Building The EVERGREEN, Part 3

Originally Published in the Winter Park Home Magazine: Issue 3, 2008

Building 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 builds upon the second issue about the building process of The EVERGREEN, by exploring work on the plumbing, electrical, air conditioning, and insulation within The Evergreen.  We were pleased to learn that our subcontractors continued to be excited about trying new products and building techniques.  A few of the green ideas incorporated into the Evergreen even originated from them.

To reduce water consumption and the energy used for water heating, we located a hot water tank in the center of the home.  This tank is tied to a solar water heating system on the roof that heats up to 80% of the water used in the home.  Since the tank is centrally located, there is a shorter wait for hot water at each point of consumption.  This reduces wasted water and improves the quality of life within the home.  Refer to “Building Green in Winter Park - Solar Water Heating” to learn more about solar water heating.  We are also installing a leak-detecting system into the home that is capable of shutting off the home’s water supply if abnormal flows of water are detected.  The system can also automatically inform the alarm monitoring company of the possibility of a leak.  This proactive feature can improve the longevity of the home by preventing catastrophic water leaks.

Stemming from a design that incorporates significant amounts of natural light, the electrical work within the home was completed like most other homes.  The primary electrical difference within the Evergreen included the use of different types of fixtures.  We installed recessed cans housings that are able to accept specialized compact fluorescent light bulbs.  These bulbs use less than 30% of the power of traditional incandescent bulbs and should last up to seven years before burning out.  We also specified decorative EnergyStar compliant light fixtures.  The low voltage electrician also installed several smoke and carbon monoxide detectors into the home to help monitor indoor air quality.  These detectors are centrally monitored and can help prevent serious threats to the home and occupants.

Our air conditioning company focused on energy efficiency and improved air quality to help make the Evergreen more green.  It is surprising to learn that most new installations of A/C ductwork leak 10-20% of their airflow to unintended locations (like the attic).  This duct leakage results in inefficiency and makes the system work harder to control the environment in the living spaces.  We conducted a ‘smoke’ test to detect and eliminate leaks in the ductwork at this stage of construction.  By pumping ‘smoke’ into the ductworks, we could visualize leakage out of the ducts and easily repair problems.  To further improve efficiency, we specified a high efficiency 16.5 SEER heat pump system and a supplemental dehumidification system.  We also incorporate fresh air into the home through the ducting system and installed a high efficiency air filter to improve indoor air quality.  Each of these components contributes to a more energy efficient home with improved indoor air quality.

After each of our trades completed their work within the home, we began insulating the structure.  We used expanding foam insulation in the wood framed walls (2nd story) and on the roof decking to create a ‘sealed’ attic.  This type of insulation and sealed attic space reduces the cooling load by around 30%.  Refer to the previous “Building Green in Winter Park – Insulation” article to learn more about this type of insulation.  We also filled the masonry walls with an expanding foam to help with energy efficiency and noise reduction.  Overall, the heavily insulated home improves the efficiency of the home and helps to reduce the cooling costs.

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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