I chose to analyze an old three-story row house in Clifton. It happens to be the place I am subleasing currently. Although I have not had too much time to spend in it, since I spend all of my time in studio, I have noticed some major problems in the design and implementation of the environmental systems. I will go through some of these environmental issues and how they relate or don t relate to the architecture and recommend an improvement. The House is in a moderate climate, which means that you have to consider adequate heating for the cold parts of winter and enough cooling for the dog days of summer also.
The orientation of the house was not considered at all for any environmental reasons. The narrow fa ade of the row house faces west, while the southern side is totally blocked from any sunlight by the adjacent row house. The shadow that is cast in between the buildings presents a few problems. One of them being no solar gain on the southern side of the house and the other is the walkway to the sidewalk takes so much longer for the ice and snow to melt than the sidewalks that are exposed to the sun.
My bedroom has two windows on the west side and a window on the south. The south widow does nothing except lose all the heat that the furnace is pumping and the west windows may allow for a little bit of solar gain but any energy that is stored in the room is quickly lost through the poorly sealed and glazed windows. There is absolutely no vegetation around my house, so it can t provide any protection from the cold northwesterly winds that blow right through the glass in my bedroom windows.
If my house were n the other side of the street, then the bedrooms would be shielded from the cold winter winds and the staircases in the back of the house would be the buffer. As I was saying earlier the south side is entirely in the shadow of the adjacent building, therefore the only real natural light is through a tiny skylight in the third floor living area. Once again though I feel that the other side of the street would have been a better orientation for my house, because the east side would have been the bedrooms instead of the staircases.
It would be idea to have the sun wake you up in the morning. On the subject of artificial light, or electrical light, it is pretty poor throughout the house, mainly the wiring. When you enter through the door on the first level, there is no light switch to turn on lights to navigate your way up the stairs. And the light switches that do work are sometimes very flaky; sometimes they work, and sometimes they don t.. It is a very old house with very old wiring. The best solution would be to totally rewire the whole house. The acoustics of the house aren t the best either.
My roommate who lives right above me can hear me talking on the telephone and vice versa. The sound travels directly through the ductwork. This could be solved with some sound dampening insulation in the ducts or a silencer. The main furnace for the whole house is right next to my bedroom and it makes it s presence known with it s rumbling of the wall every time it turns on. It is a forced air unit that works rather poorly mainly because of the placement of the supply and return vents. The return duct sucks out all of the warm air in my room.
I have slightly modified the system by covering up most of the return vent and that seemed to great increase the heat in the space. In conclusion I would have to say that my house was designed and built with only the rationale of fitting as much housing on either side of the street without any regard for environmental issues such as orientation on the site. There are many problems the major one is probably the heat loss and transfer of cold air through the rickety windows, but I guess that is what I get for living in the ghetto.