Sunday, March 25, 2007

How Green Can You Go?

This week was full of starts and a few stops. By that I mean, we were all ready to move into final stages of putting in the finishes when we made some interesting discoveries. I’ll try to highlight a few of them here.

Flooring. EcoTimber ( ready to be laid, but we spent the week waiting for the Eco Urethane adhesive from DriTac. It arrived a week late and has delayed our start. As it turns out, that was for the best, given some of the changes that we’ll be making after our preliminary energy audit (see later discussion) and the relocation of floor vents.

Packaging. Meanwhile, we began to remove the packaging from the pre-engineered white maple that we are using. And I came to really appreciate the “ungreen” nature of packaging. The plastic and cardboard just kept piling up higher and higher. Yes, it all ended up at the recycling center, but it does raise an interesting question. When are we going to get serious about sustainable packaging? Especially for “green products.”

The adhesive was the worst “green packaging” offender that I’ve experienced. It came in very sturdy plastic containers that were individually placed in thick cardboard boxes and firmly held in place by styrofoam blocks. Way too much packaging!

Our pre-energy audit.

Early on, Cemil had researched to find a consultant that would come in and advise us on just how we can maximize our construction to make a very energy efficient home. Well, we were amused and impressed with the team from ReNu (

Their mission:

"The emphasis of our company is to help homeowners make their homes not only better looking but also more energy efficient, more comfortable, safer, and healthier to live in. We perform 'Healthy Home Assessments' and do all the remediation work that would be required to bring a home back into shape. You could think of us as Personal Trainers for your home"

Their methodology:

Cemil and I were reminded of “Ghost Busters” when the ReNu team showed up at the house with 4 people and enough equipment to climb Mt. Everest. An infrared camera was used to point out all the leakage—through walls, around light sockets and electrical outlets. It was clear, that we still have a lot of work to do to “seal” up the house in order to “tighten” it up. But as we do that, it’s important to realize that a tight house requires sources for fresh air to balance it out.

As Robert Mitchell, President, kept pointing out “a tighter house is what we all want but that means a source for controlled fresh air.

The results:

Because we are using ReNu in 2 phases, we won’t know how we perform until we implement their recommendations. A few key areas that we will address in order to have a more energy efficient home:

*use lots of foam to seal the cracks and crevices
*use mastic to seal the grills and exterior exposures
*pay close attention to creating a tighter seal in the crawl space beneath the house
*think about using solar thermal to help diminish the energy used for hot water production
*relocate existing floor vents for AC and heat to ceiling and on walls opposite the windows because our heater unit is in the attic and it is more efficient than what the route that is currently used for getting the heat/ac to floor ducts which are currently placed under windows.
*insulate all the plumbing
*add extra insulation to the attic by using blow-in cellulose
*don’t oversize your heat or AC—bigger is not better in this case

1 comment:

Rosie said...

Thanks for writing this.