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Archive for the ‘Green Building’ Category

Insulation

Where to start with insulation? There are so many options these days, from Insulated Concrete Forms, Open-Cell Spray Foam, to Fiberglass batts. For starters here are a few links to helpful resources…

Energy Star

Building Insulation on Wikipedia

Owens Corning for homeowners

Icyene

Our installer of choice, Northwind Insulation

I am not interested in endorsing any specific product I just want people to know what some of the options. However, I do think that you should get/install the best insulation you can possibly afford.

Here’s what I think you need to know:

Insulation is rated based on it’s resistance to heat flow, the R-Value. The greater the R the less amount of air and moisture penetration is possible. You’ll see it listed as R-3. We live in Minnesota, land of extreme temperature change. Getting the highest R-value is important to keep the cold air out in the winter and the hot air out in the summer. According to Energy Star our climate should have R-38 to R-49, here’s their chart.

There is more to come, as time allows.

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Indoor air quality has become a hot topic as of late with the increase of asthma and allergies amoung our young population. There are some simple things that you can do.

To learn more check out the EPA’s A Guide to Indoor Air Quailty.

This guide outlines the causes for indoor polluntants and lists out soluntions to reduce toxins in your home.

One of the easiest ways to improve the air circulation in your home is simply by opening the windows when you can or turning on exhaust fans. Another easy trick is to purchase a HEPA air filter. It saved me when I lived in the dorms in college. Weatherizing your home will help, changing furnance filters will help, cleaning out duct work, all those little things help improve your air quality.

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On Nation’s Building News Online they talk about the energy tax credit is back for home owners for 2009!

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This is one of the more difficult green principles to describe. Site management focuses on things like containing the site and ensuring that things like storm water run-off doesn’t leave your property all the way to having an aesthetically pleasing piece of property. This can also encompass purchasing products for your project from local sources to support the local economy. You can argue that the total amount of energy consumed by the building structure will also have a direct impact on the community at large.

Some strategies to improve your site and community impact of your home is to build a rain garden, use rain barrels, plant drought resistant plants, buy local products, reduce your over carbon footprint, etc.

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Resource Efficiency focuses on the products that are used in your project. Resource efficiency goes hand and hand with waste management on your site. Through proper planning you can reduce the amount of materials ordered, produced, and used on your project. You have to keep in mind the amount of energy used in creating the product and transporting it. The goal is to minimize using non-renewable construction materials and reducing the amount of energy and water consumed in building. 

In the planning phase of your project your estimator created a list of materials that will be needed to complete your renovation or new home. Through accurate material estimation you should be able to reduce the amount of energy, water, and waste used to produce and install the materials.

You can improve your efficiency in simple ways as well-carpool to the jobsite. That is one of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of resources consumed on your jobsite.

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I found this great website through the US Green Building Council, The Green Home Guide.

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“Water, water every where… So let’s all drink some water!”  Famous qoute from Homer Simpson right before he attempted to drink the ocean water when Homer, Ned, Bart, and Todd were stranded at sea.

Yes Homer, 70% of the planet is covered by water.  Unfortunately, 97% of the Earth’s water is undrinkable salt water and 2% of the water is frozen in ice caps.  That means only 1% of the Earth’s water is drinkable.  With a little help from Global Warming we can change that!  I mean…  If we continue to waste water at current rates, we will have to defend our precious 10,000 lakes from the Californians, Arizonans, and New Mexicans. There are a number of ways to prevent the complete depletion of our fresh water supply.

First and foremost is to change our living habits.  The average American household uses about 300 gallons of water a day compared to the average African household that uses about 5 gallons a day.

Turn off the faucet when shaving and brushing your teeth (saves 4-6 gallons)

Take shorter showers (saves 25-50 gallons)

Fix the leaking faucet (saves 16 bathtubs of water in a month)

Refrain from watering the lawn
Well, I’m a big fan of the long showers, I also can’t stand a brown lawn, and I’m definitely flushing the toilet even if it is just a “number one.”

Low-flow toilets – use 1.6 gallons per flush.  Toilets consume 40% of the water in a home, that’s why if you make one household change, it should be to low-flow toilets.  It is very inexpensive and saves you money down the road.

Dual-flush toilets – two types of flushes, one with 0.8 gallons used for liquid waste and 1.6 gallons used for solid waste.  After all there are two numbers, why shouldn’t there be two flushes?

Low-flow showerheads – also very inexpensive to install.  Low-flow showerheads may cut your energy bill in half!

Tankless Water Heater – only heats the water that you use and does not constantly run.

Off-Peak Water Heater – water heater that shuts off during hours of non use, while you sleep and while you’re at work.

Check back about Graywater and Rainwater when Resource Efficiency comes up.

And don’t worry about Homer and the boys, they found an off-shore drilling rig converted into a Krusty Burger.

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