Blanco County News
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Built Green Features
Part 1 of 2
Paragon C&D Builders / Vallone Real Estate
Wednesday, October 1, 2008 • Posted September 30, 2008 10:00 PM

The following is a list of a few of the "green" features and building practices promoted in the Built Green program:

  • Energy Efficiency (part 1)
  • Indoor Air Quality (part 1)
  • Conserving Natural Resources (part 2)
  • Water Quality (part 2)

Energy Efficiency

1) Advanced Framing/Extra Insulation:Advanced framing is a technique used by builders help reduce construction costs and increase energy savings. On average, advanced framing uses 30% less lumber, takes less time to construct, and costs less to build because the reduced use of lumber more than offsets the additional cost of extra insulation. Construction cost savings is estimated at $0.29 per square foot of wall area. Total savings for this measure alone are 2 to 4% of total energy use. This cost varies, based on material cost.

2) High Efficiency Water Heater:Locating the hot water heater near the point of highest use will minimize pipeline energy loss. Typically, the point of highest demand is the shower. Another strategy designed to increase efficiency is to insulate hot and cold water pipes within 3 feet of the hot water heater. This measure reduces standby heat loss from the water tank. The tank continuously heats the piping and the water in it even when no water is being used. The pipes act as "cooling rods." Insulating them reduces the rate of heat loss. In addition, choosing a high efficiency water heater can save energy and water.

3) Efficient Household Appliances:Built Green homes feature appliances that are as energy efficient as possible. The reduced costs associated with operating energy efficient appliances offset any higher initial costs of purchasing the appliances. Builders are encouraged to use appliances that have "Energy Guide" or Energy Star® labels to insure that they meet energy efficient criteria.

4) Air Sealing:Advanced caulking is part of the airtight drywall approach (ADA) for framed structures, which is an advanced sealing package that goes beyond basic practice. Specifically, caulk or gasket drywall is installed on exterior walls at the top and bottom plates, windows and doorframes. Caulk or gasket drywall is used on interior walls at intersections with exterior ceilings. Caulk or gasket drywall is used at electrical, plumbing or mechanical penetrations in the drywall.

Indoor Air Quality

1) Carpet: Using low-pile or less allergen-attracting carpet and pad can greatly improve indoor air quality. Installing carpeting by tacking rather than using glue also reduces air pollutants. There are also natural fiber carpets available such as jute, sisal and wool that many builders offer to improve air quality. Many Built Green homes feature plans that reduce the amount of carpeting and use alternate flooring made from sustainably harvested wood, bamboo or stained concrete.

2) Paints:Many Built Green homes use low-VOC and low-toxic interior paints and finishes to reduce toxins ordinarily associated with other paints. Using these types of paints helps to improve the overall indoor air quality of the home.

3) Ventilation : Greater air tightness creates a need for mechanical ventilation to avoid potential indoor air quality problems. Balanced or slightly positive ventilation keeps outdoor pollutants from being drawn into the house, prevents backdrafting or spillage from combustion appliances (due to under-pressurization), and prevents moisture migration into structural cavities (due to over-pressurization). Ventilation can be provided by quiet fans with automatic controls or by heat recovery ventilators. In a balanced system, air brought indoors by one fan is exhausted outdoors at the same rate by another fan. In a slightly positive system, air brought indoors is exhausted outdoors at a slightly slower rate. It is important to avoid over-pressurizing the building, which will force moisture into and through walls and other structural cavities. To get a slightly positive air pressure you must adjust supply ventilation slightly higher than exhaust ventilation (if exhaust is provided). If you are not sure you can maintain a slightly positive pressure without over-pressurizing the building, it is best to seek a balanced pressurization.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week. If you have questions regarding this information see:

For additional Help, Information, or Services contact Debbie at (830) 833-4249 or . (If you want to read more about GREEN Building, drop us a note or call us).

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