Hello and welcome to Local Fruit. The entry this week explains why we chose to invest in the envelope of our home, and specifically highlight the advanced framing techniques that are at the heart of our green construction.
When we started planning for our future home, we spoke with several contractors, architects and designers who all were very competent and professional. However, the top priority on the house is energy efficiency and we wanted to build a home that was designed to minimize electricity and gas usage, and thus cost less to operate in the years ahead. Two phrases were used commonly by the builders with green building experience: “invest in the envelope” and “advanced framing”. The logic is sound – design a solid and well insulated envelope around the living areas; the cost to heat and cool the occupied spaces will be greatly reduced, resulting in a lighter impact on the environment.
The envelope consists of the exterior walls, windows, under the first floor and the attic, in short the entire area that separates inside conditioned air from outside air. Most buildings have leaks caused by spaces that were too small to insulate when built, like electrical outlets and wall corners. By using advanced framing techniques the objective is to allow each and every inch of the envelope to be designed to minimize energy waste. Even the windows were chosen to be as efficient as the budget would allow.
Advanced Framing Walls and Floor
Advanced framing is very cool to watch. The joists and trusses are ordered to the specs of the home and are delivered on site. The lumber is built to the specs of the actual framing requirements per the structural engineer, so very little waste is created at the job site. The floor joists pictured here and wall framing are 2x6 installed 24” on center to both maximize strength and allow for insulation. That means the walls are 6” deep and the studs are 24” apart to maximize capacity for insulation. The location and size of windows is factored into the overall rating for the envelope as well. The result is an integrated system with a higher R-value for walls and attic, which help to significantly lower future utility expenses. Simply using advanced framing techniques can result in a 5% reduction in heating/cooling costs, lower materials costs and a labor savings of 3-5%.
So far, our home is still in the framing stage and the walls are being built at this time. Our builder, Gai Kirkegaard, and Anthony Juarez-Lessing's framing team are doing a great job. They are wonderful guys and we enjoy watching them work. The roof trusses were delivered last week and should be put up this coming week.
Wall and Window Framing
Two of the next tasks are all about energy: insulation and rebates, both are at the heart of the project and are worthy of future blog posts. After all, this is a cool project in a cool area, but our focus is energy and expense reduction. It is exciting to see the house come together!