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2030 Challenge

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jul 28, 2014 5:52:00 PM

WE WANTED TO DO A project that went the whole distance in every category,” notes builder Faren Dancer. “Santa Fe has adopted the 2030 challenge—which says we need to get to zero emissions in new homes by 2030. Our intention was to show that it can be achieved now.”

The Emerald Home, as Dancer calls this project, met that goal—attaining a HERS rating of 35 before adding PV panels. After the PV, the HERS Index dropped to -2. The home goes above and beyond on almost every level, with double-wall wood framed construction to prevent thermal bridging, Solatube daylighting in several rooms, site-made compressed earth blocks (CEBs) for interior walls, and salvaged wood for beams, cabinets, pantries, and even the ceilings in the media room. A geothermal radiant floor system combined with solar hot water provides heating, and a hybrid cooling system has 40 SEER of cooling capacity at only 580 watts. Tax credits from combined geothermal and solar systems paid $56,000 of the approximate $140,000 spent on those systems.

But Dancer understands that an appealing home design is essential to spreading the gospel of green.
“When I build, I want innovative techie aspects to integrate with the design—not make a statement,” he says. “I wanted a pueblo-style design, so that as you walk up to the house, it fits with local style. If you want see all the high-tech aspects, you have to look down on it from high above.”

Dancer also feels strongly that durability should play a bigger part in a home’s green pedigree. “I’d much rather put down a limestone floor that will last the life of the home than a bamboo floor that will need to be replaced in three years,” he says. The stone may cost more up front, but which is more green?”

The Emerald Home was built as an educational showcase home—not a custom house. As such, it makes few compromises in sustainability. Despite its large (4,150 square foot) size, it achieves its net-zero goal. In fact, Dancer helped write the local building code, including a clause that insists that homes over 8,000 square freet must be built net zero. The building also captures 100% of roof rainfall—storing it in three 1,700-gallon cisterns.

The builder is using the finished home to educate both the public and design professionals on how to build sustainably. He’s well aware that when building a larger than average home, taking steps to reduce the initial construction footprint are important, both for the planet and for his credibility.

“That’s why we used immense amounts of reclaimed and recycled materials in this house,” he says. “That’s one way to reduce the impacts of construction.”
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Topics: Geothermal Heating and Cooling, HERS, natural daylighting, salvaged materials

Builder's First New Green Home is LEED Platinum

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jul 25, 2014 3:32:47 PM

BRIAN MCCORMICK, OWNER OF MCCORMICK CARPENTRY, spent his career as a remodeler. When the chance to build a new home presented itself, he jumped. “I’ve learned that a lot of things I’ve been doing as a remodeler were green. And a lot of things that are green and we weren’t doing made sense in terms of resource savings and health.”

He claims he got the job to build this 4,059-square-foot home because he had just finished earning his NAHB Certified Green Builder designation. “We got the job because we were ‘green,’” he admits, but now that he stands behind his first house, which also happens to be a national award winner, it was clearly a perfect avenue to take. McCormick thinks that a team approach to the project is largely the key to its success. “The aspect of using an entire design team from the beginning—the architect, homeowner, contractor, and HERS rate—is what made this work.”

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Topics: LEED, 3500 to 4900 square feet

Second Life: A Residential Retrofit of a Row Home

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jul 25, 2014 2:50:38 PM

AS MANY GREEN EXPERTS will point out, the greenest home is an existing home that has been “saved” and turned into a high-performance unit - a residential retrofit. That was the case with this 1890s two-story row house outside Philadelphia.

The owners loved their home where they have lived for the past 35 years, and which is within walking and biking distance of work.

They wanted to update the house to reflect their Quaker values: unpretentious, earth friendly, and functional.

The modest addition they settled on added a spare 320 square feet. Attached to the kitchen, it incorporates a bedroom/study with storage, an accessible bathroom, laundry, and an entry from the urban garden.

The main part of the house was air sealed and insulated with spray foam in the basement and cellulose in the above-grade walls and roof. The team also replaced the older furnace with a 95% efficient unit.

According to David Closterman, builder and owner of DCI Enterprises, the project was unique from a reuse standpoint. “We focused on demolition, seeing if there were any usable materials. For example, we used the old roof sheathing and roofing for a temporary access path,” he notes.

The owners had salvaged brick for years in anticipation of the project. “A couple of times, I had to say to them, ‘Are you sure you want to reuse that?’” Closterman jokes. The team used floor joists to make trellises for the windows, reused pine flooring, and reused lumber for braces and batter boards. This frugal sensibility is part of the reason the project stayed within its budget.

“From a design standpoint, it was great to have engaged in reuse,” says Paul Thompson, a project architect. “We had to make it as much like a ship as possible so functionally it works great—but it doesn’t have a spare square foot of fat.”
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Topics: Residential Retrofit

Wolff Waters Place: Affordable Multi-Family Housing

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jul 24, 2014 1:11:41 PM

ASK CONSTRUCTION MANAGER Brian Peulicke what he thinks is most remarkable about 218-unit multifamily project Wolff Waters Place, and he’ll describe how it blends into its country club community where it is located. “I think as a whole it is beautiful. You would never think of it as affordable.” The units are one to four bedrooms, rent from about $400–$1,000, serving lower income families.
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Topics: LEED, water conservation, affordable housing, multi-family

Good Neighbor

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jul 11, 2014 3:35:53 PM

THIS SHOWCASE MODEL home sits in an eight-house infill neighborhood in Chevy Chase, Md., and blends well with the other new homes the company has built there as well as the surrounding established homes. Designed to let potential buyers see firsthand the latest green products, technologies, and building methods, the home is a fusion of Frank Lloyd Wright and Asian styles. Brad Beeson, director of marketing for the builder, Bethesda Bungalows, ticks off the certifications and relevant scores this house has garnered: “It’s LEED Platinum, NAHB Emerald, EPA Indoor AirPLUS, EPA Energy Star for Homes, and earned a 91 Walkscore.” As key, though, is that the house looks like a traditionally designed home, which is important to many consumers, who still equate a green home with a modern-looking structure. The design and building team was able to create this timeless look by choosing sustainable products that offer a traditional look. The roof is Enviroshake, which is a wood-look, 95% recycled product. The siding is LP Smartside engineered wood. Finishing the look is Lifespan FSC-certified Radiata Pine and a garage door with 88% recycled content by Overhead Garage Door. Beeson notes that while the design fits well with the neighborhood, the fact that it’s a hybrid of Bungalow and Asian styles makes it unique. “There’s a high level of craftsmanship in the interior, which you notice when you walk in. You don’t see a ‘green house,’ you see the detail.” Beeson attributes this to good design and detailed specs that ensured everything from the screen walls to the built-in banquette iwere executed perfectly. While the company is pleased with the certifications this home achieved, they believe they have been building houses of this quality before they attempted to get certified. “I think you could look at any of the houses in [the infill neighborhood] and they would have reached some level of certification as well,” Beeson says.
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Topics: LEED

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