Building Science has become a very detailed discipline. Joe Lstiburek, one of the country’s leading scientists defines it as: “A systems approach to designing and building homes that are safe, healthy, durable, comfortable, energy efficient and environmentally responsible.”
Building a safe home begins with good design and engineering. Proper orientation and elevation of the home assures that it will withstand any of the extremes of weather we have. Excessive heat, cold, rain, snow or wind.
Healthy homes begin with the materials used to construct them. VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are widely recognized to contribute to poor air quality. Low or no VOC products are available throughout the building industry. Secondly, indoor air quality has become a concern for many as we spend increasing amounts of time indoors. After construction of a tight well insulated home, it’s imperative to ventilate it correctly. HRV’s (heat recovery ventilators) bring in fresh, filtered air and exhaust stale air. This prevents a building up of VOC’s and other pollutants.
Durability of homes is dependent on the proper use and installation of building materials. Much research is done on the multitude of products coming to the market each year. These products are tested in labs and those results are available through the internet. Our subcontractors also bring real world knowledge of many of these products. Websites like “ Construction Instruction” provide videos of proper installation.
True comfort in a home comes from many places. A well sealed and insulated home is a first step. Building codes are becoming stricter though we always exceed code minimums. High quality window are also a huge contributor to comfort. Manufacturers and glazing options are a big topic in themselves. HVAC (Heating, Venting and Air Conditioning) provide the most comfort. Equipment sizing and distribution is now done with software. Manual J&D calculations are done for every home. This helps assure consistent heating and cooling throughout the home.
An energy rater calculates energy efficiency before the home is built. The R values of floors, walls and ceilings along with U values of windows & doors are put into a formula that produces a HERS score (Home Energy Rating System) the home is then inspected and tested during construction. Following a blower door test, a revised HERs score is given. We’ve listed the HERS scores and blower door results for all our homes.
Environmental responsibility is a difficult topic. While we strive to be good stewards of the environment, it is true that the building industry is a huge consumer of resources. True sustainability seems hard to achieve in a growing global population. We strive to be efficient in our material use, recycle what we can and dispose of our waste properly.
Taken as a whole, these are the most important components of a High Performance Home.