Habitat for Humanity

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Enterprise Green Communities and Passive House

The green building program for affordable housing gives points for PHIUS certification

Posted on Oct 7 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD
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The best green building program you've never heard of is probably Enterprise Green Communities. Everyone knows about LEEDLeadership 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. , of course. Regional programs, such as EarthCraft House and Minnesota GreenStar, also have name recognition in their areas. But unless you've been involved with Enterprise Green Communities, you may not have even heard of it. The recent release of their new program criteria means that it's time for that lack of name recognition to change.


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Image Credits:

  1. Energy Vanguard
  2. Enterprise Green Communities

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Habitat Chapter Sees an Energy-Efficient Future

An upstate New York chapter of Habitat for Humanity starts with Energy Star building and decides to up its game to the Passivhaus standard

Posted on Aug 8 2014 by Scott Gibson

An upstate New York Habitat for Humanity chapter was already committed to energy-efficient design when it began mulling over the possibility of a project built to the 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. standard — maybe not right away, mind you, but some time in the future. Then executive director Brenda Adams ran into a celebrated architect who had just wrapped up his first Passivhaus project. "What are you waiting for?" he asked her.


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Image Credits:

  1. BarlisWedlick Architects
  2. BarlisWedlick

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Habitat’s New Net-Zero House in Minneapolis

University architecture students have designed a house with 8 inches of extruded polystyrene insulation on the exterior side of the wall sheathing

Posted on Mar 3 2014 by Scott Gibson

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity in Minneapolis has built its first net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. project, a single-family house in the city's north end that was designed by architecture students at the University of Minnesota.


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Image Credits:

  1. Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity

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Habitat’s High-Performance Experiment

Habitat for Humanity affiliates around the country have launched net-zero energy and Passivhaus projects which are often the first in their communities

Posted on Jan 14 2014 by Scott Gibson

High-performance houses might not seem the most logical choice for Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit that builds affordable housing on tight construction budgets and relies on non-professional labor.

Renewable energy systems have high upfront costs, and the extra insulation, air-sealing and other detailing that make 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. or net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. construction possible take more time, building expertise and money than conventional houses.


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Image Credits:

  1. Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C.
  2. Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity
  3. Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County

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Habitat for Humanity’s Net-Zero Community

Plans for the Wisconsin development call for a total of 18 homes and a community center on five acres of land

Posted on Jul 22 2013 by Scott Gibson

An ambitious Habitat for Humanity project in River Falls, Wisconsin, is now in it second year of construction with three net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. duplexes complete and another dozen housing units plus a community center still to come.


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Image Credits:

  1. Jim Cooper

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A Tough Energy Code Is the Worker’s Friend

Massachusetts towns that adopt the stretch code are helping to lower the cost of operating a home, thereby helping working-class families

Posted on Dec 11 2012 by Marc Rosenbaum

The Town of West Tisbury passed the Stretch Code at Town Meeting this year. It's a more stringent building code and in essence it speeds up the adoption of the next iteration of the International Energy Code.


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Image Credits:

  1. Marc Rosenbaum

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Turning Objections to a Green Project Into an Opportunity

Neighbors have stalled a 35-unit subdivision of energy-efficient dwellings, but the delay gives a Habitat chapter time to refine its green building techniques

Posted on Jan 12 2012 by Richard Defendorf

The McMinnville Area Habitat for Humanity, in Oregon, had guided its proposed 35-unit affordable-housing development through a design process that strongly emphasizes energy conservation and makes efficient use of the subdivision’s 3.47 acres. The energy efficiency, affordability, and layout of the community have won praise from most people who have studied the project.

Including those who oppose it.


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Image Credits:

  1. M.O. Daby Design

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Students Bring Zero-Energy Design to Habitat

University of Minnesota’s College of Design brings classroom knowledge and Solar Decathlon experience to its collaboration with Habitat for Humanity

Posted on Nov 24 2011 by Richard Defendorf

One of the key goals of the Solar Decathlon – the biennial competition that challenges university students to design, build, and operate solar-power houses – is to inspire Decathlon participants and their university colleagues to apply their creative energy and technological expertise in the real world.


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Image Credits:

  1. College of Design / University of Minnesota

Building the Best Baltimore Rowhomes — and Neighborhoods

Baltimore, MD

Oct 14 2011 By Peter Yost | 0 comments

General Specs and Team

Location: Baltimore, MD
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 1
Living Space : 900 sqf
Cost (USD/sq. ft.): $88/sqf

This cost includes the preferential pricing and product donations to which Habitat for Humanity projects have access. On this particular project (135 N. Decker), the volunteer labor associated with most HFH projects was not possible.

Architect: TerraLogos: ecoarchitecture
Builder: The Michael Group
Building Partner: Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake

Construction

Foundation: Brick with concrete floor
Above-grade walls: Masonry with furred out 2x4s
Roof: Wood-framed low-slope with parapet

Energy

Windows: Trimline Liberty Series wood windows with low-e argon (U = 0.29)
Insulation: Blown-in cellulose
Air sealing: Closed-cell spray foam
Appliances: Whirlpool Energy Star kitchen appliances

Water Efficiency

Toilet: American Standard Cadet 3 FloWise
Kitchen & Lav Faucets: Delta Innovations WaterSense faucet

Working with Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, green architectural firm TerraLogos develops a streamlined design and permit set process for 50 Baltimore rowhomes

At just around 1,000 square feet, existing rowhomes in Baltimore represent a true design challenge. Of course, any redesign or retrofit should be green and affordable.

Streamlining assessment, design, and permitting

Lessons Learned

TerraLogos works continuously with both HFHC’s construction management and family services staff to better meet the needs of the structure and the occupants. Kim adds, “We need to provide better documentation on basement air sealing for the construction team and the families are pushing for 3+ bedroom designs.”

Another learning experience arose from efforts to address basement ceiling height. The basements in most of these homes are almost always really shy on the height side. HFHC started, as many developers of these rowhomes do, digging out the basements by hand to create more head room or a living space in the basement. "This has proved really expensive, and so now we pretty much leave the basements at their existing height. We do add a concrete slab and seal and insulate the rim joists to complete the high performance envelope. The basement space is used for just mechanicals and often laundry," relates Kim Schaefer.

TerraLogos staff has also learned a lot by participating in the Women’s Build Project at 2412 Fairmount Ave., putting into practice the very designs and specifications they developed. This home will be completed and occupied by this Christmas.


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Image Credits:

  1. TerraLogos

Jefferson City Deep Energy Retrofit

Jefferson City, MO

Aug 1 2011 By Peter Yost | 0 comments

General Specs and Team

Location: Jefferson City, MO
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 1.5
Living Space : 1600 sqf
Cost (USD/sq. ft.): $55/sqf

Cost based on final appraised value.

Project Team
- Builder: River City Habitat for Humanity
- Sustainable Building Consultant: Verdatek Solutions
- Rater: ASERusa

Community Organizations
- City of Jefferson
- HBA of Central Missouri
- Linn State Technical College
- Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers
- Missouri Career Center
- University of Missouri Extension
- Nichols Career Center
- Central Missouri Community Action
- Missouri Department of Natural Resources
- University of Missouri-Center for Sustainable Energy
- Central Missouri Region Master Gardeners

National Support
- NAHB Research Center National Green Building Program
- DOE Building America

Construction

Foundation: block wall crawl space modified with partial full basement
Above-grade walls: structural block modified with interior insulated framed wall
Roof: vented unconditioned attic modified to “cathedralized” conditioned attic

Energy

Foundation: insulated and air-sealed with R-8 Icynene
Above-grade walls: R-19 "flash and fill" (2x4 inset walls sprayed with 2 in. of foam and filled with cellulose)
Roof: R-40 cathedralized and sprayed with Icynene
Windows: Quaker AdvantEdge (U-factor=0.30; SHGC=0.29; VT=0.50)

Indoor Air Quality

AprilAire Model 8126 Ventilation Control System

Certification

NGBS score and rating pending

This Habitat for Humanity (HFH) GreenBuild community project moves a 100-year old home to a “200-year” home

At face value, 802 West McCarty is nothing special, just one of 800 vacant or foreclosed homes in a distressed Jefferson City, MO urban neighborhood. But you don’t end up with the team listed to the right without creating something special indeed: the deepest green Habitat for Humanity (HFH) remodeling project in the Midwest. “We took it from the past 100 years and will be able to give it another 100 years of life,” says Ken Thoenen of Ken Thoenen Homes, the project chairman.

Humble home, humble owners

Lessons Learned

Matt Belcher took some time to think through this aspect of the project.

Hidden challenges: “Whenever you are dealing with renovating a home there are always the unforeseen challenges. In a building of this age, we encountered a number of issues that were not necessarily issues from the original construction. In fact, the quality and durability of the original structure is what made it possible to rehab this home instead of demolish it. During the course of the project, I always thought about the original builder and stone masons that laid up the stone and brick walls. They certainly did not have the equipment we do now, but they did a fine job building a good ‘stout’ home. I would hope in a hundred years or so someone would think that way about what I did!”

Correcting the work of others: “Most of our hurdles were with the additions that were put on the home with dissimilar materials and some of the products (like asbestos floor tiles and duct insulation) that were added long after the original home was built. The biggest challenge was the damage done simply by having stormwater running directly against the rear and sides of the home.”

Solar-ready: “We originally had wanted to include a solar thermal system and possibly some other ‘high tech’ equipment, but Habitat was concerned with the new homeowners’ ability to manage and maintain these higher tech items, not mention the price point. We concurred with their concern and included the ability to have these types of items added with the hopes that over the course of time, they would be.”

Taking the time to build a team: “We held several pre-planning meetings to have everyone on our team onboard, especially the folks from Nichols Career Center and Students at Linn Tech. I was able to visit Linn Tech and hold a couple of workshops with the architectural students there to discuss the nature of green building and how we are applying it to this project and identify how the National Green Building Standard and checklist was being used. They made several site visits, of course, to do measuring and inspections to be able to develop the plans for the house.

One great example of our partners’ benefitting from the process was during the blower-door testing we did prior to drywall. The insulation contractor was just completing the window and door sealing as we cranked up the blower door. Our rater also had an infrared camera with a digital thermometer. He was able to use the ‘gun’ to show areas around the windows that needed to be sealed. It was a great learning tool for the insulator; he is now interested in acquiring one of these ‘guns’ for their company’s own quality control process.”

Moving the building industry forward: “We were also able to demonstrate to industry professionals the process of focusing on the building envelope and designing in daylighting and passive solar as we rehabbed this project. We also demonstrated how a high-performance envelope can mean properly sized equipment much smaller than original, even thought the home was larger.

Finally, we held several open houses, a few for industry professionals and a few for the general public (with a focus on homeowners in this neighborhood to demonstrate what could be done with homes of this era!). These were all well attended. We had fact sheets posted around the home explaining different features and upgrades and general information. Our team even came up with a trivia game based on features in the home that visitors could get answered by reading the fact sheets!”


Peterbilt

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Image Credits:

  1. Matt Belcher
  2. HBA of Central Missouri

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