The Gaines Group

Carbon Neutral house in Harrisonburg – update

Carbon Neutral house in Harrisonburg – update

Click here for previous project updates on this house.

Our Carbon Neutral house project in Harrisonburg, just behind EMU, is making great progress. This home, like the net-zero home just up the street, is aiming for producing as much energy as needed. The difference is that this home owner wants to offset carbon used for lifestyle not just running their home. carbon-neutral-1 carbon-neutral-2

So we are once again using ICF blocks (Insulated Concrete Forms) to create an airtight highly insulated wall system. This reduces the heating and cooling loads on the home thus reducing energy usage.carbon-neutral-house-1

This house is being built by Beck Builders includes a geothermal system. The geothermal system will not only heat and cool the house, but will also supplement the water heating system for domestic water. You see, once you get a home very well insulated, heating water is the next big energy user in a typical household.carbon-neutral-house-2

We love that the power needed during construction is also being made by the sun. This builder uses a SUNRNR of Virginia generator to supply site power.

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The views from this home are pretty incredible. This is from the second floor bedroom window.

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The house features high ceilings in the living space, a trombe wall, and appropriate overhangs to take advantage of passive solar design. The large south-facing roof will be covered with solar pv array.

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Standing on the stair landing looking down into the living room and kitchen is a clear example of how open this floor plan will be upon completion.

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Carbon Neutral House

A new goal for housing in Harrisonburg – Carbon Neutral

A new goal for housing in Harrisonburg – Carbon Neutral

How much are you doing to reverse the impacts on our planet that the operation of buildings do everyday?

Carbon Neutral House

Buildings account for 39% of all Carbon Dioxide emissions in the United States. This is more than industry and more than transportation. We have tight regulations in both the industry and transportation sectors and spend a lot of time debating the need for stronger regulations. However, we have done little in the last 30 years to improve how we build buildings – houses in particular. We hear fear tactics like “it will cost too much” or “you will destroy the American dream of owning a home.” As a society we fear change while our buildings continue to consume 70% of the electricity load in the U.S. So what can be done that does not destroy the American dream? Is it enough simply to build a house that is more efficient than code minimum? Should we do more? Or should we continue to hold on to the hope that 97% of all climate scientist are wrong?  It is time to act, it has been time to act.

Carbon Neutral HouseCarbon Neutral House

We are teaming up with Beck Builders again to explore construction of an energy-efficient home. This one takes things further than others in recent years. This one has a new goal for housing in Harrisonburg – Carbon Neutral. This home will produce the clean energy needed on site for the operation of the house and charging of the car. This localized clean energy production is carbon neutral. It pushes clean energy back into the grid when the house is not using it all and pulls back from the grid at night. The house will employ energy-efficient wall systems to reduce energy loss including insulated concrete forms and triple pane windows. A geothermal HVAC system is being installed as the most efficient HVAC system possible using the rock on the site to enhance the efficiency. The house has an intentionally small footprint to allow for comfortable living, but also reducing the footprint to just that, comfortable living. Windows are limited on the north side of the house to reduce heat loss. Water conserving plumbing fixtures are used to reduce consumption. The south-facing roof has been optimized for the installation of a solar pv system. Overhangs and shading devices have been used to take advantage of passive heating and cooling strategies including a trombe wall. This house will be a great example and research tool in our community to help others build better. Stay tuned as progress is made and tests and research continue. We all need to do our part to reverse or at least slow down the impacts of climate change. I am so thankful for clients that allow me to be part of the solution.

carbon neutral house

 

Green Term Defined: Carbon Neutral Building

Green Term Defined: Carbon Neutral Building

Carbon Neutral Building is the process of taking into account measuring, reducing, and offsetting carbon energy used by the building.  A typical carbon neutral building integrates passive design, high performance building envelope, energy-efficient systems, and on-site renewable energy.

zero energy home

In order to measure carbon neutrality the building must have system boundaries – meaning an understanding of what is being measured. Are building material manufacturing processes included? What about travel to and from the building during construction or post-construction? What parameters are most important should be carefully considered and transparent to the client.

zero energy home

Carbon Neutrality for buildings can be supplemented by purchasing of green power. However, this misses the intent in my opinion.

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