When you buy a house, there’s no clear way to know what you’re getting. There’s no miles per gallon sticker, as with cars, or nutrition label, as with foods. You’ll pay for an inspection and walk through the place any number of times, but you definitely can’t see through the walls. It’s strange that we allow ourselves to spend, or mortgage, so much with so little information.
Yesterday, President Obama toured a training facility at Savannah Technical College and took the opportunity to outline more detail on the proposed HOMESTAR Energy Efficiency Retrofit Program. The program has been called "Cash for Caulkers" due to similarities with Cash for Clunkers, but we're going to stick with the HOMESTAR terminology. Here's some additional detail.
Despite the fact that we are now living in the 21st century, aerogel insulation seems like a material out of science-fiction. It is the lightest solid known, although by volume it is 99% air. It is breathable, but it doesn't absorb water. It is incredibly strong for its weight. But most importantly, it is a fantastic insulator.
Putney School, a prep boarding school for grades 9-12, needed a field house and retained Maclay Architects to design a green one. Literally. The ~$5 million green building is one of only a few net-zero energy buildings of its kind. It's also a contender for LEED Platinum certification and boasts a number of impressive green elements.
Recently, we had to opportunity to talk with Don Ferrier about the progress of a home called the Zero Energy Casita. Ferrier, president of Ferrier Custom Homes, started building earth-sheltered homes 25 years ago and has the distinct accomplishment of building the first LEED Platinum home in Texas. In this net zero energy beauty, Ferrier is building a home that generates as much energy in the course of a year as it consumes.