Timber-Frame House is LEED-Platinum and NAHB-Gold

Dexter, MI

Oct 12 2008 By Rob Wotzak | 0 comments

General Specs and Team

Location: Dexter, MI
Bedrooms: 4
Living Space : 4010 sqf
Cost (USD/sq. ft.): $238/sqf

Builder: Bob Burnside, Fireside Home Construction
Architect/designer: Marty Birkenkamp and Jake Lappan, Riverbend Timber Framing

Construction

Foundation: partial frost-protected shallow footing; ICFInsulated concrete form. Hollow insulated forms, usually made from expanded polystyrene (EPS), used for building walls (foundation and above-ground); after stacking and stabilizing the forms, the aligned cores are filled with concrete, which provides the wall structure. foundation walls (R-25)
Walls: 6-1/2-in. SIP(SIP) Building panel usually made of oriented strand board (OSB) skins surrounding a core of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam insulation. SIPs can be erected very quickly with a crane to create an energy-efficient, sturdy home. over timber frame (R-27)
Roof: unvented; 10.5-in. SIP over timber frame (R-45)
Windows: 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).-clad wood, 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-E4, R-3.3 (Andersen 400); SHGCSolar heat gain coefficient. The fraction of solar gain admitted through a window, expressed as a number between 0 and 1., .34; U-factorMeasure of the heat conducted through a given product or material—the number of British thermal units (Btus) of heat that move through a square foot of the material in one hour for every 1 degree Fahrenheit difference in temperature across the material (Btu/ft2°F hr). U-factor is the inverse of R-value. , .30

Energy

Heating/cooling: GSHP (Water Furnace Envision, 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. 30.0); hydronic heat distribution; two 3-ton BtuBritish thermal unit, the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water (about a pint) one degree Fahrenheit in temperature—about the heat content of one wooden kitchen match. One Btu is equivalent to 0.293 watt-hours or 1,055 joules. systems
Water heating: electric 50-gallon water heater (Bradford White) preheated by GSHP
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: 37 
Energy use (projected): 99 MMBtu/yr.
Actual: 105.6 MMBtu/yr.

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.: 2 kW; (cost, $16,000)

  • Insulated hot water supply and return pipes
  • Sealed supply and return HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. ductwork
  • High-efficiency gas fireplace (LP)
  • HRV(HRV). Balanced ventilation system in which most of the heat from outgoing exhaust air is transferred to incoming fresh air via an air-to-air heat exchanger; a similar device, an energy-recovery ventilator, also transfers water vapor. HRVs recover 50% to 80% of the heat in exhausted air. In hot climates, the function is reversed so that the cooler inside air reduces the temperature of the incoming hot air.
  • 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. lighting throughout
  • Passive solar heat
  • 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. appliances
  • Superinsulated air-sealed envelope

Water Efficiency

  • Dual-flush toilets
  • Low-flow faucets and showerheads
  • Automated drip irrigation with rain sensors
  • Drought-resistant plants
  • High-water-efficiency dishwasher and clothes washer

Indoor Air Quality

  • HRV(HRV). Balanced ventilation system in which most of the heat from outgoing exhaust air is transferred to incoming fresh air via an air-to-air heat exchanger; a similar device, an energy-recovery ventilator, also transfers water vapor. HRVs recover 50% to 80% of the heat in exhausted air. In hot climates, the function is reversed so that the cooler inside air reduces the temperature of the incoming hot air.
  • No- or 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. paints, finishes, sealants, and caulks
  • Green label carpets
  • Central vacuum cleaner
  • Sealed sump crock with radonColorless, odorless, short-lived radioactive gas that can seep into homes and result in lung cancer risk. Radon and its decay products emit cancer-causing alpha, beta, and gamma particles. vent
  • HEPA filter

Green Materials and Resource Efficiency

  • Frost-protected shallow foundation
  • Renewable materials
  • Job-site recycling
  • HardiPlank siding
  • Water-based floor finishes
  • Aluminum soffit and fascia
  • Permeable gravel driveway

Certification

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. score:5+ stars
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. score: platinum
Other certification: Green Built Michigan (state program affiliated with NAHB Model Green Home Building GuidelinesThese guidelines were finalized in 2004/2005 and are "...a tool kit for home builder associations to creae new programs and to help those programs expand and flourish." Builders can sign up on the NAHB Green website to use their web-based scoring tool to assess their project(s) according to the Guidelines. As soon as the ANSI National Green Building Standard is available, builders will be able to score their projects according to the Guidelines and/or the standard.


) points earned/level): 749/gold certification

Alternative Energy and a Tight Envelope Earn High Marks

Bob Burnside's home is also the headquarters and showcase house for his company, Fireside Home Construction. The custom timber-frame house received the first 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. Platinum certification in Michigan. It also earned a 2008 NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification. Energy Value House Award (Gold level) and an 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. rating (five stars). The awards are proof that Burnside built it "as a model of the best that we can do." For the 12 years that he has been a home builder, he has approached every home that way.

SIPs and ICFs forged a tight envelope
The structural insulated panel (SIP) walls and roof, and the insulated concrete-form (ICF) foundation created a well-sealed and insulated shell, but Fireside didn't stop there. In keeping with the company's standard procedures, it insisted that everyone from mechanical contractors to trim carpenters carry a can of spray foam to seal gaps as they encountered them. A blower-door testTest used to determine a home’s airtightness: a powerful fan is mounted in an exterior door opening and used to pressurize or depressurize the house. By measuring the force needed to maintain a certain pressure difference, a measure of the home’s airtightness can be determined. Operating the blower door also exaggerates air leakage and permits a weatherization contractor to find and seal those leakage areas. showing .86 ACH at 50 pascals proved they did a good job. After installing 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., an 85-percent-efficient heat-recovery ventilator(HRV). Balanced ventilation system in which most of the heat from outgoing exhaust air is transferred to incoming fresh air via an air-to-air heat exchanger; a similar device, an energy-recovery ventilator, also transfers water vapor. HRVs recover 50% to 80% of the heat in exhausted air. In hot climates, the function is reversed so that the cooler inside air reduces the temperature of the incoming hot air. , and a 2-kW 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. array, the house was given a 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 of 37 — the best that the energy rater had ever tested.

Big on space, small on waste
The house is impressive in scale, but it's equally impressive in its small environmental impact. It sits on a partial frost-protected shallow foundation — a system where a protective apron of rigid insulation just below grade minimizes the amount of excavation and concrete required. With timber-frame and SIP construction, there wasn't much waste from building the actual structure.

Shredded-cardboard packing material and drywall scraps were worked into the soil instead of being hauled off to the landfill. Site work included a rain-permeable gravel driveway and a carefully planned irrigation system with rain sensors to prevent redundant watering.

High standards go a long way
On the LEED checklist there is a long list of details that were required to earn the Platinum certification, but Bob says that the house would have met at least LEED Gold if it had been held to Fireside's usual standards. After seeing the care that he has put into his own place, it's great to hear that his motto is "build each and every home as if it were to be our own!"

Lessons Learned

With his 21 years of executive management experience and his passion for efficiency, Bob Burnside can see the value in considering every employee, subcontractor, and supplier a part of his team. Bob says, "It's just good business — but it gives great results. If your employees know you care, they will too." Providing training and a sense of ownership has helped ensure the level of quality and attention to details that's essential to green building. It's the best way Bob has found to build comfortable, energy-efficient homes that anyone would be proud of.


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Image Credits:

  1. April Derrick-Koch
  2. Bob Burnside
  3. Toshi Woudenberg

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