2014 Habitat for Humanity Builders Blitz Is Underway
June 5, 2014
Moving into the Evergreen: Green Living
March 19, 2011
Two Homes, One Week
June 19, 2014
Building The EVERGREEN, Part 1
February 26, 2011
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. We recently designed and began construction on a GREEN home and hope to showcase the feasibility of building green in Winter Park through the project. We are calling it The EVERGREEN Home. During the course of construction, I will write about the building process and how we tried to make each step along the way as GREEN as possible. In this article, I will discuss phases from the home design through framing.
The architecture and engineering of a home is the primary driver behind the energy efficiency and overall environmental impact of a home, so it is important to start planning for your GREEN home early. One of our first steps during the design was to work the home’s footprint around existing mature trees on the property. We designed the home around three mature trees and also installed tree protection fencing according to the new Winter Park Tree Protection ordinance. We selected a modern style of architecture, as this style lends itself to the use of fewer materials. Some additional design elements that are planned include the use of large windows and long overhangs to allow indirect natural light in; large flat roofing areas for future solar electricity generation; structural engineering to allow for live green roof plantings; and the central placement of air conditioning and water heating equipment to maximize their operational efficiency.
In Winter Park, the first stage of construction typically begins with the demolition process. If remodeling is not an option and a demolition must occur, there are steps you can take to reduce your impact upon the environment during the demolition. In our case, we made sure to salvage re-usable components of the structure – such as appliances, cabinets, plumbing fixtures, windows, doors, etc…. There is an active market for used materials out of homes like this from remodelers and rental property managers.
During the actual demolition, we separated and hauled debris away to different types of waste facilities (i.e. concrete to concrete recycler, metal to salvage company, etc…). We also reduced our overall waste by cutting the terrazzo flooring of the previous home into squares for the future home’s driveway and walkway. This material is stockpiled on the lot and will be re-used during the driveway installation for The EVERGREEN.
The concrete and masonry stages of construction initially proved difficult to make green. We were able to make a few changes however, that either reduced waste and material use or helped to extend the life of the building. We used concrete with fly-ash (this is common in our area), which helps to reduce the amount of waste in landfills. Fly-ash is a by-product of electricity generation from coal and instead of throwing it away in a landfill as waste, it is used as an additive to enhance the performance of concrete.
It is typical to have small quantities of leftover masonry material at new construction projects, but the cost to move the material from job to job is usually more expensive than simply ordering new material from a supplier. In our case, we paid for laborers to move leftover cinder block and material from another job to prevent the material from going to waste. This proved to be slightly more expensive than using newly delivered materials, but allowed us to add a GREEN aspect. Another building technique that we implemented will help to prevent water intrusion into the home. We accomplished this by simply raising the concrete slab above the first course of cinder block in the exterior walls. This creates a ‘block recess’ that will help to direct any water intrusion through the walls back to the outside – instead of onto the floor. We also recessed certain sections of the home to allow for smooth transitions between the floor heights (wood and concrete flooring). Doing this helps to reduce the amount of material used while laying the finish floors. Overall, the building techniques we used during the masonry and concrete stages of construction have helped to reduce the amount of waste in landfills and create a more durable structure that is able to withstand termites and water intrusion.
For the framing stage of construction in The EVERGREEN, we made a few changes in the way our framers operated to reduce material use and the generation of waste. We were able to space the wall studs further apart in non-load bearing sections of the home to reduce material use by approximately 20% in those walls. We also collected and stored all scrap lumber that was longer than one foot. We were able to use these scraps for blocking within walls and also to create areas for drywall to be attached to. So far, our material use and waste creation have been reduced and as a result, has reduced the costs during this stage of construction.
Two other areas that we explored as GREEN building techniques during the framing stage, but were unable to implement include 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. Since salvaged lumber wasn’t an option, we tried to purchase new lumber that was grown in forests managed with environmentally sustainable techniques. An independent classification system created by the Forest Stewardship Council certifies forests managed with special techniques and recognizes the lumber 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.
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.