I have had two clients recently, two in the last 10 years to ask for Green or Energy Efficient qualities incorporated into their home design. This started me thinking about when I became involved in GreenBuilding. A builder that I worked for started me on this path in 1998 when this movement was in its infancy in Virginia. We had a client who worked for Virginia Power who was looking for Energy Efficient design that Virginia Power was pushing. At the time Virginia Power was looking for ways to increase the use of heat pumps and therefore power but underneath that they were creating better more sustainable homes. From my involvement then and through continued involvement over the past decade I have come to believe that there are a few simple things that can be done to provide superior energy efficiency that will pay for itself in a limited time frame:
1. CONDITIONED CRAWL SPACE – Conditioning the crawl space does several things that are beneficial to the home. Moisture control is probably the top item. Homes are starting to be built tighter but controlling moisture is not generally considered in the building code or by the builder. As humans we create and transport quite a lot of latent moisture into our homes. We need to be able to control this and having a conditioned crawl helps in that the moisture from external sources has one less path to enter the home.
2. BUILDING ENVELOPE – The crawl space is a part of this but equally important is how the walls perform. There are methods to create a wall of windows that is more energy efficient that a solid wall but very few of us live in glass houses. Air-sealing the building envelop thru the use of caulks, foams, and/or blown in batt (cellulose) or icynene (expanding foam) insulation will help to stop air infiltration thru the thousand of cracks that are in the framing. Building wraps, such as Tyvek, do much the same thing but should be viewed as a supplement to these other suggestions not as the cure. The building code now requires a building wrap to be placed under the exterior cladding and in my area 15# tar paper is just as effective as the Tyvek or other high end building wrap. The environment in my locality does not support the literature for the use of high end building wraps because we do not get too warm or too cold for too long.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you…