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Bldg. Design

Building an "energy efficient home" starts with design. Sorting out what is valuable and pertinent is extremely important but can be difficult and time consuming. Not all of the information on this website will apply to every project but we feel we have gathered the best resources from companies that have been the leaders in providing great green products not just hype. Understanding the benefits of the individual products and how they will work together will be a big part of your design process and ultimately the success of having a home that is working for you and saving you money while providing you with the ultimate in comfort.

What do we mean when we say design? Design does not have to cost you a fortune. It means choosing the best products and team. Where do you start? You will save thousands of dollars just having a good set of detailed plans. Get referrals from homeowners in your area that are happy with the results of their architect or designer. The architect or designer should be familiar with the types of products and systems you want to incorporate into your home as well as the proposed site. Next, choose a competent contractor you feel comfortable working with. Again, get referrals and references and be sure to go see their work. Even though your contractor may have sub contractors he normally works with, it is important that they are up to speed on the systems you have chosen in your design process.

Below we have identified several key components to consider when looking at the big picture at the design stage.  There will be many other items to decide on, but it is easiest to start with these key items.

  • Exterior walls of the home should be your first consideration. We refer to them as your building envelope. ICF walls are the single most important element in improving energy efficiency. ICF's walls alone can improve your energy consumption by 50%.
  • Windows are another huge consideration. The windows must work in unison with the wall to maintain the efficiency or will they literally be a hole in the wall, leaking energy in to or out of the building.
  • Ventilation and quality air filtration is also a critical consideration, especially when you have an air-tight home. The advantages of a good system are that it provides the ability to control the quality of your indoor air creating a healthy and comfortable living environment.
  • Heating and cooling systems in an ICF home can be downsized. This can be a dramatic savings. Pre-planning gives you the ability to easily implement alternative energy sources like solar thermal, geothermal and wind energy.
  • Water and plumbing. This is an area where preplanning really pays off. These are the easiest places to take advantage of using alternative energy efficient methods. These systems can be designed with solar so that you can use free energy of solar thermal to heat your water. Water can be saved by re-circulating domestic hot water in your system, not having to wait several minutes (and waste gallons) before it gets to your faucet. Rain and grey water can be reclaimed and used in several areas to include flushing of toilets and irrigation. Also, incorporating a good water filtration/purification system with a salt free softener is vital to your health.