Energy Efficient Homes – Saginaw Sunset

SPONSORED POST

Jim Guild and Nunzie Gould don’t just want to build places to live. They want to create homes that live forever.

1639-nw-scott-henry-main-floor-2

© Jim Guild Construction

They approach every project with a commitment not only to their clients, but to community, and the environment.  They think deeply not only about the layout of the house, but how what they are building will live and evolve and fit in Bend, Oregon, where they have been master builders for three decades.

© Jim Guild Construction

© Jim Guild Construction

The married partners in Jim Guild Construction build high performance homes featuring solar arrays, high efficiency, energy-saving windows, fresh air flow technology and cabinetry and woodwork milled from recycled timbers (they are famous in town for their work with old wood). After decades in town, they know Bend’s climate and understand what materials age well there.

But the materials, their experience and their use of local artisans are only a few of ways they build enduring homes.

Take their latest project, Saginaw Sunset, a 20-lot community on five acres in the heart of rapidly-growing Bend. Saginaw is a property most developers drive right by, urban infill set on a steep, sloping site two blocks from the downtown core. For Nunzie and Jim, it was a challenge they embraced. “We don’t go looking for hard things, but we’re not afraid of them,” Jim says.

At Saginaw, they are creating homes with the aid of local architects and designers that fit into the high desert landscape and offer stunning views of the Cascades, where even in summer residents can see the glacier on the Middle Sister peak.

© Jim Guild Construction

© Jim Guild Construction

© Jim Guild Construction

© Jim Guild Construction

They are pieces that fit into a whole, parts of the fabric of the community.  “When you are committed to community, you build things differently,” Nunzie says. “It’s not just blow and go.”

Their focus on building quality green homes meshes with the growing number of people moving to Bend looking for a smaller, manageable city offering the best of the great outdoors and an active arts and foodie scene. The city is among the 50 finalists for the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP), an award that will go to the community with the greatest progress toward energy efficiency in the next two years.

So the work Jim and Nunzie, active members of the town’s Environmental Center (Jim is on the board), fits right into the city’s growing green reputation. Saginaw Sunset is a way to meet some of the demand for growth in the city without adding to sprawl by expanding Bend’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB).  Their first home in the development was featured on the Tour of Homes and won the coveted ‘People’s Choice Award’ on the Environmental Center’s Green and Solar Tour.

© Jim Guild Construction

© Jim Guild Construction

© Jim Guild Construction

© Jim Guild Construction

They are homes with a conscience, built to last. “We want to build something functionally and aesthetically attractive that will be enduring,” Jim adds. “Something that is forward thinking.”

That forward thinking extends throughout the process, from designing the roof line for highest solar efficiency to integrating the inside and the outside and using as many existing native trees as possible. Because comfort is just as important as sustainability, fresh air flows through each Saginaw home while high-tech utilities keep interior temperatures optimal.

“We take a lot of time to think about a finished product before we get going,” Nunzie says. “We think about how will it live? Is it practical? A house needs to fit how you live.”

Their homes are built to not only last a lifetime, but adapt to the changes of a lifetime.

© Jim Guild Construction

© Jim Guild Construction

© Jim Guild Construction

© Jim Guild Construction

Often people have wasted space in their homes, rooms they don’t use or a garage that serves as storage, she adds. A home needs to evolve. The living spaces that fit a family’s desire change from when their children are three to when they are 12 to when they are adults returning with a child of their own. Through careful planning, the Saginaw homes change with those families. Every house, for instance, has an elevator so they are accessible throughout a homeowner’s life. Every house is custom, created in deep collaboration with their clients. There are no prefab plans. Each dwelling, each site plan, is unique.

Form follows function, but beauty is not sacrificed. “I need a house that is handsome,” Jim says. “That seems like a strange word, but it sticks.”

Nunzie and Jim know how the inside integrates with the outside. “The relationship between the structure and the land needs to be respectful and symbiotic,” Nunzie says.

The high desert of Bend gets less than five inches of rain a year. So they’re not planting big lawns. They add soil amendments to help the volcanic soil of the city (using woody debris at the site to enrich the soil as well). They favor native plants that won’t send the water meter spinning. They use plants that attract bees and butterflies and other pollinators. “We’re being mindful of the bigger ecosystem,” Nunzie says.

© Jim Guild Construction

© Jim Guild Construction

© Jim Guild Construction

© Jim Guild Construction

Their homes cost more, but Jim and Nunzie point to the return on investment whether it’s in the solar array, which will start turning a profit in nine to 14 years, lower energy bills because of the HVAC system, or just the immeasurable value of living within the beauty their artisans create.

What, Nunzie asks, is the value of making an investment today on your return for tomorrow? What is the value of a super-efficient, long-lived home when it comes time to sell? “Part of it is what are we leaving our community?” she says. “Jim and I don’t want to build lesser quality homes, places that will be bulldozed in 50 years.”

“Our houses don’t age,” Jim adds, “and that’s a really, really important feature. It isn’t magic that makes it happen. It’s the dollars and time you’re willing to spend.”

 

CLT for Enduring Green Construction Infrastructure

terrace-house-timber_a-rendering-of-architect-shigeru-bans-terrace-house-the-hybrid-residential-building-will-be-made-of-cross-laminated-timber-concrete-and-steel-source-portliving

A rendering of architect Shigeru Ban’s Terrace House. The hybrid residential building will be made of cross-laminated timber, concrete and steel. Source: PortLiving

History’s timeline of structural innovations – from ancient Roman aqueducts to cathedrals with soaring rooflines, castles to neighborhoods of mass-manufactured buildings – reads like a primer of Buildings 101. Each has helped us refine our construction methods and building efficiencies, but over time that progress has cost our planet precious resources.

Typical structural building components like masonry, concrete, and steel have large carbon footprints and require great amounts energy to produce. Concrete production alone represents roughly 5% of world carbon dioxide emissions, the dominant greenhouse gas. Weighted with data from the US Green Building Council that 40% of national CO2 emissions come from buildings, it is more than clear that we must reexamine our go-to for construction materials.

Rather than reinvent, though, consider a return to our construction roots. A product called Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) has been used in Europe for a couple decades now, and has proven to be a startlingly green alternative to traditional “industrial age” building materials. This engineered wood building system is made from several layers of solid lumber boards, stacked crosswise and bonded together, providing dimensional stability, strength and rigidity.

clt-home-madison-valley

CLT Home in Seattle

Replacing concrete and steel with wood as a building material can have a significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Starting with the product source, wood is the only structural building material with third-party certification programs in place to verify a product’s sustainably managed origins. At SmartLam, we procure all of our lumber from sawmills practicing certified sustainable forestry practices.

Wood building systems like CLT also bring the advantage of low embodied energy. Embodied energy refers to the energy needed to extract, process, manufacture, transport, construct and maintain a material or product. LCA studies consistently show that wood outperforms other materials in this area.

CLT is also a good choice for architects who want to meet Passive House standard for commercial building. Because wood has low thermal conductivity (compared to steel or concrete), buildings made from wood are easy to insulate to high standards. CLT and its precise manufacturing and milling creates exceptional air tightness, and its dimensional stability helps ensure the building remains airtight over time.

little-house-on-the-ferry-image-source-massivatrahus-se

Little House On The Ferry – image source massivatrahus.se

house-xl-by-sono-arhitekti

CLT Home by SoNo Arhitekti

For green building, wood is an obvious choice. Unlike other products that deplete the earth’s resources, wood is the only major building material that grows naturally, is renewable, and requires less energy to produce. In fact, wood is the ONLY renewable building material. Using CLT in place of the old standards like steel or concrete is one way to reduce the environmental impact of your structure without compromising on the advances we’ve made in modern structural integrity. It’s a solution for the future.

smartlam

© Smartlam

Durability
With proper design and maintenance, wood structures can provide long and useful service lives equivalent to other building materials. The key is careful planning and understanding of environmental loads and other external factors likely to impact a building over its lifetime.

Strength and Stability
CLT panels form a robust, structurally strong building system that outperforms anything currently available in the USA. Cross lamination provides for superior dimensional stability and offers significant shear strength performance at a very unique weight to strength ratio compared to other common structural materials.

Seismic Resilience
Because of their dimensional stability and rigidity, CLT panels create an effective lateral load resisting system. Researchers have conducted extensive seismic testing on CLT and found panels to perform exceptionally well with no residual deformation, particularly in multi-story applications. In Japan, for example, a seven-story CLT building was tested on the world’s largest shake table. It survived 14 consecutive seismic events with almost no damage. CLT also offers good ductile behavior and energy dissipation.

Acoustics
Test results show that because the mass of the wall contributes to acoustic performance, CLT building systems provide superior noise control for both airborne and impact sound transmission. CLT building systems offer additional acoustic benefits with the use of sealants and other types of membranes to provide air tightness and improve sound insulation at the interfaces between the floor and wall plates.

Thermal Performance

© Smartlam

© Smartlam

CLT’s thermal performance is determined by its U-value, or coefficient of heat transfer, which relates to panel thickness. Thicker panels have lower U-values; they are better insulators and therefore require little or no insulation. Since CLT panels can be manufactured using CNC equipment to precise tolerances, panel joints also fit tighter, which results in better energy efficiency for the structure. Because the panels are solid, there is nearly zero air infiltration into the building envelope. As a result, interior temperatures of a finished CLT structure can be maintained with just one-third the normally required heating or cooling energy.

Fire Resistence
CLT’s thick cross-section provides valuable and superior fire resistance. Due to its mass, CLT panels char slowly. Once charred, combustion slows and eventually stops as the oxygen source is removed.  CLT assemblies also have fewer concealed spaces, which reduces a fire’s ability to spread undetected. CLT structures suffer less degradation than concrete and steel structures in a catastrophic fire event.

Moisture Management & Vapor Diffusion
Wood is naturally hygroscopic and inherently serves as a moisture management system within a building envelope. Ideally manufactured at 12% moisture content, woods inherent ability to absorb and emit moisture can naturally stabilize an indoor environment. The vapor permeable nature of wood allows CLT to transfer molecular moisture without trapping it and creating conditions for mold and decay.  CLT buildings ‘breathe’, minimizing the risk for mold growth and maximizing the comfort of it’s occupants.

Environmental

© Smartlam

© Smartlam

SmartLam CLT is manufactured from trees harvested in sustainably managed forests.  The raw materials for SmartLam CLT are sourced exclusively from small and medium diameter timber. This responsible cultivation practice maintains and even enhances the long-term productivity and health of the forest. CLT provides a number of environmental benefits in addition to its excellent thermal performance. Wood is the only major building material that grows naturally and is renewable. Life cycle assessment studies consistently show that wood outperforms steel and concrete in terms of embodied energy, air pollution and water pollution. CLT also has a lighter carbon footprint as wood products continue to store carbon absorbed by the trees while growing, and engineered wood manufacturing requires significantly less energy to produce than concrete and steel. This represents a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Healthy Indoor Environment

© Smartlam

© Smartlam

The only constituents of a CLT building system are wood and a non-toxic/non-VOC adhesives. CLT building materials do not introduce any toxins into the indoor environment providing clean indoor air quality. In addition, the CLT wall systems are naturally breathable, which, integrated with appropriate mechanical systems, will result in a healthy indoor environment that maximizes occupant comfort and health.

Life Cycle Analysis
The longevity of CLT components ensures that the future value of any structure remains high. CLT buildings are easily altered and remodeled and are also fully recyclable once they reach the end of their useful life. With the utilities located to the interior of the building, not enmeshed with structural and insulating systems, buildings can be easily remodeled.

Cost Effectiveness
Comparing the cost of CLT versus certain concrete, masonry and steel building types and including the advantages of faster construction time and lower foundation costs, the estimated total costs of CLT structures can be very competitive.

Design Flexibility

© Smartlam

© Smartlam

CLT has unique structural properties that allow architects and designers increased flexibility of design allowing for distinctive and innovative projects. Due to wood’s inherent ductility and unique strength to weight ratio, wood offers many advantages over the other common structural materials such as masonry, concrete, and steel.

Speed of Build
From one-person builders to large construction companies, CLT structural systems will arrive on-site ready to assemble, saving time and money with a swift and accurate building process.

Reduced Waste
CLT panels are manufactured for specific end-use applications, which results in little to no job site waste. Plus, manufacturers can reuse fabrication scraps for stairs and other architectural elements. SmartLam is a “zero waste” facility and utilizes all of our residuals either through re-purposing, as wood product constituents, or bio-fuel.

Author Bio
Casey Malmquist, President and General Manager of SmartLam, has served in this position since SmartLam’s inception in January of 2012, and has led the SmartLam team from the ground level to becoming a globally-recognized producer of Cross-Laminated Timber products. Mr. Malmquist has over 30 years’ experience owning and operating a successful construction and development company.

wood-innovation-and-design-centre-prince-george

CLT Wood Innovation and Design Centre – Prince George, Canada

arbora-montreals-clt-mixed-use-community

CLT Mixed Use Community – Arbora Montreal Canada

8-story-apt-building-in-finland

8 Story CLT Building in Finland

 

CLT Star Mill

CLT Star Mill

CLT Star Mill

CLT Star Mill

clt-elevator2

CLT Elevator Shaft

CLT Elevator Shaft

The Most Polluting Industries In The World

pollutionScientists have been sounding the alarms about climate change for decades, but unfortunately we are still completely dependent on digging stuff up and burning it for our main sources of energy. The United States gets 39% of its energy from coal, which is ok from a national security standpoint until the acid rain makes our water undrinkable. Natural Gas pollutes 30% less than coal and the U.S. gets 27% of its energy from that source, but there are still significant pollution issues. And, of course, there is a threat of a meltdown, but mainly the radioactive waste is dangerous for 240,000 years.

People have been looking for alternative energy sources for decades, but progress in getting them installed means less than 15% of the energy produced in the United States comes from renewable or clean sources. Hydropower is the largest sector of green energy in the U.S., responsible for almost 7% of the power production. It is, however, not without its own issues- dams can endanger ecosystems, so hydroelectric power has to be done properly. Wind is an emerging energy sector at almost 4.5% of America’s power grid. Just one percent of power produced in the U.S. comes from solar or geothermal sources, though that number is always increasing with improvements in technology.

Transportation is one sector where small improvements in efficiency can have a huge impact. Increases in mandatory fuel efficiency have decreased air pollution since the 1970s. Continuing to increase efficiency will continue to improve the environment. Biofuels have also shown promise in decreasing pollution. Now many people are even driving hybrid electric and full electric cars. When powered with solar power they produce zero emissions, and even when they get their power from traditional sources they still pollute less than traditional internal combustion engines.

Learn more about the arsenal of green tech being employed to reduce pollution from this infographic!

techarsenalinfographic

 

By |September 11th, 2016|Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Green Tech|0 Comments

The Basics of Window Energy Ratings

Window Energy Ratings1

Things feeling a little drafty in your neck of the woods? If you notice yourself shivering every time you walk through your home, it may be time to think about buying a new set of windows. But a lot has changed for windows in the past decade or so. Specifically, the products on the market now have gotten a lot more efficient, thanks to material and design improvements that help reduce drafts and keeping heating and cooling inside your home, where it belongs.

However, unlike a washer and dryer, where the end game for efficiency is pretty much the same across households, buying the right energy-efficient window depends a lot on the climate in your area. For instance, if you live in the North, you might want your windows to allow in more passive solar heat than you would if your home was in a warmer part of the country. And getting the recipe just right for your region can seriously affect your home’s energy consumption.

Window Energy Ratings2

NFRC Ratings and ENERGY STAR Certifications

To help homeowners make sense of how different windows behave in various climate conditions, the National Fenestration Ratings Council created a system for gauging their performance. The NFRC runs a voluntary program which tests different products for both their heat loss and gain, as well as the amount of visible sunlight windows allow into your home. After a product has been tested, a label displaying the ratings can be applied to the window’s packaging and product brochures.

These ratings are used to determine whether or not a window can be labeled as ENERGY STAR certified, meaning that it meets the EPA’s minimum criteria for energy efficiency. This certification is a sure sign that a window will be more efficient than one that doesn’t bear the ENERGY STAR label—however, if you want the maximum energy efficiency, you may need to dig a little bit deeper. A minimum requirement is just that—the minimum. So you may find that slightly higher or lower ratings are needed to keep your home comfortable and to truly save money on your energy bills. To help you pick out the best window for your area, let’s take a look at each individual rating and what it means.

Window Energy Ratings3

U-factor Ratings and Climate

A window’s U-factor indicates how much heat escapes through a window once it’s installed. Most windows rate somewhere between 0.15 and 1.20 for U-factor, although the lower the U-factor, the better the window is at preventing heat loss. That doesn’t necessarily mean the lowest U-factor you can find is the best, however. In hotter climates, a slightly higher rating may actually be ideal, since it will keep your home from overheating throughout the winter. For instance, the minimum U-factor requirement needed to achieve ENERGY STAR certification is 0.27 or lower in the country’s northernmost reaches, whereas it’s only 0.40 or less in the south. To view the minimum U-factor requirements for each region, check out the EPA’s program requirements.

When shopping for windows, make sure the U-factor has been determined by the NFRC, however, since the ratings council tests the whole window—including the frame and insulation—for overall performance, rather than basing its rating on just how the glass performs. A window’s frame is one of its weak points, so a product that hasn’t been tested for leaks in this area may not perform as well.

Window Energy Ratings5

Solar Heat Gain Coefficients and Extreme Temperatures

On the other side of the equation, there’s a window’s solar heat gain coefficient, or SHGC. This measure indicates how well a window’s glazing shades a home’s interior, preventing heat gain from solar radiation. You’ll want to pay particularly close attention to your window’s SHGC if you live in a warmer climate, since reducing excess heat in your home can make your AC work more effectively. A rating below 0.25 will serve you well in these areas—the lower the SHGC, the better the window is at shading your home.

However, northern homeowners who find themselves saddled with high heating expenses may also find their window’s SHGC a useful measurement. Higher heat gain coefficients can be used as a passive heating technique to lower HVAC energy consumption in the winter. To do so, it’s important to balance the SHGC with the appropriate U-factor rating to achieve a beneficial equivalent energy performance. These comparisons can also be found in the North Climate Zone table in the ENERGY STAR program requirements.

Window Energy Ratings6

Air Leakage Also Plays a Role in Energy Efficiency

While a window’s U-factor rating gives an indication of how much heated or cooled air escapes through the window, there’s also a separate measurement for how much outside air a product allows into a home. This is the Air Leakage, or AL, rating. The lower a window’s AL rating, the less air it allows inside. In order to be labeled as an ENERGY STAR window, it should measure no higher than 0.30 cubic feet per minute.

Window Energy Ratings7

Visual Transmittance Helps with Lighting Expenses

The previous measurements express how a window affects your home’s heating and cooling efficiency. But that’s not the only benefit energy-efficient windows can provide. Windows with a high Visual Transmittance (VT) rating also allow more visible daylight to filter into your home, which can be used in the daytime to offset lighting costs. Lighting a home typically makes up about 10 percent of a home’s total energy expenses, so a little relief there is helpful. To help homeowners understand the relationship between a window’s VT and SHGC ratings, the NFRC also created the Light-to-Solar-Gain rating, or LSG, which indicates how effectively a window allows daylight into your home while still shading the interior from solar heat gain. If you’re hoping to use VT to reduce your lighting expenses, it’s a good idea to look for products that display an LSG rating as well—the higher the number, the more light you’ll get without excess heat.

If you’re smart about your energy ratings, you can effectively use your windows to reduce energy costs in your home. When you see the rate of return on your energy bills, the time you invested reading and understanding window measurements will seem well worth it.

Author Bio
Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner.  She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for
Modernize.com, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.

By |September 10th, 2016|Energy Efficiency, Green Building|0 Comments

Green Technology Used to Combat Climate Change – Infographic

sustainability

Image Source – greenbuilding.org.au


Scientists have been sounding the alarms about climate change for decades, but unfortunately we are still completely dependent on digging stuff up and burning it for our main sources of energy. The United States gets 39% of its energy from coal, which is ok from a national security standpoint until the acid rain makes our water undrinkable. Natural Gas pollutes 30% less than coal and the U.S. gets 27% of its energy from that source, but there are still significant pollution issues. And, of course, there is a threat of a meltdown, but mainly the radioactive waste is dangerous for 240,000 years.

People have been looking for alternative energy sources for decades, but progress in getting them installed means less than 15% of the energy produced in the United States comes from renewable or clean sources. Hydropower is the largest sector of green energy in the U.S., responsible for almost 7% of the power production. It is, however, not without its own issues- dams can endanger ecosystems, so hydroelectric power has to be done properly. Wind is an emerging energy sector at almost 4.5% of America’s power grid. Just one percent of power produced in the U.S. comes from solar or geothermal sources, though that number is always increasing with improvements in technology.

Transportation is one sector where small improvements in efficiency can have a huge impact. Increases in mandatory fuel efficiency have decreased air pollution since the 1970s. Continuing to increase efficiency will continue to improve the environment. Biofuels have also shown promise in decreasing pollution. Now many people are even driving hybrid electric and full electric cars. When powered with solar power they produce zero emissions, and even when they get their power from traditional sources they still pollute less than traditional internal combustion engines.

Learn more about the arsenal of green tech being employed to reduce pollution from this infographic.

techarsenalinfographic

By |September 7th, 2016|Energy Efficiency, Green Tech|0 Comments

Year Long Study of Net-Zero Energy Home Completed Successfully

home

It has now been a year since the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF) in Washington DC has been built and its energy harvesting capabilities began to be monitored. The home was built on the campus at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where scientists and researchers conducted a computer simulation that replicated the energy consumption of a family of four. The results showed the home to be a success, since after a year the home generated 13,577 kWh of energy. This is about 491 kWh more than was needed.
(more…)

By |August 16th, 2014|Energy Efficiency|6 Comments