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LEED Education Article - Clark and Dovre Residences
By Charlie Wickboldt, e2 Homes Summer Intern
LEED certification is a multi-step process that involves collaboration between many different stakeholders including the builder, owner, subcontractors, US Green Building Council, a third party inspector, and consultants. Because of this, the decision to pursue LEED is best made early. In an effort to provide the best product possible, communication is essential between an assortment of professionals from design to construction.
The goal of LEED is to provide a third party, non-biased assessment of construction practices in the hopes of creating a more environmentally friendly product. Within the certification system there are different tiers which indicate how sustainable a building was built. These tiers are divided by the number of credits received on a given project: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. A point-based system allows for an easy to use grading scale to judge building performance as well as its effect on the environment. Points are achieved over several different categories including, integrated design process, location and linkages, materials and resources, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, sustainable sites, indoor environmental quality, and regional innovation. Building green is not about any one of these categories, it is about seamlessly integrating all of them into single project.
Achieving LEED certification can be a bit overwhelming at first glance, because of the number of credits, categories they are divided into, and protocol required to be certified. This is why the earlier one decides to pursue LEED, the better. With help from consulting companies, certification can go from an abstract goal to an attainable possibility. Initially, it is important to create an integrated design team of committed individuals, meeting early and often. As pictured above, the e2 Homes team meets with the selected subcontractors for the Clark project. The meeting was held in the earliest stages of construction to give all involved subcontractors ample time to coordinate their respected requirements for LEED certification. The assembled crew represents plumbers, electricians, masons, framers, and more. It is important to incorporate different perspectives in all stages of construction to ensure all aspects of construction are done conscientiously.
As important as it is, creating an integrated and involved project team is just the tip of the green building iceberg that LEED encompasses. Another important aspect of building green is site stewardship, and preserving the natural resources that lay in place before construction begins. LEED provides credits for limiting soil degradation, reducing runoff, and protecting existing trees on the property. At the Dovre residence these efforts are visible with a large section of trees being protected front and center. Additionally, there is a silt fence that surrounds the property, protecting nearby Lake Maitland from contamination soil runoff. Preserving existing environmental integrity is essential in providing a green product.
Promoting energy efficiency is a large part of LEED’s goal. The Clark residence has a preliminary HERS score of 68, which makes it just over 30 percent more efficient than a standard code built home. HERS, the Home Energy Rating System, is used to predict the energy efficiency of a home by looking at the HVAC system as well as a building’s insulation. Using the HERS score can help point out mistakes in system installation and contributes to creating an airtight building envelope. The Clark residence has a large amount of glass included in the design, which is traditionally a poor insulator.
To achieve the desired aesthetic in the most energy efficient way possible, storefront windows with a thermal break and Solarban 70xl glass will be used. The thermal break provides an area in the glass that makes thermal radiation hard to pass through. Combined with the low-e, 70xl glass, these windows will reduce heat gain.
Another important measure of a home’s efficiency is through its water use. Both the Clark and Dovre residences feature water saving fixtures such as the Hansgrohe Talis low flow faucet, as well as toilets with dual flush systems, which offers a low flow option. It is important to ensure that items used daily, such as the sink and toilet, are conserving as much water as possible.
Because of the lake front orientation of the Dovre residence there is the unique opportunity to supply the homes irrigation from Lake Maitland. LEED incentivizes innovation like this by providing credits for regional, or site-specific design. By drawing the home’s irrigation from the lake this greatly reduces the use of the city’s potable water supply. To help ensure that the lake’s water is used conscientiously, 50 percent of the vegetative beds will use drip irrigation, which consumes minimal water and reduces water lost in evaporation. Additionally, there will be moisture sensors installed in the system to reduce over irrigation while at the same time, making sure the irrigation system is not running during or after our unpredictable Florida rainstorms.
The efforts elaborated on these projects include just a few of the many innovations that go into building a green home. LEED, as a third party certification system, helps to provide a critical eye to the construction industry. While builders can build green without certification, the process helps provide an extra look that may pick up on mistakes, as well as encourage additional environmentally friendly choices the builder may not have considered otherwise. The LEED certification system is constantly evolving to keep up with the ever-changing environment of the construction industry and is a way e2 Homes differentiates itself from other builders.