Windows That Help with LEED Certification

This is the third installment in our series called Energy-Efficient Windows 101 made possible by Marvin Windows and Doors. In the previous article, I discussed some of the product options available for your energy-efficient windows. For this article I want to focus on how Marvin windows contribute towards a home’s efficiency and LEED certification.

Windows and Energy Efficiency

Windows are a weak point in the envelope of a home and can make a home uncomfortable or drafty. However, that doesn’t have to be the case with products available from Marvin. Energy-efficient windows and doors can help reduce energy bills by up to 15%, according to the Energy Star website, and Marvin has more than 150,000 options for meeting or exceeding Energy Star requirements. Marvin has dual- and triple-pane windows, various low-E coatings, insulating gases like argon and krypton, and several choices of framing materials.

Windows and LEED Certification

As you probably know, windows themselves can’t obtain LEED certification but they may contribute towards certification for a project or home. Marvin windows may help contribute toward LEED-H points in several categories relating to energy performance, construction waste management, recycled content, regional materials,daylighting and views, and certified wood.

Try the Smart Performance Promotion

Marvin is running a Smart Performance Promotion giving one lucky homeowner $5,000 toward the purchase of new Marvin windows and doors. In connection with the promotion, the company published a collection of energy efficiency and other home improvement tips from Lou Manfredini, a homebuilder, contributor to the Today Show, and host of HouseSmarts TV.

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Blu Homes Announces Discount for those Affected by Sandy

Blu Homes Pre Fab Houses

Energy Efficient Home by Blu Homes Built To Last

For those affected by hurricane Sandy Bue Homes is offering a discount to help get you back into a new home at a discount. Along with this great offer they it in record time.

It has been a few months  now and if you are looking to get back on your feet, you can do so in an energy  efficient Pre Fab home by Blu Homes. With a host of customizable options and a build time of 5 to 9 months this is is a great offer. There is a wide range of design to chose from for your new Pre Fab home along with materials and energy saving features.

13 Reasons to Plan a Foam-Free Enclosure

Spray foam has been the subject of much discussion in green building circles.  Whether the concern is installation safety or global warming potential or better energy performance, it seems there’s no shortage of debate.  Along these lines, the guys at 475 High Performance Building Supply, a Brooklyn-based provider of products for high-performance projects, have a list describing 13 ways foam fails, starting with the “dangerous toxic ingredients.

1.)  Dangerous toxic ingredients
2.)  Irredeemable global warming potential
3.)  Unacceptably high fire hazard
4.)  Hypersensitive on-site manufacturing
5.)  Intolerant of adverse job site conditions
6.)  Unhealthy off-gassing
7.)  Counterproductive vapor retarder/barrier
8.)  Terribly hygrophobic
9.)  Weak and unpredictable air control
10.)  Inflexible and prone to cracking
11.)  Excessive shrinkage
12.)  Difficult to identify and repair air leaks
13.)  Degrading thermal insulation values

So therefore why not go “foam free” in the building enclosure, says architect Ken Levenson with 475 High Performance Building Supply. What do you think about this list? If not foam free, then why?

[+] Foam Fails by 475 High Performance Building Supply.

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Four Insights from a Passive House Retreat

This is the Passive House Retreat in New England built by Aedi Construction with architecture and Passive House consulting by Boston-based ZeroEnergy Design.  I was able to trade emails with ZED, including Stephanie Horowitz AIA CPHC and Jordan Goldman CPHC, about the energy performance of the home over the last year, and they said actual performance exceeded all predictions — including Energy Star and PHPP usage calculations.  The home averaged 412 kW per month for all energy consumption.

That means the home can be net zero energy on an annual basis with the installation of a reasonably-sized 4.1 kW solar electric system, according to ZED.  And if you’re interested in the detail, all the geeky performance data is listed here.  Meanwhile, I want to share some takeaways or insights from the project team at ZED pertaining to the retreat.

First, it’s important to focus on the envelope first.  ZED treated the envelope as the primary “heating system” with special attention to orientation, insulation, windows, and air sealing.  Horowitz said: “You may have heard this before, but just in case you haven’t, prioritizing the building envelope first, then mechanical systems, and finally renewable energy systems is optimal.” That way you decrease the size of systems and, in turn, the renewable energy needed to power those systems.

Second, indoor comfort is under-appreciated. Most people are accustomed to drafty or cold housing, but an ultra-efficient home like the Passive House Retreat has even temperatures throughout. “Once you try it, you won’t go back,” said Horowitz.

Third, Passive Houses can be beautiful. Early architecture yielded to experimentation or overall testing of the requirements for airtightness or energy use. Now, windows and products and software are better, and Passive Houses can have both “exceptional performance and aesthetics,” according to ZeroEnergy Design, just like this retreat.

Fourth, values other than financial payback drive energy choices. When building a home, not every decision is driven by financial payback. Homeowners have many influences — including aesthetic preference, product availability, cultural background, personal values, etc.  When choosing paints, for example, financial payback may take a backseat to color, odor, quality, brand, or impact on air quality, or something else.

The same can be said for energy choices. An ultra-efficient home can be an expression of a non-financial value such as the desire to avoid using fossil fuels, consume less overall energy, or emit less CO2, according to Horowitz and Goldman. Similarly, the decision to use renewable energy could be driven not by payback but by a desire to advance the use of renewable energy.

Passive House Retreat obtained LEED Gold certification and the systems include a Mitsubishi ducted air-source heat pump (HSPF 10, SEER 15.5), Zehnder Comfoair HRV, and a GE GeoSpring heat pump water heater.  The build includes a double-stud wall assembly with spray foam and cellulose achieving R44 walls, a R50 slab, and a R60 roof.

[+] More about the Passive House Retreat from ZeroEnergy Design.

Update 10/25/12 – this has been updated to correct the source of certain quotes.

Credits: Greg Premru Photography (#1, 3-4); ZeroEnergy Design (#2).

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Alpen HPP Buys Serious Windows Assets

If you’re a designer, builder, or future owner of a high performance home, you’ll probably be interested in knowing that fiberglass window products previously sold under the SeriousWindows brand will now be sold under the Alpen brand.  Boulder-based Alpen High Performance Products announced the purchase of assets including the fiberglass window and architectural glass operation from California-based Serious Energy, Inc.

Originally, the same window and glass business was founded by Robert Clarke and sold under the Alpen brand from 1981 through 2008, when Serious Materials (a former sponsor of this site) bought the business, according to a statement by Alpen.

There will be a period of transition, but readers can now get the 525 Series, 725 Series, and 925 Series through Alpen.  In the future, expect more green building products, too.  Alpen CEO Brad Begin said: “As we grow our business to include other highly energy efficient products, we feel that Colorado offers a rich pool of talent for innovative green product development.

[+] More detail about Alpen’s purchase of SeriousWindows assets.

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Old Seattle Home Gets an Energy Upgrade

This is a green home in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle and another energy-efficient renovation by Green Canopy Homes.  The company — which also renovated The Sentinel — is targeting Built Green 3 Star certification with help of comprehensive air sealing, extra foam and rigid insulation, Energy Star windows, a home electricity monitor, heat-pump water heater, Energy Star ductless heat pump, and CFL lighting.

The preliminary Energy Performance Score had the 1924-built Keaton (GCH’s name for the home) using ~43,000 kWh per year in energy.  Final EPS came in at ~11,000 kWh per year in energy, indicating a marked improvement in the energy performance of the home.

Green Canopy Homes estimates that improvements could result in a savings of about $2,240 per year, according to a Buyer Benefit Package prepared for Keaton.

Beyond efficiency, one interesting thing about Green Canopy Homes is they try to take as much input from the community as possible.  For example, the exterior color — Segovia Red — was selected ahead of Gold Leaf (yellow), Greystone (gray), and Castle Walls (green) through a community campaign.

Keaton is located at 4034 Latona Avenue NE, Seattle, Washington, and is currently listed for sale with John L. Stott, Inc., for the price of $749,950.  It has 3,126 square feet, three bedrooms, and 2.25 bathrooms.

[+] More about the Keaton by Green Canopy Homes.

Credits: Green Canopy Homes.

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A Wood Panel System for Passivhaus

The main driver for the performance and affordability of the recently-mentioned Rainbow Duplex is a panelized prefab system of construction that was designed to help projects meet the Passive House standard.  BC Passive House in Canada has a manufacturing plant that’s making these panels, and I thought it would be interesting to share what’s inside the company’s next-gen, high-performance panels.

As for the wall section (R52), from the exterior to the interior, the prefab panel has:

  1. Siding with rainscreen;
  2. Diffusion board (open to outside);
  3. 2

Passivhaus Rainbow Duplex in Whistler

This is a follow-up with new photos to our original coverage of an affordable Passive House duplex located near an affluent ski resort in British Columbia.  Referred to as the Rainbow Duplex, the home was designed by Marken Projects and built by Durfield Constructors with a high-performance, panelized prefab system by BC Passive House.

Located at 8448 Bear Paw Trail in Whistler, the new duplex uses up to 90 percent less energy for heating, cooling, and building operation than a standard house.  That being said, chasing performance didn’t stop the project team from also complying with the affordability requirements of Whistler’s Price Restricted House Initiative.

Each side of Rainbow Duplex includes about 1,500 square feet plus an unfinished basement with four bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Rainbow Duplex is the “first Passive House to be solely constructed in B.C. using primarily local products,” according to a recent statement.  Pre-certification review was completed last year, and Alexander Maurer of Marken Projects is waiting for Passive House certification from the international office located in Darmstadt, Germany.

This high-performance home has R47 walls, an R60 roof, cross-laminated timber floors and deck, solar hot water, a Zehnder HRV, sub-soil heat exchanger, Mitsubishi mini-split heat exchanger, triple-pane wood windows, and bamboo floors, to name just a few products and materials.

[+] More about the Whistler Passive House in British Columbia.

Credits: Durfeld Constructors. 

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Interview with a Passive House Builder

One thing I’ve noticed is the fact that home building is changing in a big way.  In order to capture what’s going on across the country, I thought it would be interesting to talk with influencers and innovators about things like tiny houses, prefabrication, sustainable design, high performance construction, and home technology.  For this first interview, I was able to exchange emails with Sam Hagerman, co-owner of Hammer & Hand and president of the Passive House Alliance US, on the topic of ADUs and Passive Houses.

Q: Could you summarize in just one sentence what Hammer & Hand is all about?

Hammer & Hand is a green builder and remodeler dedicated to service to our clients, to our employees, and to the built environment.

Q: I’m seeing mention of Hammer & Hand in the media more often … what are you doing to be so successful?

Early in 2010 we created a dedicated marketing position for a “chief evangelist” to tell our story online and with the media. Our approach has been to focus on doing good work and then share a vibrant, useful narrative about green building, building science, design, and craftsmanship. What we’ve found is that people start to notice you and talk. And our website and blog have really taken off.

Q: How many accessory dwelling unit (ADU) projects are you involved with?

We’ve completed about 20 ADUs over the past few years, including the super-efficient ADU that Jetson Green featured last spring. We currently have 3 in progress and 5 or 6 more in serious development. We get calls about ADUs 3-10 times a week.

Q: Earth Advantage Institute expects construction of ADUs, laneway homes, and infill homes to increase this year (see here) … do you agree?

Absolutely. Infill projects, ADUs and laneway homes are all on the rise for us. Another exciting development at Earth Advantage Institute is the new certification for stand-alone ADUs that they rolled out recently with full QA/QC. It comes with an Energy Performance Score that will become an important part of the valuation scheme for sustainable buildings in the near future.

Q: Tell me about your efforts in the world of Passive House?

My efforts in the world of Passive House fall into two arenas: advocating for Passive House and building Passive House.

We’ve been quite active with Passive House Alliance-US and Passive House Northwest in working to promote the standard in the marketplace and at all levels of government. My role as a president of PHAUS has given me the chance to be part of a chorus of public voices advocating for Passive House, many of them quite eloquent. That’s been a real honor.

As a builder we’ve been blessed with really exciting Passive House projects, like the Karuna House, designed by Holst Architecture. (Ed. note – see rendering above.)  We’re shooting not only for Passive House certification on that one, but also Minergie-P-ECO, LEED for Homes Platinum, and net zero energy.

We’re also working on a Passive House retrofit of a commercial office space, and have a number of other projects in development. Almost of these will pursue PHIUS+ certification to take advantage of the third-party verification that comes with it. And another small handful may not reach Passive House, given design constraints or architectural direction. It’s much easier to reach Passive House performance when Passive House design concepts and parametric analysis are included at the outset of a project, so we’re always happy to have the chance to collaborate with architects from the beginning.

Q: Most recently the Passive House industry has been in a bit of turmoil with contract disputes, trademark battles, quality control, etc. What’s your take on all this?

I think what we’re seeing right now is the natural kerfuffle that comes with any emerging market. There are thousand-fold examples of this in economic history as a movement moves from the early adopter stage to a more mature stage where organizations and institutions grow, bump against one another, and interact.

And the whole market context for Passive House is in rapid flux. Materials supply chains, for example, are just beginning to take notice of Passive House. The same is true for regulatory bodies that oversee code, consumer protection (like UL), and industry-based standards (like ASHRAE). So while the science of Passive House is sound, it’s taking time for the marketplace to respond.

In my view, the most exciting American Passive House development in the last year is the rollout of the new PHIUS+ certification that offers in-process third-party verification QA/QC of a project’s assemblies and installations by a cross-trained PHIUS/RESNET rater.

By harmonizing Passive House with US-based RESNET and providing third-party verification, PHIUS+ aligns Passive House with existing and emergent government incentive programs and other green building certifications that are tied to high performance building tax rebates at the local, state, and national level. Within in the next year or two, PHIUS+ will emerge as the market leader in promulgating Passive House in the US. It’s a native Passive House certification that responds to existing methodologies and practices on this side of the Atlantic.

The US not only contains widely varied climates, it’s also made up of myriad municipalities, each with its own politics and way of doing things. PHA-US is working to create a clearinghouse of information where Passive House practitioners and advocates can upload experiences and lessons learned and draw from those of their colleagues. We’re creating a forum for professionals to talk about technical problems, code strategies, marketing issues, business questions, you name it.

We’re forging ahead based on the conviction that, as American Passive House designers and builders, we all have a common bond based on advocacy of Passive House and low load buildings and that we can work together and minimize any acrimony or disagreements. There’s important work to be done out in the world. Enough navel gazing!

Q: Why not bypass Passive House for something like net-zero energy and water homes or homes that meet the Living Building Challenge?

I think Passive House provides the best road map to net-zero energy homes, so its not question of bypassing Passive House.

For example, the first dozen or so attempts to build net-zero in Oregon fell short because they missed the mark on efficiency and performance. Had these first buildings adhered to the Passive House energy standard most of them would have met their net zero goals.

I wouldn’t disagree that net zero or Living Building Challenge are worthy, it’s just that I see Passive House as the most sensible and effective gas pedal to reach their energy performance goals. Alternative energy is expensive. Insulation is cheap.

I also think there are reasonable questions about how broad market adoption can be for the most lofty certification programs. I mean, if anybody thinks we’re in danger of early and deep market penetration of compostable toilets then they’ve got another thing coming. (Joke)

Q: What should we expect to see from Hammer & Hand in the next few years?

I don’t know exactly, but I do know what motivates our work. At the core of it all is a passion for fine craft and a commitment to energy performance and building science. Passive House and home performance retrofits fuel our passion for building in 2012 and into the future. After all, the biggest power reserve available to the US is our potential to eliminate inefficient use of energy. And when we have people dying for oil oversees and cheap domestic energy on oil rigs and in coalmines here in the US, it’s a reminder that all of us need to step up our game.

Many of our clients approach us because they’re interested in energy performance and green building, but some aren’t. Sometimes the most meaningful energy savings you can achieve is with a client that doesn’t care about or is unaware of energy performance. Many times, we can lead those types of clients to an energy efficient place talking about the superior comfort and indoor air quality offered by low-load buildings. When you hire us you’re in for a level of energy awareness and sustainable practice that’s above and beyond what 99% of the market can deliver. I guess that makes us the 1%? Uh oh. Don’t print that.

Sam Hagerman is co-founder and co-owner of the leading Portland green building company Hammer & Hand and serves as President of the Passive House Alliance US.

Credit: (c) Holst Architecture, the Karuna House mentioned above.  

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The 2006 BMW M6: BMW Performance Parts, Aftermarket Parts now available at Parts Train

(PRWEB) June 22, 2005

The all-new M6 features weight-saving technologies such as a carbon-fiber roof and 19-inch forged aluminum wheels that are almost four pounds lighter than regular cast wheels. With almost 500 horsepower available, BMW claims the M6 will hit 60 mph in under 4.6 seconds, and it will run to 20 5mph without the traditional 155-mph speed limiter. The suspension, though similar to that of the M5, is specially tuned to take advantage of the M6′s shorter wheelbase and lower center of gravity. Massive cross-drilled brakes enable the M6 to pull up from 60 mph in less than 118 feet.

It is the most powerful 6 Series yet to be produced as it shares its power unit with the recently released M5. Acceleration is from 0-100 km/h comes in 4.6 seconds and the M6 reaches 200 km/h about 14 seconds. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h. It has a 5-litre V10 engine with a power output of 373 kW at 7 750 r/min, while torque is 520 Nm at 6 100 r/min. In city driving where not much power is needed, the BMW M6 automatically sets off in its comfort-oriented P400 performance program with 296 kW (400 bhp) engine output. The V10 power unit requires roughly twice as much cooling air as the V8 in the BMW 645Ci. The V10 is indeed the most demanding engine in technical terms. BMW