So, can you be too GREEN building a new home? We think the answer is yes. Don’t get us wrong, we like Green building practices. Let me explain. As with almost anything, there is a point of diminishing returns on our efforts. One of our jobs at Anders Lewendal Construction is to help our clients understand where those diminishing returns are for building envelopes, mechanical systems, windows, and of course, power production.
We have over 25 years of experience thinking about these issues. A degree in Economics doesn’t hurt either. Let’s take the building envelope for example: One current code option of adding R-21 worth of fiberglass batts is clearly not the best envelope for any home. On the other extreme, would we vote for an R-70 wall system? I think we can make a good case that we are wasting resources that could otherwise be used in other areas to improve efficiencies. Call us sometime and we can discuss the many options and implications of different wall systems. The same is true for mechanical systems and PV’s, solar thermal, ground source heat pumps and many other ideas. Any time we go beyond the diminishing returns in our homes, we miss an opportunity to improve efficiencies on other aspects of our homes or lives.
After building over 140 residences, we have experience with all kinds of energy protocols. We currently live in a remodeled home that is the first ever 100 year old Energy Star home in America. We tried hard to combine the right balance of energy efficiency and dollars spent resulting in a very cost effective and comfortable home. We also recently built the first ever All American Home, http://theallamericanhome.com/, proving that buying local is easy and meaningful for our country. The AAH is also one of the most energy efficient and healthy homes in Montana. Senator Baucus thanked us for our efforts with the following resolution: http://www.baucus.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=833
We should remember that every purchasing decision we make has both economic, social, and environment effects. We also received from our governor a 2012 EcoStar Award for our efforts to reduce CO2 production: http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwview.php?article=11205.
On the certification side, we have experimented with Energy Star, HERS, LEED, ICC 700 National Standard. We are in the process of collaborating with private and public entities to understand the value of both a code building envelope and a Passivhaus envelope and a hybrid wall system. We will learn and plan to share the difference in utility costs between the two protocols. Here is what we plan to do: We will build three identical homes, side by side. Each home will utilize the best available practices for it’s individual performance standard. The code home will meet the current code standard, the hybrid home will utilize a custom wall of which will exceed the code standard, and the passive home will meet the Passivehaus standard, http://www.passivehouse.us/passiveHouse/PHIUSHome.html, providing a .6 ACH at 50. We will heat each home to 68 degrees and leave each one empty, with sensors, for an entire year in a zone 6 climate. We’ll post the results as soon as they are available. We hope to learn what the best or one of the best envelopes is for our climate zone and possibly for other zones in America.
If you are interested in learning how best to spend your resources on energy efficiency, call us.