gifts for each of us. Some years, that was at 4 am, and we'd realize it was way to early to get up. Our parents wouldn't be getting up for at least 3 more hours, so we'd go back to our rooms and try to get back to sleep. Needless to say, we couldn't!

Lately, I have been waking up earlier and earlier, because I am anxious to get started with my day; to get to work! I've been like a kid in the candy store, when I see what potential there is in the work that I do. I can't wait to get started on this project, read that article, or write this one! I'm back to counting the number of gifts under the tree, except there's no end to it. The pile of potential is enormous.

I have several projects I am working on, right now. Each of them share a similar theme, custom design, but the decisions I will be making are different. For the client in Tecumseh, Michigan, I will be figuring out how to model Superior Walls in my energy modeling software, while sizing a ground loop heat pump. For Simon in Pittsburgh, I'll be reviewing the set of HVAC design reports and drawings with him, and discussing how to detail and build the new roof over his Four Seasons Room for the most energy efficient results. Finally, for Uncle John in Illinois, I am finalizing the schematic design for his 2,500 square foot high performance home.

Oh, and while doing all this, I am working with Allison to prepare for our next HERS Rater class, and our first of many ENERGY STAR Version 3.0 trainings. Not to mention getting ready for the RESNET conference (booth #55, come see us) in February, a design competition deadline in get the idea

Things are happening! The potential for more continues to pile high, and I am not the only one taking advantage of the growth (albeit somewhat slow at the moment) happening in the residential building industry. Specifically, I am referring to energy efficient design and construction.

Of the few homes that are being built these days, it seems that a large percentage of them are meeting higher and higher levels of performance. Green certification programs like LEED for Homes, ENERGY STAR, EarthCraft and NAHBGreen are starting to gain in popularity and seeing a lot of growth.

Two architects already seizing the opportunity to bring energy efficient design to the forefront are Betsy Petit, FAIA, and Peter Pfeiffer, FAIA. Betsy is the President of Building Science Corporation, and the project manager for BSC's Building America project. She has provided whole system designs for over 3,000 high performance homes, and she continues to be influential in advancing energy efficient design in the building industry through research and practice. 

Peter, founder of Barley&Pfeiffer Architects, has spent the past 33 years designing high performance homes, and has been recognized as a pioneer in "mainstreaming green building."

There is a tremendous opportunity for architects, whether they are budding designers or veteran technical experts, to participate in what appears to be one of the fastest growing sectors of of the building industry. It's not going to happen overnight, and it will take more than just passing the LEED for Homes exam.

The future of our built world will rely on the knowledge of its leaders, and that includes architects, builders, building scientists, home energy raters, etc. In terms of energy efficient design, is the architecture profession, in general, really ready to lead? I think the potential is there.

Compared to Betsy and Peter, I have only scratched the surface, but I am ready.

Bring it on!

-Chris Laumer-Giddens


Follow Chris on Twitter: @claumergiddens


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