When designing a home it’s always a good idea to consider how important energy savings is to you. It’s also helpful to have a contractor or designer to guide you through the process; it could result in a greater expense to you to think of energy saving options after the project is complete or underway.
Designing a building well can also greatly reduce distribution requirements and offer tremendous potential savings in both first cost and operating costs. Houses with very well-insulated walls and high-performance windows, for example, may no longer require heat distribution at the exterior walls to provide comfort.
Short duct runs to the closest point in each room save a great deal of money and space, and reduce the potential for wasteful air leakage from the duct system (which should be sealed with duct mastic, not duct tape, at all joints).After reducing the loads that a mechanical system must meet, it’s important to size the system carefully to meet the remaining loads. An oversized system wastes money and materials initially and then operates wastefully, because heating and cooling equipment is at its most efficient when operating at full capacity.
Insulation is one of the most important components of any environmentally responsible building because it reduces energy consumption and the pollution that usually results. In this sense, any insulation material is a “green” product.
Spray Foam: Foamed-in-place insulation is sprayed into wall and ceiling cavities where it expands to produce insulation, providing high R-values (3.6 to 6.5 per inch) while effectively blocking air leakage. These products are applied using special equipment and must be done by licensed contractors. Closed-cell polyurethane (spray polyurethane foam or SPF) is typically installed at a density between 2.0 to 3.0 lbs. per cubic foot, and SPF is now manufactured with non-ozone-depleting HFC 245fa blowing agents. SPF is typically installed in a layer up to two inches thick (because foam curing is an exothermic process, thicker applications may result in excessive heat build-up), though additional layers can be applied after the first has cured; usually the cavity is not completely filled, leaving an air space. Mechanical, lighting, and plumbing all in conditioned space
Advanced framing techniques - Insulated Concrete Forms: Insulating concrete forms (ICFs) provide a labor-efficient means of making insulated poured-concrete walls, floors, and roof decks. ICFs are permanent forms—they aren't disassembled after the concrete has cured. Most of these products are made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam produced with a non-ozone-depleting blowing agent; several are made from a composite of wood waste or EPS beads and Portland cement. To protect against potential damage from wood-boring insects, some EPS foam used in ICFs contains borates, which are benign to humans and the environment; EPS is made with constituents that can have a significant negative impact on health and the environment, however, including benzene and the brominated fire retardant HBCD, a persistent, bio-accumulative toxin.
Tightness of a structure:
A tight house is an energy smart house. A tight house is much more energy efficient than a drafty one. There are several techniques and options to achieve this. One important one is the overall construction of the structure. It is crucial that all penetrations are adequately sealed to prevent air leakage.
Given the climate we live in, controlling humidity levels and air quality is something to consider. In fact, the tightness of the structure is one of the key factors involved in formulating a HERS rating (Home Energy Rating System). Most homes built in the U.S. before 1990 had a HERS rating at or greater than 250. Averill Builders is building homes with a HERS rating as low as 50. This is largely in part to how well the home is put together.
We are using high quality house wraps and underlayments for air and vapor barriers. We also use insulation applications that are sprayed in exterior walls and attics to ensure that every air gap is filled. Higher end windows that have better insulation properties and are thermally broken to keep the cool air in and the hot air out.
The other thing to consider; when building a home with good indoor air quality, is to be aware of paints, solvents, and chemicals that have high VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds). There are a variety of new paints, varnishes’ and adhesives that have low or no VOC’s. This will prevent the potential “off-gassing” effect that will occur with the wrong products.
Paints and coatings have their greatest effect on indoor air quality during and immediately after installation. The health hazard is particularly acute for installers. Most conventional products off-gas VOCs, and other chemicals that are added to enhance the performance or extend shelf life of the product.
Whole house filtration is another item to consider when designing a home with good indoor air quality in mind. No, I’m not talking about the thin see thru air filter that you buy at your local grocery or hardware store, I’m talking about a quality pleated Merv 8 or higher air conditioning filter. There are also filtration systems that are available within the air conditioning system as well. Good filtration is important for those with allergy issues, young children, and those who have the family pet in the house.
Water heating can account for 14% to 25%of your consummation of energy in your home. Providing energy-efficient hot water for these different uses can be accomplished using a variety of technologies. The most efficient fuel-fired water heaters include electronic-ignition gas-fired tankless or on-demand models, advanced combination space- and water-heating systems, and gas-fired condensing storage-tank type water heaters.
Energy Savings = Green
Green makes sense. Lower operating costs, health, and comfort all contribute to the demand for green-built homes. Several Federal and state agencies, along with many private lenders offer special financing incentives for buyers of environmentally-friendly homes.