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December 15, 2015

Architecturally Adventurous

An Blog Post by Holly Butler, AIA NCARB

Welcome to my new blog, Architecturally Adventurous! Here you will find meditations, musings, and useful info on items relating to residential architecture, green homes, and energy efficiency.

But before we dive into design, a bit about me: Holly Butler, a mid-thirties registered architect and mother of one small boy, living in rural South East Iowa. I hold a Master of Architecture I from Tulane University in New Orleans. I worked at Prairie Architects, Inc. as Project Manager during the aughts then stepped back from the office world to have kids. For the last five years I have served as Construction Manager for the Greater Fairfield Area Habitat for Humanity, an opportunity which allowed me to explore affordable and energy efficient design and construction methods while still spending a lot of time with my son. I love to travel and read novels, and I have taught yoga at various studios in town for the last six years.  

My passion lies in designing extremely energy efficient and beautiful homes.  I love the challenge and puzzle-like nature of combining basic construction and insulation configurations in different ways to form an elegant, livable whole.  Anyone can build a house, but how does one make that house a home;  a healthy, beautiful, efficient place for a family to live and grow and love?  What goes into a house to make it feel warm and inviting?  How do you keep costs in check and make that home affordable without losing its soul?  And how do you ensure that the house will function properly as a unit, serving to keep the rain out and the heat in without harboring mold or other harmful contaminants?  The ability to combine all of those disparate elements is what sets the architect apart from the contractor and home designer, and it is the lifeblood of this blog.

My company, HDLB Architecture and Design, is devoted to finding the sweet spot of the conundrum that is a "home."  But what good is a lovely home if one can't afford to heat it in the winter, or if the materials used to construct the home make the family living there sick?  Here is where building codes and standards come into play.  I highly recommend and design to the tenants of the Environmental Protection Agencies Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) Program.  ZERH provides a clear, accessible path to ensure indoor air quality, water conservation, and an adequate thermal envelope.  One of the main advantages of this program over other popular green ratings is that it is quick and inexpensive to certify, which makes it more likely to be used by the general public.

Over the coming weeks, this blog will be diving more deeply into examining ZERH and green design components including super insulated walls and window selection.  I hope you come along for the ride, keep your mind open to new possibilities, and have fun exploring the wide world of architecture with me!

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