Archive for the ‘Green Building’ Category
Our newest home has officially received Gold level National Green Building Certification from the NAHB Research Center. This custom home was completed in July 2010 and is one of only a few homes in the state to achieve the designation.
All of our homes have been green, but we’ve never sought the certification from the NAHB before. We are really pleased to achieve the gold level on our first application for certification.
The ENERGY STAR home in North Stonington, like all of New Ground LLC’s homes is built on a foundation of insulated concrete forms. The forms snap together much like legos® and the concrete is poured inside. The home was then framed using advanced framing techniques to minimize construction waste and also build a structure that is both strong and free of gaps where air can escape.
The 2,600 square foot home was designed with resource efficiency in mind using dimensions that reduce the need for cutting standard size construction materials and simply making the most of space and materials.
The custom home was also designed with the desires of the client in mind and Jason worked closely with the customer to create a home that is not only green but also very comfortable. The 3-bedroom cape style home features an open floor plan with a beautiful spacious kitchen, a living room with cathedral ceiling, and a Jacuzzi in the master bath.
The home is insulated with non-toxic high efficiency spray foam insulation and gets its heat, hot water, and cool air from an onsite horizontal loop ground source heat pump. ENERGY STAR approved windows and solar tempering further increase the home’s energy efficiency. The home’s HERS score is 44, meaning it is 56% more efficient than a standard home.
Of course, the home has only energy star appliances including water saving models as well as CFL lighting and zero VOC paint on all interior walls.
New Ground LLC’s 2600 square-foot, Cape style home in North Stonington, CT
meets the definition of green building: incorporating environmental considerations into all aspects
of its design and construction.
“Builders who have their homes Green Certified through the NAHB Research Center’s National
Green Building Certification Program are not just saying they build green homes,” said Michael
Luzier, NAHB Reserch Center president. “They’re proving it! The Research Center requires
third-party verification of every green point claimed by a builder, so seeing our Green Certified
certification mark on a home ensures the homebuyer that the builder’s green claims are true.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard sighs of pity when I tell people that my business is building custom homes. With the housing market in the dumps, people assume that business must be bad. I am happy to calm their fears by telling them that our business has actually grown during the downturn. We started in late 2004 and were really just getting on our feet when the economy tanked 2008. But we’ve been able to not only survive but grow over the past two years – expanding our workforce and completing more projects each year than the last.
As a niche builder focused entirely on green homes, we have been able to offer a very specific product that meets a growing demand for energy efficient homes. Just as we face an economic downturn like nothing since the great depression, we also face an impending energy crisis like nothing we have ever seen before. For this reason, our Energy Star homes which are more than 50% more energy efficient than the average home are one product in high demand.
If you’re going to build a house these days or even buy an existing one, it only makes sense to factor energy costs into your calculations for long term affordability. There are lots of cheap homes on the market right now, but if you’re going to have to spend thousands more per year heating and cooling the thing, then the price may not look so good after all. If we assume (as we must) that energy prices will only continue to rise, if not dramatically, then certainly steadily over the next 10 to 20 years and beyond, then it only makes financial sense to invest in energy efficiency now. Green homes that produce their own energy are going to be free from those price fluctuations that will gouge their neighbors now and in the future. Green homes are the future and will likely only appreciate in value over time as energy prices sour.
Fine Homebuilding’s recent issue features an editorial titled “Heat Pump, Schmeat Pump” which gives you a sense of their opinion of one of our favorite green energy sources.
Beyond the title, the author, Henry Gifford, goes on to explain why he believes ground source heat pumps (GSHP) are dirty and inefficient. He claims that high efficiency oil and gas furnaces are the cleaner option from an environmental perspective.
Unfortunately for him and sadly for his readership, I don’t think he really understands the way ground source heat pumps work. He seems to imply that they involve pumping ground water through the system. While there are open loop group water systems that can be placed in ponds and the like, they are not very efficient and they are not the most commonly installed. The closed loop ground source heat pumps that we install in our homes are the most efficient and do not involve water at all. He also seemingly ignores the fact that ground source heat pumps not only produce residential heat but also cool air and hot water. Any comparison of a GSHP must necessarily include not only the alternative heating system, such as a high efficiency gas furnace but also the air conditioning and hot water systems, both of which generally rely on electricity and lots of it. All this leads me to question his data on geothermal efficiency which is integral to the rest of his argument.
On top of that, he also assumes that the GSHP is powered by dirty electricity from inefficient coal fired power plants and the like. The problem with this argument is that electricity doesn’t have to be produced by burning fossil fuel. If you have solar panels or even choose a clean energy supplier like Community Energy or Sterling Planet , your geo system becomes a lot “greener”. Even if you must rely on the traditional admittedly inefficeint and dirty grid, you may not have to forever. As times change, the grid’s efficiency will likely be greatly improved as well as having a greater share of renewables in the mix. When you think long-term, this bodes well for the green factor of geothermal heating and cooling systems.
Ground source heat pumps remain our favorite economical and “green” energy source for our custom homes. With current rebates and pricing, installation and operating costs easily beat the alternatives our customers have. In rural eastern Connecticut where natural gas is not piped, a high efficiency gas furnace makes less sense and even the best oil burning furnaces can’t compete with a Geo-system on price or carbon emissions.
If you are concerned about greenhouse emissions from the electrical grid – fight for smart grid improvements and cleaner energy production – don’t bash an unrelated technology.
I am disappointed with Fine Home Building for running this editorial, particularly because so many people will read it and believe it.
We actually hate the term “green” because it has become so overused. Building green is not just a catch phrase to us, it is about a truly better, more environmentally friendly way of doing things. We hate to see all the builders and other industries jumping on the green bandwagon touting their products as sustainable. A green home is not simply one with a few higher R-value windows. A green home is sustainable at every phase of construction, from the materials used, to the water conserved. At New Ground LLC, we are passionate about building homes that leave the smallest imprint on the planet. We strive to do everything we can to live up to our ideals and while it is not always possible to build the perfectly “green” home, we do our best to offer our clients as many green choices as we can while still offering a home they can afford and want to live in. We believe “green” is for everyone.