Super Insulation- The first R of Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. As boring as insulation might be to some, its one of the most cost effective and significant Reductions to energy use one can make for the home.
Reclaimed Materials- As much as possible, Re-use lumber taken from the old house for structural and finish elements of the new home.
Photo Voltaic (PV) Solar power- Sanyo HIP 190 bi-facial modules installed by Habi-tek. The system as installed will generate 7.6 Kilowatts of power plus 5-30% more depending how much is generated by the back of the bi-facial panel.
Concrete with fly-ash- According to the EPA Portland Cement (the binder in concrete) is the 3rd largest contributor to CO2 in the US. Other estimates put cement at 4% of the annual Carbon Emissions worldwide. By replacing cement with the waste byproduct of coal fired power plants (fly-ash and slag), you reduce that contribution, reuse a mostly unusable material (the fly-ash), and the bonus is that the concrete with fly-ash is actually stronger!
LED and Compact Fluorescent Lights-Both use about 1/10 the energy as a incandescent bulbs. The LED lights last about 20 years (vs 4-5 for CFL bulbs), and contain no mercury (the CFLs contain a small amount).
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Lumber- Where we are not able to re-use existing lumber from the house, FSC lumber is purchased. FSC Lumber tracks the wood used from the forest, through the saw mill, to the lumber yard and ultimately the job site. That way we know A) we are not depleting old growth forests in South America and B) the lumber came from a place that practices sustainability.
Top and Middle floor Plan
Bottom Floor Plan
There is a bumper sticker out there that says “thow something away?” – “there is no away”. Think about in your daily routine and it can become maddening.
Is green building possible in America? We already use 32 times more resources per person than a person in the developing world. If every American has a car, that means there is 1 car for 32 people in the developing world. With our suburbs, second homes, mcmansions and real mansions we have more than enough housing inventory to comfortably house the entire US population for the next 50 years even if we didn’t build another house or condo.
So what is green building? If you take an existing energy inefficient building ‘unwrap’ it, keeping all the structural material, replace the insulation, windows and mechanical systems in order to use less energy and wrap it back up with the saved structural materials, that could be considered green. To be truly green though, the improved energy use would have to be greater than the energy used to build the building, and build the materials you put in it.