Sustainable Tips

Your energy use is very important.

Energy use affects your money, health and productivity. It can also be devastating to the environment.

Saving energy makes good business sense.

Most energy saving improvements pay for themselves in less than 2 years - A 50% return on your money after taxes!

Saving energy doesn't compromise comfort.

We once thought the best way to minimize energy use was to suffer; we were wrong! We can be comfortable during winter and summer. Using a well-balanced system of maximum energy-efficiency and flexible control, our comfort will improve and we'll save energy at the same time.

Control is as important as efficiency.

Control of energy-using devices provides a substantial opportunity to save-often greater than from efficiency alone. Taking greater control of lighting, cooling, heating, ventilation, dehumidification and shading equipment will allow you to optimally lower your use.

"The Earth's climate can be protected not at a cost but at a profit..." Amory Lovins 1998

Ventilation & Weather-stripping

Insulation and weather-stripping are not interchangeable.

For leaky homes or offices, weather-stripping can pay for itself in decreased energy bills 100 times faster than insulation.

Beware of conventional recommendations for insulation.

Consider weather-stripping, radiant barriers, landscaping, improved lighting-efficiency, improved control over lighting and cooling, as well as alternative methods used to control humidity first; these are more effective & often less expensive.

Power ventilating an attic always is a poor choice.

Properly designed, passively ventilated attics save more air conditioning energy.

But the best choice is cathedralized attic which has no ventilation at all and a has all of the insulation placed within inches of the roof.

Fundamental Design Problems

Misused crawl-spaces

The ground below your home is a good heat source in winter and a cooling source in summer. Yet, moisture passing through a crawl-space can damage a home. With proper treatment, however, humidity can be repelled, allowing for significant energy-savings.


Natural daylighting is greatly under-utilized.

Too much light can decrease productivity.

Task lighting improves productivity and decreases costs.

Today's fluorescent lamps use 1/5 the energy of incandescent lamps. Luminaire design has made major advances as well.

Modern fluorescent lamps are attractive, bright, very long-lasting, silent, cool, come in any color, healthy, safer for the environment, can be used wherever incandescent lamps are found, and inexpensive.

Ask to see such lamps .

Using energy efficient lighting can significantly decrease your energy bill.

Lighting is the key to lowering total commercial energy bills, and can be directly, or indirectly, responsible for savings of up to 50%. Residential lighting use can be directly, or indirectly, responsible for as much as 20% of your annual cooling bill.

Radiant Energy

Most of the heat a building must keep out comes from the sun.

This kind of direct heat gain is called radiant energy.

A well shaded home can easily have a 40% lower cooling bill.

A properly designed roof and wall-system can have the same effect.

Shade trees provide beauty and cooling.

The problems trees cause can be economically and effectively avoided. Ask about the leaf guards .

White roofs save energy and increase roof life.

Lightening a roof will make it last longer.

One such roof coating has impressive heat rejection properties. Ask to see the torch test and related demonstrations.

Radiant barriers can be applied within an attic.

When a new white roof is impractical, this solution can be used to lower attic temperatures by thirty degrees! Ask to see a few radiant barriers.


Humidity affects comfort more than temperature.

In fact, humidity contributes more to cooling AND heating energy use than temperature: with lower relative humidity, indoor comfort can be achieved at higher thermostat settings, which result in net energy savings. "Generally, for each 1F rise in thermostat setting, there is a 7% savings in cooling-costs."

Humidity is poorly treated by standard AC systems.

In most cases, they stop running exactly when the building reaches its highest relative humidity!

Humidity reduction works poorly most of the year.

Ducted AC systems are sized to handle the time of heaviest load & oversized units can't dehumidify well.

Careful sizing analyses can be seriously flawed.

These often do not consider the most cost-effective ways of decreasing energy use.

Alternative dehumidification technologies out-perform the most commonly used systems.

Chilled-water delivered cooling may be best. Whole-house fans, ceiling fans, room AC units and portable AC type dehumidifiers are good. For ducted, central AC systems, examine new, high-tech solutions like super-slow fan speeds, super-efficient AC type dehumidifiers, desiccant wheels, and heat-pipes. There are even passive, structural building-materials that can be effective dehumidifiers. Some are amazingly affordable & exceptionally cost-effective.

Take Charge of Your Comfort!

Humidity is not hard to measure.

With a normal thermometer take two temperature readings: one with a wet bulb [put wet paper on it first] and one with a dry bulb. Using a psychrometric chart, plot these values to read the relative humidity. Ask for a free copy or download it from our web-site.

How much does humidity affect YOUR comfort?

During the next few weeks, record dry and wet bulb temperatures using a pocket thermometer and notepad. Do this while inside, outside, at home, at work and away. Also, record the wind-speed and decide whether you are comfortable. Later use the psychrometric chart to record the relative humidity. Then try to set your thermostat where you live and work accordingly. Repeat in summer and winter.

Heating & Cooling Systems

There are superior alternatives to conventional air conditioning equipment.

Ducts are a problematic way to deliver air conditioning.

Water-cooled air-cooled compressors are 40% more efficient than conventional air conditioning equipment.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems, which take heat from or dump heat into the ground, are typically 50% more efficient than conventional systems--those that use the air instead.

In fact, they are so efficient that the EPA classifies them as a renewable energy source!


Myron Katz, PhD

On-site Consultations

We provide on-site visits for verbal recommendations and provide a checklist of potential concerns with possible solutions.

Energy Audits

We make extensive measurements on-site. We then input data into a computer and analyze and model the home's current energy-use. We then make recommendations to give you the most energy-savings per dollar spent and to get the house up to an Energy 3-Star home rating, or better. With an Energy 4-Star home rating, our report for improvements can be used to obtain a higher appraised value, an energy-efficient loan or mortgage, or both. An audit utilizes tools provided by ERHL certification: blower-door, direct system analysis, infiltration information, duct-leak testing and carbon monoxide detection.

Analysis for use of Geothermal Heat Pumps

We also advise on the appropriateness of geothermal heat-pumps, and other systems, and make recommendations most appropriate for your building.

Who Can Benefit?

Commercial building owners or tenants

Home owners

Real-estate agents


Decreasing your energy expenses will increase your NET INCOME more than increasing your gross income will. Utility bills are often 10 to 50% of a mortgage payment. An investment toward lowering your expenses is smarter than alternative capital improvements or paying-down your mortgage. In fact:

"Home value increases $20 for every $1 reduction in average annual utility bill." EPA, 1998.

Wisznia Associates

812 Perdido St, New Orleans, LA 70112

(504) 581-1948, FAX 581-1954

Architectural Services

Wisznia Associates is a design and development firm specializing in Architecture, Interiors, Landscapes, Ecology, Planning and Development. During 50 years of continuous practice, we have earned a reputation as an award-winning firm by collaborating with clients who share our passion for creating places that raise the human spirit through craftsmanship, design-sensitivity and a deep concern for our environment.

Integral to our services is environmental planning and energy consulting. Our staff strives to minimize the environmental impacts of our work during construction. Life-cycle costs are considered in all product, material and design decisions, as well.

The first non-animal exhibit at the Audubon Zoo, Earthlab's mission is environmental education. It houses exhibits relating to environmental solid-waste recycling, species survival and regional forestry. Connected to a newly renovated W.P.A. structure by a spectrum glass-block link, it remains sensitive to its historic neighbor, while updating the Zoo's material palette. The building features numerous green-design elements that are integral to the exhibitry: a geothermal HVAC system, recycled-content building materials and a radiant-barrier, vented roof-system. In conjunction with the exhibitry, Earthlab creates a model for thoughtful and entertaining environmental education.

The environmental benefit is the best story.

The overwhelming cause of environmental destruction is human energy-use. No action is more effective at ameliorating environmental decay than reducing energy consumption. In fact, reducing energy-use promotes a better economy, a better lifestyle and better health!

Informative Web Sites

  • Wisznia Associates

  • Energy Rated Homes of Louisiana
  • EnergyStar
  • Geothermal Heatpump Consortium
  • Florida Solar Energy Center
  • Green Construction Source
  • Rocky Mountain Institute
  • WaterFurnace
  • ClimateMaster
  • Allied Energy Systems
  • HeatPipe Technology
  • Therma-Stor Products
  • CargoCaire
  • Insulating Coatings Corporation
  • Gutter Topper
  • Lights of America
  • Sun Frost Refrigerator
  • "One glorious chain of love, of giving and receiving, unites all living things,

    All things exist in continuous reciprocal activity -- one for All, All for one.

    None has power, or means, for itself;

    each receives only in order to give, and gives in order to receive,

    and finds therein the fulfillment of the purpose of its existence."

    Samson Raphael Hirsch

    Energy Facts

    prepared for

    Earth Fest '99

    Audubon Zoo

    New Orleans

    March 20-21

    Compliments of:

    Wisznia Associates

    New Orleans Corpus Christi Santa Fe

    Sustainable Architecture