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“Green” construction – really

JLC (the Journal of Light Construction) has the uncanny ability to print an article each month that actually interests me.  (And no they don’t pay me a fee or even give me a discount subscription).

Each issue  this year, and some before that, have extensive articles on energy efficient construction and products.  Maybe we really are headed for a change in house construction towards tighter, well insulated structures.

The caveat of course is that these methods are more expensive and rely on skilled and dedicated people to implement.

The May 2010 issue includes an article on “Advanced Framing”.  I may have to take back my words that you can’t get a tight house using stick built methods…

In April we get 2 articles: “Super insulated slab foundations” and “Installing a green roof”.  The roof is really green – made of plants.  A bit “over the top” for me.

March: “Heating System Upgrade”.  A bit technical in it’s discussion of non-condensing vs. condensing boilers, but valuable exactly because of that.  The lesson being that each location has different issues – which a good contractor will take into account.

February: “Dealing with Mold” – some scary stories of damage, and a good reason for my ventilation mania.

In the same issue is a list of new products skewed toward energy efficiency.  These lists are not endorsements, but it is heartening to see so many manufacturers offering viable alternatives to the run of the mill HVAC systems currently in use.  The list includes:

  • A heat pump water heater
  • Solar PV boost for heat pump fan (BTW – here is an extensive site on heat pumps)
  • Energy monitor for contractors
  • HRV and ERV ventilators from Panasonic and Venmar (see my section on ventilation for an explanation of the acronyms)
  • A metal roof with thin film solar PV fused to the roof
  • A controller for running exhaust fans for specified times to ensure air changes are up to standards (again see my ventilation section for some more detail on this approach
  • A shower head control that cuts wasted hot water for people (like me) who turn on the shower waiting for the water to get hot and then wander off to do something else.

And finally, in January, there is “Blower Door Testing”, which we also look at in this post.

The point is; energy efficient construction is possible, even with stick built methods.  The tools, methods and expertise are all out there.  On the downside there is added expense, despite incentives.   When you factor in energy savings and added comfort (plus increased resale value – maybe) going energy efficient is making more and more sense.

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