Gaines Group Architects
caulk electrical outlets

Green Terms Defined Summary 2015

 Green Terms Defined Summary 2015

2012 International Energy Conservation Code: Minimum energy code standards adopted by the Commonwealth of Virginia

Air Changes per Hour (ACH)the measure how many times the air within a defined space is replaced.

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ASHRAE 90.1: a standard in the US that provides minimum requirements for energy-efficient designs for buildings except for low-rise residential buildings.

Carbon Footprinta measure of the impact our activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases we produce.

Carbon Neutral Building: the process of taking into account measuring, reducing, and offsetting carbon energy used by the building.

Cellulose Insulationa low-thermal-conductivity material use to reduce heat loss and gain from a building.

Ceramic tile: made from clay that has been permanently hardened by heat, often having a decorative glaze.

Commissioning: verification and documentation that a building and the systems used are designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained to meet the project requirements set by the building owner.

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Conduction: the flow of heat through an object by transferring heat from one molecule to another. Think frying pan on a stove or wood stud that touches the inside drywall and the outside wall sheathing.

Convection: refers to the transfer of heat by a moving fluid. Thing warm air rising and cool air sinking in a room. Convection loops circulate near walls. During the heating season, warm air is cooled by exterior walls and falls towards the floor, creating a convection loop. Convective loops can also happen within framing cavities if the insulation doesn’t completely fill the space.

Edible landscapingthe practical integration of food plants within your landscape for the purposes of decorating as well as producing food.

Erosion: the removal of soil and rock by water from one location to another.

ERV or Energy Recovery Ventilatorpart of a balanced ventilation system that transfers water vapor and heat from one airstream to another.

Flashinga strip of impervious material used to stop water from penetrating the junction of a wall or roof with another surface.

Fly Asha fine, glass like powder recovered from the coal-burning process for the production of electricity.

FormaldehydeA gas used widely in production of adhesives, plastics, preservatives, and fabric treatments and commonly emitted by indoor materials that are made with its compounds.

Grasslands Conservation Carbon Offsetssimilar to forestry, native grasses and other vegetation provide a natural source of greenhouse gas (GHG) absorption and sequestration.

Chesapeake Western Depot Harrisonburg

Historic Building: a structure that has historic, architectural, or cultural significance.

Humidistatan electronic device that measures the relative humidity in a space.

HVAC: Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning system in your home or business.

Infrared Thermography, thermal imaging, or thermal video: a type of infrared imaging used for determining air leakage in energy audits.

Insulated concrete form (ICF)a wall building system made of reinforced concrete and most commonly rigid thermal insulation.

Insulating CurtainsThermal curtains have a lining that resists temperature change and are heavy enough to stop air flow.

Interior designthe art or process of designing the interior of a room or building.

Karst Topography: an area of irregular limestone in which erosion has produced fisures, sinkholes, underground streams and caverns.

Lifetime Home: A design approach that encompasses specific design features that ensure that a new house or apartment will meet the current and future needs of most households.

light shelf

Light Shelf: a horizontal overhanging element located above the eye-level and typically having a highly reflective upper surface.

Linoleum: a resilient flooring product that was developed in the 1800’s. It consists of cork flour, linseed oil, oak dust, and jute.

Natural Ventilation: the process of supplying and removing air by natural means from building spaces by using windows, doors, solar chimneys, and non-powered ventilators.

Net Meteringa method of crediting consumers for the electricity that is generated on their home or business in excess of the total electricity that they have used.

No-Step Entry or zero-step entry: a flush entry from the driveway or garage into your home.

Pervious Concrete: concrete that allows water to move through the material into a storage area under the pavement.

Radiation: flow of heat from a warm source through space in waves of infrared or visible light energy. Think sunlight through a window.

Renovationthe act of repurposing / updating / remodeling of a building.

Resilient Designthe capacity of a design to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain or regain functionality and vitality in the face of stress or disturbance.

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Single-stream recycling: a process or system where all paper, plastics, metals, cardboard, glass, and trash goes into the same can and is sorted by the facility into separate commodities.

Solatube: a tubular daylighting system

Specifications: define the requirements regarding materials, products, installation and quality aspects pertaining to the execution of the work and contract.

Thermal Bridgewhere heat occurs across more conductive components in an otherwise well-insulated material, resulting in disproportionately significant heat loss.

Tiny House: home designed to be less than 1,000 sf

Vampire Loadthe power consumed by electronics and appliances while they are technically switched off or in standby mode.

Vapor Barrier: a barrier that reduces the rate that water vapor can move through a material.

Wastewaterwater from bathtubs, shower drains, sinks, washing machines, and dishwashers is considered grey water.

WaterSense: a label program created by the Environmental Protection Agency for consumers to easily identify water efficient products.

Weatherizationthe practice of using cost-effective strategies to modify a building to decrease energy usage and increase comfort.

Window: Casement or Double-Hung glass opening in a wall system.

Custom Home Harrisonburg

Green Term Defined: Vapor Barrier

Green Term Defined: Vapor Barrier

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A vapor barrier is a barrier that reduces the rate that water vapor can move through a material.  There is discussion in the industry if a true vapor barrier is even possible. This has led to the use of the term Vapor Retarder. Vapor retarders limits moisture from passing through a materials and have three classes of permeability. Vapor Retarders per the building code have a permeability of less than 10, less than 1, or less than .1 perm.

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There are three categories of vapor retarding materials: Impermeable, Semi-Permeable, and Permeable.  Impermeable materials include things such as plastic sheets, vinyl wall coverings, plywood, extruded polystyrene, and oil-based paints. Semi-Permiable materials included expanded polystyrene and latex paints. Most other materials are Permeable including fiberglass insulation, open cell spray foam, drywall, and stucco.

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In our mixed-humid climate, we want to avoid using impermeable materials in our wall and roof systems. Allowing walls to dry in both directions is critical to the long-term durability of your structure. To further protect your home, you must have a proper ventilation system that is controlling humidity inside your structure.

solar chimney

Green Term Defined: Natural Ventilation

Green Term Defined: Natural Ventilation

Natural Ventilation is the process of supplying and removing air by natural means from building spaces by using windows, doors, solar chimneys, and non-powered ventilators.

solar chimney

solar chimney

Most of us spend about 90% of our time inside of a building. As a result, the indoor air quality is critical to our health, productivity, and comfort. Scientific studies clearly show that buildings with proper fresh air ventilation improves productivity and health for occupants. If designed right, proper ventilation can be used to increase comfort and reduce energy bills.

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BRAFB Project

Green Term Defined: ASHRAE 90.1

Green Term Defined: ASHRAE 90.1

Harmony Square Dairy Queen

ASHRAE 90.1 is a standard in the US that provides minimum requirements for energy-efficient designs for buildings except for low-rise residential buildings. The standard was first created in 1975. It has since been updated on a regular basis in 2004, 2007, 2010, and 2013.

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There are two paths for compliance with ASHRAE 90.1, both the prescriptive path and performance path. The prescriptive path requires all building components to meet a minimum set of standards specified in ASHRAE 90.1. The Prescriptive path includes requirements for building envelope, HVAC, domestic hot water, power, lighting, and other equipment. The performance path shows compliance using a building modeling program to illustrate that the design uses less energy than the baseline building built to ASHRAE 90.1 specifications.

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light shelf

Green Term Defined: Light Shelf

Green Term Defined: Light Shelf

A light shelf is a horizontal overhanging element located above the eye-level and typically having a highly reflective upper surface. Sunlight hits the top of the light shelf and bounces inside of the structure hitting the ceiling. This brings light deeper into the structure that reduces energy usage for lighting and glare.

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thermal curtain

Green Term Defined: Insulating Curtains

Green Term Defined: Insulating Curtains

Thermal curtains have a lining that resists temperature change and are heavy enough to stop air flow. These curtains will help reduce the amount of energy needed to keep a space comfortable. They come in many styles, colors, and textures and can be used in almost any application.

thermal curtain

Windows, even the best on the market, are the weak link in most wall systems. Radiation and air movement can allow heat to escape in the winter or to get in during the summer. Thermal curtains can help stabilize the interior air between the curtain and the window making the remainder of the room more comfortable. These curtains are usually very heavy which further helps stop air movement. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, thermal curtains can cut heat loss in a room as much as 10%. The perform best if they run from the floor to the ceiling.

thermal Curtain

image from KnowledgePublications.com

thermal image

Green Term Defined: Heat Flow

Green Term Defined: Heat Flow

When two objects with different temperatures come together, energy will be transferred from the object with a higher temperature to that with the lower temperature. The objects exchange thermal energy until each have reached the same temperature or equilibrium. The basic means to transfer heat include Conduction, Convection, and Radiation. 

Conduction – the flow of heat through an object by transferring heat from one molecule to another. Think frying pan on a stove or wood stud that touches the inside drywall and the outside wall sheathing.

air leak

Convection – refers to the transfer of heat by a moving fluid. Thing warm air rising and cool air sinking in a room. Convection loops circulate near walls. During the heating season, warm air is cooled by exterior walls and falls towards the floor, creating a convection loop. Convective loops can also happen within framing cavities if the insulation doesn’t completely fill the space.

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Radiation – flow of heat from a warm source through space in waves of infrared or visible light energy. Think sunlight through a window.

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encapsulated crawl space

Green Term Defined: HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning System)

GreenHVAC stands for the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning system in your home or business. The system should be able to heat and cool your home to create a comfortable living environment. It should also have a source for bringing in fresh air and to control humidity. An HVAC system is designed by a mechanical engineer based on the principles of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer.

An effective HVAC system will keep the fresh air in your home comfortable and healthy. A proper ventilation system has air filtration that removes toxins from the indoor environment. A properly designed system should include a ventilation strategy as well as heating and cooling capacity. Ventilation includes both the exchange of air to the outside and the circulation of air inside the thermal envelope. Keeping your home green and your energy bills low starts with clean air.

Green Term Defined: Ceramic Tile

Green Term Defined: Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is made from clay that has been permanently hardened by heat, often having a decorative glaze. Ceramic is a word derived from the ancient Greek “keramos” meaning “of fired clay.”

A properly installed ceramic tile floor will last for a very long time. Ceramic tile floors are aging-in-place friendly helping extend the usable life of a home. Ceramic tile floors are beautiful with many options, colors, textures, and patterns. Ceramic tile can be recycled, easy to clean, and can be used on walls and floors.

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Tile floors can be a disaster if the right installation methods and systems are not used. The tile underlayment is the key to a long-lasting ceramic tile floor. 

 

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A sound subfloor that is level, has proper support, and is clean from defects is critical for a successful ceramic tile floor. If the floor is bouncy or damaged before you install the ceramic tile floor, it will not last. Once you have a sound / firm subfloor you need to select the appropriate tile underlayment system. I say system because you want a product specifically designed to protect your subfloor from moisture which means it is an entire system of protection. The industry leading system is made by Ditra. There are others, but this is the system I am most familiar with and is used commonly in our area. The key characteristic of a good underlayment system is one that is mechanically fastened to the tile using a grid / waffle system allowing the tile to “float.” This allows for small movements in the substructure of the system without impacting the rigid tile system. The system should be waterproof to prevent moisture from passing through into the subfloor. There should also be a system that allows for water vapor to exit the system so there is no build up of moisture. 

insulated concrete form

Green Term Defined: Insulated Concrete Form

Green Term Defined: Insulated Concrete Form

Insulated concrete form (ICF) is a wall building system made of reinforced concrete and most commonly rigid thermal insulation. The forms are stack and have the appropriate amount of steel reinforcing added vertically or horizontally. The ICF’s are then filled with concrete.

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Insulated concrete form are similar to the concept of legos. Each manufacturer has a type of interconnected system so that allow the blocks to lock in place before the concrete is poured. Insulated concrete forms can be used for any building type.

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After the concrete is in place, the insulated concrete form has significant thermal properties, soundproofing, fire resistive characteristics, and durability. ICF blocks are made by many different companies and have different characteristics. Some fold for easy shipping or are put together on site and some are blocks when they arrive. There are blocks that have graphite in them to deter insects from destroying the foam layer. There are blocks that use concrete with wood fiber for the outer walls, some using rigid foam, and some use cellular concrete. Each insulated concrete form has pros and cons, but all offer a superior wall system for many building types.

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