Building Green

RISMEDIA, July 21, 2010—(MCT)

Recently some of you have asked me questions about “green” and energy efficient houses.  Yesterday I was delighted to meet someone who in the future will be very helpful to me in this area—Wendy Rogers an architect, member of USGBC “U.S. Green Building Council”, planner of green schools and one of Orange County’s Women to Watch. Visit USGBC’s website at http://www.usgbc.org

The Orlando Centennial recently had an article about building green and here are just a few facts to consider:

For new construction, to receive certification from the green building coalition, a home must be inspected by a green certifier and an energy rater.. The green certifier makes as many as 10 checks of the site and home before and during construction, checking for items such as site drainage and properly sealed plumbing pipes, doors and windows. The energy rater conducts a duct-blast test, blower-door test and thermal-envelope test to determine how airtight the home is.

For builders today, Fallman, owner of Fallman Design & Construction in Clermont, Fl says. “It’s so easy to do. It’s a great marketing angle. And it’s the right thing to do.”

Before starting construction, a builder can commission a solar-path study to track the angle of the sun in winter and summer. Using that information an architect can design a home that will be flooded with sunlight during the cooler months.  For the months when temperatures are high, Fallman designs shaded porches and balconies and extra-wide roof overhangs.  “It’s the single thing a builder can do to make a home more efficient without much more expense,” he says.

The Fallman home has a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score of 62 out of 100. The lower the score, the more energy-efficient the home. For a home to be Energy Star-rated, it must score 85 or lower.

At present, about 70% of the payback for building green is improved energy-efficiency, Fallman says. Spending $3,000-$5,000 on equipment upgrades and an additional $2,000-$3,000 on green construction will pay for itself in 5-10 years, he figures.

Certainly, better air-handling equipment cuts down on dust and indoor humidity; better insulation creates a quieter home; drip irrigation in the yard saves water.

Some of the Energy Efficient features Fallman incorporated for his Frlorida house are:  –

  • Fifty-year shingle roof with Icynene spray-foam insulation, which keeps cool air in, heat and dampness out; protects against dust and insects; and improves structural strength.
    -Concrete-block walls with rigid insulation on the first floor, and 2×6 frame with R-19 batt insulation on the second floor.
  • -Semi-air conditioned, 200-square-foot attic, which keeps ducts about 30 degrees cooler in the summer so the air-conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard.
  • -Low-E4 windows with tinted, high-performance glass and wood frames which don’t conduct heat.
    -Non-conductive fiberglass doors with insulated glass.
  • -Dual-compressor 20 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) air-conditioner and time able bathroom fans for humidity control.
  • -Two tank less gas water heaters.
  • Gas fireplace with electric ignition.
  • Windows at the top of the stairs to vent rising hot air and ceiling fans in many rooms.
  • -Energy-Star appliances, which use less energy.
  • -Compact fluorescent lighting.
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