Mechanical Systems

Air seal at duct boot

Air sealing at corner vertical chase

A Deep Energy Retrofit Using Nailbase Insulation Panels

Oak Harbor, WA

May 17 2011 By Peter Yost | 2 comments

General Specs and Team

Location: Oak Harbor, WA
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2.5
Living Space : 2900 sqf
Cost (USD/sq. ft.): $100/sqf

Although this per square foot cost does not include the masonry work (done by owner), the cost is well below the "going rate" for new construction in this neighborhood, about $200 per square foot.

HVAC: Barron Heating & Air Conditioning
Energy/Rating Consultant: Pinnacle Inspections
Masonry/Tile: Ward-Johnson Masonry & Tile

Construction

- Foundation: block wall crawl space
- Above-grade wall: 2x4 wood-framed wall
- Roof assembly: Raised-heel truss

Energy

- Foundation: 1st floor, R-38 batt insulation; air barrier sealed floor sheathing
- Above-grade walls: R-29 (4-inch EPS nailbase + high-density fiberglass batts in wall cavity)
- Ceiling: R-38 blown-in fiberglass with 14" raised-heel roof truss
- Windows: Atrium U = 0.28, SHGC = 0.44, VT = 0.46 - 0.56

Water Efficiency

- Low-flow faucets
- Dual-flush toilet (powder room)

Indoor Air Quality

- HEPA filter system
- Rodda zero-VOC paints
- Exhaust fan in garage coupled to door opener and light timer

Green Materials and Resource Efficiency

- 90% recycle rate (commingled off-site recovery)
- Extensive reuse of interior doors
- Extensive continued use of all kitchen cabinets
- Some cabinets reused in garage

Certification

- Energy Value Housing Award, Gold Level Remodel
- Five-star SICBA Built Green®
- Structural Insulated Panel Association Building Excellence Award - Remodel

The use of structural insulated panel (SIP) technology makes for a high-performance “overcoat” for a serious home energy retrofit

Ted Clifton has been building and remodeling homes for more than 45 years. But he continues to recognize good innovations as they come along. That’s why he decided to use nailbase insulation panels on a recent green remodeling project for Bob and Tobie Johnson of Oak Harbor, WA.

What is nailbase insulation?

Lessons Learned

The biggest surprise to Clifton on this project was the crawl space: “The foundation under this house was a crawl space, with unfilled concrete block walls. It was one of the cleanest and driest crawl spaces I have ever seen, so we did the math on whether or not to close it up, or keep it as a vented crawl space. This is the first time in years I have had one come up as more cost-effective to leave as a vented crawl space, partly I think because it had joists deep enough to insulate to R-38. We added the layer of 1/2-in. OSB (3/4 in. in places due to different floor covering thicknesses) to air-seal the existing shiplap board subfloor.”

The other big lesson learned was on the issue of tearing the whole thing down, given that they essentially rebuilt this home from both the inside and the outside. The homeowners first thought that it made more sense to start from scratch, given all of the changes a remodel would entail, but Clifton calculated that he could complete the gut rehab of the home for a fraction of the cost, if, among other things, he used the nailbase insulation panels on the project.

Finally, this from Ted Clifton: "It is very difficult to work around existing masonry fireplaces. Our mason-owners, Bob and Tobie Johnson (Ward-Johnson Masonry & Tile) had a very hard time plugging up all the water leaks and air leaks, but did an excellent job of it in the end."


Peter Yost

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Image Credits:

  1. Ted Clifton

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How to Keep Garage Fumes Out of the House

If the house has an exhaust-only ventilation system, will fumes be drawn inside?

Posted on Apr 4 2011 by Scott Gibson

Jack Woolfe wants to build a small, airtight house with an attached garage. The house will have an exhaust-only ventilationMechanical ventilation system in which one or more fans are used to exhaust air from a house and make-up air is supplied passively. Exhaust-only ventilation creates slight depressurization of the home; its impact on vented gas appliances should be considered. system, meaning the system will expel stale air from the house without providing a specific source for replacement air.

That's one of several options for whole-house ventilation, but Woolfe is weighing the possible risks.


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Image Credits:

  1. Don Mannes Fine Homebnuilding #162

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The Energy Star Homes Program Raises the Bar with Version 3

The Energy Star program — the first rung on the green building ladder — is scheduled to get more stringent, with new airtightness and HVAC mandates and tougher requirements for larger homes

Posted on Mar 4 2011 by Martin Holladay

Beginning on January 1, 2012, homes enrolled in the Energy Star HomesA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program to promote the construction of new homes that are at least 15% more energy-efficient than homes that minimally comply with the 2004 International Residential Code. Energy Star Home requirements vary by climate. program will need to comply with a new specification — dubbed Energy Star Version 3 — that is stricter than the current Version 2 specification.


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Image Credits:

  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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Direct-Gain Passive Solar Heating

A way to heat a house without combustion, electricity, or moving parts

Posted on Feb 23 2011 by Alex Wilson

Over the past two weeks I've written about two relatively obscure passive solar heating strategies: isolated gain using sunspaces; and indirect gain using a Trombe walls. This week I'll cover a far more common and cost-effective approach: direct-gain.


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Image Credits:

  1. Alex Wilson

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Ground-Source Heat Pumps, Part 3: Five Questions

For the last part of this Green Architects' Lounge podcast episode, Phil and Chris play "Five Questions" with two professional heat pump installers

Posted on Dec 1 2010 by Christopher Briley

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I sent an email to Jeff Gagnon and Jim Godbout, and asked them five basic questions about ground-source heat pumpHome heating and cooling system that relies on the mass of the earth as the heat source and heat sink. Temperatures underground are relatively constant. Using a ground-source heat pump, heat from fluid circulated through an underground loop is transferred to and/or from the home through a heat exchanger. The energy performance of ground-source heat pumps is usually better than that of air-source heat pumps; ground-source heat pumps also perform better over a wider range of above-ground temperatures. installations. In this part of the Green Architects' Lounge podcast, Phil and I take some time to review and compare their answers. We also take a moment to touch on the subject of ozone-depleting refrigerants.


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Ground-Source Heat Pumps, Part 2: Rules of Thumb

Deciding to use a ground-source heat pump is a big step; bigger still is dealing with all of the many variables that affect the design, scale, and cost of the system

Posted on Nov 16 2010 by Christopher Briley

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In Part One of this episode from the Green Architects' Lounge, we only scratched the surface. Now it's time to really dig in and decide if a ground-source heat pumpHome heating and cooling system that relies on the mass of the earth as the heat source and heat sink. Temperatures underground are relatively constant. Using a ground-source heat pump, heat from fluid circulated through an underground loop is transferred to and/or from the home through a heat exchanger. The energy performance of ground-source heat pumps is usually better than that of air-source heat pumps; ground-source heat pumps also perform better over a wider range of above-ground temperatures. system is right for you, and if so, to start planning for it.

In Part Two of the podcast, we discuss:

  • A tale of two houses: Chris shares a story of two houses—one a success, and one that had to abandon using a ground-source heat pump
  • Rule of thumb for flow: 3 gal. per minute per ton of heating/cooling

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    Biomass Boilers: A Greener Alternative to Heat the Home?

    Not your father's woodstove, gasification wood boilers offer one of the most efficient ways to squeeze the maximum Btu from cordwood or pellets

    Posted on Aug 16 2010 by Christopher Briley

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    For this Green Architects' Lounge podcast, we are joined once again by our good friend Pat Coon, from Revision Heat, to discuss the topic of biomassOrganic waste that can be converted to usable forms of energy such as heat or electricity, or crops grown specifically for that purpose. boilers—both gasification log boilers and wood pellet boilers. As we did with the Deep Energy Retrofit episode, we've divided the original recording into three blog-size pieces that are better suited for this format.


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    Deep Energy Retrofit: Apply the Energy Efficiency Pyramid

    A deep energy retrofit is done to save energy and invest wisely. To get the most bang for your buck, the scope of work should follow the energy efficiency pyramid.

    Posted on Aug 6 2010 by Christopher Briley

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    This is the last installment in the Green Architects' Lounge trilogy on deep energy retrofits.

    In this episode, Phil and I discuss the importance of sizing your new HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. system to the heat load of your newly renovated house. (This is where that energy auditEnergy audit that also includes inspections and tests to assess moisture flow, combustion safety, thermal comfort, indoor air quality, and durability. information, which we mentioned in previous episodes, is going to come in handy.)


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    Image Credits:

    1. Minnesota Power

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