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GREEN DESIGN BUILD REMODEL

Energy Efficient Home Design and Remodeling in Southern Maine and New Hampshire
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<<<Click on the list to the left to see some Green Projects I have done.  These projects share many of the same elements or qualities.
 
Here are the 7 Elements of Good Green Design that I include in all of my Designs and Projects:
 
 
 
1. Good Green Design
 
The single most important Design decision is Size.  Smaller houses use fewer resources during construction, and after you move in as well.  While not absolutely necessary, it is often better to stick to basic simple shapes.  Simpler forms use less energy because they have less wall and roof area to lose precious energy you have paid for.
 
Solar Orientation is the most important Design Element.  Heating loads in a home can be cut significantly by orienting the long walls of the home east to west, exposing south windows in winter, and shading them in the summer, while avoiding expanses of glass on west facing walls that get the full brunt of the late afternoon hot summer sun.
 
Properly Designed Roof Overhangs can shade south and west facing windows.  Good Green Design includes saving selected existing trees on your site, especially those on the west side of the house, which can help to shade any west facing windows from that same late afternoon hot summer sun.  These same trees may help to shield your home from predominant northwest winter winds as well.  This can not only help to save energy for heating and cooling you home, but your property will look nicer with the trees there.
 
2. Durability
 
Moisture Control is a huge focus of Durability.  Durable Design includes elements like Generous Overhangs and Rain Screen Walls that allow siding and trim to dry quickly and improve paint durability.
 
Including proper Air Sealing in the Design Specifications helps to control air and consequent moisture leakage from inside the home.  This measure not only save energy, but also helps prevent damaging condensation from forming in the walls and roof. 
 
Attention to detail during construction is a critical key.  We must ensure very careful Air Sealing, House Wrap Detailing, Door and Window Installation, and Proper Flashing Details to ensure proper performance over the life of the home.
 
3. Very High Energy Efficiency
 
Air Sealing and Insulation needs very careful Design and Construction.  From a Green and Energy Efficiency perspective, this aspect is extremely important if a home is going to perform at its best.  About 40% of a typical home's heating or cooling load can be from uncontrolled air infiltration or air leaks.  So Air Infiltration must be kept as low as possible, preferably .5 natural air changes per hour.
 
Good Green Design also includes placing all ductwork within the conditioned envelope of the home, that is within the heated or cooled area of the home.  Put another way, place it within the inside the insulated envelope of the home.  Normal duct leakage can be as much as 20%.  If the ductwork is outside the air sealed and insulated portion of the home, 20% of the energy bill can be wasted.  Good Green Design includes properly sealing all joints in the ductwork, and then balancing the airflow in the duct system.
 
Designing with fluorescent, compact fluorescent, or LED lighting fixtures gives us more light for our energy dollars.  Four to eight times more!  These fixtures also produce far less heat, and so can save significantly on the cooling load. 
 
Supplying Energy Star appliances at a minimum is another simple way we can reduce the energy load in a home.  Compare the projected energy use on the appliance labels before buying.
 
Low water use plumbing fixtures are yet another means of ensuring Very High Energy Efficiency.  Even if we have our own water supply, we still have to pay for pumping the water into our homes.  And Rainwater Harvesting can be used for many uses both outside and inside the home.
 
And finally consider the heating or cooling appliances themselves.  There are many choices available such as Geothermal systems, Cold Climate Heat Pumps, Mini-Split Systems, and even solar supplied not water systems and Photovoltaic systems, and the prices of these are quickly becoming competitive with traditional heating and cooling systems.  If we Design a Passive Home, we may not even need a heating appliance as such, which is the best of all worlds.
 
4. Waste Reduction
 
Waste Reduction is an important Green Building and Living Strategy.  A simple way to reduce waste is to Design with 2' modules.
 
Designing to use stock lengths means less waste of materials, because of waste cut offs, leftover pieces and so on.  Designing to use prefabricated or prefinished materials may mean less waste on the job site.  Designing to use recycled or reused materials also reduces waste.
 
During construction, sorting waste materials can mean a sizable reduction in the amount of waste, keeping it in front of us during the process, but also may mean that instead of going into the waste stream, much of the "waste" material can be recycled.
 
Or, combining some of these measures when designing, remodeling, or building a home can mean a dumpster may not be needed, or at least a smaller one may be used.  Typically, as an example, I do not use a dumpster on my construction sites.  How can I do this?  Each day, I sort waste materials for recycling, reuse, or as a last resort disposal, and then I transport them to wherever they need to go.  This can save a considerable cost for myself and the homeowner on dumpster and disposal fees.  And an added bonus is that the site looks better during the project.
 
5. Indoor Air Quality
 
We Design using products and systems that produce fewer pollutants to begin with.  This improves the Air Quality in the home during and after construction.  If the design includes an attached garage, there are steps in the Design process that can keep pollutants from the garage from entering the home.  Designing with a heating or hot water system that does not use fossil fuels, such as oil or gas, can eliminate a source of pollutants.  Or, with homes that use these systems, steps can be taken to prevent them from introducing pollutants into the home.
 
After reducing the source of pollutants, Including good ventilation in the Design can go a long way toward making the home a healthy place to live.  Design using HRV's, or Heat Recovery Ventilators brings fresh, tempered outside air into the home, while exhausting stale inside air.  And added benefit is that heat that would otherwise be lost is reclaimed.  Also, humidity is kept at proper levels.  An HRV exhaust air from bathrooms, laundry, and kitchen areas, and directs tempered fresh air into living and bedroom areas.
 
6. Water Conservation
 
Today, we Design with HET, or High Efficiency Toilets that use only 1.28 gallons per flush, or, Dual Flush models that use less than 1 gallon per flush for liquid waste, and 1.28 or 1.6 gallons per flush for solid waste.  And they do all of this while performing better than even the old 3.5 gallons or more of yesteryear. 
 
There are also low flow showers, and other plumbing fixture aerators that can use as little as 1 gallon per minute
 
Rainwater harvesting is another Green measure which we all should consider, especially when we hear that more than half of the water that the typical American household uses is for outside uses.
 
Good Design can also include pervious concrete pavers or pavement on driveways, walkways, and other areas around the home.  And good Green Design should also include good management of storm water runoff.  This measure may even ease the path through the planning and permitting process, as you show that you are doing the right thing environmentally.
 
7. Green Products
 
Our Design Process will include choosing products that will make your home a greener place to live.  However, simply using Green Products will not by itself make your home a Green Home.  Choosing green products is the least important path to "going Green"Good Green Design is by far the most important part of the process, and will produce the most impressive results.  And finally, your mindset, and your implementing the practices that are green will be the key that either makes it work or not.
 
 
Copyright 2012 Ronald Sauve All Rights Reserved
This page was last modified on April 23, 2014
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