Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Q+A with Richard Renner, principal of Richard Renner Architects, on deep energy retrofits

From the May 2012 Bright-Minded Home column in Maine Home + Design:

Known for his expertise in green building, Richard Renner has been busy with two deep energy retrofits in Massachusetts—one full and one phased—both with the goal of increasing the energy efficiency of an existing home. We checked in with him to find out more about these projects.
Architect Rick Renner
Q: What’s the main difference between a phased and a full deep energy retrofit?
A: In a full retrofit, all the work is done at once, so the disruption is minimized and benefits accrue as soon as the work is complete. A phased retrofit unfolds over time, so it takes longer and is probably, in the aggregate, more expensive; however, it is more suited to a limited annual budget.
Before the retrofit
Q: What does each entail?
A: In the full retrofit we’re adding four inches of rigid foam to the roof and above-grade walls and basement and replacing all windows. The result is a complete upgrade of the exterior envelope making the home tight enough to require a heat recovery ventilator. The phased retrofit balances a desire for increased energy efficiency with the need for significant architectural changes, including a new kitchen and a master bedroom suite addition. So whenever we changed an exterior wall, we improved the envelope. Along the way we also added insulation to the roof, replaced all windows, and installed a heat recovery ventilator.

During the retrofit
Q: Are deep energy retrofits growing in demand?
A: Without some form of subsidy, it’s hard to see how full deep energy retrofits will be more than a niche market. It’s more likely that we will take the lessons from full retrofits and apply them in a phased way.
Completed deep energy retrofit
Learn more at rrennerarchitects.com.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Q+A with David Moser, principal designer at Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers

From the April 2012 Bright-Minded Home column in Maine Home + Deisgn:

David, youngest son of Thomas Moser, is the principal designer at the iconic 40-year-old Auburn furniture company with showrooms in Freeport and across the country. (Read profile of David Moser in Maine Home + Design by Rebecca Falzano.)

David Moser, photo courtesy Thos. Moser

Q: Describe your vision of sustainable furniture design.
A: We design our furniture to last as long as, if not longer than, it took the tree that made it to grow, and to be passed down through a family. I don’t design for fashion or timeliness, which ebbs and flows, but for timelessness—to create something that will survive my life and be just as current then as now. This seems to me the most basic form of sustainability. Products today often exhibit design obsolescence—they are made to break down within five years. Then you must buy another and another so in the end you consume and pay more than if you bought one table designed to last a lifetime.

Q: Is furniture art?
A: I don’t know that furniture ever really becomes art, but the process is artful. Art, for me, has no masters—it doesn’t owe anything to anybody. Design has a lot of different masters: economy, craft, utility. Still, looking at good design is like hearing music that satisfies the soul; you come into its harmony and are free for a moment.

Ellipse Dining Chairs in walnut, photo courtesy Thos. Moser

Q: What’s next?
A: The long-term plan is to build a showroom on the plot of land in downtown Freeport [currently featuring a Moser chair in a glass case]. I like to dream about what I would create for that space if I were an architect—glass and stone, natural materials, gardens, art. A place you go not only for the furniture, but just to visit. A reason to pull off the highway.

Share your comments here, and learn more at thosmoser.com.