FEBRUARY 2017                                                     Like us on Facebook View our profile on LinkedIn

As a new year begins, we often like to reflect back on the past year. 2016 was an interesting one. LGA's staff worked together on charting a new 10-year vision. Inherent to us, our vision centers on creating places that inspire and educate. With renewed energy, we will contribute to a living future that creates a better world. Our primary focus in 2017 is to seamlessly re-invent our creative processes and leverage technology better to serve our clients and community.
Another major milestone was achieved last year - Lance Kirk and I officially became partners at LGA. I am truly appreciative to John Haddad and Craig Galati for putting trust in Lance and me. They have prepared us well for this role, and together with them, we are in a position to help guide our firm toward our vision.
The future is bright! As I look around the firm, I am amazed by the creative talent of LGA's next generation. The drive and contribution provided by our team gives me hope that we will exceed expectations! I am thankful to be part of such a wonderful group.
LGA is pleased to present this newest edition of SASS, and we look forward to a most exciting year!

-Jason Jorjorian  
Baby Announcement! Congratulations to our Marketing Director Brittany Bleak on the new addition to her family 

Cameron James Bleak 
9 lbs 6 oz  
21.5 inches  

Regenerative is defined as tending to restore to a better, higher or more worthy state. Regenerative design would, therefore, be a design that provides a project that not only is restorative for the world and the surrounding area but also for the occupants. As such, the design would have to include green and sustainable strategies but also go beyond those strategies.
In part 2 of this article I ended by indicating that a regenerative design would have to be carbon neutral. In order to restore the environmental damage caused by man releasing greenhouse gases (GHGs include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone) into the atmosphere a regenerative design needs to make up for all of the embodied or inherent carbon release that all of its components bring with them. The greenhouse gases (GHG) are normally expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents as carbon dioxide makes up approximately 50% of all GHGs released into the atmosphere by man. This includes the carbon release during harvesting of natural materials, during delivery of raw materials to the manufacturing plant, during manufacture, during delivery of product to the site and during the construction of the regenerative project. There are a number of calculators available to assist in calculating the embodied emissions in various construction types and materials. Some of these include: AggRegain, aspect, Build Carbon Neutral, Environment Agency Carbon Calculator, PAS 2050 Carbon Calculator for Stoneworks and the ICE Database. As manufacturers utilize less energy and more recycled product in their product, it is necessary to keep any database that calculates embodied energy up-to-date
In order to be truly regenerative and carbon neutral the design should also make up for the GHG release during the life of the design and the dismantling of the project at the end of life. This would include tenant improvements, renovations, additions, maintenance materials and cleaning materials.
One of the ways to assist in becoming carbon neutral is to be energy positive by producing more on-site clean energy than the design needs to sustain itself. Using solar, wind, hydro and geothermal sources to produce more energy than required and providing it back into the energy grid will assist in making up for the embodied energy within the project.
Other methods can be used to become carbon neutral. One would be to grow more trees on the site that could remove and store carbon from the atmosphere. Other methods could include the following:
  • Discourage the cutting down of old forest by using only wood products that are FSC certified.
  • Using less ornamental landscaping and utilizing food producing landscape such as fruit trees, nut trees and edible berry producing shrubs.
  • Using hydroponics to grow interior planting that produces vegetables (hydroponics uses 90 to 95% less water).
  • Using more recycled materials.
When you use recycled materials in a design, I consider the embodied energy to be the responsibility of the project from which they were salvaged, therefore reducing the embodied energy of the regenerative project. Finding recycled materials such as beams and windows is a matter of hard work, researching and finding the items you need.
I will continue to discuss regenerative design in Part 4 of this series. In Part 4 I will discuss water and biophilia

Originally from Canada, John Lansdell is a true architectural technologist with over 40 years of experience in the design and construction industry. John joined LGA in 2006 to fulfill his desire to work on specific projects of high integrity and sustainability and has since received his Master of Science in Green Building at the San Francisco Institute of Architecture

Why You Should Care About Solar Decathlon 
There I was - standing in the desert and staring at a 980-square-foot, solar-and-Tesla-powered, Alexa-controlled home of the future designed by a team at UNLV for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017. I opened the sliding gate, took a stroll around the house, and I tested out the flexible duct work in the height-adjustable kitchen counter (all seemed to be in working order). For a minute, I sat on the couch, admiring the casework design. I also made sure to check out the copper piping inside the mechanical room. Before I left, I watched the sky turn those magical colors as the sun set over the horizon.
Well, actually I changed the time of day by pressing a button...in virtual reality. 

In actual reality, the construction of this home is set to begin in March with the competition coming up in the fall. This competition will be hosted by the City of Denver and will be the 8th installment in its 15-year history - to put it in perspective, Solar Decathlon began before Facebook and iPhones became part of our lives. The Decathlon has been challenging students to design and build fully operational solar-powered homes to showcase innovation and market potential. Since 2002, the competitions have changed with time. (See table below.) In the beginning it was more of a technical competition, where teams attempted to solve the top issues of energy efficiency - refrigeration, hot water, lighting, and mobility. As the technology evolved, while these basic contests remained in the competition, more complex contests were added to the challenge. Students have since had to tackle the question of market viability, affordability, and were required to cook and entertain the jurors in the homes they built. Water, a topic equally as crucial as energy in the leading movement in sustainable design, has now been added to the latest competition. Now that the contests have become more complex, the weight for scoring has shifted towards the juried contests, in which industry experts review the design-thinking behind the completed home. 

* Gray boxes indicate juried contests (as opposed to measured contests).
* All contests are worth 100 points unless otherwise noted.

However, the one element in the competition that hasn't changed is the student ingenuity and the incredibly hands-on (sometimes hands-full) experience that develops out of the process. Teams begin by asking what-if questions, and they make plans to test these ideas. The 2017 UNLV team did just that. They envisioned a home in which people can comfortably, safely, and happily age in their residence without needing to move to an assisted-living facility when old age and diseases knock on their door. They wanted to be able to keep the seniors connected but overcome the challenges of using various new technologies. At one point, the talk about a voice-control user interface was just an idea; now they are working with Amazon's Alexa Team to control and automate every part of the home in an easy to use way. They also wanted to test a new way of presenting architectural design. In fact, one of the first things the team purchased was a VR headset in order to explore the new possibilities of virtual reality. Using the real-time rendering technology in VR, they were able to produce crisp renders and beautiful animations in a fraction of the time as traditional renders. Their workflow takes the raw Revit model and places it in a custom-built version of Unreal Engine, a video game platform. (See images) 
Back in the UNLV Foundation room, where the donors and community supporters gathered to experience the house in VR, I could hear excited comments as people made their way around the home, or as they sat down on a well-positioned chair for that fully immersive 4D experience. It is an incredible tool to show a client what it is like to be inside a space - not just simulated 3D, but actually having the ability to open doors, flip switches, or experience any interaction you can dream of - and all it takes is the necessary programming behind the scenes. Although the VR experience is but a small component of Team Vegas's overall challenge, it is highly applicable in the design industry, and the team already plans to commercialize their product and services to both local and regional design firms.

This is why I believe (and you should too) in Solar Decathlon: it is a great venue for students to put words into action,to test the theories and models in the real world, and learn to navigate the intricacies of human and resource management required to accomplish real world projects. To put it briefly, the student decathletes are tasked to imagine, plan and execute. From my personal experience working on the 2013 competition, I know we started out not knowing much, but we certainly did make the best plans we possibly could. When situations changed, we reacted and adapted the strategies. We reaped the rewards of our decisions, and we learned that tenacity and passion will lead you to success.
If this article sparks even a little interest in you, I strongly encourage you to plan a trip to Denver this fall. Experience first-hand the results of the 16 homes that the collegiate teams proposed for this year's competition. Go see the faces of the students who believe that they will make a difference in this world. In fact, it is your support that will help them make that difference. In each Solar Decathlon house, there are plenty of ideas and innovations to be discovered and inspired. The students are taking a big leap - the industry and community must pitch in and be part of this journey of discovery. 
Donate to Team Vegas online via:
Alexia Chen was the project manager for UNLV's entry in Solar Decathlon 2013. She is currently an advisor to Team Vegas competing in Solar Decathlon 2017.