I recently had the privilege of attending the Congress of New Urbanism’s (CNU) 25th annual conference in Seattle, WA. This was my first introduction to the concept of New Urbanism which I found to be a very interesting take on how cities are designed and planned. It really challenges some of the recent conventional wisdom of street design, transit plans, regional cooperation and sustainability by looking at our history and seeing how cities were put together before cars and modern technology came about. I’m excited to share more of what I learned about while at the conference over the weeks to come.
It is always valuable to study what we did in the past before making decisions for the future. I have written about how we kept cool before air conditioning, but this can easily be expanded to other building technologies. Take for instance an old single pane window with an R-Value of around R-1. Modern technology would recommend that you replace the window with a new double (R-2) or triple pane (R-3) window with a low-e coating (reduces heat from the sunshine) and a fancy frame with a thermal break. This is definitely a good choice, but if you’ve ever had a quote for new windows you can imagine that it is quite pricey. What if instead you dressed your single pane window with real outdoor shutters (not planks screwed to the exterior wall), blinds, shear and heavy curtains? Lots of variables here, but you could produce an R-Value around 10. That is almost as good as the typical residential wall of R-13.
This obviously isn’t a solution for all windows at all times. There are situations where you will want to look out your window (or why else have it), but curtains can be pulled at night or during unoccupied times during the day to save energy and money. For other situations (especially commercial), I am glad that we have the technology to get a more efficient double or triple plane window.
Reducing energy usage doesn’t always mean purchasing the most expensive new piece of technology. There are also many low to no cost improvements that can be made to most buildings that can start saving you money right away. If you are interesting in saving money on your building by saving energy, consider hiring us to complete a Small Business Energy Audit. We will review your building and provide you with options for saving money. Our goal is to provide an affordable service that a business can use to reduce their energy costs. We are happy to work with you to find a solution that fits your budget. If you own or manage a building and are interested in an audit, please contact us today.