Connecticut

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Connecticut Lawmakers Consider Aid for Homeowners With Failing Foundations

Repair loans, state guarantees on municipal borrowing, and permit fee waivers are among proposals to help hundreds of homeowners

Posted on Mar 7 2017 by Scott Gibson

Connecticut state lawmakers are considering several ways of helping homeowners whose homes are threatened by failing concrete foundations.


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  1. Connecticut Coalition Against Crumbling Basements

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There’s No Relief in Sight for Beleaguered Connecticut Homeowners

Failing concrete foundations render some homes worthless, with the total number of affected properties still unknown

Posted on Nov 17 2016 by Scott Gibson

Connecticut authorities continue to gather information about failing concrete foundations in hundreds and possibly thousands of homes in the eastern part of the state, but there is no financial relief in sight now for homeowners whose houses are essentially worthless.


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  1. Connecticut Coalition Against Crumbling Basements

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The Four Keys to a High-Performance Home

Connecticut builder Michael Trolle wraps up his series on building his own Passivhaus home with a look at its four essential design ingredients

Posted on Nov 12 2015 by Michael Trolle

Editor's note: This is the fourth and last installment in a series of blogs by Michael Trolle about the construction of his Passivhaus home in Danbury, Connecticut. The first part was published as “Building My Own Passive House.”


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  1. All photos: Michael Trolle

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Tearing Down to Start Again

Despite some misgivings, Michael Trolle begins his construction project by tearing down most of an old cottage in poor repair

Posted on Oct 27 2015 by Michael Trolle

Editor's note: This is the second installment in a series of blogs by Michael Trolle about the construction of his Passivhaus home in Danbury, Connecticut. The first part was published as “Building My Own Passive House.”


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  1. All photos: Michael Trolle

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Building My Own Passive House

A Connecticut builder details the construction of his own home on the foundation of an old summer cottage

Posted on Oct 19 2015 by Michael Trolle

This is the first entry in what will be a series of columns about the design and construction of my own Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates.. This is a rigorous process, and although the house is finished, certification (through the Passive House Institute U.S.) is not yet assured. I hope to provide an inside and personal look at the various economic, design, building, and decision-making processes involved. I also hope to give you a better understanding of some of the Passive House building practices.


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  1. Mike Trolle

Large Connecticut Home is ‘Zero-Energy-Ready’

Climate Zone 5A, Derby, CT

Jun 11 2015 By | 16 comments

General Specs and Team

Location: Climate Zone 5A, Derby, CT
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 2.5
Living Space : 4456 sqf

Builder: Mark Nuzzolo, Woodbridge, CT, Brookside Development

Rater: Steven Winter Associates, Matt Slattery

Construction

Foundation: Conditioned basement with R-10 foil-faced rigid insulation from top of wall to 3 ft. below grade; no horizontal insulation under the slab.

Walls: 1 inch (R-6.5) polyisoPolyisocyanurate foam is usually sold with aluminum foil facings. With an R-value of 6 to 6.5 per inch, it is the best insulator and most expensive of the three types of rigid foam. Foil-faced polyisocyanurate is almost impermeable to water vapor; a 1-in.-thick foil-faced board has a permeance of 0.05 perm. While polyisocyanurate was formerly manufactured using HCFCs as blowing agents, U.S. manufacturers have now switched to pentane. Pentane does not damage the earth’s ozone layer, although it may contribute to smog. on exterior side of OSB sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. ; 2x4 16-in. o.c. walls with R-18 flash and batt insulationInsulation, usually of fiberglass or mineral wool and often faced with paper, typically installed between studs in walls and between joists in ceiling cavities. Correct installation is crucial to performance. ; 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). siding.

Windows: Vinyl windows with double-pane, argonInert (chemically stable) gas, which, because of its low thermal conductivity, is often used as gas fill between the panes of energy-efficient windows. -filled, low-eLow-emissivity coating. Very thin metallic coating on glass or plastic window glazing that permits most of the sun’s short-wave (light) radiation to enter, while blocking up to 90% of the long-wave (heat) radiation. Low-e coatings boost a window’s R-value and reduce its U-factor. glazingWhen referring to windows or doors, the transparent or translucent layer that transmits light. High-performance glazing may include multiple layers of glass or plastic, low-e coatings, and low-conductivity gas fill.; U=0.28, SHGCSolar heat gain coefficient. The fraction of solar gain admitted through a window, expressed as a number between 0 and 1.=0.30; basement U=0.46, SHGC=0.61.

Attic: R-68 (19-in.) of cellulose on attic floor; R-50 of closed-cell spray foam in cathedral ceilings.

Heating and cooling: 2-ton air-source heat pumpHeat pump that relies on outside air as the heat source and heat sink; not as effective in cold climates as ground-source heat pumps. (HSPF 8, 14 SEER(SEER) The efficiency of central air conditioners is rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the SEER rating of a unit, the more energy efficient it is. The SEER rating is Btu of cooling output during a typical hot season divided by the total electric energy in watt-hours to run the unit. For residential air conditioners, the federal minimum is 13 SEER. For an Energy Star unit, 14 SEER. Manufacturers sell 18-20 SEER units, but they are expensive. ); 96 AFUEAnnual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Widely-used measure of the fuel efficiency of a heating system that accounts for start-up, cool-down, and other operating losses that occur during real-life operation. AFUE is always lower than combustion efficiency. Furnaces sold in the United States must have a minimum AFUE of 78%. High ratings indicate more efficient equipment. gas furnace; ducts inside, MERV 10 filter

Domestic hot water: Tankless gas; EF(EF). Efficiency measure for rating the energy performance of dishwashers, clothes washers, water heaters, and certain other appliances. The higher the energy factor, the greater the efficiency. In some appliances EF reflects the percentage of energy going into the appliance that is turned into useful energy. 0.92

Mechanical ventilation system: 90 cfm exhaust-only system that meets ASHRAE 62.2A standard for residential mechanical ventilation systems established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Among other requirements, the standard requires a home to have a mechanical ventilation system capable of ventilating at a rate of 1 cfm for every 100 square feet of occupiable space plus 7.5 cfm per occupant..

Lighting: 10% LED; 90% CFLCompact fluorescent lamp. Fluorescent lightbulb in which the tube is folded or twisted into a spiral to concentrate the light output. CFLs are typically three to four times as efficient as incandescent lightbulbs, and last eight to ten times as long. CFLs combine the efficiency of fluorescent light with the convenience of an Edison or screw-in base, and new types have been developed that better mimic the light quality of incandescents. Not all CFLs can be dimmed, and frequent on-off cycling can shorten their life. Concerns have been raised over the mercury content of CFLs, and though they have been deemed safe, proper recycling and disposal is encouraged. ; daylight sensor on exterior lamp.

Appliances: 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. refrigerator and dishwasher

Blower-door results: 2.03 ach50

Energy

HERSIndex or scoring system for energy efficiency established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) that compares a given home to a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Reference Home based on the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code. A home matching the reference home has a HERS Index of 100. The lower a home’s HERS Index, the more energy efficient it is. A typical existing home has a HERS Index of 130; a net zero energy home has a HERS Index of 0. Older versions of the HERS index were based on a scale that was largely just the opposite in structure--a HERS rating of 100 represented a net zero energy home, while the reference home had a score of 80. There are issues that complicate converting old to new or new to old scores, but the basic formula is: New HERS index = (100 - Old HERS score) * 5. Index: 45

Projected annual energy cost savings: $1,730

Projected annual utility costs: $2,110

Annual Energy Savings: 6,319 kWh, 654 therms gas

Solar: House is pre-wired 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 plumbed for a future solar thermal system.

Water Efficiency

EPA WaterSenseProgram developed and administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to promote and label water-efficient plumbing fixtures. fixtures

Storm water management during and after construction; invasive species removed; rain garden designed to accept all runoff from home; conservation easement planned.

Certification

DOEUnited States Department of Energy. Zero Energy Ready Home Program

EPA Indoor airPLUS

2013 Connecticut Zero Energy

NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification. National Green Building StandardNational 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. , whole development

The builder says that the incremental cost of the energy-efficiency features was only $6,000 more than minimal compliance with the the 2009 code

Builder Mark Nuzzolo of Brookside Development has energy savings all sewn up at his new development, Singer Village in Derby, Connecticut. The high-performance homes are located on land surrounding the historic Singer House, once home of the granddaughter of Isaac Merritt Singer, founder of Singer Sewing Machines.

Lessons Learned

Mark Nuzzolo says that building highly energy-efficient homes requires some homework, teaching ability and collaboration.

"The first hurdle to overcome is gaining the science knowledge which enables you to teach. Take a building science course, lecture, read a lot of articles. Do it more than once as it takes time to absorb. I am still learning," said Nuzzolo.

"Once you acquire the knowledge, you must commit to a strategy. Do you want to get to zero at any cost, or do you want to reach the point of diminishing returns? Either way, you must team up with a competent, experienced, and knowledgeable rater.

"After committing to a whole-house strategy, you are able to seek supply chains and subcontractors and teach, teach, teach. Also, measure everything to determine value and effectiveness," he said.

Working to high energy standards can be frustrating because the code and knowledge lags behind cutting-edge technology.

"The whole concept of green building is to reduce the demand which enables you to use fewer resources to satisfy the demand. Most challenging is saving the money and resources after lowering the demand. The industry workers beginning with engineers right down to the HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. mechanics force you to design to current standards, partly because the codes and standards lag and partly because they have little or no experience with high performance building and lack confidence," said Nuzzolo.

"I have been doing this for some years now, and I am content with my current systems. However, technology is changing every day. You must keep pace," he added.

The benefits of green building still suffer from a lack of awareness by both the pubic and the building industry.

"This is the next biggest or maybe even the biggest challenge. Builders, realtors, appraisers and customers have very little experience with high-performance homes and therefore cannot place a value on it. The sales force needs to be very educated and passionate and demonstrative. In order to get people's attention, we have guaranteed the energy costs," he said.

"Our economy (in Connecticut) has severely lagged the nation, we have had an exodus of employers and households. We have a large amount of foreclosures and short sales which have kept prices low. Development costs, building costs, and lack of demand has kept new homes at depressed levels. It is very difficult to obtain commensurate appraisals and there is therefore little incentive to add costs to a home," said Nuzzolo.


Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy

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  1. Brookside Development

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Steven Winter Associates Wins Green Building Awards

The Connecticut Green Building Council honors three energy-efficient residential projects

Posted on Jul 17 2013 by Scott Gibson

Steven Winter Associates has been honored by the Connecticut Green Building Council for its contributions to three residential projects in the state, including the second house in the country to win certification under the U.S. Department of Energy's Challenge Home program.


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  1. Steven Winter Associates

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Connecticut Gets Its First Certified Passivhaus

A home in Harwinton is the builder's first foray into Passivhaus and net-zero construction

Posted on Apr 3 2013 by Scott Gibson

A 3,561-sq. ft. home in Harwinton, Conn., is the state's first certified PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. and the overall winner of the 2012 Connecticut Zero Energy Challenge, a statewide design/build competition that recognizes energy-efficient building practices.

The three-bedroom house was designed and built by Wolfworks Inc., of Avon, Conn., and incorporated a variety of features to help it meet the Passivhaus standard for low energy use and low rates of air infiltration.


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  1. Wolfworks

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The Connecticut Zero Energy Challenge

Eighteen entrants are competing to design and build some of the state’s most energy-efficient single-family and multifamily homes

Posted on Jul 15 2009 by Richard Defendorf

Green-construction contests not only can inspire innovation, they can inspire more green-construction contests.

And that is a good thing. The drive among builders, architects, engineers, and, in some cases, homeowners to succeed in these competitions often results in structures that serve as both teaching tools and publicity magnets for green building.


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  1. His Light Builders

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