Green Building. Sustainability. LEED. EPS. HERS. Net-Zero Energy. Passive House. High Performance. All buzzwords in the home building industry. But what do they mean and why should you care?
If you are a home builder or have ever had a home built or remodeled, then you know there are many options in design, materials and methods. Building code provides the minimum standard for home building that is always evolving to advance building practices. Today’s advanced building practices become tomorrow’s code. Certifications like LEED, Net-Zero and Passive House as well as scoring tools such as EPS and HERS showcase homes currently being built better than code. They all have different checklists and options but similarly define how a home relates to its site, use of local and renewable materials, indoor air quality, water efficiency, energy efficiency & renewable energy. Energy modeling and diagnostic testing with equipment such as blower doors and duct blasters measure the home’s performance and enable comparison of efficiency similar to the miles per gallon ratings of vehicles. Home buyers cause use this information to estimate annual operating costs and carbon footprint. Home builders can use these certifications and scoring tools to differentiate themselves in the market, take advantage of utility incentives and stay up to date with building practices. Better built homes are durable, affordable, comfortable, healthy and energy efficient.
Features of a High Performing Home
More insulation: R-49+ attic, R23+ walls, R-30+ floors
Air sealing: <4 ACH50 (air changes per hour at 50 pascals)
Windows: U-0.25 or better
Whole home mechanical ventilation: ERV/HRV = Energy Recovery Ventilator/Heat Recovery Ventilator
Moisture sensing ventilation fans
95%+ AFUE ECM gas furnace or 10 HSPF 14 SEER+ electric ductless mini split system
95%+ tankless gas water heater or 2.4 UEF electric heat pump water heater
100% high efficiency lighting