Hammer & Hand http://hammerandhand.com INCITING EVOLUTION IN BUILDING THROUGH SERVICE, CRAFT AND SCIENCE. Thu, 21 May 2015 18:32:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 First Floor Remodel Turns Chopped Up Rooms Into Communal Space http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/first-floor-remodel-turns-chopped-up-rooms-into-communal-space/ http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/first-floor-remodel-turns-chopped-up-rooms-into-communal-space/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 16:00:39 +0000 http://hammerandhand.com/?p=6688 Hammer & Hand, architect Amy Griffith of Broken Box Designs, and interior designer Vida Shore teamed up to transform a first floor full of chopped up rooms into an open and connected space with a large kitchen perfect for entertaining. (Visit our kitchen remodeling page for more kitchen project examples, videos, and articles.) A new statement... Read more »

The post First Floor Remodel Turns Chopped Up Rooms Into Communal Space appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
Hammer & Hand, architect Amy Griffith of Broken Box Designs, and interior designer Vida Shore teamed up to transform a first floor full of chopped up rooms into an open and connected space with a large kitchen perfect for entertaining.

(Visit our kitchen remodeling page for more kitchen project examples, videos, and articles.)

Traditional Home Before & After Remodel | Hammer & Hand

A new statement piece staircase dominates the entry. H&H, Dyadic Iron Works, and Birds Eye Hardwood Floors built the staircase onsite. The team took down walls and added a substantial beam into the ceiling to create a larger kitchen and a more open, connected floor plan. Space from an unused dining room and den were reallocated to the kitchen.

Traditional Kitchen Remodel Before & After Photos | Hammer & Hand

A larger kitchen island with room to seat five replaced the previous small stovetop kitchen island. The team also added an updated stove and oven, more storage options, and a new wine bar complete with cooler and wine glass storage.

Traditional Kitchen Remodel Before & After | Hammer & Hand

Pocket dog gates (seen closed on right side, open on left side) give the homeowners the option to close off the kitchen from their two dogs when they need to.

Visit the Traditional Kitchen project page for more photos of this remodeling project.

The post First Floor Remodel Turns Chopped Up Rooms Into Communal Space appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/first-floor-remodel-turns-chopped-up-rooms-into-communal-space/feed/ 0 entry-before-and-after kitchen-before-and-after traditional-kitchen-before-after
The Watzek House, John Yeon’s 1937 Masterpiece, Employs Passive Features Ahead Of Its Time http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/the-watzek-house-john-yeons-1937-masterpiece-employs-passive-features-ahead-of-its-time/ http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/the-watzek-house-john-yeons-1937-masterpiece-employs-passive-features-ahead-of-its-time/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 15:00:48 +0000 http://hammerandhand.com/?p=6707 Last week several of us at Hammer & Hand had the pleasure of touring the Watzek House, guided by Randy Gragg, longtime Portland architecture critic, journalist, and new director of U of O’s John Yeon Center. The Watzek House, designed by Yeon and built by contractor Burt Smith in 1937, became a seminal work in... Read more »

The post The Watzek House, John Yeon’s 1937 Masterpiece, Employs Passive Features Ahead Of Its Time appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
Last week several of us at Hammer & Hand had the pleasure of touring the Watzek House, guided by Randy Gragg, longtime Portland architecture critic, journalist, and new director of U of O’s John Yeon Center.

The Watzek House, designed by Yeon and built by contractor Burt Smith in 1937, became a seminal work in the Northwest Regional Style – a design movement centered around Yeon and contemporaries like Pietro Belluschi.

Watzek House Landscape in Portland, OR | Hammer & Hand

The Watzek House, with its hilltop perch and multi-volcano views, engages the landscape.

It’s an inspiring space; check out the Yeon’s Center profile about the house, as well as Brian Libby’s Portland Architecture post about it.

In addition to landing a spot in the Museum of Modern Art’s 1939 book, Art of Our Time, to celebrate MOMA’s 10th Anniversary, the home also became just the second (after Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater) to be added to the National Register of Historic Places before the customary fifty-year waiting period.

Watzek House Exterior Vents in Portland, OR | Hammer & Hand

Two unobtrusive exterior vents.

As high performance builders, we were also impressed with the home’s early innovations. Watzek House was the first one in the region to use then-newfangled double paned windows. And Yeon developed a passive ventilation system for the house that became a fixture of much of his later work.

Watzek House Vent Panels Shut | Hammer & Hand

When closed, the vent panels look like cabinet doors.

Hidden cabinet-like panels fold out to bring outside air into a bedroom through exterior vents. A transfer grille hidden in the room’s built-in shelving facilitates cross-ventilation into the adjacent living room.

Watzek House with Open Vents | Hammer & Hand

Opened, the vents bring fresh air inside.

If you have the chance, check out one of the tours by the Center. We’ve got quite the modern gem in our midst.

Watzek House Dining Room | Hammer & Hand

The home’s dining room features a compelling connection with the forest understory outside.

Thanks to Randy for showing the house with our contingent!

The post The Watzek House, John Yeon’s 1937 Masterpiece, Employs Passive Features Ahead Of Its Time appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/the-watzek-house-john-yeons-1937-masterpiece-employs-passive-features-ahead-of-its-time/feed/ 0 watzek-house-2 watzek-house-3 watzek-house-4 watzek-house-5 watzek-house-6
Office TI for Portland Creative Agency, Instrument, Begins! http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/office-ti-for-portland-creative-agency-instrument-begins/ http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/office-ti-for-portland-creative-agency-instrument-begins/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 18:52:45 +0000 http://hammerandhand.com/?p=6694 Hammer & Hand has started work on an ambitious office tenant improvement (TI) for Instrument, a digital creative agency based in Portland. Instrument had outgrown their previous headquarters and was watching for the right space when the new One North development on the corner of N. Williams and Fremont caught the firm’s eye. Holst Architecture—with... Read more »

The post Office TI for Portland Creative Agency, Instrument, Begins! appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
Hammer & Hand has started work on an ambitious office tenant improvement (TI) for Instrument, a digital creative agency based in Portland. Instrument had outgrown their previous headquarters and was watching for the right space when the new One North development on the corner of N. Williams and Fremont caught the firm’s eye. Holst Architecture—with whom H&H recently collaborated on the Karuna House project—designed both the building shell and Instrument’s 34,470 square foot TI spanning the East Building’s top three floors.

Instrument Building in Portland OR | Under Construction by Hammer & Hand

Once inside the East Building’s distinct, curved cedar exterior, employees and guests will enter a bright, wide-open atrium that reaches approximately 40 feet to the ceiling. This area will serve as a gathering area and central hub for Instrument with open-walled floors flanking it above. The space is bathed in natural light from the atrium’s glass wall as well as ample windows wrapping the floors.

Instrument Building Under Construction by Hammer & Hand Commercial Build Out for Instrument by Hammer & Hand

What is now a sea of unfinished wood, exposed plumbing, and stacks of raw materials will soon become the inspiring headquarters for this growing Portland creative agency. We are honored to be the craftspeople bringing Instrument’s new home to life.

Stay tuned for more updates as this project picks up steam. There are some stellar design features on the way as well as serious feats of skill and daring regarding project logistics. More to come!

The post Office TI for Portland Creative Agency, Instrument, Begins! appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/office-ti-for-portland-creative-agency-instrument-begins/feed/ 0 Instrument Building Instrument Building Under Construction IMG_0889
perFORM 2015 Design Competition Picks Up Steam – Deadline June 19 http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/perform-2015-design-competition-picks-up-steam-deadline-june-19/ http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/perform-2015-design-competition-picks-up-steam-deadline-june-19/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 16:00:33 +0000 http://hammerandhand.com/?p=6661 perFORM 2015, our second annual building design competition, appears to be capturing the attention of North America’s emerging architectural professionals. Six weeks out from the June 19th submission deadline, registrations for this year’s competition are more than double last year’s at the same stage. “We’re excited to see the great response,” said H&H’s Sam Hagerman. “We... Read more »

The post perFORM 2015 Design Competition Picks Up Steam – Deadline June 19 appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
perFORM 2015, our second annual building design competition, appears to be capturing the attention of North America’s emerging architectural professionals. Six weeks out from the June 19th submission deadline, registrations for this year’s competition are more than double last year’s at the same stage.

“We’re excited to see the great response,” said H&H’s Sam Hagerman. “We started the competition to encourage architecture students and interns to explore the nexus between high performance building and high design, and this year’s zero energy, medium-rise building typology seems to have really struck a chord.”

perFORM 2015 challenges architecture students and interns to design a zero energy, multifamily, mixed use building in Portland, Oregon. The competition’s design site is a new parcel of real estate in inner NE Portland created by the removal of a portion of NE Sandy Boulevard.

Architectural students and interns based in the United States and Canada are eligible to compete, either as individuals or as part of a team. A jury of design professionals and educators, headed up by Prof. Peter Keyes of the University of Oregon, will judge the entries based on the criteria of resourcefulness, replicability, and beauty. The jury will distribute $6,000 in prize money among competition winners.

One sign that perFORM 2015 has gained traction is the fact that the competition’s design problem is being used by architectural educators as a teaching tool.

“We’re particularly excited to see perFORM 2015 being featured in design studio coursework at the university level,” said Sam. “Faculty from the University of Oregon, University of Idaho, University of Arkansas and several other schools have incorporated the competition into their studios.”

The perFORM 2015 jury will deliberate in July and announce winners later this summer. View last year’s winning entries.

The post perFORM 2015 Design Competition Picks Up Steam – Deadline June 19 appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/perform-2015-design-competition-picks-up-steam-deadline-june-19/feed/ 0
Rammed Earth and Passive Building: a Photo Journal from Bhutan http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/rammed-earth-and-passive-building-a-photo-journal-from-bhutan/ http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/rammed-earth-and-passive-building-a-photo-journal-from-bhutan/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 21:01:12 +0000 http://hammerandhand.com/?p=6645 From the beginning of time, the most common building materials have been the most common materials in the immediate environment. This of course means that early buildings were built of dirt, a material that is plentiful, cheap, and malleable. Piece of rammed earth from ancient Bhutanese building (all photos by Sam Hagerman) Many of the... Read more »

The post Rammed Earth and Passive Building: a Photo Journal from Bhutan appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
From the beginning of time, the most common building materials have been the most common materials in the immediate environment. This of course means that early buildings were built of dirt, a material that is plentiful, cheap, and malleable.

Rammed earth from ancient Bhutanese building | Hammer & Hand

Piece of rammed earth from ancient Bhutanese building (all photos by Sam Hagerman)

Many of the oldest buildings in the world are made of rammed earth, or compacted dirt. And this type of building continues to be a common and viable construction methodology in many places of the world.

Ancient Rammed Earth Wall in Bhutan| Hammer & Hand

Detail of ancient rammed earth wall, Bhutan

I recently had the honor and pleasure of traveling to Bhutan as part of a delegation with the Karuna Foundation, and on this trip I saw many examples, old and new, of rammed earth structures. Interestingly, there are some direct building science connections between the success of rammed earth buildings and of the high performance building assemblies that we employ as part of our Passive House projects here in Portland and Seattle.

Take a look at this new rammed earth structure I saw in Bhutan:

New Rammed Earth Building in Bhutan | Hammer & Hand

New rammed earth building in Bhutan

Note that at the base of this rammed earth structure is stacked stone. I don’t know the exact history of this, but the layer of stone functions to break the rammed earth portion of the structure from the potentially damp soil, therefore short-circuiting any capillary action that would move water from the ground up into the structure. This was common of every ancient rammed earth structure I saw in Bhutan. And it’s similar to rammed earth construction I have built that sits on concrete foundations. The top of the concrete foundation is coated with a capillary break to act as a similar short-circuit for water from the ground.

Ruin in Bhutan | Hammer & Hand

Bhutanese ruin

Rammed earth walls are resilient, solid assemblies that can last a surprisingly long time out in the open, even without any cover. Given that rammed earth walls are inherently thick – two feet or more in depth – they have inherent positive thermal qualities and a surprisingly high level of airtightness, two key qualities of the high performance buildings we build today.

Modern, sophisticated versions of rammed earth wall assemblies have been developed to meet other high performance characteristics.

In ancient rammed earth structures you can see evidence of tensile fibers in the assembly such as hair and straw. Additionally, a two to three inch wooden log is often located every 2 or 3 feet horizontally in the wall. In modern rammed earth assemblies, tensile fibers and logs are replaced with rebar, which essentially forms a ferro-earth assembly. Adding a small amount of Portland cement to an earth mix yields a similar result to a ferro-cement assembly. You get the compressive strength of earth with the tensile strength of the steel. This magic combination of compressive and tensile strength is what holds up all the big buildings that surround us here, by the way.

Additional Passive Building Strategies

Rammed earth is a common material in buildings in Bhutan, and it’s one of a set of passive strategies that showcase a powerful marriage of form and function employed in traditional Bhutanese buildings, as seen in this photo of a ruin of a traditional home here:

Ruin of Traditional Bhutanese Home Near Paro | Hammer & Hand

Ruin of traditional Bhutanese home, near Paro

You’ll notice three distinct levels to this house, each playing a role in the annual cycle of family life and each taking advantage of passive energy strategies. The first level, with the stacked stone walls, is used to house the animals, with piles of straw (needles from the Bhutan Pine) for bedding.

First Floor Barn in Bhutan Ruin | Hammer & Hand

Interior of home’s first floor barn

The body heat of the animals and of the composting straw and manure creates warmth that rises up into the living quarters on the second level. That second level is built out of a thick rammed earth assembly which helps moderate heat loss. And on the third floor, in the attic, straw is stored in the fall to create a very thick layer, providing a layer of insulation for the living quarters below. Over the course of the winter and spring the young members of the family throw the straw down into the courtyard and move it into the first floor of the house to replenish the animals’ bedding. So, as the weather warms, the insulation layer in the attic is slowly removed, up into the summer when the animals are outside all the time.

Steer in Bhutan | Hammer & Hand

Steer in Bhutan

Now, these are hardy folk, and there’s no doubt that these traditional homes are colder than what we’re accustomed to. But this tri-level integration of passive energy strategies is pretty cool, and a good reminder that our modern world of high performance building can draw lessons from ancient roots.

Bhutan Pine Needles | Hammer & Hand

Stack of straw, Bhutan Pine needles

The post Rammed Earth and Passive Building: a Photo Journal from Bhutan appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/rammed-earth-and-passive-building-a-photo-journal-from-bhutan/feed/ 0 bhutan-01 Ancient Rammed Earth Wall in Bhutan New Rammed Earth Building in Bhutan Ruin in Bhutan Ruin of Traditional Bhutanese Home Near Paro First Floor Barn in Bhutan Ruin Steer in Bhutan Bhutan Pine Needles
Minimalism Meets Modern Materials in Portland Loft Remodel http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/minimalism-meets-modern-materials-in-portland-loft-remodel/ http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/minimalism-meets-modern-materials-in-portland-loft-remodel/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 18:58:27 +0000 http://hammerandhand.com/?p=6545 The new owner of a loft in Portland’s hip Pearl District approached Hammer & Hand to do some updates but needed a designer. After connecting him with Andee Hess of Osmose Design we were ready to get moving. The loft hadn’t been updated since the building was built in 2004. It had a simple industrial format with... Read more »

The post Minimalism Meets Modern Materials in Portland Loft Remodel appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
The new owner of a loft in Portland’s hip Pearl District approached Hammer & Hand to do some updates but needed a designer. After connecting him with Andee Hess of Osmose Design we were ready to get moving.

The loft hadn’t been updated since the building was built in 2004. It had a simple industrial format with exposed concrete ceilings, concrete columns, and non-integrated elements. The new owner of the loft wanted to upgrade the appliances while updating the look of the space with gray and wood accents.

“We looked at the opportunity to enhance the functional, industrial look but warm up the space a little bit more by adding elements that look more integrated into the architecture,” said Andee.

(Visit our condo and loft remodeling page for more loft project examples, videos, and articles.)

Hallway in Portland Condo Remodel | Hammer & Hand

Before photography compliments of Andee Hess, after photography by Jeff Amram.

The team replaced the floor in the condo with oak flooring from DuChateau’s Vernal Collection. Wider boards with pronounced wood grain give the illusion of a larger space. A linear LED light reinforces the integrated design and provides accent lighting in the hallway.

Portland Condo Bathroom Remodel Before and After | Hammer & Hand

The team gave the bathroom, once an outdated space with a combination tub and shower, a modern makeover. After removing the tub, H&H installed a large shower with a varied Bianco Arrabescato tile from Opustone that Andee sourced in Miami.

“The shower ‘box’ looks like an inserted element that is made out of gorgeous white terrazzo tile,” said Andee. “It’s a pop of crisp white with a lot of depth in the material.”

The shower serves as a statement piece in the bathroom against a simple backdrop of neutral Plaza Nova floor and wall tile from Daltile.

Bathroom Before and After in Condo Remodel | Hammer & Hand

An LED light within the shower provides accent lighting while reinforcing the architectural elements of the design. Running parallel to the light is a built-in trough that extends on the other side of the shower wall over the vanity. In addition to being an interesting visual element, the trough is deep enough to hold a large quantity of products while keeping them out of site.

A linear floor drain at the edge of the shower serves its function while keeping the shower floor clear.

Kitchen Before and After in Portland Condo Remodel | Hammer & Hand

The original kitchen had minimal counterspace and storage options, so one major focus was to update the kitchen to make it more functional for cooking and light entertaining. The team added new appliances, cabinetry, and quartz countertops. The extended cabinetry provides much more storage space than the previous design.

H&H’s James Fox wrapped the bedroom (on the left side, behind the frosted glass doors) in wood paneling to help connect it to the space and provide a little more privacy from the rest of the loft. The duct pipe, originally exposed, became built into the cabinetry with an outlet for heat.

Lighting the space proved to be tricky. “We were limited by the concrete ceiling – we couldn’t add recessed fixtures and electrical was limited,” said Andee. “We decided to run three Flos Smithfield pendant lights over the island and worked the exposed conduit so it looks like part of the fixture.”

Kitchen Remodel in Portland Condo | Hammer & Hand

Three slabs of Silver Fox granite run the length of the wall for visual interest and met the client’s desire for gray accents. The accent wall ties in with the concrete ceiling and neutral color palette while the veining in the material adds pops of white for contrast.

The team added a kitchen island for additional counterspace and to bring an architectural element to the middle of the area. The island is wrapped in the same material as the flooring to give the impression that it is coming up out of the floor. A powder-coated steel table rests on the island and extends to the right to be used as a breakfast counter.

“We wanted to keep the color palette really simple but to allow the somewhat complex materials to stand on their own,” said Andee. “There’s not a lot of contrast and that creates this really uniform, serene feeling.”

Living Space in Portland Condo Remodel | Hammer & Hand

Andee looked for ways to tie the space together while making use of the materials on-hand.

“I went out to the fabricator’s shop and searched through the remnants to find pieces we could make use of for a coffee table,” said Andee. “We did the same thing with the shower tile – we made a nightstand out of some of the tile remnants.”

Flos String Lights (smart lights controlled from an app on the client’s phone) hang swagged from the ceiling over the couch for reading light.

For more photos of this project, visit our Minimalist Pearl Loft project page.

 

The post Minimalism Meets Modern Materials in Portland Loft Remodel appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/minimalism-meets-modern-materials-in-portland-loft-remodel/feed/ 0 hallway Portland Condo Bathroom Before and After bathroom remodel kitchen portland-condo-kitchen-remodel portland-condo-remodel-living-space
On the Jevons Paradox, Climate, and Fighting Defeatism http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/on-the-jevons-paradox-climate-and-fighting-defeatism/ http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/on-the-jevons-paradox-climate-and-fighting-defeatism/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 22:31:26 +0000 http://hammerandhand.com/?p=6556 Like many in my generation, I’ve been worried about global warming since I was young. I was introduced to the concept as a college student in the early 90s, years before climate change began making daily headlines. Today the scale and severity of the climate problem is much discussed, and I’ve lately been on a... Read more »

The post On the Jevons Paradox, Climate, and Fighting Defeatism appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
Like many in my generation, I’ve been worried about global warming since I was young. I was introduced to the concept as a college student in the early 90s, years before climate change began making daily headlines.

Today the scale and severity of the climate problem is much discussed, and I’ve lately been on a reading kick about global warming, gobbling up both deeply pessimistic perspectives (“7 Reasons America Will Fail on Climate Change”) as well as considerably more hopeful ones (“7 Reasons America Should Succeed on Climate Change”).

Americans’ emotional and intellectual responses to the sobering news coming from climate scientists ranges from the irrational/cynical (“CO2 is plant food, so burning a bunch of coal will create a lush future, cheer up everyone!”) to the resolute (“buck up everyone, we can do something about this problem!”) to the fatalistic (“don’t fool yourselves everyone, get ready to burn.”)

I’m firmly in the middle camp. Yes we face big challenges, but I think there’s a good chance that we’re up to those challenges and that through a combination of economic, technological, and cultural shifts we can decouple ourselves from carbon and create a livable future for our grandchildren.

This hope is fueled by two facts: 1. Concern for climate change has finally become widespread and mainstream, 2. We’ve just begun to direct human ingenuity and will to addressing the problem. I’m also encouraged by recent developments, like plummeting renewable energy prices, huge investments in next generation battery technology by the likes of Bill Gates and Eion Musk, the bilateral carbon agreement between the US and China, and technologies like Passive House that revolutionize energy efficiency.

Price of solar cells has dropped by 99%
Price of solar cells has dropped by 99% since 1977. Source: Bloomberg, New Energy Finance

Still, some of my brothers and sisters in the community of the climate-concerned are more pessimistic. Some believe that the problems are too intractable and that we’ll burn all the fossil fuels currently buried in the Earth, triggering truly catastrophic warming. For them, doing “climate friendly” things like super-efficient building is not about contributing to a climate solution but rather about “fighting the good fight” – a moral act rather than a practical one. While the dark future they imagine is certainly a possibility, their predictions about our inability to make a difference are, by definition, based on hunches rather than fact.

It’s not fait accompli.

If you take a look at the psychology of all of this, maybe it should come as no surprise that a segment of the climate-concerned would lose hope early on in our climate struggle. We are, after all, a community of people self-selected for our predilection for alarm: the anxious watchers who alert the herd to danger. This watcher role is an important one, but the emotional traits that come with it can blind us to hopeful data as we focus on the scary stuff. I’d argue that as “watchers” we climate-concerned are biased toward pessimism when presented with potential solutions to the climate mess. So I think a dose of self-awareness is in order. We are right to warn of the danger, but saying “we’re doomed” is getting carried away. It speaks more to our psychology than to the facts.

We’re only doomed if we do not act.

As Bullitt Foundation president Denis Hayes pointed out at the Living Future conference a couple weeks ago, pessimism has no survival value. To the degree that pessimism breeds inaction, it’s maladaptive. And to the degree that it’s contagious, it becomes dangerous to our future. Ironically, pessimism about our ability to address climate change plays right into the hands of those lobbying for climate inaction; the climate defeatists and the climate deniers meet at the far edge of the circle of climate politics.

I was reminded of all of this at the PHnw6 Passive House conference three weeks ago – a great event, full of actionable information for the Passive House practitioner. But one of the keynote speakers – Steve Hallett of Purdue’s horticulture program – provoked the audience with a particularly dark vision of our climate future in a talk structured around a series of bleak axioms. One was his assertion that we will burn all of the available fossil fuels buried in the earth.

Predicting that outcome with any certainty is, shall we say, “bold.” It ignores the very real possibility that we can get our collective act together before then…but consider what would happen if he were right. According to an estimate by Michael Greenstone of the University of Chicago, burning all our planet’s fossil fuels would bring 16.2 degrees (F) of warming, utterly transforming our planet. Mind blowing, really. There’s got to be some version of the classic supply/demand curve that charts the likelihood of action against the severity of the consequences of inaction, something like the one on the right:

Supply and demand graph applied to climate action

I don’t buy that we as a people cannot rally together to avoid burning it all. No guarantees that we’ll be successful, but we stand a chance. Plenty of Serious People point out that we have the tools (both economic and technological) to secure a livable future if we decide we really want one:

Yes, we need to alert the world to the threat, but also to the practical solutions that are at our fingertips.

But crap. What if those solutions are just wishful thinking? Cue the next, more pernicious axiom from Hallett, one that you’d expect to be fairly explosive in a room full of designers and builders of super-efficient buildings: “Increased energy efficiency causes greater energy consumption, not less.” So…low-carbon Passive House projects will speed climate change, not slow it!

Sounds crazy, right? Well, it’s based on a theory called the “Jevons Paradox.” English economist WS Jevons came up with the idea back in 1865 when he observed that a new, more efficient steam engine was actually driving increased consumption of coal rather than the expected decreased consumption. The reason? Because the new engines used less coal, the price of producing a unit of work with coal dropped, thereby increasing demand for more and more steam engines and therefore big increases in coal consumption.

But, if efficiency actually causes consumption, then what’s the point of what we’re doing as builders of super-efficient buildings? Yeah, we’re delivering health and comfort to building occupants. And these buildings are resilient places, so you could set up survivalist camps in them to weather the Apocalypse, perhaps. But, Jevons, you’re telling me that all my green building good intentions are actually going to hasten climate change??

Wow, what a huge bummer.

So counter-intuitive. (Suspiciously so.)

How did we in the audience react to this message from the keynoter? With dissent and a demand for data to prove this existential threat to the foundations of super-efficient building? No, we’re much too polite. In fact, some of us bought the message, at least initially, accepting that the energy efficiency of our buildings leads to greater use of energy (through huge houses, perhaps, or greater wealth throughout society), and concluding that maybe what we’re doing has no positive impact on the climate.

But wait! We’re a smart and skeptical bunch. We love numbers. We know that correlation does not prove causation. What about the data? Where’s the proof? Isn’t it a little early to accept the Jevons Paradox as fact?

Let’s quickly examine the microeconomic and macroeconomic arguments made to argue that the Jevons Paradox is real…

At the microeconomic scale, the double-wide refrigerator is the favorite example cited by Jevons Paradox theorists. Fridges have never been more energy efficient than they are today, but they’ve also never been bigger. Energy efficiency therefore causes increases in fridge size, making that efficiency counterproductive, right?

big-fridge
Double-wide fridge image courtesy of Birdies100, found here.

Perhaps. But if correlation proved causation then I’d have some alarming news to share about the effect of Miss America’s age on the rate of murders by steam, hot vapors, and hot objects, two very highly correlated sets of data! (correlation coefficient of 0.870127)

Seriously, look at this graph from the folks at Spurious Correlations:

miss-america-murder-by-hot-vapors

So let’s take a closer looks at the fridges. First, I ask you, would people really be buying double-wide fridges now because they are energy efficient? (If the Jevons Paradox applies to fridge size, then energy efficiency causes increases in fridge size.) I’d argue that a far more likely driver of double-wides is affluence and big kitchens. But let’s look at the data, this from David Goldstein of NRDC:

david-goldstein-nrdc-refrigerators

It shows that expansion of fridge size (the red line) slowed significantly just as energy efficiency began to improve after 1972. No proof of Jevons here. Perhaps the opposite.

Okay, so let’s move up to the macroeconomic scale, the current refuge for the Jevons Paradox theory. Macroeconomics is so much more complex than microeconomics that it’s inherently murkier. The argument for Jevons here is that the savings from energy efficiency make societies richer, which increases energy consumption. Proponents of this line of thinking point out that three hundred years ago we were heating buildings with inefficient wood fires and lighting them with candles. Today we have highly efficient furnaces, LED lights, and hybrid cars, but we consume way more energy per capita now than we did three centuries ago. Jevons proponents claim that efficiency drives the affluence that leads to higher consumption.

Perhaps, but again, correlation does not prove causation. Here’s more shocking news: per capita consumption of chicken is highly correlated with US crude oil imports (correlation coefficient of 0.899899):

chicken-consumption-us-crude-oil

Granted, affluence almost certainly leads to increased energy consumption, but is energy efficiency the main driver of affluence? That seems like a real stretch. Does efficiency really cause greater consumption? What does the data show?

Take a look at these two graphs, again from Goldstein at NRDC…

California energy savings from efficiency measures:

david-goldstein-nrdc-cali-efficiency-measures

California per capita electricity consumption:

david-goldstein-nrdc-cali-energy-use

If Jevons applied here, California’s efficiency gains would have backfired, driving greater per capita consumption. Instead, we see that upward trend of per capita consumption was halted in its tracks in California while the rest of the country’s per capita consumption continued to increase dramatically.

This is not to say that smaller “rebound effects” don’t exist in the realm of energy efficiency. Economists universally agree that they do. A fuel-efficient Prius will save you money on gas and some small portion of that savings might bankroll extra driving. Combine that with other extra consumption that carries with it embedded energy costs and you’re left with a rebound of, say, 10-30%. But that means that 70-90% of the efficiency improvements of the Prius still “stick.” That’s far from the negative “backfire” posited by the Jevons Paradox.

An Energy Journal survey of the research finds a rebound effect of between 10-30% for efficiency measures in the residential and transportation sectors, and 0-20% for industries, making overall efficiency measures 70-100% effective.

David Owen, author of the New Yorker article, “The Efficiency Dilemma”, quotes the late Lee Schipper, physicist and energy efficiency scholar at Stanford University, as saying that the Jevons Paradox only exists in outlier cases:

“The key to understanding Jevons is that processes, products, and activities where energy is a very high part of the cost – in this country, a few metals, a few chemicals, air travel – are the only ones whose variable cost is very sensitive to energy. That’s it.”

Still, there are some economists who theorize, based on correlative data and economic modeling, that the Jevons Paradox could be at work at the macroeconomic scale. The most vociferous of them are with the “eco-modernist think tank” Breakthrough Initiative. They like the Jevons Paradox because it plays into the Institute’s pro-nuke, pro-gas, anti-carbon tax, anti-regulation platform and helps them argue that energy conservation is a waste of time and resources. (It’s an understatement to say that the realm of Jevons research is highly politicized.) But even if the Jevons Paradox does have an effect at the macroeconomic scale (meaning overall increases in the energy efficiency of society lead to greater energy consumption), a simple green tax (like a carbon tax) would wipe out the effect.

My point, two days after Earth Day 2015, is that we should be as wary of believing what climate defeatists say as we are of what the deniers say. Even if they’re our close friends. The conclusion that there is no hope for us in our climate crisis is specious. And while the arguments against hope, like the Jevons Paradox theory, do possess a certain bleak allure, the validity of those arguments should be approached with as much skepticism as we apply to the Pollyanna arguments posited by climate deniers.

The reality is that energy conservation, like the revolutionary performance of Passive House, does make a difference. Renewable energy does too. Are there rebounds or intermittency challenges? Yeah. Do we need to place a price on carbon to make serious headway at keeping fossil fuels in the ground? Yeah. But there are real, credible solutions out there – economic, technological, cultural and political solutions.

For those of you still reading, I’ll conclude with these words from leading climate scientist Michael Mann, as quoted by Joe Romm of Climate Progress:

“Defeatist framing is not helpful and threatens serving as self-fulfilling prophecy. We all grew up reading the ‘The Little Engine that Could,’ not ‘The Little Engine that Couldn’t.’ The only real obstacle to averting dangerous climate change is lack of willpower and imagination.”

 

P.S. For some of the best climate-related writing and thinking on the web, do check out Joe Romm’s work at Climate Progress. It’s good stuff – a sober look at both the severity of the climate crisis and the possibilities for meaningful climate action.

And in case you haven’t watched this video yet, it’s well worth a view:


 

Sunset over Earth image by NASA, found here.

The post On the Jevons Paradox, Climate, and Fighting Defeatism appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/on-the-jevons-paradox-climate-and-fighting-defeatism/feed/ 0 Price of solar cells has dropped by 99% climate action graph big-fridge miss-america-murder-by-hot-vapors david-goldstein-nrdc-refrigerators chicken-consumption-us-crude-oil david-goldstein-nrdc-cali-efficiency-measures david-goldstein-nrdc-cali-energy-use
Mineral Wool Has Green Light from Living Building Challenge http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/mineral-wool-gets-green-light-from-living-building-challenge/ http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/mineral-wool-gets-green-light-from-living-building-challenge/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 18:29:13 +0000 http://hammerandhand.com/?p=6542 ROXUL mineral wool has become a go-to choice of monolithic exterior insulation for us at Hammer & Hand. It is made of stone, fairly nontoxic, and easy to work with. What’s more, it’s extremely fire resistant and hydrophobic, so it works great as part of the rain screen systems that we install on every high... Read more »

The post Mineral Wool Has Green Light from Living Building Challenge appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
ROXUL mineral wool has become a go-to choice of monolithic exterior insulation for us at Hammer & Hand. It is made of stone, fairly nontoxic, and easy to work with. What’s more, it’s extremely fire resistant and hydrophobic, so it works great as part of the rain screen systems that we install on every high performance building we construct.

For all of these reasons we built mineral wool into the sample wall assembly that we recently exhibited at the Living Future conference in Seattle. The assembly got a great reception, with tons of questions about its insulative properties, airtightness, and moisture management. But one question that nagged at us afterwards was: “Given that formaldehyde is used in its production, isn’t mineral wool on the Living Building Challenge’s Red List?”

Skylar Swinford and Hammer & Hand Wall Assembly

Passive House expert Skylar Swinford explains our Passive House wall assembly to a few Living Future unConference 2015 attendees.

It’s a good question, because the Red List (the list of chemical compounds prohibited in Living Building construction) does include added formaldehyde. However, the Bullitt Center, perhaps the world’s most prominent certified Living Building, used ROXUL mineral wool for its exterior insulation layer.

To get the skinny I emailed Joe David, Point 32’s mastermind-of-materials for the Bullitt Center project, with the query: “is mineral wool verboten now?”

The short answer: “no.”

David explained that while mineral wool was not allowed in LBC 2.0 due to the formaldehyde, the Bullitt Center team was able to secure an exception for it because it was the only insulation product available that was both non-combustible and could live on the wet side of the WRB (weather resistant barrier).

Recognizing the value of the material to other Living Building projects, the International Living Future Institute went on to grant an exception for rigid mineral wool when they released LBC 3.0.

Here’s the official Red List exception language as found in the DECLARE Manufacturer’s Guide:

Exception I10-E9 (3/2013)

PHENOL FORMALDEHYDE IN MINERAL WOOL INSULATION

Phenol formaldehyde is allowed in rigid mineral wool insulation for exterior applications (such as rain screen assemblies or foundation insulation). While rigid mineral wool insulation does contain some formaldehyde, most of the formaldehyde is eliminated in the production process through a chemical reaction and high heat. Rigid mineral wool insulation installed on the exterior of the building possess less risk to humans and ecosystem than rigid foam insulation products, which almost always contain HFRs (Halogenated Flame Retardants) and use blowing agents with high global warming potential.

For more about mineral wool and our application of it at Madrona Passive House, see this video:

The post Mineral Wool Has Green Light from Living Building Challenge appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/mineral-wool-gets-green-light-from-living-building-challenge/feed/ 0 Mineral Wool Gets Green Light from Living Building Challenge | Hammer & Hand ROXUL mineral wool has become a go-to choice of monolithic exterior insulation for us at Hammer & Hand. It is made of stone, fairly nontoxic, and easy to work with. What’s more, it’s extremely fire resistant and hydrophobic, so it works great as part of the rain screen systems that we install on skylar-with-wall-assembly
Two weeks chock-full of passive house and living building! http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/two-weeks-chock-full-of-passive-house-and-living-building/ http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/two-weeks-chock-full-of-passive-house-and-living-building/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 18:30:05 +0000 http://hammerandhand.com/?p=6502 Many of us at H&H are resurfacing from two weeks full of presentations, dialogue, and community building with our Passive House and Living Building colleagues. On the evening of March 25, a capacity crowd of Passive House enthusiasts, green building practitioners, and building industry leaders joined us at the Bullitt Center’s Discovery Commons space to... Read more »

The post Two weeks chock-full of passive house and living building! appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
Many of us at H&H are resurfacing from two weeks full of presentations, dialogue, and community building with our Passive House and Living Building colleagues.

On the evening of March 25, a capacity crowd of Passive House enthusiasts, green building practitioners, and building industry leaders joined us at the Bullitt Center’s Discovery Commons space to witness the launch of North America’s new passive building standard, PHIUS+ 2015. James Connelly (Living Building Challenge Manager at the International Living Future Institute), Leah Missik (Built Green Program Manager at Master Builders Association of King & Snohomish Counties), and Joe Giampietro (Board Member of Passive House Northwest) were on hand to make remarks congratulating PHIUS and PHAUS for its work and anticipating increased collaboration moving forward.

Our own Sam Hagerman, co-host of the party with PHIUS/PHAUS, emceed the evening and introduced PHIUS Co-Founder and Executive Director Katrin Klingenberg to party-goers. Katrin made the official unveiling of the standard, summarized its climate-specific and cost-optimized approach, and shred the technical underpinnings of PHIUS+ 2015. An exciting night!

Katrin Klingenberg at PHIUS+ 2015 Launch Party | Hammer & Hand

Katrin Klingenberg speaking to the crowd about PHIUS+ 2015.

The next day we dove into the PHnw6 conference on Seattle’s waterfront. H&H’s Dan Whitmore taught a 4-hour intensive passive builders training during the day, and Skylar Swinford and I delivered an evening address entitled “Why Passive House? Because Buildings Can Restore” as a warm-up act to Lloyd Alter’s (of Treehugger fame) excellent keynote, “In Praise of the Dumb Home” – a critique of our society’s tendency toward techno-fascination and gadgetry that can short-circuit passive and other green building fundamentals. The next day was full of excellent Passive House workshops, including Sam’s standing-room-only presentation about H&H’s high performance wall assemblies:

Sam Hagerman at phNW Conference 2015

Günter Lang of Passivhaus Austria delivered an uplifting address entitled “Sustainable Cities Go Passive,” somewhat tempered by Steve Hallett’s keynote, “Passive Houses, Efficiency Traps, and Some Unexpected Comments on Carbon,” a thought-provoking and challenging presentation about the Jevons Paradox, Peak Oil, and what lessons we can take from ecology to teach us about what we as species/society might expect in coming decades. Sobering stuff.

On April Fools Day we switched gears, joining the sold-out throng at the Living Future unConference 2015 at Seattle’s Sheraton for an inspiring three days of sessions about the Living Building Challenge and Living Communities. Dan and I had the pleasure of co-presenting a session with Dale Mikkelsen entitled “Conservation First!” making the case for the complementary nature of Passive House and the Living Building Challenge (via LBC’s Net Zero “Energy Petal”). Dale, who also won the 2015 Living Building Challenge Heroes Award at the conference, is a pivotal player in the inspiring Univercity green community project in Burnaby BC. Among many highlights at the conference were the plenary sessions with Ibrahim Abdul-Martin (Director of Community Affairs at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection) and Jason McLennan (CEO of the International Living Future Institute, our neighbors here at the Bullitt Center) and the “This One Goes to 11” interview of Bullitt Foundation President Denis Hayes by Brad Kahn.

Zack at Living Future 2015 Conference | Hammer & HandEric Corey Freed, VP of Global Outreach with International Living Future Institute (left) and H&H’s Zack Semke at Living Future unConference 2015. Photo credit: Danielle Barnum.

Skylar Swinford and Hammer & Hand Wall Assembly

Passive House consultant Skylar Swinford shares H&H’s high performance building wall assembly mock up at Living Future unConference 2015.

My favorite quote from Denis came in response to a question about the daunting challenges we face in transforming our building stock fast enough to be climate friendly. Denis joked that as a younger environmentalist he sometimes measured a lecture’s success by how many participants wanted to commit hara-kiri at the end. Then one night his wife Gale joined him at a lecture. On the way home she remarked on the respect that she knew Denis held for natural selection and the power of competitive advantage.

“So tell me, what’s the survival value of pessimism?” she asked.

What gives Denis hope today? Our ability as a people to turn like a school of fish when we need to. He points out that it seems to take a big slap to the face first. Pearl Harbor was one such slap, resulting in unprecedented shifts of behavior, personal sacrifice, and mobilization of effort and ingenuity society-wide. Sputnik was another, launching the mind-blowing technological and logistical stretch that landed humans on the moon in the age of the slide rule. There’s precedent for major, coordinated human response to crisis.

We surely have some climate-related slaps coming our way which will test our species’ capacity for collective response. But what’s the survival value of pessimism?

The post Two weeks chock-full of passive house and living building! appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/two-weeks-chock-full-of-passive-house-and-living-building/feed/ 0 phius2015-party sam-at-phnw zack-eric-Living-Future-2015 skylar-with-wall-assembly
Loft Remodel Transforms Kitchen From Commercial to Cozy http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/loft-remodel-transforms-commercial-kitchen-into-cozy-kitchen-for-young-family/ http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/loft-remodel-transforms-commercial-kitchen-into-cozy-kitchen-for-young-family/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 22:20:51 +0000 http://hammerandhand.com/?p=6489 During the colorful century-long history of this Portland building, the space at the heart of our loft kitchen remodel has served many purposes, most recently as a commercial kitchen for alternative school students. Today, it is reborn as a hip residential kitchen for a young urban family. A couple years ago Hammer & Hand helped... Read more »

The post Loft Remodel Transforms Kitchen From Commercial to Cozy appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
During the colorful century-long history of this Portland building, the space at the heart of our loft kitchen remodel has served many purposes, most recently as a commercial kitchen for alternative school students. Today, it is reborn as a hip residential kitchen for a young urban family.

A couple years ago Hammer & Hand helped transform the second floor of this building into a comfortable, bright, modern loft. But for phasing reasons the kitchen was left in its “natural” state. Now it was the kitchen’s turn to shine, the final chapter of an exercise in recognizing and extracting raw potential from one of Portland’s odd, unconventional buildings.

(Learn more about the loft’s additional renovation phases here and here.) While the rest of the loft’s construction was underway, owners Traci and Wynn had been making due in the kitchen’s original, funky-commercial state. Isolated from the rest of the dwelling, partially torn up with open cabinets, and shrouded in a 30-year-old drop ceiling, this kitchen had humble beginnings.

Kitchen Remodel Before | Hammer & Hand PortlandBefore photos courtesy of Risa Boyer Architecture
Loft Kitchen Remodel, Portland Oregon | Hammer & Hand

Kitchen Remodel Before | Hammer & Hand

Portland Loft Kitchen Remodel | Hammer & HandPhotography by Jeff Amram

By the light of a flickering fluorescent light bulb, Traci and Wynn dreamed about what the kitchen could be: intimate, modern, and bright. A central place for their young family to gather. They brought on architect Risa Boyer to help them translate their vision into a workable plan and invited Hammer & Hand back to provide the muscle.

Risa saw the potential hiding within. Her first order of business was opening a window in the wall dividing the kitchen from the main living space, clearing sight lines and connecting the kitchen with the rest of the dwelling.

With marching orders from Risa, Hammer & Hand set to work gutting what was left of the kitchen. H&H Project Supervisor Kevin Guinn explained, “There was a drain in the floor that came out and some old floor sinks from the commercial setting. The challenge was to convert it from a commercial kitchen to a residential one.”

A fresh start was in order. We removed the industrial drain, scraped up multiple layers of linoleum, then patched and refinished the original fir floors hiding beneath. The ancient drop ceiling tiles had to go and we framed in a new, higher ceiling and lit the room to modern standards.

Cabinets in Portland Loft Kitchen Remodel | Hammer & Hand

Benjamin Klebba from Phloem Studio created the custom walnut cabinets. “The client was looking to do something pretty minimal, so the wood became a really strong element—the cabinet above the range, the cabinets wrapping around—so we oriented the grain in that direction,” Risa says. Risa capped the cabinets with matte stainless steel countertops to show industrial’s softer side.

Loft Kitchen Remodel Before | Hammer & Hand

 

Built-In Seating in Loft Kitchen Remodel | Hammer & Hand

The team designed built-in storage and strategically placed bookshelves to protect items—namely, the family cookbook collection—from the inquisitive hands of the owners’ toddler.

The new banquette that wraps around the corner became an instant hit with the family. “The banquette has turned out to be one of the favorite parts because it gives us an intimate space to eat our daily meals together as a family,” Traci says. Risa included a brick accent wall as a nod to the clients’ experience living in New York, a factor that also influenced much of the light industrial aesthetic.

Cabinets and Countertop in Loft Kitchen Remodel | Hammer & HandOne special request from the client was a better solution for drying reused plastic bags. Tired of their janky old clip-on device, Traci tasked the design team with finding something slick. The answer was a custom installation of stainless steel pegs lining the wall.

Traci is thrilled with the results: “The bag hooks are definitely useful and genius on Risa’s part. [H&H Carpenter] Stephanie did a great job figuring out how to install them, too.”

Another special feature is lovingly referred to as “the magic corner.” This lower cabinet works like a double-jointed Lazy Susan that unfolds shelving from a deep corner, transforming what started as a storage dead zone into a graceful, maximized use of space with no bending, crouching, or blind grappling required.

With the kitchen completing the story of the loft’s new life, Wynn and Traci are content. “We still can’t believe this is our kitchen.”

The post Loft Remodel Transforms Kitchen From Commercial to Cozy appeared first on Hammer & Hand.

]]>
http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/loft-remodel-transforms-commercial-kitchen-into-cozy-kitchen-for-young-family/feed/ 0 loft-kitchen-remodel-before-05 loft-kitchen-remodel-05 loft-kitchen-remodel-before-02 Portland Loft Kitchen Remodel Cabinets in Portland Loft Kitchen Remodel loft-kitchen-before-01 Built-In Seating in Loft Kitchen Remodel Cabinets and Countertop in Loft Kitchen Remodel