04 Oct Building Green
The term “Green Building or Building Green” is widely used in the construction industry today. Green is here to stay and is a part of every home we build for our clients. However, each project must be evaluated for the level of green construction that is appropriate. All green technology should have an associated return on investment that can be defined in terms of value to our clients.
The major segments of green construction include minimizing impact on the environment by:
• Utilizing recycled and recyclable materials
• Utilizing energy efficient materials
• Utilizing energy efficient building systems and technologies
• Conserving water and energy
• Providing a healthy interior environment
• Building more permanent, longer lasting structures
For some clients, building green is a sufficient justification to spend 20%, 30% or more extra budget to achieve the higher levels of green construction. In such cases, we help evaluate the appropriate technologies for each project. We specialize in Building Green and pride ourselves in being a top eco-friendly home builder in the San Antonio area.
At current prices, most, if not all, green building systems and materials add to the cost of construction and are evaluated to determine the economic value to the project. Wall systems such as “ICF” and “SIP” construction can add 5% to 15% to the cost of the home and must be justified based on energy savings, insurance savings, safety, resale value, etc. Generally, if you expect to live in your home 5 to 10 years, then these technologies become very viable. Lenders will also adjust their lending ratios to allow you to borrow more money to build a home if commensurate savings in operating costs are achieved.
We are strong advocates that you should put your “green money” into building the best envelope of the home, paying attention to the energy efficiency of the wall and ceiling systems, the type of insulation, the quality of windows and doors as well as the orientation of the home and landscaping to minimize heat gain from the sun. You should then look at the quality and SEER ratings of the HVAC system and ensure that a quality contractor has done an optimal design of the system based on the envelope of the home and the lifestyle of the family. It is critical to use extremely competent HVAC suppliers when dealing with the tighter, better insulated homes that we build. The HVAC system must be properly designed to cool and heat properly, but also to introduce fresh air into the home and to control humidity. Remember, the “greenest energy” is energy that you never use. Design and build with this in mind.
The HVAC system should include programmable smart thermostats and should control temperature and humidity settings. These smart thermostats should be integrated with the home automation system and programmed for day and night modes, at home and away modes, summer and winter modes and other modes that match the lifestyles of the families.
Here is what one of our clients had to say:
“In 2006 before we did anything to really lower energy use in our prvious “supposedly energy efficient” home used the equivalent of 14491 kilowatt hours for the 2 of us and no plug in hybrid or electric vehicle. The old house was 2,957 sq ft of conditioned space. Over the last 4 years in our ICF Home built by Custom Homes LTD we’ve averaged 11730 kilowatt hours, and this home is 3,367 sq ft. That works out to 4.9 kwhr/sq/ft/yr for stick built and 3.48 kwhr/sq/ft/yr for ICF about 30% less per sq ft. It seems to me this house is delivering what Steve Sierleja promised us it would on my number 1 objective of energy conversation.”
We are constantly evaluating and implementing new technologies and materials for green building and believe every project should be analyzed for the appropriate level of green design and construction. Contact us for a consultation and bid for your Green Home.