Q and A with architects


The Times asks Island architects: What’s one thing you try to convince a client to do to make their home more environmentally friendly?“I would have to say a really good building envelope: good insulation, good windows. That’s the most important thing.

Also, a good heating system. They get more efficient every day. It’s a lot harder to change all your windows than to add solar panels or a more efficient heating system.” — Chuck Sullivan, Sullivan O’Connor Architects, Oak Bluffs”I think the most important aspect to environmentally friendly building, the most appropriate answer, is not to overbuild. Good architecture is not big architecture and proper design can create expansive use areas and a world of well-being within a small envelope. Smaller is better and extensive homes of many thousands of square feet are harder to justify. Then there is the respect for the solar environment and using south facing opportunities to collect energy from the sun in various ways from the most passive to the most active. Passive solar design, which directly captures the heat energy from the sun within your home is the most direct way to connect with the sun. A passive solar home is like a sailboat, powered by natural resources. It connects you to the beauty and potential of a sunny day in winter when the sun covers the world with white. Just controlling the orientation and the window allocation on a home can make a world of difference. Also, insulation: a responsible insulation installation will save a lot of money and energy for years to come and low density closed cell foam has a very good track record in preventing a drafty home that leaches heat out the cracks.” —James Weisman, Terrain Architects, Vineyard Haven”In my opinion, the single most important thing you can do is to invest in a well-insulated house that is as draft-free as possible with minimal north facing glazing. Equally important in a tight house is a proper ventilation system to control moisture and provide fresh air for occupants while minimizing heat loss through use of a heat exchanger. Heating a drafty and poorly insulated house is like trying to collect water in a leaky bucket. The savings on heating costs are quickly realized and the reduction your output of pollutants significant.” — Sam Sherman, Sam Sherman Associates LLC, Vineyard Haven

“Our designs grow from a deeply rooted understanding of the environmentalforces on a given site. Design solutions which respond to sun angles, winddirection, topography and native habitat lead to well-integrated andthoughtful architecture. A home design should evolve as a symbiotic dialoguebetween the natural world and the built environment.” — Peter Breese, Breese Architects, Vineyard Haven