Thursday, 4 July 2013




For the modern home owner, the pressure to implement green sustainable systems and source eco-friendly green products and services is overwhelming. Between the growing bodies of government regulations, public concern for environmental / green issues and rising expense of raw materials and energy, the grounds for owners to go for “Green” homes is compelling.

What we do
We demystify the understanding and implementation of Green Homes.

- Design and Architectural support - Green Building perspective 
- Construction, Project Management, “Green” Material Sourcing
- Solar Path Analysis – ensuring optimal use of the Sun in your home
- Fresh Air and ventilation planning  
- Water management - clean and adequate supply for years to come
- Energy Optimization – Energy planning - immediate and future needs

Plan and make a “Green” home within your budget without compromising on any of your Requirements / Comforts / Luxuries.
It all starts from the design – since ancient times we have always built keeping in mind the sun movement and the wind flow. Vaastu (without any religious connotation) is integral to all building designs.

Solutions to deal with the design
 - orientation and stilts, heat sinks etc.
More concepts and knowledge is pouring into the basin of Sustainability - which is fantastic for this critical science for sustaining 7 billion (and adding) inhabitants on mother earth. A lot of knowledge is relevant locally due to obvious geographical differences. Design has to be relevant to the times, the people, the purpose and the location.

“Sun-path analysis”
 forms the first step of planning a Green Building. An extensive computer-assisted analysis is made of how the sun will impact the proposed site/structure to enable planners/architects and Green Building professionals to harness the power and yet shield from the wrath of this magnificent power-generator. Ancient India was probably the first civilization to study this science.
No wonder Indians have the lowest rate of Vitamin D deficiency (thanks to abundant sunshine) we also have the lowest per capita incidences of Skin Cancer (thanks to our general distaste of sun-bathing)     

The green solution
Nature can hugely subsidize our comfort. Pre-cooling and free cooling are concepts that ensure lower dependence on energy to keep buildings cool. If one is able to keep a building cool by smart planning of design and materials – one can enjoy free-cooling. If one can use non-compressor based options such as air-washers, tunnel-coolers and any other non-conventional tool to cool buildings one would be less dependent on grid-generated energy and hence be Greener.   

 is a huge source of power consumption and lot of diligence is given to evolving the optimal solution. The gases used for cooling have to be eco-friendly, the choices of central vs. individual units has to be made based on local geography, usage patterns, technology choices have to be made with regards to the latest options available. This is an area which requires detailed SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)

Waste Management
This also is a very important element of Green Homes wherein all waste is suitably recycled/disposed off with minimal impact on the environment.

Water Management
 - concept of zero discharge building – 100% water recycling - Rain water harvesting and collection pits.

With a robust growth of global population and stress on fresh water reserves there is growing need to conserve water – Drinking water and water for washing/cleaning/watering plants etc.

100% water recycling and Zero discharge buildings have become a reality. Rainwater harvesting is critical since billions of liters of fresh water (mostly pumped from underground reserves) ends-up in waste drains and rivers going into oceans thus depleting the ground-water table. Collection pits are being created in urban areas and public parks to harvest it back to the ground-water table which has fallen to incredible depths in many parts of India. 

Conservation Features- Recycle, Reuse & Recharge 
The Mantra “reduce, recycle and reuse” is importantly addressed in Green Buildings for three basic requirements – Air, Water and Fire (energy source)

For “Air” the mantra is defined as enabling Green Buildings to have uninterrupted access to fresh / clean air inside the building while generating clean air in its vicinity (while being constructed or later when the building is being used by its occupants)   The idea is simply to innovatively use design, technology, construction practices and when occupied, sustainable practices to ensure fresh / clean air inside and outside the building.

Similarly for “Water” the mantra in Green Buildings is to have uninterrupted access to fresh / clean water inside the building while generating lowest possible levels of waste water. The waste water, if any, is used in the buildings vicinity for purposes of greening the areas inside and outside. Again, the idea is to innovatively use design, technology, construction practices and when occupied, sustainable practices to ensure fresh / clean water inside and outside the building. To lower dependence on the ground-water table and/or any other municipal source of water.

“Water” management in Green Buildings is critical. Green Buildings ensure that they have uninterrupted access to fresh / clean water for drinking and grey water for Bathrooms and facility management. While great attention to detail is given to ensure that the waste water generated is treated, reused and disposed-off judiciously. The waste water, if any, is used in the buildings’ vicinity for purposes of greening the areas inside and outside. Care is taken to ensure low dependence on the ground-water table and/or any other municipal source of water.

“Natural Light” is used extensively for lighting majority of the building during daylight hours. During non daylight-hours lighting is provided by low-consumption eco friendly lighting by LED lights, CFL bulbs, Solar generated power-backed lighting.



It looks like Leslie’s tips on starting your own edible garden have garnered some serious attention. In the April 2013 issue of Sunset, one of Leslie’s projects is featured as one of ten ways to get planting this spring



Sinker Cypress is one of the most stunning and beautiful woods that we at Arc Wood & Timbers have the honor to reclaim and custom mill for our clients. Its rich color ranges from deep honeycomb gold to dark olive green depending on the water regions where the logs are found. Sinker Cypress (also known as Deadhead Cypress, Heart Cypress, or River Recovered Cypress) describes harvested trees that sank as they floated down rivers in log rafts to the nearest sawmill
Historians estimate that anywhere from 10% to 20% of the logged virgin growth Bald Cypress trees met this watery fate. Most of the Sinker Cypress logs that we salvage from the southeastern region of North America have been under water for the past 80 to 130 years. Radiocarbon studies have dated Sinker Cypress logs as old as 30,000 years. These ancient logs likely blew down millenniums ago in gale force hurricanes. This incredible underwater preservation is a testament to the durability and resiliency of this unique lumber. The heartwood of Sinker Cypress contains Cypressene oil. The highest concentrations of Cypressene are found in the old growth Sinker Cypress logs. This oil creates a natural preservative making Sinker Cypress one of the most rot- and insect resistant woods in the world.
Cypress trees were girdled or “ringed” 1 year in advance of logging to drain the water and kill the tree on the stump. This would reduce the weight of the tree so that they would float down the rivers to the mill.
In the words of one of the river loggers we work with, “This stuff doesn’t grow on trees anymore.” And he’s absolutely right. The color and density of grain found in the heartwood of Sinker Cypress cannot be replicated from the younger 2nd or 3rd growth Bald Cypress trees currently harvested in the United States today. As Sinker Cypress logs lay on the swamp and riverbed floors, the wood fiber starts to absorb the minerals and tannins found in the surrounding water to create breathtaking colors. Muddy river bottoms can lend to hues of olive green, while sandy bottoms of water can result in deep, rich reds and golds. Sinker Cypress logs can have 40 to 50 growth rings per inch, creating an extremely dense grain. Many of these old-growth trees were 1,000 to 1,800 years old before they were harvested. This translates to an unparalleled stability in the wood and an appearance that is one-of-a-kind.
110’ long sinker cypress log milled for an Arc Wood & Timbers project in 2013.
Sinker Cypress is an excellent option for interior paneling and ceiling decking, as well as for exterior siding, soffit, trim, doors and windows. It can also be structurally graded for rafters, beam and post applications. The clear “select” grade of Sinker Cypress is ideal for contemporary modern home designs. The #1 or #2 Common grades, which can include knots and light peck, are suitable for more rustic, “mountain” style homes. Highlights of the Sinker Cypress include: • Deep, rich colors ranging from golden honeycomb to dark olive green resulting from underwater aging over the past century. • Clear Vertical Grain “select” grade material is ideal for contemporary modern home interiors and exteriors. • Rich in history and character.
Vertical Grain select boards at the mill highlighting the olive and golden hues found in Sinker Cypress.
A rare grade of Sinker Cypress, called Pecky Cypress, is caused by a fungus while the tree is still alive. This rare fungus acts as an artisan sculptor by producing narrow oval shaped carvings within the tree’s growth rings while it’s growing. When these Pecky Cypress logs are milled, the peck within the wood fiber creates naturally distressed looking lumber. The fungus disappears once the trees are harvested, leaving behind only its life’s work sculpted into the wood. Pecky Cypress produces paneling and ceiling decking for beautifully rustic interior finishes.
Pecky Cypress Wall Paneling
We are continually surprised and captivated by the beauty of this wood and how nature takes its course to preserve and enhance the character and color of Sinker Cypress over time. With every log that we split open, we never know exactly what we are going to find inside as far as grain & color. It’s like unwrapping a present not knowing what you are going to find inside. We find more often than not that our clients choose to finish their Sinker Cypress material with a clear stain or sealer to simply enhance the natural colors of the material. We hope you love Sinker Cypress as much as we do.
Sinker Cypress used for exterior shiplap siding for an Arc Wood & Timbers project in Hawaii.

A native to Northern California, Lance Karnan’s interest in wood started early while working as an apprentice on his Dad’s commercial and residential construction projects.  After graduating from the University of San Diego with a degree in business and marketing, he moved to San Francisco.  For the next 10 years, Lance worked for both Oracle Corporation and Exodus Communications in contract, sales and management roles.  In 2003, Lance left the high-tech world to travel.  During his year abroad, he committed to pursuing a livelihood he could be passionate about.   Lance wanted to grow a company that made something tangible that could be appreciated from the moment it was delivered to the client. When he returned home, he reunited with his close childhood friend David Ferst to rebuild Arc Wood & Timbers.  Lance continues to live in San Francisco with his wife Tammy and their son Luke.  Always on the lookout for rare and cool woods, Lance also enjoys skiing, golfing, mountain biking and paddle boarding.



Conceived by architect Milos Milivojevic for a public park in Serbia, this tree-like park folly cleverly supports a solar panel canopy with its sculptural trunk and branches.
The canopy is angled to take advantage of the optimum solar angle while also providing shade for its occupants seated on the wooden bench below. Solar energy from the canopy is used to power a raised black bar in the middle of the bench with flexible hanging cords, offering a place to recharge mobile phones and other multimedia devices while you relax and enjoy the view.

the 2030 challenge

Green Architecture’s New Goal: Affordable But Stylish Sustainability

The number of sustainable buildings has soared in the past years and along with it, the market in green-building products and services has increased to more than $12 billion today from around $7 billion in 2005.
The 2030 Challenge, proposed by New Mexico architect, Edward Mazria, is aiming to eliminate fossil-fuel-based energy use in all U.S. buildings by 2030. It may seem impossible, but Mazria says it can be achieved by building smaller houses that require less energy, Washington Posts reports.
Currently 25 percent of building-related greenhouse gas is produced on-site by fossil-fuel-burning furnaces and water heaters. The rest is produced off-site by the local utility that generates electricity.
Mazria says the majority of his initial 50 percent reduction of greenhouse emissions could be met by simply focusing on reducing the heating requirements for houses.
The first step is to reduce a house’s size.
Next would be to find greenhouse reductions in houses built before central heating and air conditioning. The basic building shapes underneath the embellishments offer practical responses to the local climate.
Mazria’s third recommendation is for houses to orientate the main living areas southward, so heat from the sunlight can be tapped during the day.
The final step would be to switch from conventional heating, cooling, and hot water equipment to those fueled by renewable sources, which can be costly.
Mazria acknowledges that some requirements may not be on par with 21st century comfort and aesthetic levels, and could be more expensive; posing a new challenge for many architects.
Norman Weinstein writes in the Christian Science Monitor:
 A beautiful green building requires a team effort to juggle the potentially conflicting values of utility, beauty, cost, durability, and sustainability. In a perfect world where the building owner has buckets of money, these values might only minimally clash, and the trade-offs between sustainability and aesthetics might be minor. For example, if you have enough money to install a hardwood floor for your home, you can use a green material such as bamboo (which takes seven years to mature compared with oak’s 120 years). But like other ecofriendly materials that possess an exotic beauty, the best ecological choice may well be costlier than the more commonly used oak.
While it remains a challenge for many green architects, Weinstein offers some examples of innovative designs for both residential and commercial use that integrates the best of both worlds. Two examples are a “quilted” sculptor’s studio-living in British Columbia, which integrates recycled material with new cedar, and Sanyo Corporation’s solar energy interactive museum.

green architecture

Green Architecture is a term used to describe economical, energy-saving, environmentally-friendly, sustainable development.

  Green architecture is becoming increasingly mainstream with the lots of eco-friendly architectural innovations and simple of-the-shelf construction products to help ‘green’ living.

  Green architecture seeks to minimize the negative environmental impact of buildings by enhancing efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy, and development space.

An eco-friendly space requires planning as much as commitment towards a better future

Principles of Green Architecture

EPrinciples of Green Architecture: Energy Efficiency

      design passive solar energy facilities use energy efficient appliances, solar panels and heat pump technology

      Use of computer sensor controlled energy saving devices; like automatic dimmers for lighting and occupancy sensors to adjust air-conditioning automatically

      centralise plumbing, insulate cold/hot water piping

      Using energy saving lighting like CFL

      Install Monitor Power Management Software

      Use of low power computers

Principles of Green Architecture: Water Conservation

      collect rainwater for external use i.e. garden/washing car

      use water conserving appliances including toilets, shower, taps, washing machine and dish washer  eg. Low flow faucets, water saving dual flush tanks

      reduce irrigation and surface water run-off

Principles of Green Architecture:  Low Environmental Impact

      include water permeable landscape features

      enhance native bush and create edible gardens

      establish home recycling bins and garden composting.

Principles of Green Architecture: Building Materials

      Certified Wood - Specify wood from certified sustainably managed forests.

      select low volatile organic compounds (VOC) and toxic-free paints, finishes and adhesives

      use materials that permit the building membrane to 'breathe'

      apply natural floor surfaces such as tile, timber and linoleum

      use sustainable solid timbers rather than processed composite sheet materials

      use inert gypsum-based wall and ceiling linings.

      Rapidly Renewable Materials such as straw, bamboo and some woods

Principles of Green Architecture: Sustainability

      think globally -act locally

      reduce CO2 production, ozone and resource depletion, rainforest destruction and erosion

      encourage environmentally-friendly technologies and sustainable solutions

Principles of Green Architecture: Waste Reduction

      select materials using recycled components

      design for re-use and recycling

      control and reduce waste and packaging

      reduce resource consumption.

Principles of Green Architecture: Health and Wellbeing

      meet the basic physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the occupants

      consider healthy lighting, colour and sound, controlled temperature and humidity and good indoor air quality to enhance the living environment

      reduce formaldehyde emissions and use pollution fighting indoor plants

      create an asthma aware home i.e. no fitted carpets, reduced ledges, low-allergen gardens

      apply an integrated wiring system for lighting, power, security, fire alarm and audio facilities

      design a safe and user-friendly space

Principles of Green ArchitectureEconomic Performance

      consider maintenance of the space plus initial 'running costs' pay-back period

      strive for a balance between ecological integrity and economic viability.

Principles of Green Architecture: Community Support

      use local resources, skills, labour, crafts and art

      consider local facilities and utilities


Points for a Green office

1. Open plan

2. Big atrium

3. Communal desks for multiple users

4. Terra cotta Floor tiles and fly ash bricks are eco-friendly

5. Clear, white walls, eco-paints

6. Large, well-insulated double glazed windows, with solar shades

7. Solar panels

8. Windmill

9. Low-energy computers



Eco-friendly buildings are the buzz in the world of sustainable energy. Architects are becoming one with certification programs such as LEED, which offers tools for those within the green building industry. LEED, an acronym for Leadership in Energy in Environmental Design, sets a standard for improving energy usage and lowering the carbon imprint, as well for innovation and design.
William J. Clinton Presidential Library – Little Rock Receiving a platinum certification, the highest level of recognition from LEED, The Clinton Library increased its previous recycling capacities, and began using the roof top garden for rainforest harvesting and indoor climate regulation. The increased recycling capacities were accomplished by utilizing recycled paper, metal and glass products, as well as the usage of eco-friendly light bulbs.
On a daily basis environmentally friendly cleaning products, and low VOC content maintenance products are used. The Clinton Foundation implemented several initiatives for water savings and energy conservation in the Clinton Library park grounds.
Bank of America, New YorkOne strong consideration for the B of A building was the design/development of the superior ventilation system resulting in a reduction of airborne contaminants. It is estimated that this alone will result in 10% to 15% productivity gains, as it lessens time lost to employee illness due to indoor air pollution.
Although not a favorite with PETA, the lobby walls are lined with recycled leather hides, floors are bamboo finished, and various additional recycled amenities add to the ambiance. The heart of the building is, of course, behind the scenes with heating coming from a gas fired turbine and air condition receiving a boost from massive amounts of on-site produced ice.
In addition, a feature that collects rainwater and collects potable water is in place, saving over ten million gallons of fresh water per year. Solar panels are standard fare, and add to the high standards this building set for sustainable commercial construction.