Duo Dickinson
Duo Dickinson has been an architect for over 30 years and received over 30 awards. His work has been published in over 70 national publications. Mr. Dickinson’s latest book is Staying Put. He is the architecture critic for the New Haven Register, and writes for Design Bureau, A.B., New Haven Magazine, and his own blog, Saved By Design. He has taught at Yale, Roger Williams and Harvard GSD Summer Program. www

Unless you want to conserve water for reuse, guttering is a waste

Unless you want to conserve water for reuse, guttering is a waste

In many climates it makes a lot of sense to collect rainwater for use in either irrigation, or with proper monitoring, domestic use. But paying for gutters (usually made of LEED's disliked aluminum, petro-chemically created plastic, or ultra expensive copper)...

Insulating foundation walls below the frost line is a waste

Insulating foundation walls below the frost line is a waste

The soil below about 4 feet depth in most climates is at a constant 50 degree temperature — almost benign in its impact on heating or cooling. Conversely exposed concrete foundation walls are a true heat sink and either need...

Super-insulated windows almost never pay for themselves

Super-insulated windows almost never pay for themselves

Triple pane, argon-gas filled insulating glass with every coating imaginable easily doubles or triples the costs of standard windows that adhere to the Energy Code. All windows leak heat like sieves no matter how tightly they seal against the weather....

Wind generated electricity almost never recovers its cost

Wind generated electricity almost never recovers its cost

Here's a potentially controversial topic, but fundamentally Swamp Yankee Green: Wind generated electricity almost never recovers its cost. Wind at the velocities required for the durations required exists in even fewer locations than sunny and cold places. Keep that in...

Active solar heating approaches do not recover their costs in most of the climates

Active solar heating approaches do not recover their costs in most of the climates

A potentially contoversial Swamp Yankee Green topic is about solar. I firmly believe that "active” solar heating approaches do not recover their costs in most of the climates in the country. The sun is seldom out enough, and even at...

Recycled products almost always cost more, initially

Recycled products almost always cost more, initially

If you want to be truly Swamp Yankee Green, remember that salvage is not simply finding and plugging in — it's also transporting, processing, re-transporting and adapting to existing conditions. The reason first generation materials cost less is that there...

Just say no to 72 degrees

Just say no to 72 degrees

Comfort is not a number. No super sophisticated heating/cooling system can overcome your desire for a ridiculously consistent interior environment.

The building you save is almost always greener than its replacement

The building you save is almost always greener than its replacement

If you want to be Swamp Yankee Green, remember that a building in the hand trumps a conceptually “greener” replacement building because all the energy, material, site disruption that is already in place, embodied in the building that’s already there...

Wood windows and exterior doors

Wood windows and exterior doors

Wood windows and exterior doors always need more maintenance than coated units. Windows and doors are complex assemblages of pieces and parts and hardware, often with movable parts and at points where their ceasing to function can have disastrous results....

Flat roofs always need more maintenance than pitched roofs

Flat roofs always need more maintenance than pitched roofs

If you want to build Swamp Yankee Green then consider a pitched roof. Cheaper to build, cooler to the chic set, roofs without pitch have a harder time keeping water out of your house and limit the attic air cavity...

Is there a growing awareness of need to build green?

Is there a growing awareness of need to build green?

Question: Are homeowners and potential home buyers becoming more aware of the need for green home construction? Answer: Not in so many terms. No one asks for LEED ratings, zero waste construction or active solar anything.

Swamp Yankee Green: Solid surfaces are better than coated

Swamp Yankee Green: Solid surfaces are better than coated

To be Swamp Yankee Green, you'll need to find the most efficient products and materials for your home. One way to do this is to opt for solid surfaces versus coated ones. Because if a surface can be worn away, it will be by use and nature.

Swamp Yankee Green: Minimize air conditioning

Swamp Yankee Green: Minimize air conditioning

Want to be energy-efficient and Swamp Yankee Green? One trick is to minimize air conditioning. Windows high and low on more than one wall, venting skylights or attic fans, generous eave overhangs, screen porches — anything that promotes air flow...

Ceilings always suck heat

Ceilings always suck heat

You can have a minimal smattering of small windows, you can have an airlock for every outdoor entry, and you can have the most efficient HVAC heating plant made, but if your ceilings are not insulated, you are bringing the...

Windows always cost

Windows always cost

Windows will always add to the expense of operating a home. This is something to be aware of when trying to be as Swamp Yankee Green as possible. Even the most energy efficient windows made are a total heat sieve.

Less stuff is always better

Less stuff is always better

To create a Swamp Yankee Green home, opt for fewer light fixtures, fewer doors and windows and fewer bath fixtures. Of course it also costs less if you don't buy and install, use and maintain so many extras, but living...

More insulation is always good, but venting is always good too

More insulation is always good, but venting is always good too

Just like a down jacket, fluffy stuff around your bod holds the heat in. In hot climes, venting takes the heat out of your attic and lots of insulation in your ceiling keeps the cooled air from being warmed from above.

More HVAC zones are always good

More HVAC zones are always good

Microprocessors have turned the Rube Goldberg thermostat of the '50's into a little computer that can be programmed to respond to your use patterns — and the plants that heat and cool your air have much simpler and more effective ways to divide their energy distribution to each and every space in your house.

Eaves on roofs are always good

Eaves on roofs are always good

This is a continuing series by author and architect Duo Dickinson, as he shares common-sense thoughts on Swamp Yankee Green. Whether the sun beats on your siding and degrades it, or streams into your room in the summer and bakes...

Employ design that saves - less is not less if it's right

Employ design that saves - less is not less if it's right

Truly green homes are simpler, smaller and designed to fit. You can't be in two places at once, so rooms that can actually chew gum and walk at the same time, "rumpus", "family", "media" and "den" do not need to be exclusive relationships.

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