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Passive-design home takes shape at Lake Chelan

Posted in Construction, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Sustainability on August 15th, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

Lightly logoSeattle architect Brett Holverstott has updated his blog with photos showing the progress of the passive design house being built on Lake Chelan.

Mike Schramm of Green Gables Construction

Builder Mike Schramm takes a break during construction of the passive-design home on Lake Chelan.

The photos document some of the extra measures being taken to tightly seal the home using extra caulking, tape and dense-pack cellulose insulation. The south-facing home on the lake’s north shore will incorporate super-insulated floors, walls, and roof; air-tight enclosure; high performance windows primarily oriented to the south; and a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) which uses the outgoing air to precondition the incoming air. The home will not need a furnace. A passive home can consume 85 percent less heating/cooling energy than a typical home.

Brothers Mike and Mark Schramm of Green Gables Construction, Chelan, are the builders. The home is owned by Rick and Jacque Hyler of Renton, who will move to it permanently after retirement.

View updates on Holverstott’s blog from July 24 and July 4. Read the original story about Holverstott and the passive design home here.

I spy wasted energy

Posted in Appliances, Construction, Electronics, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Lighting, Recycling on May 28th, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

PrintHome energy audits can help detect air leaks and other issues

If you don’t like people nosing around your house, don’t invite Greg Jourdan in. He opens closet doors, lets the water run in the bathroom sink, feels around your windows, switches lights on and off and even points a gun, albeit an energy-friendly “thermal gun.”

Photo of home energy audit - Greg Jourdan and John Eder

Greg Jourdan shows homeowner John Eder how a thermal imaging camera finds cold spots in his home.

It’s all for a good cause. Greg Jourdan, an energy consultant and Wenatchee Valley College instructor, navigates through local homes upon request to sleuth out wasted energy. He starts by using diagnostic equipment, including a gun-shaped thermal imaging camera, to identify places where energy is being lost. He supplements his investigation with a big blower fan that he sets up in an exterior entry door to create a large negative air vacuum in the home, to find the air leaks. Then he does a complete walk-through, looking at a home’s insulation, windows, ductwork, heating and cooling, lighting, electronics and appliances. To finish, he issues a report that includes recommendations on how homeowners can make improvements.

John and Linda Eder welcomed Jourdan into their home earlier this month. The Sunnyslope couple won Chelan PUD’s drawing for a free home energy audit at the KPQ Home and Garden Show this spring.

Although it’s 26 years old, their home rated high on Jourdan’s scale of efficiency. The Eders have upgraded to vinyl-framed windows and have adequate insulation. They’ve replaced the incandescent bulbs in their recessed fixtures with LEDs, taking advantage of Chelan PUD’s rebates. They use a heat pump for heating and cooling, and just had it serviced.

Photo of Greg Jourdan with blower door

This fabric door and fan create negative pressure in the house to help measure air leaks.

The Eders use more electricity than might be expected because they heat and cool John’s workshop, bringing their total conditioned space to 3,600 square foot. But on a watts-per-square-foot basis, their energy use is relatively low.

Jourdan did make some general recommendations which apply to most homes, including:

• Set the thermostat  for cooling as high as possible while maintaining reasonable comfort levels while home. Set it to 84 degrees when away from home, or install a programmable thermostat to do that automatically.

• Conversely, place thermostat settings for heating as low as possible while maintaining reasonable comfort levels. Set it to 60 degrees when away, or install a programmable thermostat. (Note: If you have a heat pump, make sure you install a “smart” thermostat that will warm the house back up gradually and minimize the use of inefficient strip heat.)

• Replace air filters every two to three months or as needed to keep the indoor unit coil clean.

• Reduce the temperature setting on the water heater to 120 degrees or less.

• Install low-flow showerheads in bathrooms.

• Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible.

• Minimize use of spare refrigerators and freezers. If not needed, consider recycling through Chelan PUD’s free recycling and rebate program.

You can perform your own energy audit by following this checklist. Learn about professional home energy audits here. Jourdan can be reached at gjourdan@msn.com.

No furnace? This home won’t need one

Posted in Appliances, Construction, Energy conservation, Environment, Heating and cooling, Sustainability on March 5th, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

PrintSeattle architect Brett Holverstott is putting the finishing touches on the design of a passive house to be built on the shores of Lake Chelan this year.

The home will be located on the north shore of the lake and will face south, which Holverstott says helps make its an ideal candidate for passive design. A passive house incorporates super-insulated floors, walls, and roof; air-tight enclosure; high performance windows primarily oriented to the south; and a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) which uses the outgoing air to precondition the incoming air.

Sketch of passive-design home

The architect’s sketch of the sustainable, passive house to be built on the north shore of Lake Chelan this summer.

“The combination of these devices, effectively used, produces a house that requires no furnace and almost no ductwork, has fantastic indoor air quality, no annoying drafts, and can be heated with a light bulb,” Holverstott states on his website, cambrian-design.com. A passive home can consume 85 percent less heating/cooling energy than a typical home.

Construction is scheduled to start in late May or June. Brothers Mike and Mark Schramm of Green Gables Construction, Chelan, are the builders.

The home will be 1,150 square feet. The basement/foundation will be buried in the earth. The home will feature a large shed roof that lifts toward the lake view. An entry court between the house and garage will serve as a view deck, providing “a moment of pause” before entering the home, Holverstott said.

The exterior walls will be a foot thick and of double-wall construction, with a 2′ x 6′ wall with structural plywood sheathing on the exterior side, and a 2′ x 4′ wall with the drywall on the interior side. “The resulting cavity can hold a lot of insulation,” Holverstott noted.

Some of the decisions about building materials are still being made, but Holverstott said he would like to use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified lumber and plywood. The insulation in the walls will be densely packed cellulose, a byproduct of newsprint, which contributes to air-tightness. The insulation in the roof cavity will be blown-in fiberglass, because of its lighter weight.

The home is the retirement dream of  Rick and Jacque Hyler of Renton. Rick just retired from Boeing and Jacque is a part-time tutor. It will be their permanent home, not a second home, Holverstott said.

He said the home will be a demonstration of affordable green design.

“The cost of the design is targeting $200,000 including all ‘soft costs’ such as utility hook-up fees, permit fees and architect fees,” he said. “This is a difficult target to reach in today’s dollars, and we have had to reduce the square footage of the house from 1,500 to 1,150.

“The super-insulation and air-tightness of the house are not significant up-charges, on the order of less than 10 percent. But passive-house grade windows are easily two to three times the cost of traditional windows. We have done a lot of research to find the best deal on these windows, which are provided by local and international manufacturers. High ceilings also add to the construction complexity and cost.”

The owners have opted to save some money by bargain hunting and installing interior finishes themselves. But they’re committed to acquiring top-of-the-line energy efficient appliances to contribute to energy savings. They’ll take advantage of Chelan PUD rebates where possible. 

Holverstott established Cambrian Design last year after working on science laboratories, commercial interiors, single and multi-family housing and even a jazz venue. This is his first independent venture.

You can learn more about this project on the Cambrian Design blog.

Warm up to savings at Builders Show

Posted in Appliances, Construction, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Lighting on February 1st, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

PrintCome in from the cold and learn how to keep your home warm and efficient at Building NCW’s  Home Show Feb. 7-9 at Town Toyota Center.

Photo of snowy house

Don’t be left out in the cold — warm up to energy savings at the Chelan PUD booth at the Building NCW Home Show Feb. 7-9.

Whether you’re building, remodeling or buying a new home, Chelan PUD staff can help you choose quality products for long-term savings on electric bills. Stop by our booth and enter our drawing to win a Nest thermostat with installation by Alpine Aire of Wenatchee — a $480 value. See a ductless heat pump on display and learn about our $750 rebate on this super-efficient technology. Pick up a flier listing our rebates on appliances, windows and insulation.  Ask our energy experts your vexing questions about energy use in your home. We’re here – and there at the home show — to help.

This is the 11th year for the builders’ home show, which brings dozens of businesses under one roof offering  remodeling,  construction, design, decorating, landscaping, financing and real estate services.

View the flier, and we’ll see you at the show!

Take a walk on the WestSide

Posted in Construction, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Lighting, Uncategorized on December 9th, 2013 by Susan – Be the first to comment

PrintInnovative design shines at renovated school

There’s abundant energy coming into WestSide High School these days, and not just from wiry teen-agers.

Light from the sun, known in the building industry as daylighting, is a key feature among several environmentally friendly attributes built into the new alternative school on Ninth Street in Wenatchee.

Photo of WestSide High cafeteria

Light from the outdoors and from energy-stingy LEDs illuminates the WestSide High School cafeteria.

Windows around the perimeter bring ample light into classrooms. Light streams through six traditional skylights, and eight Solatubes – tubular skylights that use polished metal and Plexiglas to capture and diffuse light – outshine the LED lights next to them.

Unique LED lighting decorates the ceilings, from silver-dollar-sized LEDs in inverted-bowl-shaped fixtures to troffer hallway lights that switch off when no one’s around.

Motion and daylight sensors are a key part of the energy-efficiency equation in WestSide High’s construction.

“The classrooms are on occupancy sensors, and there are no wall switches in the halls,” explains Bryan Visscher, director of Facilities and Risk Management for the Wenatchee School District. As daylight increases, lights dim. As sunlight wanes, lights grow brighter.

The school is cutting-edge for the district and for Visscher, who has championed energy efficiency at all 12 schools and helped the district win six EPA Energy Star awards. This time he’s been able to incorporate efficiency measures from the get-go rather than retrofit old systems with new technology.

 

Photo of WestSide computer center

A WestSide student uses the computer center while others are in class. About 250 students are enrolled in the alternative high school, which offers small class sizes and individualized learning.

Ameresco, the environmental services company under contract to instill and install energy efficiency, will measure and verify expected energy savings.The new WestSide uses a variable refrigerant flow system for heating and cooling that reduces energy waste. Lines run throughout the building, allowing heat from a warmer side, for example, to be transferred by refrigerant to a cooler side. Traditionally the warmer air would have been ejected outdoors. The Mitsubishi system uses variable-speed fans and evaporators and sophisticated native controls to reduce energy consumption and improve comfort.

“An overlay of automated logic” runs the HVAC system, Visscher said, which offers opportunities to schedule actions such as shutting off the half of the building that’s not used for night school. It’s also the first building in the district to have electronic access controls for immediate lockdown in case of emergency.

The 18,000-square-foot building was once Wenatchee’s Eagles Lodge. It was gutted to make way for WestSide. The building had been used by Wenatchee Valley College as a music and arts center, then acquired by the school district in a swap that gave the former WestSide building back to the college. Years ago, that building used to be college dormitories.

Students moved in Sept. 1, leaving cramped, concrete-block classrooms behind. They can eat their lunches, prepared in a full-sized commercial kitchen, in a spacious cafeteria now. They can access computers in an electronic library. They can work on projects together in “teaming rooms.” They can go to class in rooms that are mostly windows, not walls.

P.E. classes are still held at the old campus, but an anonymous donor has offered to help build a gym on the school’s north side. In the meantime, the district will begin converting the old Wenatchee Youth Circus storage building, located just west of WestSide, into a fitness building where students can use exercise equipment and free weights.