You Build What?

Often, when we are talking to people about what we do, there’s a pause and then, “You build what?” It’s easy to reply, “an energy efficient home” but it doesn’t really get at the heart of what building passive or super efficient means and we want everyone to know because we believe that building in this way is just one way to make an impact on our environment for the better!

Here are some details of home building we consider/ implement for a passive or super efficient home:

Conditioned Spaces: the size and density and where a home is geographically located is investigated to determine how much energy the heating/cooling/ventilation system would have to use per year. To determine this, we look at Peak Heating and Cooling loads. Peak heating is how much heat your system needs to put out on the coldest day of the year in the location of the home. Peak cooling then is the opposite. We build with dense packed cellulose insulation and do a rigorous amount of air sealing to keep the peak loads at a minimum. We want our homes to basically maintain a comfortable temperature of approx. 74F throughout the year which for the customer, results in lower energy bills.

Energy Sources: We want our homes to be significantly less consumptive than a standard home. To do this, we consider, how many people will live in the home and how the home will be used; what appliances will be in the home, what type of bulbs for lighting, the hot water heater and the Energy Recovery Ventilator Unit. We design the windows to provide solar gain in the winter when it’s needed and avoid window placement in areas where summer heat gain would be greatest. We evaluate the quality of everything making up the home because it’s these materials and fixtures that play a significant role in the energy performance of the home.

Air Tightness: By using the right materials and well developed building practices that prevent air and vapor from penetrating or leaking through the envelope (your homes shell) you can have a comfortable and healthy home. To do this, homes are blower door tested, which is an interesting and informative part of the build. The house, once the windows, doors, siding, roofing, and insulation are installed, is closed up and pressurized using a fan placed in a doorway. As the fan runs, the amount of air that escapes the home is measured, through software, and the output is generated in cubic feet per minute at 50 pascals of pressure per square foot. FUN FACT: Pascal: a pressure of one newton per square meter or in S.I.: one kilogram per meter per second squared.

COMPLICATED!

Lets just break that down a little: the number generated from the blower door is the number of times the air volume changes in a house over an hour at 50 pascals of pressure. PHIUS (The U.S. Chapter) requires homes to meet 0.06cfm50 per ft2 to be considered passive. The lower the number, the tighter the home! Some City and County Building departments will also have their own standard for air tightness as well. For example, in the City of Fort Collins a homes air tightness “shall not exceed 3.0 ACH50 (air changes/hour at 50Pascals of pressure) for either gas or electric heated homes” https://www.fcgov.com/building/files/cfc-sfd-air-tightness-testing-protocol-v4.2.pdf?1588951497 This is an important and incredibly useful tool in determining the energy efficiency of a home!

Whew! you’ve made it through that lengthy interpretation of what makes a passive home, passive. By building thoughtfully, we create homes that make an impact in human health, building health and environmental health.

Looking Around: Berthoud Project

Things are rolling on our Berthoud Project. The cellulose has been blown in and drywall is just about finished. Here is a little peek around the house.

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Standing in the Dinning Room, kitchen to the right.

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Looking out from the Master bedroom toward the Office (where tiny boss is), Living and Dinning rooms. Also looking up to the second level.  

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In the Master bedroom, to the left is the closet and to the right is the bathroom.

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Moving upstairs, we can see a bedroom, bathroom and the beginning of the loft space.

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Here we see the rest of the loft space, a second bedroom is behind the loft wall and then to the right is the mechanical room.

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Looking down out from the loft area toward the entry way where the office is visible.

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Moving back downstairs, this is the kitchen area. To the right is the pantry. Down the hallway is a laundry room, powder and entry into the garage.

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Last we have a panorama from the dinning room looking into the kitchen (to the left) and the living room and entry way. to the far left in the photo you can see the master bedroom door, and in the right corner is the office space. 

Building Seasons

Lets get caught up! Our last post was about some of the features on our Loveland Project. So much has happened since that post. The homeowners have their C.O. and have been moving in and getting settled. We will be back to get some photos to show off just how great it looks at a later time.

It’s funny how each project takes shape like the seasons. The beginning of the project is like Spring. There’s so much to look forward to. There are plans, visions and a lot of enthusiasm. As the project progresses you get to a point in building where there are subs everywhere and things are happening very quickly-much like being in the heat of the Summer. Once the subs have finished, there are finishes to look forward to, it takes shape like Fall-where golden leaves and kitchen sinks, bathtubs, flooring and wall colors bring about a renewed sense of excitement. The last season of building is the final finishes work and then stepping out of the project completly-Winter.

Just like the seasons in Colorado, sometimes we are in winter at one project and spring at another and isnt that just the beauty of it all? Of being a part of so much change and growth!

Currently, we are in Berthoud, CO and the season of building is Spring. Our foundation work is complete, we have framed the floors, walls, set trusses and are ready to start sheathing the roof and start siding. We are gearing up for summer, both figuratively  (see earlier mention) and literally. We have another project in Fort Collins that is just about ready to start breaking ground.

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It’s exciting to be doing what we are doing. To know that at the end of day, the homes we are building can withstand the seasons providing quality and comfort for its homeowners. We are excited and thankful that people continue to reach out to us and are interested in building a highly efficient passive home with us! Cheers to the seasons, may they keep on coming!