Incorporating the principles of universal design as you build or renovate a home leads to a better quality of life now and also provides insurance against any future mobility issues you or other family members may face. But the benefits of universal design extend beyond your household by supporting sustainability and inclusiveness. The environment and your larger community reap the rewards too.
Parallel Goals: Sustainability and Universal Design
If you’re seeking a sustainable home, then you’re probably considering solar panels, energy-efficient insulation and eco-friendly materials, maybe even Net Zero Construction among other strategies (find our guide here). Here’s an important one to add to the short list: universal design.
There’s no denying that there is an increased cost of building a Net-Zero home. At Teass Warren Architects, we believe the payback more than justifies the initial investment. This is the third post in our Net-Zero series, addressing the question of costs. The final post will focus on how to recoup the costs, as well as measuring the performance of the house and systems.
During the design phase, we worked with a high performance building consultant to determine which strategies would not only be most effective, but also most cost effective. Options were evaluated by impact on the Home Energy Rating Score (HERS) Index as well as payback costs. The options were the bundled to assist in the decision making process. While some of the costs associated with upgrades was accurate (for example the solar panel), other cost estimates were significantly different due to to building during the COVID pandemic and general construction inflation. Read More
It’s an undeniable fact of life: We’re all getting older. So planning ahead for the inevitable is wise during any new construction or renovation. And it won’t break the bank, either. Admittedly, discussing issues of age and accessibility isn’t always comfortable. Yet, frank conversations early in the design process are key. Incorporating Universal Design for aging-in-place and anticipatory components will ensure that your home supports you and your loved ones, whatever the future may bring.
Aging in Place Doesn’t Equate to Geriatric
If the term “aging-in-place” conjures images of unsightly, institutional spaces, think again. Many universal design strategies can be embedded in new-build or renovation plans, without compromising the design (or impacting the budget). In fact, as you’ll see below, some have become hallmarks of modern, high-end design. Read More
In Part 1 of our Net Zero series, we defined “net zero” and delineated the advantages of taking the sustainable approach. This second post looks at Designing for Net Zero, using the thoughtful renovation of firm co-founder’s own Capitol Hill rowhouse as a case study. In designing or retrofitting a net-zero home, the goals are to maximize energy production and minimize energy consumption (check out our guide here: Your Very Good Home). We worked closely with a Jay Hall and Associates to perform an energy model to develop a solution for each side of the equation. The first steps are to estimate the home’s energy consumption and evaluate sustainable strategies for matching it. A cost-benefit analysis helps us identify the optimal set of improvements that minimize costs and maximize pay-back, while still getting us to the goal line. The ideal bundle looks a little different for each project.