Posted April 1, 2013
With the arrival of spring and new plant growth springing up all around, I’ve begun to reflect on my several years of writing this blog post, and I have come to the conclusion that far too often I have been overly critical and close-minded about many things. In addition, I have championed some theories and causes that contradicted many long-standing traditions in design, construction, and renovation. And it’s time to say I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for the pain I have caused insulation manufacturers and installers, particularly the fiberglass batt industry. I realize now that my words were unduly harsh and hurtful and caused pain to many people. I’m sitting here now, willing to stick my neck out and say that batt insulation is a fine product and more often than not it works great.
Time to rethink things
I have written often about HVAC systems and the benefits of installing them in conditioned space – and how many builders don’t do it. I understand now the reasons for this, and realize that in most cases, it just doesn’t make sense.
Why waste all that great square footage on a mechanical closet? The bigger a house, the more money a builder can get for it. And everyone hates furr-down soffits, so why build them?
And since the owner is the one who pays the energy bills, no reasonable person could expect a builder to spend extra money to make a house more efficient, particularly if it reduces the profit they can make on a sale. I say, Go ahead, put those ducts in the attic! Especially if you can sell a bigger HVAC system – we all know that bigger is better anyway.
And what about those energy codes? Who does the government think they are that they can force us to make our buildings more efficient? We are constantly told what to do with our homes, just to save a little energy. It’s almost as bad as higher mileage standards for cars that they have been shoving down our throats for years.
We all know that with the newly tapped natural gas and oil sand reserves, not to mention the vast amounts of coal we have, we’re not going to run out of energy for years, at least not until I’m dead and buried, so why should I worry? We all have the God-given right to run our air conditioning with the windows open in an empty house while we’re are out cruising in our Hummers.
Reconsidering green building programs
I realize now that I have said unkind things about the various green building certification programs. Over the years working with them, I have begun to appreciate the value of their complexity.
How could you not love a system like LEED for Homes that has a 112-page rating system, a 342-page book that costs $100 to explain it, and a spreadsheet to track it that only works some of the time? Now that is some job security for people like me.
And I have to say to Home Innovation Research Labs (formerly the NAHB Research Center): please bring back that amazing online scoring tool. I really miss spending a couple of hours working with a sluggish program trying to figure out if my client’s project will qualify for certification.
Time to get to work
Some of you may wonder what ever happened to my new house project. Well, it ends up that I’m not going to build a house, at least for now.
I am going to do a little work on my existing house, the little historic shack that I can’t tear down. The current plan calls for taking out the high-performance minisplit heat pumps I recently installed, replacing them with a nice reclaimed 80% furnace and 10 SEER AC unit I ran across.
The furnace will go in the crawlspace after I open up the vents I sealed up a while back, and I’ll be damned if I bother with that mastic stuff on the ducts – it’s way too messy.
And wait until you see the beautiful sheet vinyl flooring I found for the kitchen and the shag carpet for the bathroom! I love the smell of new finishes in the house – just like a new car fresh off the lot. Breathe deep.