United States Green Building Council, more commonly known as USGBC, defines green building as, “…the planning, design, construction, and operations of buildings with several central, foremost considerations: energy use, water use, indoor environmental quality, material section and the building’s effects on its site.”
From the start, our team has been dedicated to developing a community that is respectful of the environment and building homes that are sustainable and energy efficient. After careful consideration and ample research, we decided that each home would aim to be ENERGY STAR for New Homes certified. This is intended for building and designing high-performance green homes that are energy and resource efficient and healthy for its occupants. The ENERGY STAR for New Homes certification promotes homes that are designed and built to deliver better quality, comfort and durability while providing up to 30% in energy efficient savings. The 3rd party verification is crucial to this program because it provides credibility that the house was indeed, designed and built efficiently rather than the builder simply claiming that “it is efficient.” Extensive planning, testing and documentation prior to and throughout construction is required by key contributors to verify the home meets both program’s specifications.
We are implementing green building methods throughout the exterior and interior of each home in Urban North to achieve our goal of being the area’s first ENERGY STAR for New Homes certified community. Each home will have a 530-gallon rain barrel that collects rainfall from the roof and serves as the water source for the irrigation system. The landscaping is carefully planned to maximize the efforts of the rain barrel and irrigation system. We are installing a Fescue-Bluegrass blend of sod because of its wide blade and deep roots that store more water. We also require a minimum of 1000 sq. ft. of mulch to create a net-zero run off and use drought resistant plants that perform well in Missouri’s climate and soil conditions.
To control the air quality inside of the home, each home is built so air tight that a fresh-air exchanger is needed to bring in fresh air. The fresh-air exchanger will exchange stale indoor air with a fresh supply of outdoor air, reducing air pollutants such as allergens and radon, and will also help control humidity levels in the home. The air-tight environment is created by combining a 95% efficient furnace, air-sealed duct work, 15 SEER heat pump, blown fiberglass insulation throughout the home and wrapping the exterior with 1” rigid foam. The fiberglass serves to blanket the acclimated air inside the house while the foam serves to reduce heat loss through the framing members.
Standard water heater tanks are being installed; new 2015 regulations have improved their efficiency and first-hour recovery rates. When comparing these water heaters to the tankless options, our selection of water heaters performs very well in a cost analysis comparison. A hot water manifold provides a direct line from the hot water heater to each fixture, which minimizes the use of hot water because it is being delivered to each fixture faster than standard plumbing systems. In addition, Delta low-flow faucets are being installed that have low flow water rates and temperature control values built in.
Adding to the modern design and energy-efficiency concept, Owen Homes has selected to use varying sizes and unique placement of Andersen 100 Series windows with Smartsun tinting. These windows are made from Fibrex composite, a sustainable material, reduce the solar heat gain by 30%, and block 95% of UV rays entering the home.
Other interior materials, such as ENERGY STAR appliances, Sherwin Williams Low VOC paint, LED lighting and a programmable thermostat, will be used for these residences to carefully combine energy efficiency with a contemporary style. Urban North homeowners will notice a substantial cost savings on their utilities due to these green building features. Future residents will have the option to further increase the efficiency of the home and reduce utility costs even more by easily installing solar panels on the roof, as each home is prepped for solar.
Look for future blog posts that will go more in depth into some of the green building features you will find at Urban North. Contact our team to learn more and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram.