Solar Design Courses for Architects and Engineers

We're constantly being asked by engineers, architects and general contractors to evaluate the potential for solar PV and solar thermal systems for residential, commercial and public projects.  There are a number of variables that need to be considered when work is being done in urban areas where the building mix is more diverse. There are zoning and historical considerations, and many different types of electrical and hot water equipment issues.

 

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Solar Design Courses for Architects and Engineers

A Win For Solar Energy Installations in Massachusetts

By Doug Hanna, Principal, S+H Construction, Inc.

A recent court decision should help increase the number of solar panels installed in the Commonwealth. Last month, the Massachusetts Superior Court issued a summary judgment that overruled part of a 2009 memorandum to wiring inspectors from the Massachusetts State Board of Electrical Examiners (BSEE). The BSEE memorandum stated that only companies controlled by master electricians were allowed to advertise or contract for solar photovoltaic (PV)  projects in the state. A few companies, including S + H Construction, had been cited by the BSEE as being in violation of this memorandum, had been issued summonses and were facing significant fines. These actions threatened to change the standard structure of many solar companies in Massachusetts.

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A Win For Solar Energy Installations in Massachusetts

The Radiance of Radiant Heating

By Doug Hanna, Principal, S+H Construction, Inc.  

Radiant heating heats objects like the furniture, the drapes, the dog, and you. We are big fans of radiant heat and have been installing both kinds, forced hot water and electric, since it became popular about 15-20 years ago.  In whole house renovations the walls and ceilings are exposed so the opportunity for installing radiant heating is easier and therefore less expensive.

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The Radiance of Radiant Heating

Geothermal Wells - - Drilling for Free Energy

Yes, you can drill for free energy in your own backyard, without fracking or contributing in the slightest to your carbon footprint, by sinking a geothermal well. This technology enables you to tap into the earth to provide heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.  Outdoor temperatures change with the seasons but below ground, they remain steady. About four feet below grade (in eastern Massachusetts), temperatures remain constant year-round, around 50 – 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  A geothermal system leverages this temperature differential by circulating water below ground in order to heat (or cool) it, relative to the surface temperature, in order to furnish virtually free energy. This energy can be used for heating, cooling or for hot water.

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Geothermal Wells - - Drilling for Free Energy

New Systems - - Old Radiators

Existing cast iron steam radiators can be easily reused in modern heating system upgrades. Sometimes richly detailed, these radiators are often part of the original design fabric, and homeowners want to retain them, just as they would for any original historical element in their home. In addition to their historic beauty, their greater mass enables them to hold and radiate heat for a longer time than conventional, modern finned copper pipe, thereby contributing to a steadier mean temperature.

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New Systems - - Old Radiators

Geothermal and Radiant Heat

Some projects particularly lend themselves to geothermal, due to other project factors. For this new, modern home construction, an existing 1950s ranch house was demolished. The excavation was extraordinarily deep because we encountered an underground stream, which had to be diverted. This house uses geothermal for both heating and cooling. There is radiant heat throughout the house, a great application in conjunction with the geothermal system.

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Geothermal and Radiant Heat

Modern Design, Smart Home

The owners of this European modern renovation wanted "smart home" functionality. A Crestron system was installed which controlled lighting, heating and cooling, media, security, and hidden blinds.  The blinds are completely invisible and built into the heads of the windows. This is a system we designed on-site. There is a very large generator in the back yard, which can keep the house running at full capacity during power outages. High efficiency boilers power the house as well as a snow-melt system for the driveway.  The house has radiant heat throughout.

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Modern Design, Smart Home