Friday, September 24, 2010

What are the Two Types of Energy Codes?

The construction industry is starting to introduce and enforce more energy codes that architects, engineers, manufacturers of building products, lighting designers, and others to follow. The energy codes affect how we build homes and our commercial buildings.

There are two types of energy codes. One is “Prescriptive” and the other if “Performance.”

What is a Prescriptive Code?

Prescriptive codes are the ones that tell you exactly what you can or cannot use in certain parts of the building. When you have a cold and you go to the doctor, the doctor prescribes a pill for you to take to give your body at least the minimum level of chemicals that will make your fever go down, your head and throat aches to go away, and whatever else the pill is supposed to do for you. This is similar how the people who wrote, adopted, and are enforcing the energy codes (like the doctor) are prescribing the minimum levels of “R values in the walls and windows (an “R value” is a measure of thermal resistance. The higher the "R-value" the lesser amount of heat will be allowed through itself), lights with certain “watt per square foot” values and so on.

The prescriptive codes are being used in a growing number of states throughout America. Your designer should find out if they are supposed to comply with any of them. The Department of Energy created free software that anyone can download that will prescribe what energy saving properties must be in homes.

For residential construction, they created "ResCheck"

For commercial construction, they created "ComCheck".

Since every state has their own weather patterns, there are different prescriptions for each state. So, download the software for the state that applies to your project. These codes affect the remodeling of an existing space, addition to a building, and new construction.

In 2012, the Department of Energy will make their prescriptions even stricter. They intend to include the energy that plugged in appliances give out to the space and other things. This will give us new incentives to keep the owner’s manuals of all our electrical gadgets.

What is a Performance Code?

Performance codes give the expected outcome of an overall design of a space or building but do not prescribe exactly what values the walls, ceilings, roofs, floors, and window need to have. Its kinda like if you went to a Naturopathic Doctor when you have a cold and they recommend that you purchase certain salts, herbal teas, powders, candles that are suppose to perform different healing miracles that has not necessarily been tested in the laboratory and documented to match exactly what you will purchase and use.

Performance codes give the designer a lot more room for creativity. But, it can be a lot more expensive because newly designed building systems will need to be built and tested in laboratories to obtain some energy value. Then, after the building systems meets the performance codes, they might be audited again after the real building is put together to see if it maintains it performance codes parameters with people and equipment working and living in them. If they do not comply, then the owners might be required to spend more time and money to remedy the deficiencies.

Due to time and money restraints, we will find that most buildings will be designed while using the Prescriptive codes instead of the Performance codes.

We will discuss who are writing these codes (what gives them the authority), if they are being adopted by all states and communities, and if the codes are being interpreted and enforced equally in all areas of the country during this coming podcast on Monday, Sept 27th, 2010 at 5:30 pm EST. Can't join us at that time? No problem. Just click here at "The Best Architecture Show Ever" and download the podcast onto iTunes by clicking on the iTunes icon while at that website.

Check out our discussion of LEED certification (prescription code) results on lighting and HVAC in my book "The Designed Office"

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pulling Back the Curtains

What a pleasure to meet and visit with some people that share something in common with me last night!

OK, let me back up and explain who these people are. In order to do so, I have to open the curtain a little bit so you can grab a small glimpse as to why I do the things that I do….

There is a brilliant individual and corporate coach that teaches how you can achieve things that may seem impossible or out of your reach. Her name is Dr. Sharon Melnick.

The gathering last night was made up of a small, handpicked group of people who share in common a fulfilling experience of learning her methods in her classes, through her monthly workshops, teleconferences, and her web site.
"Click Here to check out what Dr. Melnick has for you"

One thing that was great about this mixer of like minded people is that we were able to share how we have applied what we learned while in her classes. Everyone had their own inspiring story to tell.

One common theme that has always been said about her methods is that it helps people remove their own self- doubts and other self imposed barriers that prevent most of us from achieving what we are all truly capable of achieving. In a sense, Sharon helps us learn how to “Get out of our own way.”

I shared with the group last night that what I got out of her classes was receiving the affirmation that I really don't need other's affirmation to pursue my dreams and goals. Conflicting statement, I know. Let me explain...

Her methods gave me a way to break open the vault, open new opportunities, and share unique services that are not normally provided by other architects. Therefore, we are not just another architectural firm, we are the “go-to” for our clients in order to empower their lives.

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”
- Margaret Mead

Being a "me - too" person only makes one a commodity and gives us very little value to offer that is more beneficial to our clients than the next guy. Unfortunately, the only thing that allows the "me - too" people to stand out from their competition is their discounted prices. You get what you pay for.

While they are cutting their prices, we have been building resources for our clients that can be used to enrich their lives – both at work and at play.

For the folks who what to find and/or renovate their home, we have developed a personal journal that anyone can download for free. “The Experience Architecture Journal” gives people seven simple but important steps to follow to create an extraordinary home. It is free and can be downloaded as an e-book by clicking on the image with the yellow house at the right column of this blog.

For our corporate clients, having an edge over their competition is ever more important now during these challenging economic times. My book, “The Designed Office,” shares 35 profit power points that show how their office can be transformed into a marketing tool. Take a peek at the book by clicking on the book image on the right column of this blog. Be sure to grab the dozen free gifts there. It is also sold at and

Another value that I have developed for my clients is my podcast. During this weekly 15 to 30 minute live web based radio show, I share new ideas that people can use in their everyday life. At the time of writing this post, I have over 11,000 listeners. All of the content in the show has something to do with architecture. You can download the shows through iTunes for FREE and listen to it at your leisure at Be sure to click on the iTunes icon while there. Go to this link to download the podcast to listen at your leisure... "Click Here for the Podcast"

The list goes on and on. Youtube TV show at, this blog, facebook, twitter, LinkedIn,… you should find me almost anywhere. Feel free to click on the links on the right column of this blog.

If you have something that you would like to share with my audience and clients, contact me at to help them get out of their own way.”

You can see that there is no “wizard” behind those curtains who is pulling levers and watching dials, but me and my associates working to build more value that you can use in your everyday lives.

We do not only pour out all of this over the top information to the special people as yourself who are wise enough to use it, we use it too. And from the testimonials that we have received from our clients, they appear to be glad that we do.

Click on the "ReTweet" button below and follow me on twitter. I am LaneArch there.