Monday, April 26, 2010

Dynamic Buffer Zone

Lots of discussion happening about creating a Dynamic Buffer Zone on the south side of the house. A Dynamic Buffer Zone (or DBZ for those in the biz) is basically like a sunroom or conservatory on the exterior of the house. It would be a space only heated by the sun and passively ventilated. The advantage of a DBZ is that it can help create an ultra-efficient envelope even if your contractors are not particularly diligent about detailing. We have so little contractor experience with Passive House construction techniques and a DBZ is a way to help mitigate against a lack of experience. It also can create some very wonderful indoor/outdoor spaces with plants and lots of light. For a great example of DBZ in action check out BedZED.
Our limitation using a DBZ is that the lot is very tight and Scott wants a big balcony out to the south where his family and friends can eat meals and socialize. We also don't have a lot of floorspace available to lose on the inside of the house. As a bit of a compromise we've been working on design options that use a partial DBZ. See pictures below for what that could look like. This should create an interesting nook glazed area (a place to grow citrus and winter herbs) but doesn't make the balcony too small. It does create a slightly larger envelope, but we still think it should be an overall energy benefit with solar gain in winter, and good shading in summer from the large street trees. The challenge now is making it look good from the outside.

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