Net Zero Home in Vermont

Here’s a cool house that I have seen written up a few times … located in Charlotte, Vermont – right near my alma mater – The Universtiy of Vermont.  David Pill and Hillary Maharam designed their own energy producing green home.  The 2700 sf home uses an all electric system of a ground souce heat pump coupled with super insulated walls and a wind turbine.

Article by David Pill  Journal of Light Construction

Netting Zero in a Cold Climate

How a house in northern Vermont produces as much energy as it consumes.

Netting Zero in a Cold Climate How a house in northern Vermont produces as much energy as it consumes by David Pill As an architect, I’ve been educating myself in green building practices for nearly 20 years, through reading and attending workshops and conferences. So when it came to designing a new home for my family in northern New England, I had definite goals in mind. First, I wanted to create a house with as little environmental impact as possible. Second, I wanted to use the most conventional methods possible, so that the house would be relatively affordable and include …

To see the rest of this article – either buy the current issue of JLC or go to the Journal of Light Construction

You can see more about David and Hillary ‘s home on their web site

Green Home ? How Does Your House Measure Up?

9.2 is a pretty good score !!!   Click on the picture for a larger version.  

This is the Energy Star Yardstick – a quick and easy way to test the efficiency of your home.    10 is the best – 0 the worst.   The above picture is a house I built a couple of years ago in Ojai California and the house you can see in the Free Green Home Building Webinar.  

Plug your house in and see what you get – if its less than a 6 – you need to call us!

Spray Foam Insulation – Bio Based

Constantly looking for better ways to insulate – one of the great things about spray foam insulation is that it seals up leaks.  Even the best batt insulation install – will have lots of gaps.  Would you rather hold scalding hot coffee in a fiberglass batt or foam?  See the demonstaration video below – from the International Builders Show

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Please feel free to repost or use this blog as long as you keep the entire blog in its original form and with the following “signature”box.”
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Otis Bradley is a custom home builder in Southern California working in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.  You can see Otis’ work at his company web site Otis Bradley Company, Inc.
Check out the Free Green Building Video at 50Green.com
For more information on Custom Home Building see the OnlineCustomHomeBuilder.com
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Green Building for Supercomputers

I know this is a commercial project and not a green home but this is pretty cool.  Check out how they handle the hot and cold air flow and use thermagraphic cameras to fine tune their operations.  Imagine if we put some of this kind of analysis in our green home design.

Green Building 101-Quickstart Checklist

Green building is about efficiency, health, energy conservation and good design.  Quality builders have understood the concept of Green Building before it had the name!  A good design – well built – covers much of the Green build philosophy.  It doesn’t need to be complicated, and it doesn’t need to be expensive.  You hear about LEED, GreenBuilt, EnergyStar and hundreds of other green programs – many have expensive applications and inspection requirements.  Having said all this … quality design and construction of your home requires experience.   You wouldn’t want a first time surgeon doing your brain surgery – would you?  Find the appropriate people to help you achieve your green dreams.

An introduction to Green Building – Green Build 101

1. Site

For a new home –  conditions of the site are key.  The sun is our greatest source of energy – pay attention to how it moves across your land.  Your local climate conditions, solar exposure, wind and water effect how a building will work.   Additionally, most projects have particular “givens” – such as the entrance to the property – utility locations – existing trees and other landscape.  Working with the existing conditions is important when designing the site plan.  Try not to disturb the landscape where possible.  Consider a two story house instead of one story – requires less grading. Keep storm water on the site – use gray water systems.

2.  Design

Good design incorporates many things beyond “style.”  Passive solar techniques are crucial to energy efficiency.  Good shell design works with your environment – keeping heat or cool inside as required.  Shedding water – much like a duck! – is good building practice.  Protect your home from weather.  Incorporated natural lighting and ventilation.  Minimize “traffic” space and utilize space with various functions.  Smaller is better.

3.  Materials

Evaluating materials is not always easy.  Certain materials may seem “green” like bamboo flooring but if it is made in China, shipped to the US and filled with toxic glues – it might not be so green.

Some things to consider:
Is it local ?   Local materials don’t have the embodied energy of shipping
How is it manufactured?  Does it have a heavy environmental toll – such as cutting granite blocks out of a mine or manufacturing cement.
Is it durable?  The longer a material lasts the less often it has to be rebuilt.  Concrete ranks high on the durability scale but low on the manufacturing process.
High efficiency windows are a must.  I used to like the look of aluminum windows in a modern house but they aren’t energy efficient.
Insulation – you gotta have it – the more the better – many options here – check out spray foam.
What maintenance is required ?  Some products like wood clap board siding on a southern exposure may require repainting every two years whereas a fiber cement plank siding might last 15 years. 

4. Mechanicals

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning, HVAC, is the largest user of energy in a house.   Not only are efficient systems critical but these systems must be correctly sized and work with the passive solar design of the home.   the High efficiency Consider solar electric, solar hot water, wind power, geothermal or other renewable source of energy.

5.  Water

Some say water is the next oil!  Americans pretty much take water for granted.  We over water our lawns, waste water, and encourage water to flow off our properties down the street and out to the ocean (or river).  Water systems should be set up correctly from household (domestic) to landscape.   Water filtration for the home.  Use gray water systems (or at least prepare for a future system) – using lightly treated water such as shower water – to go back into the land and not into the sewers.   Storm water should be slowed, diverted, retained and encouraged to go back into the ground.

6.  Job Management

The construction process of your home requires a huge amount of energy and produces tons of waste.  How your job is run will effect your carbon footprint.   Every jobs starts with good upfront planning and detail construction plans.  On site supervision and efficient scheduling gets a job faster which reduced energy spent.  Other items to consider:
Reduce
Reuse
Recycle
Storm water planning
Construction methods and material efficiency

7.  Landscape

Think about the nature of your land before houses.  Plant native plants – don’t cover your yard with water and fertilizer sucking grass lawns.   Retain water. Shade the ground.  Mulch – mulch and mulch. 

8.  Building Operation

Once your home is complete – your personal practices come into play.   Are you living a green lifestyle?  Reduce, reuse and recycle.

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Please feel free to repost or use this blog as long as you keep the entire blog in its original form and with the following “signature box.”
****************************************************************************************
Otis Bradley is a custom home builder in Southern California working in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.  You can see Otis’ work at his company web site Otis Bradley Company, Inc.
Interested in Green Building check out 50Green.com
For more information on Custom Home Building see the OnlineCustomHomeBuilder.com
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