Energy Efficiency & Building Green
With the growing awareness of the effects humans can have on the global environment, homeowners are becoming more interested in using green building techniques and technologies. As a NAHB certified green professional all our homes and additions employs the following key energy efficient-green building concepts:
• Energy efficient: windows, doors & insulation
• Energy efficient: mechanical equipment
• Energy efficient: site design
• Energy efficient: metrics
• Green building: sustainable & recycled materials
• Green building: healthy indoor air quality
• Green building: reduced water usage.
The advantages of building energy efficient, green homes are many including, reduced impact to the environment, reduce energy costs, and reduced home maintenance and operating costs, and a overall healthier more efficient home.
Energy Efficient: Windows, Doors & Insulation
Heating and cooling your home can account for 50 percent or more of your home’s energy use. Designing a air-tight home with a continuous thermal and moisture envelope is critical to energy efficiency and comfort. During the design phase we review window, door and insulation options so we can determine the best choice for your home. We offer a number of insulation options including spray foam, dense pack cellulose, and rigid insulation board. Our designs offer a variety of window and door styles and sizes all of which are Energy Star rated with a minimum of low-e argon glass. Blower door testing is standard on all our homes.
Energy Efficient: Equipment
Energy Star mechanical and electrical equipment, heating and cooling systems, water heaters, appliances, and light fixtures are standard on all our homes. Depending on availability, the location of the home, and what best serves the needs of the homeowner we can provide a variety of mechanical equipment options. Systems utilizing gas, propane, electric, solar, oil, heat pumps, air and ground (geothermal) are all available options in our homes. Depending on the specifics of the homes design and the homeowners requirements heating and/or cooling can include radiant flooring, baseboards, central air systems, or ductless mini split systems. With central air systems we do a duct blaster testing to measure and prevent duct air leakage. Lighting fixtures will include energy efficient CFL or LED bulbs. High efficiency water heaters, electric, gas, hybrid, and on demand options are available
Energy Efficient Green Design
Green building is not only about choosing what goes into the home, but is also about how the home integrates harmoniously with the natural environment. During the design phase we comprehensively look at the building lot to determine the best ways to site your home to maximize all the natural aspects of the land including topography, landscaping, sun and wind. With proper orientation and selection of windows we can maximize the use of natural ventilation and light, while minimizing heating and cooling costs. Use of skylights and light tubes can brighten interior rooms with natural light. Passive solar design can be incorporated by providing overhangs that shade the windows in summer when the sun is high and allow the sun to warm the building in winter when the sun is low.
Energy Efficient Metrics
Testing ensures that your homes performance meets the design goals and program requirements needed to be called an energy efficient green home. Out testing includes blower door tests, duct blaster test, and infra-red camera diagnostics. All our homes are modeled for energy efficiency, and inspected during construction in order to assign a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) score for the home.
Energy Star– Energy Star is a government program that identifies energy-efficient products and practices. Energy Star and the Massachusetts Residential New Construction Program grade homes with a HERS score to determine the homes overall energy efficiency. The average home has a HERS score of 100, Energy efficient homes will have a HERS score of 65 or less.
Blower Door Test – A blower door test puts the house under negative pressure to determine its relative air-tightness and to locate any points of air leakage. The blower door is a fan that exhausts air to a specific inside pressure, typically 50 pascals, the equivalent of 10 to 15 mph wind speed. The fan is positioned in an expandable frame that is sealed into an open door jamb. Used in conjunction with a smoke stick, a blower-door test allows us to actually see where air is leaking. Measuring air leakage with a blower door is a critical step for energy efficient homes.
Duct Blaster Test– Energy efficient homes that utilize central ductwork need to assure that the duct system is airtight. All joints in ductwork must be sealed to eliminate air leakage. A duct blaster test measures duct systems with a device that pressurizes the ductwork and determines air leakage by measuring pressure loss.
Infrared Test- An Infrared scan of the buildings walls, floors and ceilings can be used to detect insulation and air sealing problems so that they can be fixed while the house is still under construction.
Sustainable and Recycled Building Materials
Today’s building materials offer a wide range of sustainable and recycled products. Some of the many recycled products used in green building include:
• Cellulose and fiberglass insulation
• Plastic and composite decking
• Carpeting and floor finishes>
• Exterior siding and trim
• Gypsum board
• Engineered wood products
Many materials made from recycled products make excellent building materials and at the same time relieve the landfills from tons of waste that would have otherwise been thrown away.
Construction and demolition debris from our job sites are trucked to a local recycling plant. On average these plants reclaim 78% of waste diverting debris from landfills or incineration plants and redirect those recyclable, recovered resources back to the manufacturing process, creating a complete lifecycle for your building materials.
Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality can sometimes be overlooked in new construction. Unfortunately many of today’s building materials such as such as paints, stains, adhesives, plywood, carpets and many interior finishes and fabrics can emit VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) which can compromise indoor air quality. Our homes use only low or no VOC paints and adhesives. We use NAF (no added formaldehyde) plywood in our kitchen, bath, and build in cabinetry. Additionally our homes include a balanced ventilation system often employing an ERV or HRV (heat/energy recovery ventilator) to assure that the home is continually supplied with conditioned fresh air.
Reduce Water Usage
Some simple and effective ways for reducing water usage include using low-flow showerheads and toilets. More innovative concepts might be building a storage tank to hold captured rainwater for reuse in watering your garden or yard.