Built in 2009, this Platinum EarthCraft certified residence earned the 2011 Earth Day Award from the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control for its sustainable features.
All environmentally-friendly homes are really about choices, and from the start Ms. Nicholson committed to sustainable design practices and embraced innovative technologies. Design considerations for an efficient use of resources is important, because...
"poor planning can be very costly"
Site choice and layout are really your first chances to make green decisions. Ms. Nicholson chose an in-fill lot close to downtown for easy walkability and access to mass transit. In order to be able to work with natural features of the lot, site layout is an important consideration. In this case, the position of the car shelter was critical for the efficiency of the photovolactic panels located on the roof.
Ms. Nicholson's home was designed to maximize passive solar energy, meaning that during the cold winter the home allows in sunlight, which is blocked during the summer by eaves. In this december picture, rays from the lower winter sun warm the living room floors.
A design consideration that is often not given enough weight is ensuring that all spaces in a house have a purpose. Houses should be built just big enough to meet the homeowners needs, as smaller homes use fewer resources to build, heat and cool, and maintain over time.
Using advanced framing techniques leads to a better use of materials, as less wood (poor insulator) allows for more insulation. Components of advanced framing include 1) eliminating excessive blocking, 2) ensuring properly-sized headers over windows, 3) utilizing engineered floor framing to allow for duct work in-between floors, and 4) insulating joice bays with icynene.
1. Use of duct tape and poor technique can lead to loose ductwork, 2. while poor design and execution can lead to inefficient venting, 3. installation of ductwork in a typical wet, damp crawlspace can draw in pollutants. Overall, creating an opportunity for damage, pests, and generally inefficient temperature control.
From icynene spray foam insulation to an insulated cover for your attic access, a clean and sealed crawlspace can all help lead to a more energy-efficient home with the smallest possible HVAC unit.
Before certification, all EarthCraft homes are independently tested in two phases by an EarthCraft technical advisor. Both a blower test (indicating air leakage of thermal envelope) and a duct test (air leakage of ductwork) are performed. Did you know that in a typical home, up to 30% of conditioned air is lost through duct leakage?
While materials alone don't make a house "green," they are important. Which makes me wonder, just how sustainable is it to ship "sustainable" products across the world?
All of the cabinets and countertops in Ms. Nicholson's home (and most of our homes), were produced less than 2 miles from her home by local craftsmen. Sustainable is about supporting our communities and our environment at the same time.
Waste management is an important, and often overlooked, part of sustainable building. From the start of the job, you have to have a plan to minimize waste and make sure that it happens. From an engineered flooring system to efficient framing and a central cut station, waste can be minimized. Also, many excess products can be recycled, which is even more important with renovations.
While WaterSense faucets and showerheads can make a big difference in the typical home's water usage, the Nicholson residence also utilizes a 3,000 gallon rain catchment system with rain chains. While this home's landscape is designed for minimal irrigation, did you know that grass is the most irrigated crop in America?
One of the biggest focuses of our business now is in-fill projects, and those that have an impact on the community.
In fact, we took the embedded energy- effort, time, and materials already invested in this building, and made it ours (instead of demolishing it!). It is this personal commitment to sustainability that drives our business decisions. One of the most sustainable decisions we have made as a business is to only build locally, within a few miles of our office in downtown Greenville.
Having personally had the opportunity to live in an EarthCraft home for the past two years, I have found it to be an enjoyable experience. Beyond the serene setting (quiet interior in an urban center), there is a noticeable difference in the air quality, peace of mind in having a more durable home, and lower energy bills!
As a business owner and homebuilder, it is important to us to encourage more people to build sustainably and make "green" decisions easier to make.