I relish filling my lungs with Northwest air. I can taste how clean and different our air is from rest parts of the world every time I leave our region. The new summer smoke season makes me appreciate when I can really fill my lungs with the good stuff. Especially during COVID, air awareness has become a greater consideration in rooms and buildings; cross breezes are mapped to minimize sharing your breath with others and we anxiously take a deep breath of unmasked air as soon as we are in our safe zones.
And the summer smoke season really brought home (literally and figuratively) the importance clean air in our homes as the smoke particles found their way in through the tiny cracks and crevices in our walls and windows. What can you do to minimize your chances of breathing viral particles and standing smoke? There are many approaches, including:
- Attaching furnace filters to box fans.
- Window fans blowing outward to expel stale or polluted air.
- Avoid unconditioned spaces.
- Improve central air filtration.
- Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air WITH the right filtration (that is a whole science on it’s own!)
- Wear a mask, yes even in your home or vehicle.
- And, of course, air purifiers.
While it is easy to see when you need to dust or sweep, it’s a lot harder to see when your air needs cleaning. Air purifiers work by creating finer and finer filters. Purification can be improved by conducting a static electrical charge. Purification efficiency is measured in MERVs, a higher MERV rating means increased filtration from 1-16. Airborne viruses can be caught by any filter MERV 13 or greater.
Many of our design partners consider air quality in their design work and have seen an uptick in demand lately. One of them, Entero Design, has gone as far as to supply some great systems – such as one in which the air is filtered through a proprietary Coconut Carbon/Purafil media for a 99.26% efficiency, capturing particles of .3 microns and larger. The whisper quiet operation is Multi-Function, removing both gases and particles from air. Mighty House had one at our office that now (as that space is abandoned) is much appreciated at our home.
The New York Times Wirecutter article analyzed what they considered the Best Air Purifiers on the market.
Another option for more whole house ventilation and air cleaning is the Lunos HRV System. The system is composed of paired through-wall paired fan units with regenerative heat recovery cores. This captures heat from escaping air and puts it back into incoming air. These take a lot more forethought and finessing to install than a plug-in air purifier though also have a number of additional benefits too. Reach out to us to learn more.
I miss going into the office. Trapped at home, with my standing desk squeezed up against our dining table – there’s a lot I get to keep track of – between the dogs and the teens – and then again, there is A LOT to keep track of as well as hollering to keep it down for business calls/zoom meetings and just to think long enough to put two sentences together. Truthfully, it is often much better than that and yet when it’s not…. I really miss going into the office.
Home offices – wherever and however that is defined in your home — have been getting a workout these days. Some folks need the hustle and bustle to stay motivated, some need an ordered desk, a quieter space, a space to rock out in – the list is kinda endless. What is your ideal working space? Is there a shed you are dying to sequester to? A corner of the basement you want set for virtual schooling? Let’s talk about how we can make to make your spaces a better fit for all the extra time you and your family spends there. Give us a call to explore the options and check out some of the offices that we have worked on in this Instagram gallery.
Mighty House has barely missed a beat. We have been hard at work. Granted, not everything is moving forward at our usual pace, and yet this gives us a chance to share some of our experience getting things done under evolving COVID-19 conditions. All aspects of our work has been affected – both administratively and on-site. Rather than be dismayed and shut down by it, we innovate and find new ways to successfully do what we do. To start, we can fit less workers in a space (6 feet apart, people!). We are also seeing shipping slowdowns and warehouse shutdowns from COVID flareups around the country and less sales staff in warehouses, manufacturing, and showrooms often means slowed-down order processing. Never mind the increased precautions; hand washing stations, extra masks and PPE, distancing, and cleaning. One of our tricks is front load supplies for projects so that we don’t hit delays or product scarcity – it is cause for less space at Laura and Doug’s home, yet it keeps projects moving forward which means happy homeowners and staff.
Laura often talks about how flexibility and grace are key components of a successful remodel project… perhaps now more than ever.
Speaking of flexibility, you may have noticed that the NW Green Home Tour is going to be virtual this year. At Mighty House, we are embracing new technologies to bring out visitors a fantastic online tour that will display our work and the Green technologies that go into our projects. We are excited to present you an engaging and educational tour that will inspire your projects.
Something new and cool as well as important to know about is the City of Seattle’s new “Shaping Seattle” website. It is a map-based system that allows you to view permits, inspections, project status, and yes, even complaints for Seattle buildings projects. It is a great way to see if a permit has been granted or to check out the plans for the new DADU replacing the garage next door. And while much of this has been public information and accessible for a while, the new map-based system feels more accessible. And as such, even if your small project is a candidate for a permit and you’re thinking it’s barely worth bothering about, you might reconsider and prepare for the worst.
This new, mobile-first map allows users to find active construction, land use, and Design Review permits in their neighborhood. The new map will make it easier for you to research active permits, find related documents and permit records, and comment on land use permits under review.
April 23 & 30th
Co-Owner Laura Elfline will be teaming up with Roy Stark McGarrah at the Expo during the seminar session Building a Carbon Neutral Backyard Cottage to talk about how Living Shelter Architects and Mighty House Construction designed and built a beautiful, industry and media acclaimed carbon neutral DADU (Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit) in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood at 11 AM on Saturday, January 25 at Center Stage. Click here to register for the seminar.
And Laura will be back at 4 pm on Saturday with Dirk Wassink of Second Use Building Materials to tell you about incorporating salvage into your remodeling project with their talk: Salvage Simplified. Click here to register for the seminar.
The 20 by 2020 Challenge is a local campaign to promote the development of 20 Passive House or net zero energy projects of 20,000 square feet or larger in King County by the year 2020 next year! The good news is that Zero Net Carbon buildings can make economic sense today. Passive House construction is a cost-effective means to revolutionize building energy performance, particularly for larger buildings. Many of the pioneering Passive House buildings in the US have been affordable housing projects. By establishing an ambitious energy target and using science-based design and modeling, Passive House buildings reduce energy consumption by as much as 75%. Couple this with rooftop solar or a contract for green power, and you’ve got a Zero Net Carbon building.
The 20 by 2020 Building Challenge will provide “proof of concept” that Passive House can propel our shift to a carbon-sustainable future. Passive House is the world’s leading standard for energy efficient construction. It combines building enclosure efficiency and passive solar strategies in a system for designing and building cost effective, comfortable, energy efficient buildings.
The major components of a Passive House include:
- Super-insulated envelope
- Ultra-high-performance windows
- Airtight construction (0.6 air changes / hr at 50 Pascals)
- Eliminating or reducing thermal bridging
- Heat-recovery ventilation
- Using passive heat sources (solar of course, but also equipment, lighting, and occupants).
Learn more here!