Building The EVERGREEN, Part 2

Originally Published in the Winter Park Home Magazine: Issue 2, 2008:

Evergreen Framing and MasonryBuilding a GREEN home in Winter Park is possible today.  To do so, your architect and contractor need to change the way they do business and think about the structure and building process differently.  This article, Part Two, continues through the construction process of Building the EVERGREEN.  Building upon the demolition and masonry topics previously discussed, Part Two will explore the potential green components of framing through air conditioning.

For the framing stage of construction in The EVERGREEN, we made a few changes in the way our framers operated in order to reduce material use and the generation of waste.  To reduce materials we were able to space the wall studs further apart in non-load bearing sections of the home; consequently reducing materials by approximately 20% in those locations.  We also collected and stored all scrap lumber that was longer than one foot.  These scraps were used for blocking within walls and also to create areas for drywall attachments.  In addition, we tried to avoid ‘over-engineering’ during the building process.  Typically, framers will use more lumber than is necessary in walls or roof decking to be safe.  In our case, we verified with professional engineers to ensure that we were using the proper amounts of lumber to allow for a successful structure while not using excessive amounts.  As a result, this has reduced our material use, waste creation, and cost.

Two other GREEN building techniques were explored during the framing stage that we were unable to implement.  These included the use of salvaged or certified lumber.  We attempted to source salvaged lumber for use in certain sections of the home, but couldn’t locate enough material to make this feasible.  Since this wasn’t an option, we focused on certified lumber by attempting to purchase new lumber that was grown in forests managed with environmentally sustainable techniques.  The Forest Stewardship Council has developed an independent classification system that certifies forests managed with special techniques.  This lumber is recognized as “FSC Certified”.  Unfortunately there is not an active market in central Florida for FSC certified lumber, so it was prohibitively expensive to bring the material in.

Evergreen Roofing MaterialOnce we finished framing the home, we began installing the roofing system.  The Evergreen has a flat roof with only one quarter inch pitch per foot, therefore it was critical to find a durable product to provide a watertight seal and ensure the sustainability of the home.  We opted for a heat-welded white membrane for the roof.  This type of material helps to reflect the sun’s energy and reduce the cooling load on the home, while providing a long lasting roof surface.  The product comes with a 20 year manufacturer warranty.  We treated two sections of the roof differently, to allow for the creation of a green roof and a balcony/vegetable garden.  These parts of the roof allow us to grow plants on the roof membrane without affecting the durability of the surface.  These green roof sections help to keep the home cool and absorb/filter and collect rainwater.

After the Evergreen roof was completed, we applied a termite treatment called Boracare to all of the lumber near the concrete floor.  This type of treatment was used instead of traditional under-slab sprays for several reasons, most importantly because it is considered more environmentally friendly.  The product prevents termites from finding a food source in the home’s lumber and costs less than traditional treatments for termite prevention.  Next, we began work on the plumbing, electrical, and air conditioning work within The Evergreen.

Each of the subcontractors was excited about trying new products and a few of the ideas incorporated into the Evergreen even came from them.  We installed a solar water heating system on the roof that ties into a centrally located hot water tank.  This way, the water is heated efficiently and there is a shorter wait for hot water at each point of consumption.  Our electricians wired several smoke and carbon monoxide detectors into the home to help monitor indoor air quality.  They also teamed up with the plumbers to incorporate a leak-detector system that is monitored by an alarm company.  The leak-detector is capable of shutting off the home’s water supply if abnormal flows of water are detected.  This feature can improve the longevity of the home by preventing catastrophic water leaks.

We focused on energy efficiency and air quality with the air conditioning company.  They conducted a mid-point ‘smoke’ test to detect and eliminate leaks in the ductwork.  We also specified energy efficient equipment, a high efficiency filter, and a supplemental dehumidifier system.  Each of these components contributes to a more energy efficient home with improved indoor air quality.

We are making small changes at each phase of construction to create The EVERGREEN Home.  In each subsequent article I will write more about The EVERGREEN and the GREEN building techniques and products used during construction.  When remodeling or building in Winter Park, always ask your architect and contractor to incorporate green building techniques in your home.

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