Kitchen or bath expanded existing space

Shower Window Retrofit (High Sill)

Tub installation at exterior insulated wall with rigid cavity insulation

Air sealing at corner vertical bathtub chase

building-scienceheader image

Thermal Bridging

Why insulation should not end with filling framing cavities

Posted on Mar 19 2009 by Peter Yost

Everything is relative — especially when it comes to thermal bridgingHeat flow that occurs across more conductive components in an otherwise well-insulated material, resulting in disproportionately significant heat loss. For example, steel studs in an insulated wall dramatically reduce the overall energy performance of the wall, because of thermal bridging through the steel. . Thermal bridging occurs wherever assembly components with low R-values relative to surrounding materials span from the inside to the outside of a building assembly. Thermal bridging takes place in wood-framed assemblies because, although wood is a pretty good insulator at about R-1 per inch, it is at least three times more thermally conductive than any cavity insulation, which start at about R-3.5 per inch.


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Image Credits:

  1. Dan Morrison

Remodel Project: Bathroom

While You're Updating the Fixtures, Don't Forget about Water, Moisture, and Ventilation Issues

Choose durable green materials

Tab 0

A moldly oldie goes new and green

With a 5-by-8-foot bathroom combining 1960s décor with original features from 1940, the homeowners hoped to renovate eventually, when they could budget it. They ended up acting sooner after discovering that mold in the bathroom was the cause of their recent breathing and sleeping problems. A house inspection team uncovered the mold infestation and recommended taking the bathroom down to the studs for full remediation. The couple took advantage of the problem to create a visually appealing, nontoxic and mold-resistant bathroom within the existing space. They tailored the bathroom to meet their needs while also keeping in mind future resale.

Tab 1

Provide good ventilation and durable, nontoxic finishes

The old bathroom had no ventilation, causing consistently high humidity, and its galvanized steel pipes had corroded, saturating the floor around the tub and toilet areas and damaging the floor and subfloor. The couple’s highest priority was to create a durable bathroom that would remain mold-free. This meant proper detailing and rethinking plumbing, ventilation, and finishes. They also wanted to include as many environmental features and materials as their budget and the small space would allow. They chose a bathroom theme celebrating water and nature as works of art, and a style befitting an average suburban home, making it suitable for resale.

Tab 2

Key Systems

HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building.
*Ventilation ducted to outdoors

Plumbing
*Low-flow fixtures for sink, toilet, and shower
*Low-flow showerheads designed for efficiency (not
retrofitted with flow-restrictors)

Lighting
*Natural lighting provided by skylight over shower

Finishes
*Tile floor and tile walls throughout the bathroom
*Durable marble baseboard
*Breathable (natural-colored) clay plaster finish
*Nontoxic grout and grout sealer
*Waterproof detailing

Tab 3

Compromises cut costs but not priorities

The homeowners found they had to make some compromises to
meet their budget for the project. Although they used nontoxic finish products and prioritized durability in aspects such as plumbing and tiling, they passed on other, less affordable features, such as recycled-content tile. Because Larry performed so much of the actual work, he was less prepared for the unknown than a professional may have been. While mixing the mortar for the tiled shower pan, for example, Larry discovered—
too late—that the instructions he had didn’t match the included illustrations.

Tab 4

Team and processes

Taking one year to complete the project, the couple hired
skilled contractors to do the mold remediation, plumbing, and electrical work but did the finish work themselves. An extra toilet in the house and a shower in their rental property nearby gave them the flexibility to take whatever time they needed. They made sure to research correct tile shower installation to avoid future leaks. Larry first installed cement backerboard underlayment
on walls and floor instead of paper-faced greenboard, which is cheaper but cannot tolerate the amount of moisture generated in a bathroom). He then used nontoxic, thin-set mortar to hold the tile and applied nontoxic grout and grout sealer to finish the job. Their research on tile shower installation led Larry to follow
the methods and materials of Ontario Tile Setters (www.debraslist.
com/greenbathroom/showerpan.pdf).

Location: Clearwater, Florida
Homeowner and Environmental Consultant: Debra Lynn Dadd
Homeowner and Amateur Builder: Larry Redalia
Area affected: 40 ft2

Finance

Debra and Larry had not budgeted for this emergency bathroom remodel. Although their insurance paid for basic mold remediation,it did not cover the cost of updating fixtures, furnishings or finishes. By undertaking much of the design and construction themselves, the homeowners were able to budget more for materials and consider products'durability and style, not just affordability. They also shopped architectural salvage yards to acquire, at lower cost, quality materials such as handmade tile.


SEE ALSO

Green Plumbing Layouts
Exhaust Ventilation

DRAWING LIBRARY CONSTRUCTION DETAILS

Bath Details

REMODELING STRATEGIES

Bath Strategies

GREEN POINTS

LEED for HomesLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. For gut rehabs that include the bath, EQ5 (Environmental Quality) offers 1 point for installation of an occupancy sensor, automatic humidistat controller, timer, or continuously operating bath exhaust fan. WE3 (Water Efficiency) offers up to 6 points for efficient toilets, lavatory faucets, and showerheads.

NGBSNational Green Building Standard Based on the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines and passed through ANSI. This standard can be applied to both new homes, remodeling projects, and additions. -Remodel Refer to the ANSIAmerican National Standards Institute. National nonprofit membership organization that coordinates development of national consensus standards. Accreditation by ANSI signifies that the procedures used meet the Institute’s essential requirements for openness, balance, consensus, and due process. standard and follow the appropriate path based on conditioned floor area involved in the remodeling or addition project and the year in which the original home was built. NGBS

MORE ABOUT BATHROOM REMODELING

LAYOUT/SPACE PLANNING

Plumbing
New fixtures should use as little water as possible. Choose low-flow shower heads, high-efficiency toilets and water-conserving aerators on sink faucets. If a water heater needs replacement, pick a high-efficiency model and consider a tankless heater or a hot-water circulation option if the main water heater is some distance away from the bathroom. Include a plumbing access door for shower valves.

Water management
Be sure your choice for tub and shower surroundings sheds water effectively and is easy to clean. Never use gypsum drywall (even the moisture-resistant variety) under tile in a shower or around the tub.

Circulation
Install a quiet fan of appropriate capacity and vent it to the outside. Consider more than one fan if the bathroom is large, and timers or humidity-sensing switches to ensure that the fan runs long enough after a bath or shower.

Wall, ceiling and floor finishes
Use durable materials that are not unduly affected by moisture. Consider tile made from recycled materials, and use paints, finishes, grout and caulk that are low in volatile organic compounds (low-VOCVolatile organic compound. An organic compound that evaporates readily into the atmosphere; as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs are organic compounds that volatize and then become involved in photochemical smog production.). Reuse existing subflooring and flooring where possible. Avoid carpeting.

Fittings
Be careful when using particleboard or MDF; lower grades are not moisture tolerant at all, and contain adhesives that can off gas VOCsVolatile organic compound. An organic compound that evaporates readily into the atmosphere; as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs are organic compounds that volatize and then become involved in photochemical smog production.. But high-density particleboard made with low- or no-VOC adhesives perform quite well in moist situations. Kitchen designer Peggy Deras (CKD, CID) in San Francisco, Calif is quite enthusiastic about industrial-grade particleboard (45-lb.) with a laminate or vinylCommon term for polyvinyl chloride (PVC). In chemistry, vinyl refers to a carbon-and-hydrogen group (H2C=CH–) that attaches to another functional group, such as chlorine (vinyl chloride) or acetate (vinyl acetate). interior wear-layer that makes cabinet interiors easy to clean.

As a testament to moisture tolerance, she cites a flood to an Ohio cabinet factory’s showroom filled with particleboard laminated cabinets; when the mess was cleaned up, only the wood moldings had to be replaced. The cabinets were fine. See our product guide for GreenSpec listed particleboards and make sure to specify high-density particleboard in kitchen and bath cabinets.”

Also, install environmentally friendly counter tops on top of those cabinets.


Image Credits:

  1. Julia Jandrisits/REGREEN
  2. Debra Lynn Dadd/REGREEN
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Remodel Project: Kitchen

Kitchens Use Lots of Energy and Water, But a Green Kitchen Uses Less

Design considerations can save resources

Tab 0

Adding without adding on

The owners of this 1,200-square-foot, 1948 house in Santa Cruz, California, had an overall plan: remodel their home in a way that would allow them to live out their lives in one place. Because of mold and moisture issues, they had already upgraded the house envelope. Next they wanted to design a kitchen that would last forever, add a guest bathroom, and create a private master bath. The clients were looking for a way to redesign within the existing space of their concrete masonry home and were sold on the idea of building green.

Tab 1

Borrow from the mudroom to add to the kitchen

The existing kitchen was tiny, poorly laid out, and poorly furnished, but it adjoined a large mudroom. Reconfiguring the floorplan to subdivide the mudroom allowed the designer to expand the kitchen and add a guest bathroom without an addition or significant relocation of walls. Because the owners wanted to grow old in the building, every effort was made to ensure accessibility in the open plan. And although this project did not include a photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. or graywaterWastewater from a building that does not include flush-water from toilets and (as most commonly defined) water from kitchen sinks or dishwashers. In some places, graywater can be collected and used for subsurface irrigation. system, the remodel did include prewiring for a future PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. system and preplumbing for graywater.

Tab 2

Key Systems

HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building.
* Kitchen range hood exhausted directly outdoors

Lighting
* Ambient lighting: airtight, insulation-contact-rated, recessed fluorescent cans
* Task lighting: under-cabinet fluorescent lights and over-table light fixtures made from 100% recycled cast aluminum
* Meets California’s Title 24 requirements for lighting efficiency

Appliances
* Energy-efficient dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer—
beyond Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. minimum
* High-efficiency water heater Wall and Ceiling Finishes
* Zero-VOCVolatile organic compound. An organic compound that evaporates readily into the atmosphere; as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs are organic compounds that volatize and then become involved in photochemical smog production. paint Floors and Flooring Products
* Natural linoleum flooring

Furniture and Fittings
* Bamboo cabinetry with natural low-VOC finish and prefinished plywood bodies of FSCNonprofit organization that promotes forestry practices that are sustainable from environmental and social standpoints; FSC certification on a wood product is an indicator that the wood came from a well-managed forest.-certified maple with formaldehydeChemical found in many building products; most binders used for manufactured wood products are formaldehyde compounds. Reclassified by the United Nations International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2004 as a “known human carcinogen."-free, soy-based adhesive
* Cabinets with recycled plastic content
* Concrete countertops with locally produced natural wax finish

Extra Features
* Prewired for photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. panels
* Preplumbed for graywaterWastewater from a building that does not include flush-water from toilets and (as most commonly defined) water from kitchen sinks or dishwashers. In some places, graywater can be collected and used for subsurface irrigation. system

Tab 3

Award winning green design

The clients wanted to go green all the way and made few compromises. The house is likely to achieve the first green building award in the City of Santa Cruz Green Building Program, meeting 133 to 135 of the 137 points available to this project (the program total for remodeling projects is 464). The designer’s one regret is the high-VOCVolatile organic compound. An organic compound that evaporates readily into the atmosphere; as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs are organic compounds that volatize and then become involved in photochemical smog production. finish on the hardwood floors throughout the house, which was the owners' one nongreen choice.

Tab 4

Team and Process

Considering whether to hire a pro, the do-it-yourself homeowners
were drawn to the unique materials in the Eco Interiors
green showroom, and to Lydia Corser’s deep green approach. Lydia
and contractor Rory Howland are Build It GreenProfessional, nonprofit membership organization that promotes healthy, energy- and resource-efficient buildings in California. It was formed in 2005 in a merger of Bay Area Build It Green and The Green Resource Center of Berkeley. Headquartered in Berkeley, Build It Green offers professional training and other support services, maintains a regional green products database, and administers the Green Point Rated home certification program. trained and certified.
Their common green building background allowed them to
easily form a team, recommending and implementing a wide
range of green features that the clients would not have considered on their own.

Location: Santa Cruz, California
Homeowners: Laura Alderman and Gary Garcia
Interior Designer: Lydia Corser, Eco Interiors
General Contractor: Rory Howland, Howland Construction
Area affected: 250 square feet

Finances

The owners originally wanted to add a granny apartment to their
garage, but the price estimate ledLight-emitting diode. Illumination technology that produces light by running electrical current through a semiconductor diode. LED lamps are much longer lasting and much more energy efficient than incandescent lamps; unlike fluorescent lamps, LED lamps do not contain mercury and can be readily dimmed. them to a remodel instead.
Ultimately, the remodel cost 30% to 60% more than they budgeted
—about the cost of the new construction estimate. What drove the
cost up was the additional work orders and add-ons, not the green
features. Because the owners had decided to move out for the work,
they took the opportunity to do additional upgrades on the house.


See Also

Green Plumbing Layouts
Exhaust Ventilation

DRAWING LIBRARY CONSTRUCTION DETAILS

Remodeling Details

REMODELING STRATEGIES

Kitchen & Bath Strategies

GREEN POINTS

LEED for HomesLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. . For gut rehabs that include the kitchen, EA9 (Energy & Atmosphere) offers 1 point for ENERGY STARLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. refrigerators; 1/2 point for ENERGY STAR dishwashers; MR2.2 (Materials & Resources) offers 1/2 point for environmentally preferable cabinets; 1/2 point for environmentally preferable countertops.

NGBSNational Green Building Standard Based on the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines and passed through ANSI. This standard can be applied to both new homes, remodeling projects, and additions. -Remodel. Refer to the ANSIAmerican National Standards Institute. National nonprofit membership organization that coordinates development of national consensus standards. Accreditation by ANSI signifies that the procedures used meet the Institute’s essential requirements for openness, balance, consensus, and due process. standard and follow the appropriate path based on conditioned floor area involved in the remodeling or addition project and the year in which the original home was built. NGBS

MORE ABOUT KITCHEN REMODELING

LAYOUT/SPACE PLANNING

Ventilate all fans to the outdoors.
Some older recirculating range hoods blow minimally filtered exhaust air right back into the kitchen--sometimes right at your forehead as you're standing at the stove! Another ventilation shortcut is to vent the fan into the attic or crawlspace above the kitchen. Make sure range hoods and other exhaust fans vent directly to the outside.

Windows and skylights in the kitchen
Windows and skylights can provide natural light, a connection with the out doors, warmth, and fresh air. But they also can overheat rooms in summer and cause leaks in walls and roofs. It’s common, especially in a kitchen, to fill a wall with windows, but it's a better idea to strategically place the right type of window or skylight for the best views, ventilation and energy performance.

Short and direct plumbing runs save a lot of energy and deliver hot water faster. Plumbing runs are best placed in interior rather than in exterior walls. Placing them in exterior walls makes a house harder to heat and cool, and increases the possibility of mold problems and frozen pipes.

Appliance location
Keep heating heat generating appliances—stoves, ovens, and dishwashers—away from refrigerators. Make sure there’s enough air space around all appliances to vent away ambient heat. It's also important to keep refrigerators out of the direct sunlight that comes through windows and skylights.

Lighting design
Good lighting design can improve kitchen function, appearance, and energy performance. Get the right mix of task and ambient lighting using energy efficient fixtures wherever possible. And keep recessed lights out of the ceiling if that ceiling is insulated -- these can lights are like energy tunnels.

ARE GRANITE COUNTERS A RADON HAZARD?

By Christina Glennnon

There has been considerable debate lately about the possible danger of radon and radiation emission from granite countertops. Granite, formed by the cooling of melted rock, is known to contain varying concentrations of uranium, which can produce radiation and radon gas. Both are known carcinogens: Radon is the number-one cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, and radiation is linked to any number of cancers as well as to genetic defects in unborn children. Unfortunately, there’s little published research on the subject, leaving the risks of granite countertops up for debate.

W.J. Llope, Ph.D., a senior faculty fellow at the T.W. Bonner Nuclear Laboratory at Rice University, began researching the subject after he was asked to test a home’s countertop by a local news station. He was surprised when the test showed radiation emissions, and began reviewing previous research. According to Llope, there is clear scientific evidence that radiation and radon are emitted from granite. What is unclear is whether the specific stones typically used in kitchen countertops emit the same levels. This question ledLight-emitting diode. Illumination technology that produces light by running electrical current through a semiconductor diode. LED lamps are much longer lasting and much more energy efficient than incandescent lamps; unlike fluorescent lamps, LED lamps do not contain mercury and can be readily dimmed. him to begin his own testing on countertops available for home installations. “Most stones, in terms of radioactivity, are relatively quiet. But there are a couple I have found that are insanely hot,” Llope writes on his Web site.

However, the Marble Institute of America, a trade association representing the natural-stone industry, points to a study it sponsored that found not a single stone emitted radon or radiation levels higher than those commonly found outdoors. Says Guido Gliori, the organization’s president: “To date, all published scientific research on granite shows that radon emissions from those countertops are not even close to posing a health risk.”

Still, to assure consumers of the safety of granite countertops, the institute is developing the Home Approved Stone program, which Gliori describes as “an industry-wide program that will apply uniform, rigorous standards to test and approve granite slabs for indoor use.” The standards, Gliori says, are being re-viewed by the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technicians and the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors. The label shown above should begin showing up on granite this year.

Although the debate continues, the consensus is that the majority of granite stones pose little risk to homeowners. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for its part, does not believe sufficient data exists to conclude that the granite used in countertops significantly increases indoor radon levels. As a result, the EPA does not recommend testing just granite countertops for radon, but rather the entire house. “In a nutshell, we believe people need to test the air in their home before getting concerned about granite countertops,” EPA spokesman Dave Ryan writes in an email. “If there is a significant radon [radiation] problem detected in a home, mostly likely the source is coming from soil gas [not from the granite countertops].” Home testing kits for radon can be purchased online or at hardware stores, starting at about $25. For more information, visit the EPA’s Web site.

Christina Glennon is an editorial assistant at Fine Homebuilding


Image Credits:

  1. Julia Jandrisits/REGREEN
  2. Jonathan Leys, WoodMaster/REGREEN
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Provide for paper recycling

Provide a recycling receptacle in a home office or other household space where wastepaper is generated.

Additional storage may be required in a garage or utility room, especially for newspaper subscribers.

Further Resources

Setting up a Home Office: Making Environmental Choices

BuildingGreen.com
Outdoor Trash and Recycling Receptacles

Add bathroom-wall blocking for future grab bars

When building or remodeling a bathroom, install blocking within the walls for grab bars, even if they aren't specified.

Then, photograph the blocking before the walls are closed up. As your clients age or become infirm, grab bars supported by secure blocking, already in place, will be much easier to add.

Learn more in the Green Building Encyclopedia

Remodel Project: Bathroom

Residential Remodeling and Universal Design

Maximize storage for a smaller house

Often, houses with plenty of storage are smaller than those without. Opportunities to include storage exist in most rooms. In small bathrooms in particular, include additional storage by finishing the interior cavities within the walls for medicine cabinets and small shelves. Incidental bathroom items fit the 3.5-in. to 4-in. space well. For even more storage, choose a sink with a base cabinet rather than a pedestal sink.

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