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TKA Published Article in Colorado Construction & Design Magazine - 2020 Fall Edition

We wanted to share with you our studio design publication in the 2020 Colorado Construction & Design Magazine. This feature project was designed with the AIA 2030 Commitment in mind.


In 2016, the Colorado Springs architecture firm of TK-Architecture, LLC accepted the challenge of AIA 2030 Commitment for designing toward net-zero energy efficiency facilities, reduced carbon footprint, and minimizing impacts on the natural environment. In the development of the firm’s sustainability action plan, it became a goal of TK-Architecture to design and occupy its own studio and office space that would be LEED-certified and net-zero capable as a model for the firm’s practice in sustainable design.

Nestled into a tranquil rural setting of Southern Colorado, surrounded by an array of desert and mountainous views, TK-Architecture’s new 2,372 square-foot office studio seeks to preserve and enhance the natural environment and unique visual character of the Colorado Front Range and integrate materials and colors that harmonize with predominant natural surroundings.

The challenge of creating a structure to meet net-zero energy standards is ambitious, but the TK-Architecture team has applied a hierarchy of strategies to achieve this goal. It began with low-cost interventions focused on selecting a viable site and correctly orienting the building to take advantage of passive solar energy. Roof overhangs and the patio trellis were designed according to the local sun angles to block out the direct sunlight during the summer months but to permit the winter sun to penetrate the full depth of the building. The concrete floor slabs and concrete masonry mass walls absorb the direct sunlight and store the heat energy within its thermal mass to be released into the space during the evening hours. The north walls are mass walls constructed of concrete masonry that shield from the cold north winds, but the south walls are made up of large glazed openings that invite the warmth of the sun and capture the mountainous views.

Next, minimal-cost initiatives were considered, such as a tighter, more insulated building envelope to reduce heat loss and take advantage of passive heating, cooling, and daylight strategies leading to reduced energy needs. The building envelope was optimized at 20% glazed openings / 80% opaque surfaces and every occupied space has operable windows to allow for natural ventilation. Folding doors open the studio working space to an outdoor patio to connect the studio indoors to the pristine Colorado mountain environment.

Active building systems were selected as complimentary components to the sustainable strategies already employed by the architectural design of the studio. The mechanical system is composed of hybrid radiant floor heating and an electric heat pump air delivery system that are both tied together through a closed-loop vertical well field. In addition, a solar thermal collector on the south facade will reduce the heating energy by 22% by providing warm air into the mechanical system through passive solar heating methods. The system will create a noticeable difference in energy savings and will achieve an energy usage intensity (EUI) of 36.2 kbtu/sf/year.

The studio will implement a Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) lighting control system that utilizes a Cat-VI cabling system to provide power and signal to the LED lighting and window shades. This “smart” system will automatically adjust the window shades and lighting levels based upon programming and daylighting levels present within the studio.

All components of the studio are electrical. No fossil fuel systems or equipment are used. The electrical system is designed to include pathways for accommodations of future green power components. Based on the potential for future implementation of photovoltaic panels on-site, the project has the potential of reaching a net-zero energy consumption balance with an annual usage of 25,000 kWh and will exceed a 40% higher efficiency than the ASHRAE 90.1-2010 baseline. Since the design studio will be located within a portion of Colorado that receives a high yield of solar energy, this makes a photovoltaic system the ideal renewable resource.

While this may sound like a grand commitment, it is a priority for TK-Architecture on giving future generations a better tomorrow. That involves providing a flexible workspace to encourage collaboration and teamwork in a comfortable and pleasant environment while minimizing impact and preserving the environment for the ages. It is quite fitting for the project to be named Collegatarius, a Latin term meaning “A legacy unto us all”.

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