Category Archives: Green Tips

How To Cool Your Home For FREE!


People who don’t live in San Luis Obispo think that our Summers are always 75 degrees and sunny. While this is mostly true (muahaha), there are occasional days where temperatures soar past 90 degrees and sometimes 100 degrees. If you are a SLO resident you know exactly what I mean, because last week was treacherous, with highs peaking near 104 degrees. For most people this isn’t a problem if you’re at work or school. Most commercial buildings use large air conditioning systems to keep us fresh and cool. The challenge is always staying cool when we are at home without someone cooling our spaces for us. Some of the smallest mistakes can cause you to overheat your home to an undesirable temperature, resulting you to run to the nearest Fro-Yo and indulge on their newest tart (not a bad way to go). In this article I will teach you some basics to passively maximize the coolth in your home without using any mechanical systems. Think of all the Fro-Yo you can buy with all the money you will save!

1. Prep Work: Reduce Your Loads

Reducing your loads is the first and most important step before adjusting other factors. Surprisingly, all your small gadgets and doo-dads are always using electricity and generating heat whether you are using them or not. These are your phantom-loads. Secondly, try and reduce the amount of electric lighting you use in the daytime since they are another source of heat. Incandescent light bulbs emit 90% heat and only 10% light. Your eyes will automatically adjust to a lower light level and this way you are cutting another source of heat. Lastly, tasks like ironing, cooking, and laundry should be done during cooler parts of the day to reduce the amount of heat generated when the temperature is at its peak.

2. Maximizing The Efficiency Of Your Home

Now that you have reduced as many loads in your home as possible, we can begin work on your home itself. The general idea is to reflect the heat during the hot afternoons, and cool your home in the evenings. When you wake up in the morning shut all your blinds, close your windows and cover up any other areas that receive direct solar gain. By closing up your openings you will kick out the hot sunlight and maintain cooler temperatures inside. In contrast, having your windows wide open will soak up tons of heat and capture it inside making your home feel hotter than it is outside.

Once the sun starts to set and the temperature get cooler it is safe to open up your home again. In the evening your goal should be to flush out all the heat from your home and cool the inside. Opening multiple windows on different sides of your house will create cross ventilation, and opening high and low windows will create stack ventilation; both methods are acceptable to flush heat from your home.

By following these methods you are using your home’s thermal mass to it’s advantage. This is the most environmental and economic way to cool your home in the summer. To go even further with passive strategies consider upgrading some essential parts of your home as a long term investment. Some general tips are to re-insulate the walls and roof of your home, upgrade to energy efficient appliances, sealing all your leaky window and door joints, and replacing your old windows with energy efficient double or triple pane glazing with low-e coatings.

Thanks for reading and stay cool!

+ M. Farid Shahid
Photo Credit:

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Evolution of Small Spaces

After spending two weeks in Europe, and living the small apartment lifestyle, I have concluded that the recent movement in American cities of small, efficiently-sized apartments is a great progression for the our society. From New York City to San Francisco, American cities are passing laws allowing smaller sized apartments to pass code in urban settings. This movement is allowing the re-urbanization of our many cities to take place at a more sustainable level. Studio apartments and single occupant efficiency units have been creatively designed by today’s architects to reinvent the use of space for things such as storage, sleeping, and entertaining. Convertible built-in furniture sets are also being designed and purchased from coast-to-coast. These are low-cost, affordable, and sustainable options in order to accommodate the growing migration of Americans to cities – which globally is estimated to lead to 7-out-of-10 people living in cities by 2050.

What this ultimately means is that architects need to continue to be thoughtful in their attempt to redesign apartment buildings in cities across the US. ConsciousBuild has been dedicated to this movement for many years now, and more of our clients are asking for these spaces. What is more impressive is that clients that are not in large metropolitan cities are asking for innovative solutions to their spatial problems, too. Homes in San Luis Obispo do not need to sprawl just because there is more land available – and more and more clients understand this! Sustainability means also looking at leaving the undisturbed land alone!

Contact ConsciousBuild today to get a low-cost design done for your existing, new or remodeled home. We can give you the design and set you up with the construction team today.


+ Andrew C. Goodwin

Small Apartments


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Biking To Work

How do you feel when you walk into work every morning? If you answered sluggish and grouchy, consider commuting to work via bicycle. I personally have been doing this about 3 to 5 days per week and it has made a significant impact on my day. My typical round trip commute to work is about four miles with many steep hills. By the time I arrive to work my blood is pumping and my sweat glands are crying.

The journey is so much more meaningful than being boxed inside a metal caged automobile. The slower pace and openness allows me to appreciate the city and its architecture while enjoying the cool morning breeze. I get to wave hello to gardeners, runners (& their dogs), and other fellow bicyclists. You can never end a bike ride with a frown on your face, unless you had fallen or gotten a flat tire.

Lastly, I want to share with you the huge financial benefits of biking to work. Since I made the switch I have only been using my car on the weekends. I found a great online tool that calculates how much money you can save by biking. Here are my numbers – they may be similar to yours!

Monthly Savings: $106.20

Annual Savings: $1274.40

Annual Greenhouse Gases NOT emitted: 295 lbs

+ M. Farid Shahid
Photo Courtesy Of:
Bike Savings Calculator:


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The Importance of Local Produce

We are fortunate enough here at ConsciousBuild to be able to work right in the middle of Downtown, San Luis Obispo. Every Thursday evening from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm our Downtown hosts an incredible farmer’s market. It occurs every week – year round, unless it is raining. Calling it a farmer’s market is probably doing them injustice, because it is so much more than a market. Every few blocks there are bands and performers playing, there are dozens of restaurants catering their best foods, many local businesses and organizations sharing their products and ideas with you, and to top it all off there are countless booths of local farmers selling fruits, vegetables, nuts, and more!

Here at the Central Coast we truly pride ourselves in local produce and local business. Lets go over two reasons why local produce is so vital in a community.

1. Local produce is fresher and more nutritious. When your produce doesn’t have to travel halfway across the country, farmers can select items based on flavor, not just shelf life. Also, many products at the farmer’s market don’t contain pesticides and preservatives for this very reason.

2. Local produce helps keep dollars in our community. I recently met a Cal Poly student studying agriculture while working at a local farm. Combining farm work and studying books was tough for him, but because of his job he was able to pay for most of his college education. When you buy from local businesses you help create and maintain jobs for those who live here.

Next time you are making your grocery list, skip that stressful drive to the grocery store. Instead, come relax at the Farmer’s Market and grab a bite to eat and all your produce, all while listening to some local jams.

+ M. Farid Shahid



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