Over the past ten or fifteen years a couple developments have emerged that challenge the wisdom of just “doing it the old way” in construction. First, the field of building science – our physics-based understanding of how buildings function and how heat, air, and moisture interact with building components – is all grown up now. And the science is telling us that the “old way” not only wastes energy, it delivers questionable indoor air quality and comfort to building occupants. The science also illuminates a safe and practical road to a better way of building, “high performance building,” that brings superior efficiency, health, comfort, and durability.
It’s not just the products we use. It’s our whole approach.
It’s easy to dig up a plethora of building products labeled “sustainable” or “green.” Some of these products are great and are truly sustainable. Unfortunately, others are snake oil. And be warned, there are some builders that will incorporate some of these “green” products within a home that is not high performance.
Where high-performance houses are concerned, we believe the entire approach is important: this includes everything from the design details to the choice of materials and the installation methods. All of these aspects must work in concert to deliver a highly efficient home that lives up to the label: high performance.
Why it makes a difference
90% of new homes in the US are built to just meet the minimum standard performance levels required by local building codes. Building codes and inspectors only ensure lowest legally allowed levels of performance of new homes.
BenefitsALL Installed Performance Features are Verified by 3rd Party Energy and Green Raters:
• Continuous mechanical ventilation air
• MERV 11 air filters
• Low emission building products (including: insulation, flooring, paint, etc.)
• Enhanced thermal envelope
• Enhanced humidity control
• Enhanced exterior water and moisture management
• Non-toxic pest controls
Improved Energy Efficiency Levels
• Heating and cooling equipment
• Water heating
• Lighting and appliances.
• Water efficient plumbing fixtures
• Stormwater management features (to protect local watersheds)
• Use of local building products, and products with recycled content.
• Construction waste management (landfill diversion)
Two of the most important factors in building a High Performance home are a Well-Sealed Building Envelope and Creating Better Indoor Air Quality.
A Well-Sealed Building Envelope
It all starts with design. A designer will use energy modelling to test how a home will perform once built and engineers assess the home to meet a higher standard. By using better window systems, high performance insulations (yes, it costs more but saves you more over the long run), and air sealing techniques can build a structure that doesn’t leak air. Did you know that a drafty home can be responsible for up to 30% of a structure’s heat loss? Addressing air leaks will address heat loss and poor energy performance but that strategy must be coupled with one of ensuring we still get a fresh air cycle in our airtight home.
Creating Better Indoor Air Quality
A High-Performance home isn’t just energy efficient. It provides a healthier environment for you and your family. How does it do this?
When the home is built to be air tight – you need a method of cycling in fresh outdoor air, while exhausting the warm, moist air generated in your home by living in it (especially in kitchens and bathrooms). Airtight construction controls the transfer of heat and moisture into and through the building envelope. With a properly sealed building envelope and an air exchange system to regulate the indoor air quality, your furnace will provide exactly the right amount of conditioned air to every room, keeping it uniformly cool during the summer, and warm in the winter. Keeping humidity under control will also reduce the risk of condensation in your home, which can lead to cases of mold and mildew.
High-Performance Home Elements
There are many other elements that go into building a High-Performance Home such as using fixtures that conserve water, using appliances that conserve electricity, recycling where possible, using low VOC paint and flooring, etc. At BHBC, we strive to incorporate as many High-Performance Home elements as possible to achieve a price performance balance that provides exceptional value and comfort to our customers.