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part XVII
Volume 4, Number 1, Issue 17 January/February 2009

engineered slab


71896 48790

$5.99 US $7.99 Canada

Ultimate Home Design is printed on 100 percent recycled elemental-chlorine-free paper made from post-consumer waste. VOLUME 4, NUMBER 1, ISSUE 17 January/February 2009



Editor-In-Chief & Publisher

Gary Reber

Executive Publisher
Marlene Reber

Editorial Directors:
Wolfgang Preiser, Ph.D.
Universal Design

Demian Martin
Electronic Lifestyles

Rob Scheschareg
Electronic Home Healthcare

Bill Wilson
Environmental Design

Ann V. Edminster, M.Arch

LEED Design

Jay Hall, Ph.D.

LEED Design

The mission of Ultimate Home Design is to serve as a catalyst for homeowners to create demand for architects, designers, and builders to adopt the concepts and building practices that define human-centered, optimum-performance home design. Ultimate Home Design is aimed at broadening the segment of the American population that is paying closer attention to the products they buy, looking beyond price and branding to focus on other elements of the production and value chain. Increasingly homeowners want to support sustainable building practices that result in a higher living standard. Ultimate Home Design is for those homeowners who want to promote a broader shift in patterns of production and consumption by encouraging practices that better reflect their personal values. We are advocates for using products that reduce energy and use renewable, recycled content or otherwise environmentally preferable materials. An important part of our mission is to promote building practices that result in a substantial reduction in energy use for space conditioning, water heating, lighting, and appliance operation. Another important aspect of our mission is to promote construction practices that improve the indoor environment and reduce the risk of building-related illness. This translates to improved occupant health and comfort by improving thermal comfort; natural lighting and electric illumination; and controlling humidity, odor, noise, and vibration. Ultimate Home Design is for the thinking homeowner, who wants to be educated and learn about intelligent options for home design, whole-house system design, and comprehensive electronic lifestyle features that can enrich the quality of day-to-day life while reducing the cost of operating a home. With the knowledge gained reading Ultimate Home Design, you will be empowered to make intelligent choices about the design and make-up of your home, whether considering remodels or additions, planning a new home, or evaluating an already-built home. Ultimate Home Design will explore the wide range of possibilities within the context of designing Optimum Performance Homes that integrate universal design architecture; sustainable green building materials and techniques; energy-efficient power systems for electricity, lighting, heating, and air conditioning; water conservation techniques; and comprehensive electronic lifestyle features.

Julie Stewart-Pollack, ASID, IDEC

Biophilic Design

Premiere Issue And Back Issues

Available back issues are in limited quantities and can be viewed online at Subscriptions are for six issues and may be obtained from Ultimate Home Design, P.O. Box 2587, Temecula, CA 92593. American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover Card accepted. Make checks payable to Ultimate Home Design. All subscriptions must be in U.S. funds. The newsstand price is $5.99 U.S., $7.99 Canada. To subscribe or questions regarding subscriptions: Phone Toll Free 888 977 7827 or 951 676 4914 or Fax 951 693 2960. E-mail: Specify Credit Card, Number, and Expiration Date. Subscribe online at

Contributing Writers:
Bill Brewer Jim Neal Terry Oster Jim Plucker Gary Reber Teddy Schiff Dick Titus Clark Wilson

New Subscriptions And Renewals

The Ultimate Home Design Webzine Site

You can find daily and archived news, editors commentaries, readers letters, extensive interactive databases, and other interests on our subscriber-supported Web site at:

Nathanael Fowler
Art Director

Tricia Spears

For advertising rate inquiries please contact: Ultimate Home Designs Publisher, Gary Reber, E-mail: Advertising rates for the print and Webzine editions are exceptionally competitive. To Advertise: Phone 951 676 4914 or Fax 951 693 2960.

Letters To The Editor

Letters To The Editor are welcomed via the U.S. Postal System, Fax, or E-mail. Regrettably our resources do not permit us to reply individually to every letter received. Our policy is to publish letters whose content, whether a position or question, reflects views on pertinent issues discussed in the magazine. Our mission is to provide a forum for discourse on the technology and creative issues that impact the Optimum Performance Home experience. We welcome contributions to our Readers Feedback forum, both in the magazine and on the Webzine. We do not publish letters that do not credit the sender, nor without an e-mail or return address. Ultimate Home Designs Readers Feedback e-mail address is:

Subscriptions Manager P.O. Box 2587 Temecula, CA 92593 / 888 977 7827 Phone 951 676 4914 / Fax 951 693 2960

News, Products, Events, And Editorial Submissions

E-mail news submissions to: Direct all press releases, announcements, news, and calendar events to that e-mail address or send to the Temecula Office. Writers, both freelance and industry-supported, are invited to contact the publisher to discuss article submittals. Completed Optimum Performance Home project submittals for publication consideration are welcome. Manufacturers are invited to submit product releases that support the mission of the magazine.

Newsstand Dealer Inquiries/Reprint Requests

Phone: 951 676 4914 or Fax: 951 693 2960 E-mail:

Subscription Rate

Ultimate Home Design is published bimonthly (six times a year) by Ultimate Home Design, Inc., P.O. Box 2587, Temecula, California 92593. $20.00 six issues (U.S.), $25.00 (Canada/ Mexico), $35.00 (International Air Mail), Newsstand $5.99 (U.S.) & $7.99 (Canada) Back Issues: $6.00 (U.S.), $8.00 (Canada/ Mexico), $10.00 (Outside North America). Special Editions: $9.95 (U.S.), $15.00 (Canada/Mexico) $20.00 (Outside North America) Newsstand $9.95 (U.S.) & $13.50 (Canada) Please make checks payable in U.S. funds to Ultimate Home Design. American Express, MasterCard, Visa, and Discover Card accepted.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ultimate Home Design, P.O. Box 2587, Temecula, CA 92593. Retailer distribution, circulation, and advertising inquiries should be directed to the publisher. Send subscription orders, address changes, adjustments, back issue requests, correspondence, and inquiries to Ultimate Home Designs Temecula office. Copyright 2009 Ultimate Home Design, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of the contents of Ultimate Home Design or www.UltimateHome Design. com in any media or non-media form, without the written permission of the publisher, is prohibited. Printed In The United States Of America. Trademark names are used editorially throughout this issue to the benefit of the trademark owner, with no intention of trademark infringement. Ultimate Home Design does not recommend, approve, or endorse any of the advertisers, products, services, or views advertised in Ultimate Home Design. Nor does Ultimate Home Design evaluate the advertisers claims in any way.

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


January/February 2009

Hawaii Residence Proves Home Design Can Be Eco-Friendly And Chic
By Philip K. White


The First Optimum Performance Home Engineered Slab Part XVII

By Gary Reber

46 52

MixonA New Kind Of Urbanism

By Elizabeth Pandolfi


Paving The Way To A Greener Future

By Nate Traylor


Half An Acre Of Passionate Green

By Shairon Beale


Cost-Effective Solutions To Building Tight And Ventilating Right

By Susan M. Raterman, CIH

Mission, Magazine Business Matters, Contributions, Subscriptions

6 12 20

Editors Space

Reflections & Directions

Breaking Ground New To The Neighborhood

By Tricia Spears Manufacturers Product Innovations Showcase


Advertisers Information


Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


With a significant reduction in revenue, we may be forced to publish exclusively on the Web, although this is not our desire or intention. At the present, the economy is being driven by fear, with Americans generally worried and not feeling secure. The current climate feels dismal due to a psychology of fear, which has gripped businesses and consumers. Such fear is likely to prolong the recession. The good news is that green housing continues its upward growth.

Classic idea:
Creating a kitchen that really cooks.

Green Moving Forward

The economic recession that began in 2008 is expected to continue well into 2009 and possibly beyond. The resulting cultural movement is expected to evolve into a society of savings and investment, as well as a renewed focus on conservation and efficiency. As such, it is prudent that home designs conserve valuable raw materials and energy as much as possible and eliminate waste. Green homes are the future. And with continued population growth, green homes will be appreciated more as they represent the renewed focus on conservation and efficiency. Thus, we can expect green home values to increase far more than conventional homes. The more green, the more value benefit to home buyers. The challenge ahead for the green building industry is to develop systems that produce better results, while using less raw materials. This will be no easy task, as the cost of raw materials will continue to escalate. One example of expected escalating cost is wood. There has been a steady demand for FSC-Certified wood products, which has been reflected in the growth of the U.S. Green Building Councils (USGBC) LEED (Leadership In Energy and Environment Design) program. The LEED credit for FSC wood provides a certification point if certain volumes of certified wood are used on a green project. At present, FSC is the recognized acceptable system of certification in the U.S. As recent as June of 2008, the U.S. congress voted to add timber to the group of animals and plants safeguarded under the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act was originally passed back in 1900 and was meant to protect the sale of illegally hunted animals. Numerous updates to the list have occurred since. The newest addition, which became effective in November 2008, now outlaws timber harvested illegally outside the country from being sold legally in the U.S. With this new law we can expect an increase in the cost of wood as smart companies mandate FSC-Certified wood to ensure that their wood purchases are from legal sources. A green home that does not use FSC Certified or an acknowledged comparable certified source will fall short of achieving the desired greenness. There is no question that building green is more expensive, but in the long-term, due to enhanced durability and efficiencies,
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The Economy And Ultimate Home Design

We have suspended publishing the print edition of Ultimate Home Design temporarily due to two factors: our move to new quarters and the impact of the economys downturn. Our last print edition was Issue 16, August. This January/February issue is being published on our Web site at We will continue to update this site with new issues and a new feature blog on the progress related to our national showcase project, the first Optimum Performance Home now under construction at The Sea Ranch along the Pacific Ocean coastline of Sonoma County in Northern California. We are sorry for the upheaval in our publishing schedule that our move and economic downturn has caused, and we thank you for your much-appreciated continued support. Ultimate Home Design has been seriously challenged as a result of the rapid downturn in the economy during 2008, and unfortunately, early 2009. As a result, we have taken measures to restructure our operations to weather through this recession, the worst we have ever experienced during our 17 years of publishing magazines. The impact on our operations has been dramatic, with advertising revenue falling significantly, as companies, who otherwise have been supportive, significantly pulling back their spending on advertising and marketing. The downturn in advertising has been severe, as companies who would normally support Ultimate Home Design have been forced to slash their marketing budgets.

2007 Whirlpool Corporation. All rights reserved. Registered trademark / TM trademark of Whirlpool, U.S.A.

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Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


operational and maintenance costs will be dramatically reduced. While the overall housing market is in decline, green housing is growing. In 2009, green housing is expected to represent 6 percent of the residential construction industry, according to a survey conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction Research & Analytics for the USGBC. This is good news, but still, realtors need to update their Multiple Listing Service listings to reflect green building features, which presently are completely ignored. Without updated MLS listings that reflect green home features, potential buyers will find it difficult to get the information they need to make an assessment of what green features homes on the market offer. This is extremely important so that people can educate themselves and make informed decisions when they are in the market for a home. Traditional market-rate home offerings will be better positioned to move the green movement forward, and at a faster pace, if the set of features are updated to reflect green. At some point, the term green will become synonymous with normal market-rate home design and construction. At present, the green movement is still in the phase of proof of concept, and the experience gained in a variety of projects will enable architects, designers, and builders, as well as homeowners, to access the full effects of those projects

and their merits. Fundamentally, green home designs must benefit homeowners by reducing overall energy usage through environmentally sound building materials and energyefficient operating systems that enhance durability and insure that homeowners will get the most green payback for their money. It is this assessment that Ultimate Home Design is engaged in, on an issue-by-issue basis, and our own proof of concept is documented in the design and construction of the first Optimum Performance Home. Our project is an extreme green home, which showcases new energy-efficient features and an environmentally friendly design, and demonstrates that saving energy and conserving resources are within reach of everyone. Readers can follow the day-to-day construction progress by visiting /oph-ibeam.php and viewing 15-minute interval photos taken by our iBeam time-lapse construction camera daily from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. You can view our monthly video of time-lapse images at Also on our Web site, readers can review the material and product features organized by company name at While the design of the extreme green home subscribes to design principles adhered to by The Sea

Ranch community, one of the things that is fundamental to green building is that homes can be expressive of any architectural style. A green home can express the Craftsman or Cape Cod designs in New England or an adobe home in the Southwest. Any home design is applicable and any home can be adapted to make it green. There is no doubt that green building is an exploding market, with an increasing number of home builders adhering to or preparing to adhere to green building guidelines and standards. As I stated in a previous issue, a heightened sense of environmental responsibility and green practices are in the sights of almost every American home builder, from those who are constructing zero net energy custom homes to those who are just beginning to consider whether their markets are ready for ENERGY STAR-rated homes. Speaking of energy savings, one of the most practical and low-cost ways to monitor homeowner energy usage is to invest in an energy-metering system that provides visible power usage instrumentation. I have personal experience using the Black & Decker Power Monitor BDT EM100B ($99.99). This is an instant and easy way to help control energy consumption by learning to adopt new energy usage behavior in your home. The easy-to-use device shows in real time the amount of electricity youre using, as you use it. The Power Monitor consists of two partsa

wireless transmitter that easily attaches to your homes electric meter and a wireless handheld device that uses data from your electric meter to display information about your energy consumption. The display allows you to track minute-by-minute changes in electric consumption as any appliance or device plugged into your wall socket is turned on or off. Once you can see, as my family has, in real time how your behavior translates to your usage, you will quickly learn to form new habits concerning using appliances and devices in your home, and in the end, save up to 20 percent a month on your electricity bill. Another example of saving money on your electric bill is to install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof of your home. In California, where Ultimate Home Design is based, the state rebate and federal tax credit can reduce the price of a solar system by up to 50 percent. The California Solar Initiative, launched in January 2007, seeks to put panels on one million roofs in California within a decade, with generous incentives, by supporting the program. And new financing models pioneered in California are allowing thousands of homeowners to go solar for little or no money down. More and more homeowners are concluding that with rising electricity rates and turmoil in the financial markets, solar is their safest investment. But the incentives, which vary, are structured to decline over time as demand grows, meaning Californians who act sooner will get the biggest refunds. Fortunately, January 2009 is the month when expanded federal investment tax credits kick in for residential solar systems. These credits are extended through 2016. Homeowners are eligible for tax breaks of up to 30 percent of the entire cost of their projects. Those benefits had previously been capped at $2,000 per system on existing homes. This will translate to faster payback from the savings
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Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

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incurred by not paying the electric utility company. Some homeowners, to save up-front costs, are opting to lease systems, assigning the rebates and tax credits to the installation company, which maintains ownership of the panels. Unfortunately, under present California law, if your solar and/or wind system generates more electricity than you use during the year, the excess electricity generated cannot be sold to the local utility. Under Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggers leadership, new state legislation gives California cities the option of establishing programs that provide loans to homeowners to install solar panels. Thus, under such programs, homeowners will be able to avoid the up-front cost, which can add up to thousands of dollars. Instead, homeowners will be able to pay off loans gradually over 20 years through assessments tacked onto their property tax bills. San Diego has become one of the first cities to announce a program under the new legislation. Other California cities are expected to follow San Diegos lead. What I personally advocate is even more aggressive than the legislation initiated by Governor Schwarzenegger to speedily decentralize electric power production in California and throughout the U.S. and position the U.S. to become the worlds leading solar and wind power generator, which now is the claim of Germany. I propose that states adopt legislation similar to the German model, which offers cash incentives to people introducing renewable energy sources. Essentially, power companies would be obliged to buy 100 percent of the electricity produced by homeowners, farmers, and small businesses. The purchase rate should be at least at market prices, but in Germany the rate is more than triple market prices. Not only would homeowners, farmers, and small business be able to generate enough electricity for their own use, but earn

money producing excess electricity as well. The term used is feed-in tariff. Essentially, anyone who generates power from solar, wind, or hydro receives a guaranteed payment from the local power company. As in Germany, such a program would encourage investment and create jobs in the growing renewable energy sector and help to fight global warming and climate change. At the same time, the long-term effect would be to decentralize our electric producing capabilities, instead of relying on building large, pollution-challenging centralized power plants, from which about half of U.S. electricity comes for plants that are coal-fired. The by-product of coal-fired power plants is carbon dioxide, which comprises the vast majority of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. While it is technologically possible to modify existing coal-fired power plants and build new plants that can dispose of carbon dioxide, the expense is staggering. The disposal method is to pump the carbon dioxide thousands of feet underground, where it can be stored virtually leakproof for hundreds of years. Other European countries, including Spain, Portugal, Greece, France, and

Italy, have adopted similar legislation enacted in Germany. Such legislation would perfectly fit President Barack Obamas stance on significantly reducing carbon dioxide to fight global warming and climate change, and his strong focus on the green economy and energy concerns. In this issue of Ultimate Home Design, Part XVII is the fifth article on the construction phase of the first Optimum Performance Home at The Sea Ranch, California. This in-depth series provides comprehensive insight into whats involved in building your own green and sustainable, and biophilic and universal designed home. The documentation of the building of this U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) home is a work in progress, facilitated with construction site time-lapse high-definition images and streaming video accessible through our Web site, There are also other interesting and informative articles covering green built and universal designed homes featured in the issue. Thank you for your support. UHD

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Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

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Breaking Ground
Recent News, Reviews, And FAQs Issue 17, January/February 2009 Volume 3, Number 5
Solar Tour inspires people across the nation to go solar and make sustainable energy choices that help lower costs, support energy independence, and reduce carbon emissions. For information on the Solar Tours visit tion=com_content&view=arti cle&id=158&Itemid=16.

American Solar Energy Society Solar Tours

A recent NBC/WSJ poll revealed that runaway energy costs is the number one issue Americans feel most personally affects them. Clearly there is a pressing need to let more people know about solar energyand how it helps families and businesses save on monthly utility bills. That's why the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is organizing the largest grassroots solar event in history. Its called the National Solar Tour, and it offers you the opportunity to tour homes and buildings to see how neighbors are using solar energy and energy efficiency to combat rising energy costs. As many as 150,000 people participated in 46 states across the U.S. ASES coordinated the National Solar Tour in partnership with dozens of outstanding organizations. Tours varied by location. Last year more than 115,000 attendees visited some 5,000 buildings in 2,900 participating communities. Now in its 13th year, this event took place in nearly every state in the U.S. In addition to learning more about solar energy, an increasing focus of the National Solar Tour has been on energy-saving techniques and sustainability through building design, energy-efficient appliances, and use of green materials during remodeling. Solar tours also provide helpful, real-world examples of costs and how to save money with federal, state, and local incentives. Ultimately, the National

Facilitating Utility Use And Integration Of Solar Electric Power

Utility Announces Two Photovoltaic (PV) Plants Equivalent To Almost Double The Amount Of Current U.S. GridConnected PV Capacity
The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) issued a statement that applauds Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG), a California investor-owned utility, for the utilitys groundbreaking 800-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic announcement. With 473 MW of grid-connected photovoltaics installed throughout the entirety of the U.S. as of the end of 2007. This announcement by a single electric utility to develop almost double that amount is a strong signal of the growing role of solar electricity in the nations future energy mix. PG&Es plans include a 550-MW PV plant with Optisolar and a 250-MW project with SunPower, both to be constructed in phases between 2010 and 2013. PG&E's announcement represents the largest single photovoltaic commitment from an electric utility anywhere in the world, stated Julia Hamm, SEPA Executive Director. It represents the pinnacle in a series of large and innovative U.S. electric utility solar projects that have been announced in the last six months. When completed, the two projects will deliver 1.65 billion kilowatt-hours of solar electricity per year, enough energy to serve about 239,000 homes. The SunPowers plant will include single-axis tracking, which automatically orientates the solar panels toward the sun as it moves across the sky during the day, while Optisolar's panels will be fixed in one direction to the south. These two solar project configurations represent competing technology advancements we have seen in the photovoltaic industry recently, according to Mike Taylor, SEPA Director of Research. Each is aiming for the lowest cost per kilowatt-hour but have

diverging techniques for getting there. Optisolars thin film technology is lower efficiency, but the panels and installation configuration are designed to minimize costs. SunPowers technology is the highest commercial efficiency in the industry, which commands a premium price, but with the tracking technology, they are aiming to produce more kilowatt-hours per solar panel. According to PG&E, both projects are contingent upon the extension of the federal investment tax credit, which is set to expire at the end of 2008, and processes to expedite transmission for delivering the central station solar power. The tax credit extension has been mired in Congressional
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Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

Breaking Ground
energy debates since 2007, falling victim to the complexities of the competing parties energy policies. PG&E was recognized earlier this month by SEPA for ranking second in the country for the total amount of solar energy integrated into their electric system and ranking first for solar electricity generated by systems on their customers' facilities. PG&Es solar portfolio has continued to grow year after year, stated Julia Hamm. They continually raise the bar for other utilities, and send a clear message that solar electricity is an option to be taken seriously by all those in the energy business. In 2007, PG&E was the recipient of the SEPA Business Achievement Award for Solar Portfolio Leadership. the solar industry that develops both centralized and distributed systems in new and unique ways. Several U.S. utilities, some of whom arent in these rankings yet, are positioning themselves to be the solar industries largest and most innovative customers.

Breaking Ground
The full report, which includes the rankings, is available for download at .

Nations Most Solar Integrated Utilities Revealed

Solar Electric Power Association Announces Top Ten Rankings And Results Of 2007 U.S. Utility Solar Electricity Market Survey The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) has announced Top Ten rankings that reveal which utilities in the United States had the most solar electricity integrated into their energy mix as of the end of 2007. The rankings are based on information provided through a survey of utilities and independent research. Based on recent announcements and internal discussions with utilities, SEPA anticipates that utilities will quickly become the largest and one of the most important customers for the solar industry," said Julia Hamm, SEPA Executive Director. Whether solar electric systems are developed by utilities, their customers, or solar companies, the utilities proactive engagement with emerging solar technologies is important to the solar industry as a whole. This market survey and resulting rankings provide a baseline against which increased utility activity can be measured in the future. For total solar electric capacity by megawatt (MW), Southern California Edison (CA) takes top honors as the most solar integrated utility with the most overall solar capacity (MW) and solar capacity per customer (MW/customer). Southern California Edisons longstanding contracts with the SEGS concentrating solar thermal (CST) plants drive its large number of solar megawatts. However, with a number of recent largescale CST announcements by several other utilities, Southern California Edison's top ranking may no longer hold once these new plants are constructed. In addition to overall rankings, additional Top Ten lists were released based on the amount of solar electricity interconnected to the utility in two different configurations: customer side of the meter and utility side of the meter. On the customer side of the meter, Pacific Gas and Electric (California) took the honors for both the largest amount of overall solar capacity and the highest MW per customer, but the latter category is in striking distance for several public power utilities. On the utility side of the meter, Southern California Edison is the highest ranked utility, both for overall MW as well as MW per customer, which drove its number one total ranking. The list diversifies when you dive down further into the data and differentiate utility types. On the customer side of the meter for public power utilities, Los Angeles Department of Water Power (California) is the most solar integrated in overall capacity, while Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (HI) has the highest capacity per customer. Californiawith its longstanding policies for solar sents the majority of the highest rankings, but utilities in Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin also make the top ten in many categories. Solar markets are expanding rapidly beyond California and when standardized by the number of customers, interesting results will continue to emerge in the coming years. Next years survey and report will be based on 2008 data and will be published in early 2009. It will no doubt show a reordering of many of these rankings as the solar markets change. In the last year, U.S. electric utilities engagement with grid-connected solar electricity increased significantly, with major photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar thermal (CST) announcements by utilities, their customers, and thirdparty solar developers. Utilities have traditionally operated as a solar facilitator, integrating customerdeveloped projects. However, recently there have been several announcements by utilities that provide fresh solutions to regulatory, customer, and internal issues. These top-ten rankings highlight solar-leading utilities that have put significant efforts into facilitating what have traditionally been customer-based solar solutions, says Mike Taylor, SEPA Director of Research. What has become apparent, however, is that over the next few years, there will be an unprecedented level of new utility engagement in
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Consumer Reports Finds ENERGY STAR Program Standards Lax And Tests Out Of Date
Consumer Reports recent investigation into the ENERGY STAR program has revealed that lax standards and out-of-date test protocols plague the federal program. The report, featured in the magazines October issue, notes that the percent of products that qualify for ENERGY STAR is increasing because standards are too easy to reach and federal test procedures havent kept pace with new technology. In addition, Consumer Reports tests found that the energy consumption claims reported on some products Energy Guide label significantly understate what consumers are likely to experience. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about 25 percent of products in a category should qualify for ENERGY STAR. But until recently, for example, 92 percent of all dishwashers qualified. Under a tighter standard, its now about 50 percent. A high number of residential-use oil-fired boilers (67 percent) and dehumidifiers (60 percent) also qualify for the program. Whats more, it usually takes the Department of Energy (DOE) three years to publish new rulesa period that includes comments
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from manufacturers, organizations such as Consumers Union, and othersand another three years for the updated standards to take effect. Input into the rulemaking process by those who have a vested interest in easy-to-meet standards, such as manufacturers, can also dilute those standards. ENERGY STAR is a 16year-old federal voluntary program administered by the DOE and EPA that covers more than 50 product categories. The program grew out of efforts by the federal government to forge a set of nationwide guidelines and create a logo that clearly indicates energy-efficient products. Qualifying ENERGY STAR appliances and consumer electronics should use less energyabout 10 to 25 percent less than the DOEs maximum allowed amount for that category. Energy Claims Not Met In Consumer Reports Tests New, sharp-looking appliances may be tempting to consumers, but their energy-consumption claims may not reflect real-life use. Consumer Reports comparative energy tests of refrigerators, which are tougher than the DOEs and better

resemble how consumers use refrigerators, found five ENERGY STAR modelsthree from LG and two from Samsungwhose annual energy consumption would likely be far greater than that claimed on their EnergyGuide labels. For example, Consumer Reports found that the Samsung RF267ABRS, a refrigerator equipped with French doors and throughthe-door ice and water dispensers, used 890 kilowatthours per yeara number higher than the 540-kWh annual consumption claimed under the less rigorous ENERGY STAR Program. There was an even larger difference between company claims demanding test measurements for the LG LMX25981ST French-door fridge. LG claims it uses 547 kWh per year, but Consumer Reports tests found that real-life energy use would be more than double. In the case of the LG models, the ENERGY ice maker to be turned off during testing, resulting in the ice melting. Consumer Reports believes that consumers would not turn off the icemaker, and that appears to be a primary

reason for the discrepancy between the ENERGY STAR and Consumer Reports test results. No Independent Verification Consumer Reports notes another flaw with the ENERGY STAR program. To qualify, many companies must self-certify that their products comply with the standards. The DOE does not test products for compliance with ENERGY STAR standards. Theres often no independent verification of what manufacturers report. Instead, the government relies mostly on manufacturers to test their competitors appliances to the same standards and suspicious energy use. Consumers Union has made some recommendations that can help fine-tune the ENERGY STAR program, including: Testing procedures should be brought in line with the technology available in consumer products. more frequently review procedures and standards as new technology and products hit the market. The DOE should require some independent verification of test results.

and Consumer Reports more report back on results of

market developmentrepre- of new entrepreneurial ideas

STAR protocol allows for the The DOE and EPA should


Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


Breaking Ground
The program should consider a graded qualifying system that uses letters. Federal officials need to better police companies and enforce standards, including increasing spot checks of Energy Star-qualified products. The EPA issued a rebuttal release (see below) following Consumer Reports report. To read Consumer Reports response to the EPAs rebuttal release regarding its report on the ENERGY STAR program, please visit the following http://blogs.consumerrepor gy-star.html. See the EPA rebuttal release at ia/partners/EPA%20Respon se%20to%20Consumer%20R eports%20Oct%202008.pdf that includes a final concession that: Consumer Reports did raise an important issue with the federal test proceclear, this federal test procedure is used to qualify any refrigerator for sale in the U.S. As the existing federal used to qualify products as ENERGY STAR. We agree this procedure should be examined and that the ENERGY STAR specification Further, there are other important considerations in developing these criteria that the Consumer Reports article does not mention. These include that the criteria: allow for a reasonable level of product availability, are set so that consumers will get their money back through lower energy bills fairly quickly if there is products, and can be met without sacrifice in product performance. These are all very important considerations and are balanced in the development of ENERGY STAR specifications so that the consumer is satisfied with their energy-efficient product. These considerations are also taken into account or not a specification can be revised once ENERGY STARqualified products represent 50 percent or more of sales. If the conditions do not call for a tightening of a product specification, it does not mean that the standards are lax, as Consumer Reports claims. for refrigerators should be modified as necessary to ensure labeled products deliver promised savings. To view Consumer Reports full report on the ENERGY STAR program from the magazines October issue please visit http://www.consumerreport resource-center/energystar-has-lost-some-luster/ overview/energy-star-ov.htm. Contrary to the suggestion of the Consumer Reports article, no matter what the market share of ENERGY STAR-qualified products, a consumer who purchases a labeled product gets one that will contribute to a cleaner environment and save them money without sacrifice in performance. EPA stands by the integrity of the ENERGY STAR program. The ENERGY STAR program includes a comprehensive set of activities to maintain the integrity of the label. Activities include testing of the performance of products where warranted, spot checking products pulled from the marketplace, and coordination with a number of product-testing certification programs. When issues are identified, they are addressed. The ENERGY STAR program now includes products across more than 50 product categories ranging from lighting to home electronics, office equipment, and home heating and cooling. In each case, the ENERGY STAR criteria are based on established
Page 4/7

Breaking Ground
testing procedures for the energy use of the products. These testing procedures have been consistently updated as necessary to appropriately measure the energy efficiency of individual products, except in just a few cases. Consumer Reports did raise an important issue with the federal test procedure for refrigerators. To be clear, this federal test procedure is used to qualify any refrigerator for sale in the U.S. As the existing federal test procedure, it is the one used to qualify products as ENERGY STAR. We agree this procedure should be examined and that the ENERGY STAR specification for refrigerators should be modified as necessary to ensure labeled products deliver promised savings. For information on the complete set of program integrity activities that ENERGY STAR undertakes, see the ENERGY STAR 2007 Integrity Report at

link or see the full text below: dure for refrigerators. To be test procedure, it is the one

Convenient And Economical Lighting Control For Existing Homes

In new homes, automated lighting control systems are typically installed with low-voltage wiring providing communication pathways between devices. But in existing homes, the cost and hassle of wiring a house for lighting control is an obstacle to many consumers. Fortunately, homeowners can adopt convenient and economical lighting control solutions that either communicate using existing power wiring or by radio frequency, enabling easy access to the benefits of automated lighting control with less downtime and disruptionaccording to a new fact sheet published by the Home Lighting Control Alliance on its Web site.

To download this fact sheet free, visit HLCAs Learning Center at The Home Lighting tium of leading lighting control manufacturers, systems integrators, and industry support organizations. Its sole purpose is to promote the awareness, value, and benefits of lighting control in residential applications. Members include AHA Design, CEA, CentraLite Initiative, ensuring that eligible participants will be given the highest priority for available housing units. The MFP Initiative expands accessible, affordable, and integrated housing options for people with disabilities and seniors, helping with the transition from institutions back into home and community-based settings. CMHA's Chief Executive Officer George A. Phillips said, CMHA is proud to be a part of the MFP Initiative. It will provide assistance to individuals with disabilities who have previously been unable to access housing and health care in community-based settings. Hopefully, housing authorities across

Systems, Control4, Echelon, EH Publishing, ETC, FulTech Solutions, HAI, Integrated Karen Proctor Electric, The Controls, LiteTouch, Pass & Seymour, RL Johnson Construction, Savant Systems, S&S Electric, Somfy Systems, Square D/Clipsal, SST, Vantage Controls, and Watt Stopper/Legrand. Concepts, iLuxe innovation, Control Alliance is a consor- KRUX Company, Lightolier

EPA Finds Fault With Consumer Reports ENERGY STAR Article

In the October 2008 issue of Consumer Reports, an article titled ENERGY STAR Has Lost Some Luster included a number of statements and assertions that mislead consumers about ENERGY STAR. EPA was not interviewed for the article and would like to address some of the issues that the article raised about ENERGY STAR. One of the most misleading aspects of the story is that Consumer Reports confuses three different programs run by the federal government that address energy use and energy efficiency of energy-using products. These are: the minimum standards program operated by the Department of Energy (DOE), the EnergyGuide label overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the ENERGY STAR labeling program administered by EPA and the DOE. The Consumer Reports article misses the basic point of the ENERGY STAR program. ENERGY STAR is designed to help consumers find energy-efficient prodhelp save them money and help them protect the environment. It has been doing this successfully for more than fifteen years. Last year alone, the program prevented 40 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, while saving Americans more than $16 billion on their utility bills. To accomplish this, EPA initially seeks to have about els meet the ENERGY STAR criteria when they are first established for a product category. Increasing the market share of qualifying products from their initial levels is a goal of the programnot a fundamental flaw, as the article suggests.

ucts that will cost-effectively a price premium for the

HUD Announces Plan To Create More Accessible Housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Cleveland, Ohio-based Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) agreement to create 482 fully accessible units for with disabilities. This agreement goes a long way toward creating more homes that residents with disabilities so desperately need, said Kim Kendrick, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing
Page 5/7

the country will participate as CMHA has committed to doing. Under the new agreement, CMHA will: Create a minimum of five percent (482 units) of its housing stock into fully accessible units that will include lower kitchen counters, grab bars, and other features of accessible design; Make improvements in the management of their housing wait list to maximize the availability of accessible units for individuals with disabilities and their families; Ensure that applicants and residents with disabilities who rely on assistance animals have equal, unrestricted

and Equal Opportunity. This week we recognize the 18th anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and I can think of no more fitting tribCreating more affordable housing opportunities for fills both the purpose and intent of this landmark law. In addition to creating accessible housing, the agreement makes CMHA an active coordinating agency in the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Rebalancing

have announced a voluntary ute than this collaboration.

25 percent of available mod- when EPA explores whether

senior citizens and residents persons with disabilities ful-


Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


Breaking Ground
access to CMHAs programs; Ensure the continued availability of set-aside vouchers for persons with disabilities; and Train current and new employees about the responsibilities and procedures created under this agreement. This was truly a good faith collaborative effort between HUD and CMHA, where we rolled up our sleeves and created a program that will assist the countys individuals with disabilities and, hopefully, serve as a model for other housing authorities as they develop programs to support their communities citizens with disabilities, said Adrian Thompson, partner and Editorial Director of McGraw-Hill Construction. Were crossing the tipping point for green home Lower energy costs, healthier living, and improved indoor and outdoor environments are increasingly demanded by and available to home buyers at all income levels, according to preliminary findings from a survey released by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and McGraw-Hill Construction. Families and individual homeowners with the lowest incomes are overwhelmingly satisfied with their green home, more likely to recommend a green home to family and friends, and strongly prefer green homes as a purchasing option. The survey found that 78 percent of homeowners earning less than $50,000 per year say they would be more inclined to purchase a green home. The first findings from the study were released at the site of affordable multi-family homes under construction in the Bronx, New York. The development, Melrose Commons 5, is being built with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification as a goal. The benefits of green homebuilding must be accessible, and affordable, for every American family, said Michelle Moore, Senior Vice President, U.S. Green Building Council, which develops and administers the LEED Green Building Rating System for homes, offices, schools, hospitals, and other buildings nationwide. Being able to afford your utility bill is as important as being able to pay your mortgage, Moore added. Green homes are shining through as the bright spot in an otherwise gloomy housing market. The survey estimates that within the last three years more than 330,000 market rate homes with green features have been built in the United States, representing a $36-billion-per-year industry. An estimated 60,000 of those homes were third-party certified through LEED or a local green building program. Fully committed to sustainability for the long-term, green home buyers and remodelers cut across all demographic lines, regardless of income, zip code, or anything else. Builders are seeing great interest in green across all income levels, said Robert Ivy, Vice President McGraw-Hill Construction surveyed a representative sample of one million U.S. households (equating to three million consumers) to find those individuals who had purchased LEED-certified and other green homes over the last three years and probe them about their attitudes. The vast majority (83 percent) said their new homes will lower Key Study Findings building, added Harvey M. Bernstein, McGraw-Hill Construction Vice President of Industry Analytics, Alliances and Strategic Initiatives. Concerns about energy costs, health, and even resale value are adding up green for builders, buyers and renters. Green homes are here to stay. The full McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Report will be released this fall. The aim, said Bernstein, is to help builders better respond to the needs of green home buyers and to help product manufacturers and other industry players understand the ever-expanding value of this marketplace. operating costs; lower energy bills within the first year after purchase (79 percent); and also lower water bills within the first year after purchase (68 percent). Going green was the top reason cited by survey respondents for remodeling their home. Environmental benefits such as lower energy costs and healthier air were identified by 42 percent of respondents as their main reason for home improvements; 34 percent cited increased comfort; only 24 percent said improved appearance was their main benefit from remodeling. Other key findings of the McGraw-Hill Construction survey include: 70 percent of buyers are either more or much more inclined to purchase a green home over a conventional home in a down housing market. More than half (56 percent) of those surveyed who have bought green homes earn less than $75,000 per year; 29 percent earn less than $50,000. Overall, lower-income buyers say they found tax credits and government programs, indoor air quality benefits, and green
Page 6/7

Breaking Ground
certifications to be the most important incentives for them to buy green homes. Making homes greener is now the number one reason for home improvement (42 percent) over remodeling for comfort reasons (34 percent) or to improve appearance (24 percent). of homes renovated between 2005 and 2007 used products chosen for their green attributes. More than 80 percent of respondents said they believe that green homes are not just more economical, but offer better and healthier places to live. The Melrose Commons 5 development, where highreleased, will provide 63 rental apartments to families whose income does not exceed 60 percent of the median income in New York City. The buildings will incorporate 10 wind-powered turbine engines to generate electricity. Each apartment will have individual outside ventilation instead of central ducts. Specially designed window trickle each unit. Energy and watersaving design strategies will be used throughout the development. For more information and to see a time-lapse video of Melrose Commons 5 construction, visit www.TheGreen ( VocusPR30/Url.aspx?517212

in Taft Stettinius & Hollisters Cleveland office. Thompson represented CMHA in negotiating the agreement with HUD.

Home Buyers Increasingly Thinking And Buying Green

Almost half (44 percent) lights of the data were

vents will bring fresh air into x890008x11004).

Sloan Value Company And WaterSaver Technologies Partner On Greywater System

Sloan Valve Company, a global leader in water-effisystems, and WaterSaver Technologies, innovators of water-saving devices, have joined forces to provide greywater technology to the commercial/residential marketplace. The partnership will leverage Sloan's proven market leadership, best practices and distribution channels, and the advantages of WaterSavers water-saving products. Together, Sloan and WaterSaver Technologies will provide the industry with water re-usability to help maximize water-efficiency solutions. Tremendous amounts of being spent by companies around the world on optimizing water efficiency, said The success of such efforts is predicated on the quality innovative solutions, which such strategic partnerships create. Sloan and WaterSaver Technologies represent such innovation. Mark Sanders, Chairman of WaterSaver Technologies, agrees. Our AQUS greywater system was based on the concept that using fresh water to flush the toilet is both unnecessary and wasteful. This new system conserves fresh water by reusing water from the bathroom sink to flush the toilet. Sloans position in the industry will bring much needed attention to this low-maintenance, low-cost, and highly effecFor more information on Sloans strategic partnership with WaterSaver cient plumbing products and of the products and requires

Outdoor Living Spaces Serviced By Propane

New research from the Council (PERC) reveals that one home improvement trend showing no sign of and expansion of outdoor 42 percent of homeowners surveyed report having a finished outdoor room, up from 35 percent in 2005. become an integral part of daily life. Sixty-four percent of homeowners surveyed report spending more time in their outdoor rooms than they did a few years ago. room is simply an outdoor area that homeowners can go beyond a charcoal grill and living now includes complete outdoor kitchens, hearths, fireplaces, pools, spas, and can be fueled by propane. and chimneys add ambiance and warmth. And propane lighting, radiant floor heaters, and pool and hot tub heaters Propane is a reliable, clean, efficient and convenient fuel. It burns hotter and more efficiently and is easy to install for indoor and outdoor applications. And in many uses, leave a smaller carbon footprintbecause propane Propane Education Research basic patio furnitureoutdoor

slowing down is the addition heating units, all of which living spaces. Approximately Propane fire pits, heaters,

Outdoor living spaces have add year-round appeal.

By definition, an outdoor appliances fueled by propane

use for relaxing, cooking, and gives off less than half the entertaining, said Katherine greenhouse gas emissions of Whiteside, best-selling garden author and outdoor living expert. Outdoor rooms are an effective way to extend a homes footprint and family living space When it comes to designing outdoor living spaces, propane electricity. Builders, remodelers, and homeowners can discuss energy options with a nearby propane retailer to learn tips on integrating propane heating and appliVisit www.buildwith to learn more

time, energy, and money are tive water-saving solution.

without major construction. ances into remodeling jobs.

John Aykroyd, Vice President Technologies, visit of New Business Development for Sloan Valve Company.
Page 7/7

plays a key role. Todays home- on how propane can service owners are making choices that your entertaining space. UHD


Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


PRODUCT showcase

PRODUCT showcase


Tricia Spears

to the neighborhood
Enviro-Trash Concepts
has designed a product that basically eliminates the need for kitchen trash cans. Via a stainless steel door and attached chute installed in the wall or backsplash, the 45-degree Clean Chute is a through-the-wall disposal chute that quickly slides all waste to its proper container in the garage, laundry room, or other adjacent area of your choosing. The ecologically friendly product is manufactured from 80 percent recycled materials and meets the stringent requirements established by the green home building and remodeling associations. Available in single or dual units, the stainless steel door and galvanized chute model is available for $750 for the single unit and $1,100 for the dual unit. With an all-stainless chute, the single unit is $825 and the dual unit is $1,200. The company also offers a Clean Chute 200 Split Chute for $1,400 and a Counter Chute for $800. To learn more about the Clean Chute, visit EnviroTrash Concepts at or phone them at 913 671 8878.

Heat Transfer Products

has introduced a new 30-vacuum tube solar collector that will deliver up to 39,000 Btu per panel per day, depending on available sunlight. The collectors are engineered to maximize energy efficiency, even at high Delta T temperatures, and each panel assembly consists of 30 high-efficiency twin-glass, evacuated tubes that absorb solar energy and convert it into usable heat. The solar collector is shipped with a readyto-assemble, 439 stainless-steel standard roof frame for rooftop mounting and comes with conductive heat paste. Heat Transfers freeze-protected heat pipes transfer heat from within the evacuated tube up to an insulated copper header pipe through which a heat transfer liquid is circulated. Visit or phone 800 323 9651 to learn more about Heat Transfer Products.

ALNO offers an eco-friendly,

greener alternative finish to wood veneers with its ALNOART WOODGLAS collection. Featuring a patented, ink-jet technology, which prints a continuous wood grain directly onto aluminumframed kitchen cabinet doors, the book-matched veneer effect is said to illustrate nature in its ultimate technical perfection. Completely handleless, the ALNOART WOODGLAS collection features recessed grips for easy-to-open drawers and pullouts, and downlit functional shelves with glass backboards. ALNO is a member of the Forest Stewardship Council, and the companys products are crafted from sustainable materials that meet the social, economic, and ecological needs of present and future generations. To learn more about ALNOART WOODGLAS, as well as all of ALNOs products, visit them at

The Bamboo Vessel Sink from Totally Bamboo is an ecofriendly, environmentally sustainable sink that is impervious to use and beautiful to look at. Professionally sealed in waterproof, maintenancefree polyurethane, the solid bamboo sink has a ten-year guarantee and is available in a two-tone or a honeycolored bamboo. The maintenancefree vessel sink has a recessed drain opening and is 16.5 inches wide and six inches tall, with a 13/8-inch thick wall. The companys craftsmen hand-turn each sink on a huge lathe and then hand-rub the finish to a low-sateen sheen. Totally Bamboo developed the worlds first bamboo cutting board ten years ago and has since added a host of other bamboo products to their collection. Go to their Web site at or phone them at 760 471-6600 to learn more about Totally Bamboos products.

Uponor has introduced

Ecoflex Potable plus, which is a flexible pre-insulated pipe that offers faster, easier installations and potable water delivery for buried or aboveground potable water systems. Featuring Uponors 1-1/4-inch AQUAPEX tubing surrounded by lightweight, closed-cell PEX-foam insulation encased in a durable, watertight, high-density polyethylene outer jacket, the product helps retain heat and guard against moisture contamination. A self-regulating, heat-trace cable operates at up to 23 watts per meter, providing energy-efficient freeze protection. Visit Uponor at or phone them at 800 321 4739.

has developed a green stucco product that uses a minimum of 10 percent Post Consumer Recycled contenttheir GX2 Premium Exterior Stucco. The stucco is shipped in a 69-pound bag, replacing the traditional 90-pound bag, while holding the same volume of material in a much small container. The 26 percent lighter material is said to increase production, reduce fatigue and possible back injuries, and because of the savings on freight, use less fuel consumption and less CO2 emissions, making it very green-friendly. Visit or phone them at 858 566 3110 to learn more about GX2 Premium Exterior Stucco from Expo Industries. Page 1/2

Expo Industries

The TOPAS wood-burning stove from RAIS is constructed of high-strength Swedish steel in black or grey. A two-step dooropening system safeguards access to the fire, and standard features include steel side and top plates, a high-quality glasspane door, and a firewood holder. The top-vented RAIS TOPAS requires only a five-inch clearance to the back wall and a seven-inch clearance to side walls. RAIS stoves preheat the combustion air and guide the preheated air through a system of baffle plates. When the thermal conditions are met, 80 percent of the weight of a dry wood log is turned into volatiles. RAIS stoves have been thoroughly tested and live up to all applicable environmental standards. For more information on RAIS stoves, visit or phone them at 888 724 7789. Page 2/2

Developed by Full Spectrum Solutions, in partnership with the California Lighting Technology Center at the University of California, Davis, the Berkeley Lamp II is engineered as two lamps in one. Providing energy efficiency and visual comfort, the lamps patented lighting system, with independent bulbs, allows for upper ambient, lower task, or combined lighting. The Berkeley Lamp II is adaptable to every situation and cuts energy use by up to 50 percent. The energy-saving lighting source uses 100 percent post-consumer packaging materials, and added convenience of a bonus 120-volt power supply outlet at the base of the lamp and quality dimming technology adjusts both 91 CRI bulbs independently. The Berkeley Lamp II includes a choice of shades and a choice of BlueMax 91 CRI, 3500K Sunset or 5500K Daylight Bulbs. You can learn more about the Berkeley Lamp II by visiting or by phoning 888 574 7014.


Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


Photo Credit: David Franzen

Hawaii Residence Proves Home Design Can Be Eco-Friendly And Chic

Philip K. White

synopsis Design of a well-articulatedbut not

opulentisland-style residence that highlights the propertys stunning coastal views and takes advantage of its natural airflow and light. designed in an H layout.

(Top Left) This 300-square foot terrace on the west end of the house helps to protect the main living space from direct sunshine and heat during the day, particularly in the early evening as the sun sets. (Top Right) The residence incorporates a variety of natural landscaping, including indigenous foliage, stone pathways, koi ponds, and running waterfalls. This atmosphere creates the illusion of a secret garden on the property. (Bottom Left) The wood beams used in the homes trellis, and also in the eaves, are Western Red Cedar. (Bottom Right) Philip K. White & Associates worked extensively with DeBiasi Pacific to create a one-of-a-kind pool that allows guests to enjoy the propertys stunning oceanfront views.
Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009 Page 1/5

Eco-friendly 4,800-square-foot home Incorporates many green-building design

elements, including solar water heater, energy-efficient lighting, ENERGY STAR appliances, and solar vents located across the rooftop to allow heat from inside the structure to escape naturally. replaced with large, sliding, wood-paneled glass doors in the main living spaces and master bedroom.

Absence of exterior walls, which were


DESIGN universal

DESIGN universal

Portlock Residence Green Materials Portlock Residence Team

Architect: Philip K. White & Associates, 40 S School Street, Suite 300, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, 808 596 0260 Interior Designer: Philpotts & Associates, 40 S School Street, Suite 200, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, 808 523 6771 Contractor: Gregory Design Build, 7056 Kalanianaole Highway, Honolulu, Hawaii 96825, 808 381 2929 Civil Engineer: Hida, Okamoto & Associates, 1440 Kapiolani Boulevard #1120, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814, 808 942 0066 Mechanical Engineer: Mark Morrison Mechanical Engineering, P.O. Box 529, Holualoa, Hawaii 96725, 808 960 2089 Structural Engineer: William Blakeney Engineering, 970 North Kalaheo Avenue, Suite C311, Kailua, Hawaii 96734, 808 261 4900 Electrical Engineer/Lighting Consultant: Halina M. Gruszka, Lighting & Engineering Integrated, Inc., 300 Wai Nanu Way, #402, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815, 808 922 4645 Landscape Architect: Jonelle Oshiro, 2612 Liliha Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817, 808 595 2612 Kitchen Designer: Lifestyle Kitchens, 1130 Nimitz Highway, Suite A-151, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817, 808 523 9688 Audio Visual Consultant: Engineered Environments, 1250 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda, California 94501, 510 521 7500 Pool Consultant: DeBiasi Pacific, Inc., 3620 Waialae Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96816, 808 732 5161 At Philip K. White & Associates we believe in the importance of incorporating locally sourced and eco-friendly materials whenever possiblelike we were able to do with the new Portlock residence. Some ways that we were able to incorporate green materials into this project include: Custom Sliding Doors: Afromosia wood/glass sliding doors. Custom made by Kieselback Woodworks, Honolulu, Hawaii. The DW Floor Track system is imbedded in the stone threshold and virtually disappears, allowing the doors to be opened to maximize the homes natural air and light. Stone Flooring: Quartzite Oyster Classic Fence and Interior Wall Stone Cladding: Coral rock veneer: 1-inch thick random machine flat rough finish; from Stoneworld, Honolulu, Hawaii.

In Hawaii, we often take our beautiful surroundings for granted. Natural trade winds, sunny skies, swaying palm trees, and turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean make up this place that only a lucky few can call home. For more than 20 years, Philip K. White & Associates has been incorporating green-building design in our workstriving to create stunning homes in Hawaii that work in harmony with nature and have a minimal environmental impact. In 2005, our firm was approached to help a new client design his dream home in paradise. A retired Wall Street investor and former naval officer, our client had been stationed on Oahu during his career and fell in love with the islands. He had recently purchased a piece of oceanfront property in the quiet neighborhood of Portlocklocated 20 minutes outside of Honolulu, away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. The clients desire was to create a well-articulatedbut not opulentisland-style residence that highlighted the propertys stunning coastal views and took advantage of its natural airflow and light. In order to help our client execute his vision for the ultimate home, Philip K. White & Associates assembled a project team consisting of more than 11 companies from Hawaii and California, which included interior designers from Philpotts & Associates, a

One the renovation projects goals was to incorporate design elements distinctive to Hawaii. Woven lauhala matsmade of a locally sourced plant materialare featured in the homes main living areas and bedrooms. The Hawaiian art of weaving leaves from the hala tree is a practice that traces back to ancient Hawaii.
contractor from Gregory Design Build, and Landscape Architect Jonelle Oshiro. The result was a 4,800-square-foot eco-friendly homedesigned in an H layoutthat sprawls out over a 17,700-square-foot parcel. The new home consists of four bedrooms, four full bathrooms and two half-bathrooms, and also features a large walk-in master closet, an entry pavilion, entry garden, and a 300square-foot Hau Terrace. The new Portlock residence was designed in accordance with Philip K. White & Associates values of creating thoughtful homes that allow the users to enjoy
Page 2/5

(Top Left) One of the homes unique elements is its absence of exterior walls, which Philip K. White & Associates replaced with large sliding wooden panels, allowing for natural ventilation and lighting. (Top Right) Energy star appliances were installed in the kitchen, decreasing the homes electricity use and also saving costs on energy bills. (Bottom Left) A Mitsubishi ductless zone air-conditioning system was installed in all guest bedrooms and a York split system throughout the remainder of the house, allowing users to turn on air conditioning in one or more areas of the home to strategically conserve energy (Bottom Right) The estimated $2.8 million renovation on the Portlock residence resulted in a one-of-a-kind sustainable, tropical oasis.
the property within a reasonably sized living space. Rather than construct an enormous house that took over the entire property, this project was designed to provide ample space to enjoy both outdoor and indoor living areas. One of the first challenges that we faced during the design process was with the height of the house, which needed to be kept within the neighborhoods height specifications of 15 feet. In addition, we wanted to keep a Hawaiian-style double-pitched roof on the house. In order to meet both requirements, we opted to drop the finish level of the house by two feet, evoking the feeling of descending into a secret garden upon entering the homes pavilionlush foliage, stone paths, koi ponds, and running waterfalls lead the way into the main living area. Following our companys green philosophy, we were able to incorporate many green-building design elements into our clients
Page 3/5

residence. At Philip K. White & Associates we have encouraged the practice of installing solar water heaters in homes for years and worked with the owner to have one installed to take full advantage of Hawaiis year-round sunny weather. In many ways, the eco-friendly design of the residence was ahead of its time. In June of this year, Hawaiis current governor, Linda Lingle, passed a solar water heater bill into law, requiring the installation of solar water heaters in all new single-family homes beginning in 2010. The installed solar hot water system at this residence includes two Sunearth Collector Panels, as well as a Ruud 120-gallon solar tank, which were installed by Ponchos Solar.


Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


DESIGN universal

DESIGN universal

Green-Building Tips For Your Next Project

As you probably know, incorporating green elementsfrom what you wear and drive, to how you decorate and live in your homehas become an increasingly prominent trend, here in Hawaii, as well as around the world. For more than 20 years, our team at Philip K. White & Associates has been designing homes and buildings that are sustainable, environmentally sensitive, and culturally respectful to the islands. When planning your next building projectwhether its a simple renovation or constructing a house from the ground upthink of ways that you can decrease your impact on the environment and make the most of your surroundingswherever that may be. Here are a few simple tips that you can keep in mind: Use water-efficient landscaping. By installing grass trays on the roof of your home or office, you can easily collect rain runoff and prevent them from going into our streams and rivers. A simple drip system, which routes water from the roof directly to plants, will allow you to save money on your water bill, and also cut time watering the garden each day! Reduce waste and energy by installing waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets, and eco-powered faucets in bathrooms. For offices, air hand dryers can be used throughout the building to reduce paper waste. In addition, recycling bins can be easily provided in both offices and homes to encourage recycling as a lifestyle, and also make it easy for young children. Implement recycled materials. Recycled materials including the studs, ceiling panels, insulation, laminate counters (made out of recycled banana fibers), carpet tiles, and systems furniture, which are also visually appealing, can easily be used in any home or office. Use green-housekeeping products. Not only will you keep your home beautiful and bacteria-free, but your familys health will also benefit by decreasing their exposure to harmful chemicals. Coral-clad walls Quartzite flooring in the main living areasa lowmaintenance material that allows guests to move freely from the outdoor lanai and pool area. Woven lauhala mats featured on the master bedroom, living room, and kitchens vaulted ceiling. Venetian plaster wall finishskillfully applied by a local artisan on the Big Islandshown along one wall of the living room and powder room. A color palette inspired by nature and the colors of Hawaii.
Page 4/5

Venetian plaster work created by a local artist on the Big Island of Hawaiiwas applied to the walls of the main living area and bathrooms. By utilizing locally produced materials we were able to support Hawaiis economy as well as save energy as we did not have to ship products into Hawaii from around the world.
In addition to solar water heating, several elements were added to help decrease electricity use, allowing the owner to save costs on energy billsa concept that is especially important in todays energy environment. Energy-efficient lighting is featured throughout the house, ENERGY STAR appliances are used in the kitchen, and solar vents are located across the rooftop to allow heat from inside the structure to escape naturally. Also, in an attempt to execute the original vision, the Portlock residence was initially designed to take advantage of the areas natural ventilation. However, due to Hawaiis humid weather, and to make the house more comfortable for inhabitants, a Mitsubishi ductless zone air-conditioning system was installed in the guest bedrooms and a York split system throughout the remainder of the house, allowing users to turn on air conditioning in one or more areas of the housestrategically conserving energy. The new homes eco-friendly design also includes a 320square-foot terrace on the west-end of the houseprotecting the indoor living areas from direct sunshine and heat as the sun sets and reflects off the ocean. The terrace subsequently decreases the need for air conditioning when the sun sets each evening and provides a relaxing lounge area for guests to enjoy the propertys scenic landscape. In keeping with the homes local island flair, the home design also incorporated many aspects distinctive to Hawaii. Some examples include:

Native plantings in the yard, which will require less maintenance. By utilizing locally produced materials, we were able to support Hawaiis economy and also save energy, since we did not have to ship products into Hawaii from around the world. While the new Portlock residence embraces its natural surrounding, it also incorporates state-of-the-art technology. Alameda, California-based Engineered Environments installed an audio-visual system in the study and a sound system throughout the home. Our client has three children from the continental United States who visit him on Oahu. To make the guest rooms extra special, he worked extensively with Interior Designer Holly Boling-Ruiz, from Philpotts and Associates, to tailor the rooms to compliment each family members preferences. Each bedroom also has its own private bathroom, as

well as a private open-air lanai, to enjoy the scenic outdoors. Another unique aspect of the home is its absence of exteriors walls, which were replaced with large, sliding, wood-paneled glass doors in the main living spaces and master bedroom. When open, the doors disappear into the walls, truly bringing the outdoors in. Much of the time, our client leaves these doors open to allow for natural ventilation and lighting. These doors also allow for residents to move freely from room to room and from the outdoors, indoors. The home also features expansive lanais on both the Mauka (mountain) and Makai (ocean) sides of the house, as well as a gorgeous infinity pool and spa that overlook the ocean. The pool was custom designed to fit within the uniquely shaped setback area, and to allow users to stand in the deep end

and soak in the breathtaking view of Diamond Head Crater, a famous Oahu landmark. The estimated $2.8 million construction of the Portlock home spanned 12 months and resulted in a one-of-a-kind, sustainable tropical oasis. As an architect living in Hawaii, there are many elements that inspire home designthe enchanting quality of our islands landscape and its many microclimates, as well as our unique connection with the natural environment. Our goal as architects is to create spaces and structures that work in harmony with the fabric of a particular place. UHD
The Author
Philip Pip White is President and Principal of Philip K. White & Associates, a Honolulu architecture firm dedicated to innovative and environmentally conscious design. Founded in 1984, the firm has developed a reputation for creating beautiful and livable spaces that embrace the way their clients think, work, and play. For more information, phone 808 596 0260 or visit


Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

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Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


DESIGN optimum performance home

DESIGN optimum performance home

The First Optimum Performance Home

engineered slab part X V I I
Architectural Illustration By Ronald Devesa

The First Optimum Performance Home At The Sea Ranch

Gary Reber
This is the seventeenth article in the series documenting the design and construction of the first Optimum Performance Home. The home is now under construction, after more than five years of design and plan development work. Construction financing is being provided by San Francisco-based New Resource Bank, a community bank chartered to fund green projects. The project has been selected by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for inclusion in the national Leadership In Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes pilot program, the nations most challenging green build certification initiative, and the goal is Platinum certification. The home is being built at The Sea Ranch, located in Sonoma County, along the Northern California coastline of the Pacific Ocean, approximately 110 miles north of San Francisco. To document the day-to-day construction of the home, an iBeam Systems time-lapse construction camera is up and running. Visit and then click on the Optimum Performance Home Build Cam button. Photos are captured and automatically uploaded to iBeams secure server every 15 minutes from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day. The images can easily be e-mailed or printed to document job site conditions. To view time-lapse archive images, enter the user name ophsearanch and the password ophsearanch. Using iBeams technology and an always on GetWireless AirLink Raven X EVDO V4221-VA and AirLink Dual-Band
Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009 Page 1/18 Page 2/18 Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

synopsis Extensive and complex underslab infrastructure

continues to be the focus of construction on the site prior to the pouring of the suspended concrete slab.

The projects concrete mixes use Portland Cement,

Krytons KIM admixture, Euclid Eucon A+ admixture, and 40 percent fly ash.

The first stage Amvic ICF construction is the

underground wine cellar and uses Carlisle BARRICOAT-R waterproof coating.

Prior to the granular mixture fill, the placement of

the DELTA-MS UNDERSLAB membrane, the underslab R-Control Perform Guard EPS, and the Uponor AQUAPEX-encased suspended slab concrete pour, all the underground infrastructure for the home will have been installed.

The radiant floor portions of the 5-inch thick

suspended concrete slab and under-slab insulation are encased at the perimeters with the EnergyEdge 8-inch Frame Building Rail.

Both the hot and cold water corrugated pre-sleeved

Uponor AQUAPEX tubing is further insulated with Armacell AP/Armaflex tube insulation.



DESIGN optimum performance home

home environment to support independent living and sustainable lifestyles. Part I of this case study series appeared in Issue 1, January/February 2006. The introductory article covered the project scope. Thereafter, each issue has contained a part of the continuing series by working through site planning and preparation; Low-Impact Development (LID); further refinements to the site plan and drainage design; The Sea Ranch Design Committee-approved architectural/structural and grading/drainage submittals with conditions that translated to clarifications on certain building components and material finishes; particular aspects of the homes mechanical plan; structural aspects of foundations, structural walls incorporating Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs), and Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), as well as roofing; the acoustical design of the dedicated Optimum Performance Home Theatre and rear-projection room; interior design approaches and materials; kitchen, bath, and home fixtures; universal design architecture; fire-risk mitigation; energy generation; and courtyard experience. Breaking Ground was the title of Part XIII, along with Courtyard Experience. Part XIV and XV, respectively, covered the initial continuing phases of Site And Foundation Preparation. Part XVI further expanded on the Site and Foundation Preparation. The initial site grading, foundation, and mechanical, plumbing, electrical, and low-voltage infrastructure stages have been completed. This complex and leading edge under-slab infrastructure work has been documented in the day-to-day time-lapse photography and archived photos on the Ultimate Home Design Web site. Following the installation of the Cosella-Drken DELTA-MS UNDERSLAB vapor-retarding membrane and AFM Corporation RControl Perform Guard EPS foam slab insulation, the Uponor AQUAPEX radiant floor was installed and the engineered suspended concrete slab poured. Presently, work has commenced on the erection of the Amvic ICF walls. Completion of the home is anticipated for April 2009. It is our intent to produce a high-definition documentary for

DESIGN optimum performance home

educational use by the U.S. Green Building Council, the organization who created the LEED for Homes rating and certification program. Our presentation will reveal the step-by-step process for creating the first Optimum Performance Homeexpected to be one of the highest rated, if not the highest, LEED for Homes Platinum residential home in the world! Separately, we have produced an HD promo, which was requested by Planet Green, a network owned by the Discovery Channel. This promo will be promoted to secure national television distribution of a program on the home, which we have titled, the Ultimate Home Series. One can view the promo at

The Sea Ranch, Sonoma County, California

Photo Courtesy Rozanne Rapozo (

EVDO Antenna, our team is able to view a high-resolution photo archive of the entire project daily, including stunning 1920 x 1080p (progressive) high-definition time-lapse movies each month (see a standard-resolution version at Upon completion, the entire construction photo archive will be featured as a 1080p high-definition time-lapse movie and will become part of a high-definition television program and educational documentary that Steve Michelson Productions and I are producing.

Construction Scheduling
Below is the breakdown of the initial site preparation, grading process, foundation work, and engineered suspended slab completed or underway. An outline will be provided in Part XVIII for the next stage of construction relating to the above the slab Amvic ICF and ThermaSAVE SIP walls and roofing, WaterFurnace geothermal vertical fields, Stormwater Solutions EcoRain underground water cistern, and Seepage Control Environmental Soil Sealant for the pond bottom.
Pre-Construction Start Meetings Site Work
Clear Lot Vegetation Lay Out House Pad Install Curtain Drain Around Pad Excavate Optimum Performance Home Theatre, Alcove, and Wine Cellar Lay Out Footings Install Temporary Electrical Power Install iBeam Systems Time-Lapse Pro Construction Camera (See Part XIII) Install GetWireless and WildBlue Internet Transmission Activate Water Service Form Underground ICF Home Theatre, Alcove, and Wine Cellar Walls Verify Foundations Site Placement/Inspection Rough Excavation Large Pond and Septic Trench to Designated Leech Field Install StormTech Infiltration Chambers (See Parts II, III, and IV)

Ultimate Home Design Concept

The showcase project is exemplary of the Ultimate Home Design concept, which integrates age-friendly universal design with the best sustainable building practices, while exerting minimal impact on the environment. Universal design is the inclusive, non-discriminatory design of products, buildings, environments, and urban infrastructure; as well as information technologies that are accessible to and useable by (almost) all. With respect to home design, the idea is to design and build homes that have no physical barriers, thus sustaining people of all ages and all capabilities in a functional, comfortable, and aesthetic lifestyle. A building-science systems approach to home building is the cornerstone of the project, with emphasis on the relationship between the homes components and the envelope it creates. Also paramount is good stewardshipproper regard and respect for the rights of neighboring homeowners and the surrounding natural setting, and resource efficiency. The goal is to optimize occupant health, comfort, and safety; maximize energy efficiency and structural durability; and minimize environmental impact. In addition, the aim is toward providing a nurturing

The goal is to optimize occupant health, comfort, and safety; maximize energy efficiency and structural durability; and minimize environmental impact.
Page 3/18 Page 4/18

The elevations of the Optimum Performance Home at The Sea Ranch

Dig Initial Stage Foundation Footings and


Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


DESIGN optimum performance home

Install French Drain Pour First Stage Engineered Controlled Density Fill (CDF) Concrete with Portland Cement and Headwaters Resources Fly Ash (See Part VI) Set Forms; Tie Rebar Steel, Hold Downs, and Anchor Bolts Pour Final Stage Foundation Footing Concrete with Portland Cement, Headwaters Resources Fly Ash, Krytons KIM Admixture, and Euclid Eucon Admixture (See Part VI) Run Spunstrand Acoustically Treated AirConditioning Duct for Home Theatre (See Part V) Conduit Trenching for Uponor AQUAPEX Plumbing (See Parts V and X) Run Armacell Insulated Uponor AQUAPEX Hot and Cold Water Tubing Run Plumbing Waste Run Wardflex Flexible Corrugated Stainless Steel Fuel Gas Tubing Run Underground Waterline from Pond to the Boat Garage for Fire Hose Connection (See Part XI) Run Underground Drain from Wine Cellar to StormTech Infiltrator Chambers Located Across the Property Frontage Install Gravel Around Plumbing Run Plumbing Conduit and Supply Run Electrical and Low-Voltage Conduit Lay Out NuTone Central Vacuum System (See Parts IX and X) Run WaterFurnace Geothermal Supply and Return Tubing Finalize Underslab Infrastructure Install EnergyEdge Insulated Form Around Perimeter of Slab Underslab Inspection Place Gravel and Sand Underslab Install Cosella-Drken DELTA-MS UNDERSLAB Install AMF Corporation R-Control Perform Guard EPS Underslab Insulation Prepare for In-Floor D-Box Technologies Custom Motion Platform In Home Theatre (See Part VII) Install Slab Rebar Install Uponor AQUAPEX Radiant Floor Tubing Pour Concrete Slab with Portland Cement, Headwaters Resources Fly Ash, Krytons KIM Admixture, Euclid Eucon Admixture (See Part VI), and Forta Ferro (See Part XVI) Backfill Courtyard and Spa Area Install Zurn Flo-Thru Trench Drain Pour Concrete Slab with Portland Cement, Headwaters Resources Fly Ash, Krytons KIM Admixture, Euclid Eucon Admixture (See Part VI), and Forta Ferro (See Part XVI) Install AMF Corporation R-Control Perform Guard EPS Around Perimeter of Slab Under EnergyEdge Waterproof Concrete Stem Walls With Carlisle BARRICOAT-R Backfill Foundation Install Stormwater Solutions EcoRain Underground Water Cistern Install Seepage Control ESS-13 Environmental Soil Sealant At Pond Location Construct Amvic ICF Walls Pour Concrete Into Amvic ICFs Construct ThermaSAVE SIP Walls Treat Concrete Slab with Nisus Corporation Bora-Care Termite Barrier Pretreatment Install Roofing Structural Members Install ThermaSAVE SIP Roofing

DESIGN optimum performance home

radiant floor, and concrete slab work. Johns crew works under the direction and with Travis Swithenbank and his specialist crew at QUALCON on the construction of the Amvic ICF walls. Matthew Jung, owner of 88HVAC, a Geothermal-Radiant-Solar company operating in Marin-San Francisco-Burlingame, California, installed the WaterFurnace geothermal supply and return tubing under the slab. Sebastopol, California-based Weeks Drilling & Pump Company, under the direction of Chris Thompson, CEO, will drill the five 310-feet-deep geothermal bore holes after the foundation work is completed. Don Bartlett of Bartlett Mechanical Services will install the WaterFurnace geothermal and complete the interface with the WaterFurnace system with the Spunstrand underground acoustically damped air-conditioning duct system. Don also oversaw the installation of Uponor AQUAPEX radiant floor tubing. The Spunstrand system was constructed and installed by Jerry Feeney and John Feeney. Bill Wilson Environmental Planning and Design, LLC is responsible for the on-site water-management systems, including the pond and drains. Aqua Harvest Internationals Terry McMains, based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, designed the site application of the EcoRain Stormwater Tank Modules underground water cistern manufactured by Stormwater Solutions, LLC. The cistern will retain roof runoff from Gutter Helmet guttered interior roof areas. On other eaves, Rainhandler grids are planned to shatter and re-suspend roof runoff, spraying it to the adjacent mulched landscape areas to facilitate infiltration. Thus, all impervious roof surface areas that produce runoff are mitigated. The large pond at the eastern rear of the site is intended to both celebrate and accommodate the excess presence of moisture moving across the site. The pond is designed to act as a hydraulic stabilization feature by storing and managing excess moisture crossing the site, including some of the perched groundwater, and to create habitat value for native and migratory wildlife. A beach with subsurface horizontal geotechnical drains (provided by Smart Drain) will be installed at the upper, or southeast corner of the pond, overlain by coarse sand and rock chips, to intercept seepage and runoff from the neighboring property and recharge the pond. The excavated pond is constructed as a dip in the topography, without any constructed berm or engineered containment. It will be sealed with a vegetable) oil polymer (provided by Seepage Control) that is completely nontoxic and used for this purpose, and the pond will not leak.

(Top) Armacell Armaflex Insulation, (Right) Plumber Jerry Moyles, Contractor John Feeney, (Above) Spunstrand Saddle Vents

This Issue
In this issue, the focus continues to be on the various construction elements related to site and foundation preparation.

StormTech Infiltrator Chambers

The StormTech SC-310 chambers are low-profile modular underground stormwater detention structures, approximately 7 feet in length. StormTech chambers are molded from Polypropylene resin, which is inherently resistant to environmental stress cracking and chemicals typically found in stormwater runoff.
Pour Concrete into Amvic ICFs Construct Concrete Roof to Support Earth Garden Waterproof Wine Cellar Walls with Carlisle Coatings Install Weston Solutions GreenGrid Living Herb Garden

Construct West Amvic ICF Garage Wall Pour Concrete into Amvic ICFs

Septic System
Dig Septic Trench, Cut Road, Install Pipes, Backfill Trench, and Repair Road

Wine Cellar
Construct Underground Wine Cellar with Amvic ICFs

John Feeney, our on-site supervising contractor and lead carpenter, and his carpenter team consisting of Ian Currie, Gerard Feeney, Aaron Davila Romero, Alain Bernal, and Gabriel Bernal are performing the foundation, Uponor AQUAPEX
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iBeam Time-Lapse Pro Construction Camera Perspective 2008-09-09

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


DESIGN optimum performance home

Krytons KIM Admixture System
KIM admixture renders hardened concrete impermeable to water penetration, reduces drying shrinkage, protects steel reinforcements from corrosion, and improves concrete durability. The advanced integral crystalline chemicals react with water and unhydrated cement particles to form millions of needle-like crystals to permanently block the pathways for water and waterborne contaminants.

DESIGN optimum performance home

ect. The mix design for the Amvic ICFs will be used once again for the ICF walls in the next phase of construction. These mixes use Portland Cement, Krytons KIM admixture, Euclid Eucon A+ admixture, and 40 percent Headwaters Resources fly ash. The mix design for the standard foundation footings uses 324 pounds of Portland Cement, 216 pounds of fly ash (40 percent), 11 pounds of KIM admixture, and 16 ounces of Eucon A+ admixture per cubic yard. The suspended slabon-grade mix design uses, per cubic yard, 360 pounds of Portland Cement and 240 pounds of fly ash (40 percent), 11 pounds of KIM admixture, 18 ounces of Eucon A+ admixture, and FORTA FERRO. The Amvic ICF concrete mix design will use the mix design that was used for the standard foundation footings (see Part XVI). For an in-depth presentation on the application of these mixes in the project, see Issue XV. KIM admixture renders hardened concrete impermeable to water penetration, reduces drying shrinkage, protects steel rebar reinforcements from corrosion, and improves concrete durability. The advanced integral crystalline chemicals in the KIM admixture react with water and unhydrated Portland Cement particles to form millions of needle-like crystals to permanently block the pathways for water and waterborne contaminants. Euclid Chemical Companys Eucon A+ Type A admixture serves as a fastsetting, water-reducing, and plasticizing admixture for concrete that does not adversely affect concrete set times. The suspended slab-on-grade mix design incorporates FORTA FERRO, an easy-to-finish, color-blended fiber, made of 100 percent virgin copolymer/propylene consisting of a twisted bundle non-fibrillating monofilament and a fibrillating network fiber, yielding a high-performance concrete reinforcement system. This fiber provides longterm concrete durability and increased impact resistance. FORTA FERRO is used to reduce plastic and hardened concrete shrinkage prior to the initial set, reduce hardened concrete shrinkage cracking, improve impact strength, and enhance concrete toughness and durability. This extra heavy-duty fiber offers maximum long-term durability, structural enhancements, and effective secondary/temperature crack control by incorporating a truly unique synergistic fiber system of long-length design. FORTA FERRO is non-corrosive, non-magnetic, and 100 percent alkali proof. The recommended dosage rate of FORTA FERRO is 3 to 30 pounds per cubic yard of concrete added directly to the concrete-mixing system during, or after, the batching of the other ingredients and mixed at the time and speed recommended by the mixer manufacturer (usually four to five minutes). These measures were deemed necessary to provide maximum concrete strength for the foundation and engiPage 8/18

Headwaters Resources
Fly ash improves the performance of concrete foundations, making them stronger, more durable, and more resistant to chemical attack, while creating significant environmental benefits through stewardship of an abundant industrial resource. Because the tiny fly ash particles fill microscopic spaces in the concrete, and because less water is required, concrete using fly ash is denser and more durable. And concrete containing fly ash becomes even stronger over time compared to concrete made only with cement.

Euclid Eucon A+
Euclid Chemical Companys Eucon A+ Type A admixture serves as a fast-setting, water-reducing, and plasticizing admixture for concrete that does not adversely affect concrete set times.

FORTA FERRO is a copolymer/propylene fiber that is used to reduce plastic and hardened concrete shrinkage prior to the initial set, reduce hardened concrete shrinkage cracking, improve impact strength, and enhance concrete toughness and durability.

In previous issues, the sites soil conditions (see Part XIV) were discussed and the remedy. This resulted in Headwaters Resources Doug Yeggy designing a specially engineered Controlled Density Fill (CDF) concrete mix to fill the voids and provide a strong, stabilized surface upon which to support the foundation footings. Headwaters Resources is the source of the fly ash that we used in the concrete mixes designed for the project. The

Portland Cement Association and the California Portland Cement Company are the sources of the cement used in the project. Delivery of the Portland Cement and fly ash to the concrete production facility was handled by Conti Materials. The local concrete production facility is Bed Rock Products, based in Point Arena (and Gualala), California. Bob Hays Bed Rock Concrete Pumping is providing the concrete-pumping service for the proj-

Above: Uponor AQUAPEX Radiant Tubing, Spunstrand Saddle Vents Below: Uponor Radiant Send & Return

iBeam Time-Lapse Pro Construction Camera Perspective 2008-09-18

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009 Page 7/18

neered-suspended slab on grade. The San Andreas Fault is an uncomfortably close neighbor to The Sea Ranch, and the mix design should provide exceptional strength so that the home can survive such a natural disaster and provide safety to the homes inhabitants. The bulk of the engineered suspended slab on grade has been poured, as well as the wine cellar roof. The slab for the courtyard and master bedroom suite deck

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


DESIGN optimum performance home

Amvic Insulated Concrete Forms
The Amvic ICF 5-in-1 system incorporates structure, insulation, vapor barrier, sound barrier, and studding attachments for drywall and exterior siding in one easy step.

DESIGN optimum performance home

or below ground. This roller and/or brush-applied, water-based, asphalt emulsion is modified with a blend of synthetic rubbers and special additives, which cures to form a flexible, monolithic, waterproofing membrane. The membrane prevents lateral water migration. BARRICOAT-R is ideally suited for waterproofing on below-grade foundation walls, and other areas where a seamless elastomeric waterproofing is required. Drainage plays a critical role in the design and construction of belowgrade applications. Without proper drainage, groundwater seepage may cause hydrostatic pressure and leakage, resulting in structural damage. Good drainage is particularly critical to the success of this project, due to the adverse damp conditions contributed by underground springs. Carlisles MiraDRAINs multi-directional flow design allows a continuous path for water discharge, eliminating the potential for hydrostatic pressure buildup. It allows water to pass freely into the drainage core, where it is gravity-fed into the sites drainage collection system. The exterior earth-encased BARRICOAT-R membrane-protected Amvic ICF wine cellar walls and the ICF walls to be earth-banked will be covered with MiraDRAIN 6200, high-performance, high-strength drainage composite consisting of a three-dimensional, high-impact polystyrene core, and a non-woven filter fabric. MiraDRAIN 6200 has the added benefit of a polymeric sheet adhered to the back of the core, to prevent the drainage core from die-cutting the waterproofing membrane. The filter fabric is bonded to the dimpled polystyrene core to minimize fabric intrusion. The fabric also prevents the passage of soil particles into the core, while allowing water to pass freely. The exterior concrete roof of the wine cellar will be protected with a
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Carlisle Coatings & Waterproofing

BARRICOAT-R is a waterproofing and vapor barrier membrane designed for vertical surfaces, above or below ground. MiraDRAIN 6200 is a high-performance, high-strength drainage composite consisting of a three-dimensional, high-impact polystyrene core, and a nonwoven filter fabric.

Clockwise: Infrastructure Overview, Uponor AQUAPEX Radiant Tubing, Wine Cellar, Uponor Radiant Send & Return

remain to be completed in the next phase. The wine cellar roof will feature a Weston Solutions GreenGrid living herb garden planted around a VELUX Sun Tunnel skylight. The Amvic ICF structural elements of the underground wine cellar have been constructed. With the engineered slab now poured, the next step is to seal and waterproof the stem and foundation walls exposed to the earth. Carlisle Coatings & Waterproofing BARRICOAT-R will be used for this purpose. BARRICOAT-R is a waterproofing and vapor barrier membrane designed for vertical surfaces, above

BARRICOAT-R membrane, and MiraDRAIN GR9200 will be applied over the waterproof membrane. This sheeted membrane is designed specifically for green roofs, garden roofs, and large planter applications. Used with the BARRICOAT-R waterproofing, this drainage composite provides adequate water retention for sedums, grasses, and plant life, while providing a channel for excess water to drain. The slab is 5 inches thick. Under the slab, covering a granular mixture compacted over the soil, Cosella-Drkens DELTA-MS UNDERSLAB waterproofing and vapor-retarder membrane was installed. This is designed for slabs on or below grade. A 2-inch layer of coarse sand was applied to cover this membrane, upon which a rigid Type IX R-4 (per inch) 2-inch R-Control Perform Guard EPS (expanded polystyrene) insulation from AFM Corporation was installed. R-Control is a proven material with built-in protection against the destructive force of termites. DELTA-MS UNDERSLAB is a tough, impermeable vapor-retarding membrane that is placed on the earth or granular surface prior to placing the concrete. DELTA-MS UNDERSLAB prevents the early loss of hydrated water, thus producing a concrete that meets design strength and provides more even curing characteristics in concrete. The membrane offers a full-capillary break and vapor retarder that prevents the upward migration of moisture through the capillaries that exist in all concrete. Additionally DELTA-MS UNDERSLAB can act as a barrier to soil gases. This will provide a healthy and dry environment. A 2-inch-thick R-Control Perform Guard EPS was placed over the DELTA-MS UNDERSLAB to provide superior thermal mass for uniform heat transfer of the WaterFurnace geothermal/heat pump heated water through the Uponor 1/2-inch AQUAPEX in-floor tubing encased in the 5-inch-thick engineered suspended concrete slab.
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DELTA-MS UNDERSLAB is a tough, impermeable vapor-retarding membrane that is placed on the earth or granular surface prior to placing the concrete slab. The membrane provides a full capillary break and vapor retarder that prevents the upward migration of moisture through the capillaries that exist in all concrete.

R-Control Perform Guard EPS

Rigid Type IX R-4 (per inch) 2-inch R-Control Perform Guard EPS (expanded polystyrene) insulation from AFM Corporation provides superior thermal mass for uniform heat transfer of slab-encased radiant floor systems. Photos courtesy of AFM Corp.

Zurn Flo-Thru Trench Drain

The modular Zurn molded-slop Flo-Thru trench drain is designed for load-bearing strength, hydraulics, chemical resistance, and structural integrity.

Clockwise: Uponor Radiant Send & Return, Spunstrand Saddle Vents, Uponor AQUAPEX Radiant Tubing

Prior to pouring the slab concrete in the courtyard, suspended over the final stage concrete footings, a Zurn Flo-Thru trench drain will be installed. It will run the full length of the courtyard. The modular Zurn molded-slope drain is designed for load-bearing strength, hydraulics, chemical resistance, and structural integrity. A significant element in the proper functioning of the dedicated Optimum Performance Home Theatre is the acoustically treated Spunstrand underground air-conditioning duct system that will deliver low-velocity, ultra-quiet airflow circulation in the acoustically treated theatre. The system is specially fabricated with


Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


DESIGN optimum performance home

EnergyEdge Frame Building Rail
The EnergyEdge Frame Building Rail (EE8fb) is designed to provide insulation at the radiant floor perimeters of the concrete slab. The PVC channel provides full-rigid insulation coverage from top to bottom of the slab edge to prevent radiant floor heat loss through the edges of the concrete slab. tubing with outer Armacell AP/Armaflex pipe insulation, the NuTone VX1000 central vacuum system, and the complex electrical and low-voltage wiring system encased in conduit. Uponors red and blue high-density polyethylene (HDPE) corrugated presleeved 1/2- and 3/4-inch AQUAPEX tubing provides protection for the installation in the soil and allows for easy removal and replacement of the tubing, if required. In addition, the red and blue color-coded sleeves easily identify hot and cold waterlines. AQUAPEXs flexibility and strength at temperatures ranging from below-freezing up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit makes it the ideal piping material for hot and cold water plumbing systems, trouble-free fire-sprinkler systems, and hydronic radiant floor-heating systems. PEX is a cross-linked polyethylene. Armacell AP/Armaflex pipe (tube) insulation was wrapped over the Uponor AQUAPEX tubing to provide additional thermal insulation. The expanded closed-cell structure of AP/Armaflex pipe insulation makes it an efficient insulation for effectively reducing heat loss on the hot water plumbing and heat gain on the cold water plumbing systems. It is formaldehyde free, low VOCs, fiber free, dust free, and resists mold and mildew, and is made with Microban antimicrobial product protection for added defense against mold on the insulation. When buried under the suspended slab, the pipe tubing will be channeled through crushed rock rather than through the soil to enhance long-term durability. Jerry Moyles and his team at Mendocino Coast Plumbing did the installation of the Uponor plumbing system and the Wardflex flexible corrugated stainless steel fuel gas tubing, which will supply propane to the KitchenAid Architect Series II dual-fuel 36-inch-wide range, the Vulcan-Hart professional 36-inch-wide griddle (Vulcan 36RRG), the Kohler generator,
Page 11/18

DESIGN optimum performance home

and the Navien tankless water heater. As well, they are charged with the plumbing for the TrendSetter solar hot water heating system. This system uses two 6 x 7-feet TS-30 Evacuated Solar Tube Collectors and a 200-gallon TS-200 Solar Thermal Storage Tank manufactured by TrendSetter. Wardflex corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) was selected, as it delivers more advantages over black steel pipe or ordinary CSST systems. Compared to either black steel pipe or other ordinary corrugated stainless steel tubing systems, Wardflex delivers more performance and installation advantages. Using continuous flexible annular corrugated tubing made of 304 stainless steel, Wardflex installs without heavy carrying, threading, extensive measuring, or mess. The tubing is connected using special mechanical fittings. The continuous lengths and amazing flexibility of the fully annealed tubing greatly reduces the number of needed connections (and chances for leaks). Roger Stevenson and his team at Stevenson Electric are charged with the complete installation of the elaborate and sophisticated electrical and lowvoltage electronic systems infrastructure under the home and throughout the interior, including the extensive interfaces, fixtures, controls, and equipment

Wardflex Flexible Fuel Gas Tubing

Wardflex is the gas piping system for the 21st Century with the highest overall rated flow capacity in the industry. Wardflex is recognized as the system of choice by major gas utility companies. and appliances powered by electricity. This includes the 240-volt assemblies for the Finnleo Finnish sauna and the Dimension One Amor Bay spa, the three 220-volt electric car recharging stations in the garages, and the 240-volt Equi=Tech 20WQ wall cabinet-mounted balanced AC power unit in the dedicated Optimum Performance Home Theatre and two 240-volt Model 5Q balanced AC power unitsone in the library/home theatre/surround music room and the other in the living room. Stevenson Electric has completed the elaborate underslab infrastructure. Once the ICF and SIP walls are constructed, the next phase of the infrastructure in the interior of the home will commence. Michael Galica and his team at Marin Outdoor Living is charged with the installation of the Dimension One Amor Bay spa. The spa will be installed in the next phase, following completion of the courtyard and spa slab pour. Engineered Environments Randy Sterns, Brian Hodges, and Tim Johnson are consulting on the electronic systems design and installation of the homes low-voltage infrastructure and technologies. The underslab infrastructure conduit portion of their work has been completed. Further work will commence once the homes wall and roof structure is complete.

Uponor Pre-Sleeved Corrugated AQUAPEX

Uponor 1/2- and 3/4-inch red and blue high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pre-sleeved corrugated AQUAPEX tubing is designed for durability and provides protection for installation in the soil and allows for easy removal.

Armacell AP/Armaflex Pipe Insulation

The expanded closed-cell structure of Armacell AP/Armaflex pipe insulation makes it an efficient insulation for effectively reducing heat loss on the hot water plumbing and heat gain on the cold water plumbing systems.

NuTone Central Vacuum System

A NuTone Central Vacuum System will be featured in the home to help maintain healthy interior air quality. NuTones central vacuum power units feature a space-saving, sleek, oval-shaped design; internal sound suppression system; and a status light on the hose handle and power unit, which indicates when the VX units bag or canister is full and needs emptying.

duckboard and 1-1/2-inch-thick duct liner inserted into the energy-saving R-10 insulated Spunstrand ducts to hush background noise due to ventilation hum, self-generated air noise, and on/off ventilator switching. The underslab installation of the Spunstrand duct is complete. In the next phase, the exterior components of this system will be completed. (See Part XVI for a description of Spunstrand.) The radiant floor portions of the 5-inch-thick engineered concrete slab and under-slab insulation is encased at the perimeters with the EnergyEdge 8-inch Frame Building Rail (EE8fb). The PVC channel provides full-rigid insulation coverage from the top to the bottom of an 8-inch slab edge to prevent radiant floor heat loss through the edges of the concrete slab. Below the EnergyEdge, 7-1/4 x 1-1/2 inch R-Control Perform Guard EPS was installed to satisfy California Title 24 insulation requirements for radiant floor slab edges. Prior to the granular mixture fill, the placement of the DELTA-MS UNDERSLAB membrane, the underslab R-Control Perform Guard EPS, and the Uponor AQUAPEXencased suspended slab concrete pour, all the underground infrastructure for the home was installed. This was a time-consuming, labor-intensive job. This work included Uponor 1/2- and 3/4-inch red and blue pre-sleeved corrugated AQUAPEX

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DESIGN optimum performance home

Nisus Corporations Bora-Care is a primary termite barrier pretreatment that creates a continuous barrier that termites cannot cross, eliminating their food source.

DESIGN optimum performance home

photos and videos will be posted on the Ultimate Home Design Web site ( depicting progress in the construction of the first Optimum Performance Home.

Stevenson Electric also installed the NuTone central vacuum system infrastructure underslab. This will eventually tie into the NuTone 1,040-watt cyclonic central vacuum power unit, which features HEPA-rated filtration, Microban protection, and Teflon antistick technology. Stevenson Electric is further charged with the installation of the two QuietCool whisper-quiet whole-house fans and their companion EnviroCool evaporative cooling air system manufactured by Southwest Electric Enterprises, Inc. This work will be completed once the building structure is constructed. Unlike conventional air conditioning, QuietCool ventilates the home while removing germs, odors, and indoor pollution and replacing the air with healthier outside air. These high-volume fans can remove and replace all of the air in the home 15 to 20 times per hour. The EnviroCool system allows your home to stay cool for about one-tenth the cost of traditional air conditioning. By drawing the fresh air in through the EnviroCool high-tech space-age media, the incoming filtered air is cooled by as much as 40 degrees and does so whisper quiet. An evaporative cooling mechanism used with QuietCool fans, EnviroCool can lower the temperature in homes far more efficiently than conventional air conditioners can. EnviroCool is

one of the most cost-effective green additions a homeowner can add. One system will filter and cool the air in the main residence, and the other in the second-floor guest quarters and library/home theatre/surround music room. A 3-inch filtered underground waterline will be installed prior to the final backfill around the perimeter of the engineered slab. This is to serve as a surplus supply of water available from the pond. A standard 2-1/2-inch value red-painted standpipe hydrant with a male National Hose firethread fitting will be located at the driveway entrance at the front of the property, to which a fire hose can be connected. Following the curing of the concrete slab and the construction of the ICF and SIP walls, Nisus Corporations Bora-Care will be applied directly to the finished surface slab as a primary termite barrier pretreatment. Bora-Care creates a continuous barrier that termites cannot cross, eliminating their food source. The next installment in this series of case-study articles will continue to cover the actual work being done to accomplish the tasks described, as well as the construction of the above-slab Amvic ICF and ThermaSAVE wall structure. In the meantime,

Uponor Radiant Floors

Warm water circulates under the floors throughout the Optimum Performance Home using Uponors durable, flexible, and resilient cross-linked polyethylene AQUAPEX tubing, providing a comfortable, even heat without stirring up dust and pollutants.

Design Concept
As previously noted in this series, the home design integrates all of the concepts advocated in Ultimate Home Design. The goal is to demonstrate how modern building products and methods can make life safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable. The science of optimum performance homes concerns itself with building structures that use less energy, are quieter and more comfortable, have fewer problems with material degradation, provide clean air and water, and do less damage to the environment. As an integrated and holistic design, the house will serve as a durable residence that allows its occupants to age in place. The exceptionally solid structure should last decades, with minimal maintenance. The high-performance building systems employed are designed to exceed California building code requirements and resist natural disasters more effectively than a code-minimum house, even with the new California code requirements that require use of non-combustible or fire ignition-resistant building materials. Constructed with stronger building materials and superior techniques, the home will be safer, allowing homeowners greater peace of mind. The Optimum Performance Home qualifies for the FortifiedFor Safer Living program of the Institute for Business & Home Safety ( This program specifies construction, design, and landscaping guidelines to increase a new homes resistance to natural disaster.

In addition, the home will meet the guidelines and qualifications for the U.S. Department of Environmental Protections ENERGY STAR, the EPAs (Environmental Protection Agency) WaterSense, and the American Lung Association Health House programs. It also will meet the requirements of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) National Green Building Standard, the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC) Green Building Guidelines, and the Green Points program. Sonoma County and The Sea Ranch Association are now considering

this program for adoption. Furthermore, the homes design was the subject of a case study analysis presentation before the Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), Full Spectrum Practice Convention of the American Institute of Architects on October 20, 2007 in Chicago, Illinois. The home is also a case study of the California Energy Commission in terms of energy-efficiency applications and an advanced water-saving plumbing system. Finally, the home is a national showcase for the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association, and is the

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DESIGN optimum performance home

subject of a series of articles on the design and installation of the electronic lifestyle components in the home. These articles are featured in CEDIAs Electronic Lifestyles quarterly magazine. is situated off a private road network without curbs, sidewalks, or streetlights. The Sea Ranch is a very unique residential development woven into a tapestry of buildings and nature and committed to environmental preservation. The development includes 2,288 lots for single-family custom homes, with 523 remaining to be developed (1,741 already developed and 24 under construction). The Sea Ranch is managed by The Sea Ranch Association, a Common Interest Development (CID) with an elected volunteer Board of Directors, and supported by numerous volunteer committees. All development on The Sea Ranch is subject to design review and the approval of a Board-appointed autonomous Design Committee. The Design Committee is presently comprised of architects and landscape architects, though it does not include anyone with experience in vegetation management or green sustainable building design. A legal set of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) govern the development and are designed to protect The Sea Ranch concept.

DESIGN optimum performance home

materials. It is hoped that the home will become a case study for a Green Points Program suited to the scale of The Sea Ranch. The homes 3,272-square-feet living space (4,441square-feet total building footprint, including garages, covered walkways, courtyard, and decks) is arranged in a three-building compound using a wellsealed, well-insulated, super-tight building envelope that reduces temperature fluctuations and enhances overall energy efficiency. This arrangement provides for an alcove courtyard protected from the prevailing northwest wind. The home is designed with differing spatial experiences throughout to encourage exploration. The home will display innovative interior design and be furnished in a contemporary Frank Lloyd Wright style appropriate to its dimensions. The home design connects the indoors and the outdoors with covered walkways, a courtyard, decks, and a garden to expand livable space, without requiring heating or air conditioning. The home is designed in accordance with biophilic design principles with abundant and excellent use of natural light and natural indigenous landscaping planned. {For an in-depth analysis of the biophilic attributes of the home, please read Biophilic Design, Biophilic Design Attributes, and The Interior Design Process, Part I: Synthesizing Sustainability, Universal Design, And Technology authored by Julie Stewart-Pollack in Issue 3 (May/June 2006), Issue 4 (July/August 2006), and Issue 10 (July/August 2007), respectively.} The main-floor living area is designed to accommodate the capabilities of all occupants without any challenging physical barriers, even for the elderly and disabled. The home design features a ground-level open plan for the living room, dining room, master bedroom suite, and spacious kitchen with solarium, exhibition cooktops, and home-management system. The second building in the compound is designed to accommodate a large state-of-the-art Optimum Performance Home Theatre with integrated rear-screen projection room and a home office. The third building will include a two-car and boat garage, workshop, main-level guest bathroom, and laundry room. The second level of this building will have two guest bedrooms, a bathroom, and a dedicated library/home theatre/surround music room distinguished by a hightower feature. To insure universal access to this floor, the design provides for an Otis Gen2 residential elevator. The entrance and walkways that connect the three buildings and the solarium will be enclosed with insulated- and solar-gain-reducedtempered glass. There will be a seating area at the vestibule entrance to the home. The main entrance vestibule will serve as an oversized mudroom. The driveway, area around the garage, guest parking, and entrance to the homeas well as all pathsare designed in accordance with The Sea Ranch guidelines governing exterior hardsurfaced paths. All such surfaces are pervious to virtually eliminate

The Setting
The Sea Ranch is an internationally renowned 5,000-acre environmentally protective residential development situated within a pastoral and forested coastal enclave and nature preserve approximately 110 miles north of San Francisco, California. This stunning development, now celebrating its 43rd anniversary, straddles a 10-mile stretch of Highway 1 along a uniquely beautiful rugged coastline, ending at the northern tip of Sonoma County and the south bank of the Gualala River. The Sea Ranch is widely regarded as a unique and remarkable residential development. During the 1960s and 1970s, The Sea Ranch was at the forefront of environmentally responsible development. It was conceived and designed by architects and landscape architects who wanted to provide a harmonious mixture of custom homes and pristine natural Northern California landscape in oceanfront, meadow, and forest environments. In fact, The Sea Ranch concept and its architecture are recognized in schools of architecture around the world, and it is frequently used for case studies in environmental and architectural design. The first condominium complex to be built on the southern coastal bluffs of The Sea Ranch is now a registered national architectural site. Single-family development occupies approximately 2,500 acres without borderline fences or other visible delineation of property lines. The remaining acres are permanent green-scape commons with 45 miles of nature trails for walkers, bicyclists, and equestrians. Each home is custom designed by an architect/architectural designer following site-specific design guidelines and

The Home
The Sea Ranch Design Committee imposes upon designers architectural building blocks derived from the original rural structures found on the northern California coast. Designers are expected to apply their creativity to render various arrangements and deviations to arrive at a custom solution that specifically responds to the site. Successful proposals submitted to the Design Committee address the issues of passive solar positioning, wind, glazing (window) layout, privacy between neighbors, vegetation protection, view preservation, topography and grade changes, roof slopes, appropriate exterior materials and finishes, and other exterior design considerationsall within the building and site design. A focus of the Optimum Performance Homes design is to stand as a showcase for the green movement and demonstrate means of reducing a homes impact on the planet through the use of Low-Impact Development and environmentally responsible and sustainable building
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Four Perspective Views of the Optimum Performance Home at The Sea Ranch

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DESIGN optimum performance home

water runoff. The surface will be packed with decorative crushed rock to enhance the natural appearance of the homes setting. There also will be a dedicated equipment room off the courtyard, which accommodates the Uponor and WaterFurnace radiantheating apparatus, TrendSetter solar hot water storage tanks, Naviens 98 percent condensing on-demand propane-fired tankless water heater, and other equipment. The backup Kohler generator is housed within a separate weather-resistant tower located off the north wall of the two-car garage and guest bedroom, within the fenced dog run. The upper level of this tower is designed to optimize the northwest wind performance of the double-stacked PacWind Seahawk vertical-axis wind turbines disguised within. A Enviro Energies generator will capture the wind power and distribute it to the GridPoint Connect intelligent energy-management system (see Part XII, Issue 12, November/December 2007). Along with the PacWind Seahawk/Enviro Energies system, a large high-performance premium photovoltaic Day4 Energy 48MC module 8.7-kW solar PV system will be installed on the southfacing roof of the dedicated Optimum Performance Home Theatre (see Part XII, Issue 12, November/December 2007). The Enviro Energies and Day4 Energy systems will be managed by a dual GridPoint Connect intelligent energy-management system, providing hub connection to the Pacific Gas & Electric power grid and battery backup power. The home site is nestled on an almost-acre parcel at the edge of a forested area of the southern section overlooking the Pacific Ocean, offering distant water views. The orientation of the home on the site is designed to take advantage of natural lighting and passive solar heating and cooling. Good site and land planning will result in minimal land disturbance and preservation of natural features and environments. Landscaping will consist of The Sea Ranch-approved indigenous vegetation with low water requirements and unique water conservation features, including two ponds and a stream supported by rainwater catchment and captured runoff. Site grading has been specifically planned to enhance the projects placement in the watershed, and the design incorporates the principles of Low-Impact Development to minimize runoff from impervious surfaces and mimic the natural hydrology in overall effect. The resultant water harvesting will then minimize the use of irrigation, and the increased infiltration and retention will passively support the native landscape. Additionally, a gray water system will be used for undersurface plant irrigation. each stage of construction as the project progresses, and will include coverage of the technologies and building systems and the materials used and applied to construct the first Optimum Performance Home. UHD
The Author
Gary Reber is the President of Ultimate Home Design, Inc. and the founding Editor-In-Chief and Publisher of Ultimate Home Design, The Green Build And Universal Design Resource. He is also President of WSR Publishing, Inc, which publishes Widescreen Review, The Essential Home Theatre Resource. His diverse background in several fields includes an undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate university education in architecture, community planning, and economic development planning. For years he was a consultant on community and economic development planning. For the past 15 years he has been an editor and publisher of magazines in the consumer electronics and architectural fields. Gary can be reached at 951 676 4914 or

DESIGN optimum performance home

Equi=Tech Corporation, 18258 Redwood Highway, Selma, Oregon 97538, 877 378 4832, Euclid Chemical Company, 19218 Redwood Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44110, 800 321 7628, Feeney Construction, 14660 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley, California 95945, 530 477 7647, 707 884 9458 Finnleo Sauna & Steam, 575 East Cokato Street, Cokato, Minnesota 55321, 800 346 6536, FORTA Corporation, 100 Forta Drive, Grove City, Pennsylvania 16127-6399, 800 245 0306, GetWireless LLC, 10901 Red Circle Drive, Suite 325, Minnetonka, Minnesota 55343, 800 990 9025, Gutter Helmet/Southeastern Metals (SEMCO), 1180 Industry Drive, Jacksonville, Florida 32218, 904 757 4200, Hacker Industries, Inc., 610 Newport Center Drive, Suite 250, Newport Beach, California 92660, 800 642 3455, Headwaters Resources, 10653 South River Front Parkway, Suite 300, South Jordan, Utah 84095, 888 236 6236, iBeam Systems, Inc., 280 North 8th Street, Suite 30, Boise, Idaho 83702, 800 403 0688, Kryton Canada Corporation, 8280 Ross Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V5X 4C6, 604 324 8280, Marin Outdoor Living, 2100 Redwood Highway, Greenbrae, California 94939, 415 924 8811, Mendocino Coast Plumbing, P.O. Box 41, Manchester, California 95459, 707 882 2628, 707 353 2628. Portland Cement Association, 5420 Old Orchard Road, Skokie, Illinois 60077, 847 966 6200, QUALCON, P.O. Box 566, 333 East Pine Street, Fort Bragg, California 95437, 707 964 5000 QuietCool, Inc./Southwest Electric Enterprises, Inc., 31235 Loretta Road, Winchester, California 92596, 888 784 3826, Rainhandler/Savetime Corporation, 2710 North Avenue, Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604, 800 942 3004, Seepage Control, 7301 West Boston Street, Chandler, Arizona 85226, 800 214 9640, Smart Drain, Drawer 2219, Columbia, Maryland 21045, 800 638 8582, Sonoma County Builders, Inc., 6280 Old Redwood Highway, Santa Rosa, California 95403, 707 837 2997 / P.O. Box 244, Point Arena, California 95468, 707 684 9144 Spunstrand Incorporated, 620 North Post Street, Post Falls, Idaho 83854, 208 665 7444, Steve Michelson Productions, Lobitos Creek Ranch, 2800 Lobitos Creek Road, Half Moon Bay, California 94019-2547, 650 726 2460, Stevenson Electric, 1340 Highway 4, P.O. Box 2642, Arnold, California 95223, 209 768 2100 StormTech, 20 Beaver Road, Suite 104, Wethersfield, Connecticut 06109, 888 892 2694, Stormwater Solutions, LLC, 3940 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Suite 856, Studio City, California 91604, 866 786 7690, ThermaSAVE/IHSN, Inc, 4002 Helton Drive, Florence, Alabama 35630, 256 766 3378, Uponor North America, 5925 148th Street West, Apple Valley, Minnesota 85254, 800 321 4739, VELUX America, Inc., 104 Ben Cassey Drive, Forth Mill, South Carolina 29708, 888 838 3589, Vulcan-Hart Company, P.O. Box 696, Louisville, Kentucky 40201, 800 814 2029, Wardflex, 2085 West Avenue 140th, San Leandro, California 94577, 415 971 1531 WaterFurnace International, Inc., 9000 Conservation Way, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46809, 800 222 5667,, Weeks Drilling & Pump Company, 6100 Highway 12, Sebastopol, California 95472, 707 823 3184, WildBlue Communications, Inc., Greenwood Corporate Plaza, Building. 1, 5970 Greenwood Plaza Boulevard., Suite 300, Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111, 866 945 3258, Wonderwater, P.O. Box 1510, Mt. Shasta, California 96067, 530 926 5050, 530 925 2586, Zurn Flo-Thru Operation, 116 Molly Rex Lane, Mooresville, North Carolina 28117, 704 799 7087,

Product And Contact Information

With site preparation and foundation construction now complete, this continuing series of articles will focus on the design elements as they pertain to

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AFM Corporation, R-Control, 211 River Ridge Circle, Suite 102A, Burnsville, Minnesota 55337, 952 474 0809, Amvic, Inc., 501 McNicoll Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M2H 2E2, 416 410 5674, Aqua Harvest International, 3628 Greystone Ridge Court, Rio Rancho, New Mexico 87124, 505 975 5008, Armacell LLC, 7600 Oakwood Street Extension, Mebane, North Carolina 27302, 800 866 5638, Bartlett Mechanical Services, 6755 Oak Street, Anderson, California 96007, 408 313 2486, Bed Rock Concrete Pumping, P.O. Box 503, Point Arena, California 95468, 707 882 2637 Bed Rock Products, Inc., 135 Hay Parkway, Point Arena, California 95468, 707 882 2323 Bill Wilson Environmental Planning & Design, LLC, 71 Del Casa Drive, Mill Valley, California 94941, 415 383 2919, 805 689 7639 Broan-NuTone, 926 West State Street, Hartford, Wisconsin 53027, 800 548 0790, California Portland Cement Company, 2025 East Financial Way, Glendora, California 91741, 800 272 9119, Carlisle Coatings & Waterproofing, Inc., 900 Hensley Lane, Wylie, Texas 75098, 800 527 7092, Conti Materials, P.O. Box 30248, Stockton, California 95213, 209 467 0626, Cosella-Drken Products, Inc., 4655 Delta Way, Beamsville, Ontario, Canada L0R 1B4, 905 563 3255, Dimension One Spas, 2611 Business Park Drive, Vista, California 92081, 800 345 7727, EchoStar DISH Network, 9601 South Meridian Boulevard, Englewood, Colorado 80112, 888 825 2557, Energy Edge, 7701 East Kellogg, Suite 722, Wichita, Kansas 67207, 316 618 1983, Engineered Environments, 1250 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda, California 94501, 510 521 7500,

Read The Previous Sixteen Chapters

along with every past issue at

Page 18/18

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

GREEN build
Plan for a park, built around an existing tree.

GREEN build

Mixson A New Kind Of Urbanism

Elizabeth Pandolfi

All LEED Homes

Views of homes in construction (below).

and civic buildings are sprinkled throughout the community. Homes are built closer together to preserve land and encourage neighborliness. Mailboxes are clustered to offer chance meetings. Outdoor space, from formal parks to untouched marsh, is abundantIOn even has a Rookery, a nature preserve for birds that is monitored and protected. The IOn Group is now taking its new urbanist methods further, moving into true sustainability. Mixson, the companys third project, is an infill development designed to tread lightly on the environment with smaller homes, higher density, and a location that is within walking distance of public transportation. New urbanist developments tend to be more environmentally friendly than conventional ones anyway: higher density means less land is consumed, a mix

synopsis In Mixson, homes are built closer together,

sidewalks become an integral part of the design, and plentiful natural space is left so that residents can enjoy the outdoors just as much as the indoors.

Elevation of one of the first Mixson homes, with multi-level porch, in the Lowcountry style.
North Charleston, South Carolina is on the verge of a green revolution. Just dont tell that to the people who still like to think of it as blighted. Widely perceived as an undesirable area, largely because of the economic setbacks it suffered when its naval base closed in 1995, North Charleston is proving itself to be the exact opposite. In the past few years, businesses and developers who want to go green in a big way have started operations in the city. Leading the transformation is the IOn Group, an award-winning developer of traditional neighborhoods in the low country of South Carolina. The IOn Group was founded by Vince Graham, a new urbanist thinker and innovator, who began his career by developing Newpoint in Beaufort, South Carolina. Newpoint, like all of the IOn Groups subsequent neighborhoods, operates on the philosophy that people deserveand wantbeautiful, healthy communities in which to live. The IOn Group takes its cues from some of the most beloved cities and towns around the world: Venice, Edinburgh, and Rome, for example. Consequently, homes are built closer together, sidewalks become an integral part of the design,
Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009 Page 1/6

New urbanist developments tend to be more

environmentally friendly than conventional ones anyway: higher density means less land is consumed, a mix of building types and uses means that people dont have to travel by car for basic, daily activities, and the sidewalks and walking paths allow for easy, safe biking or walking.

Mixson represents a new kind of urbanism,

taking the best of both historic and new forms while creating a neighborhood with the strength to thrive in our eco-conscious world.

and plentiful natural space is left so that residents can enjoy the outdoors just as much as the indoors. IOn, Grahams second neighborhood, is in Mt. Pleasant and, despite initial resistance from local government, is now so popular that land values have skyrocketed since the first several families moved in. The reasons behind that are many and range from the quality of construction to the availability of jogging and biking paths. Overall, though, it comes down to design. As a new urbanist community, the development is on a human scale; ever-present sidewalks encourage people of all ages to get out of their cars and walk or bike, while roads slow traffic by meandering slowly through the neighborhood in bends and turns. Shops, small schools,
Page 2/6 Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

of building types and uses means that people dont have to travel by car for basic, daily activities, and the sidewalks and walking paths allow for easy, safe biking or walking. In Mixson, however, the IOn Group is pushing the envelope for sustainableand perhaps even more radical, affordableurbanism.



GREEN build

GREEN build

types have been awarded the Greenguard Indoor Air Quality Certification from the Greenguard Institute. In terms of construction, Mixsons site manager, Damien Allen, oversees the recycling of all paper, plastic, alu-

toilets and recycled countertops, Mixson homes are holistically green. Residents who live in the community will be making conscious decisions to right-size their homes and the way they live.

As of November 2007, Mixson is the second largest LEED for Homes project in the country: Every home in Mixson will be LEED for Homes and ENERGY STAR certified, and most will be built out of autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) masonry.
minum and metal, and glass (this includes workers lunches). In addition, untreated lumber scraps are ground into mulch, while drywall scraps are ground and turned into the earth. Thoughtful design for roof and floor systems, as well as stick framing for interior walls, minimizes the use of framing wood, while soaring ceilings of 9 to 13 feet, and abundant windows let in as much natural light as possible. As these details illustrate, Mixson homes were designed from the ground up to be as sustainable as possible, even extending to their size. Homes in Phase 1 of the neighborhood start at 560 square feet, going up to 1,525 square feet. This encourages people to truly make the commitment to greener living by living in less space and using what space they have more efficiently. The green components such as floors, windows, and HVAC systems are vital and perform a large part in reducing a persons carbon footprint on the earth; however, unlike some green homes that are built just like standard houses and then outfitted with low-flow
Page 4/6

courtyards and shared gardens, offering access from doors leading onto the shared space, as well as from porches and balconies that overlook it. This way, private space to enjoy the landscape is also available. The many windows and high ceilings allow for an integration of outside and inside, and because the streets will be built to encourage pedestrians and cyclists rather than cars, open windows will let in fresh air rather than car fumes. Parks and pocket gardens are scattered throughout the development, meaning that every residence has some kind of green space available at a short distance. Of course, these serve a dual purpose: they offer outdoor play and social space for Mixson residents and preserve the natural landscape for ecological sustainability.

Biophilic Design
As in any new urban community, accessible, yet preserved and protected, natural space is paramount. Many Mixson homes are clustered around

Integration Into Existing Community

An infill development, Mixson sits on the former site of Calhoun Homes, a complex of dilapidated, industrial housing

LEED For Homes Certification

Mixson is a dense, mixed-use, walking neighborhood built in an area designed by leaders in the early 20th century Garden City and City Beautiful movements. The project models affordable urbanism with varied home sizes and formats to attract diverse buyers. As of November 2007, Mixson is the second largest LEED for Homes project in the country: Every home in Mixson will be LEED for Homes and ENERGY STAR certified, and most will be built out of autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) masonry. AAC was chosen for its excellent environmental and structural qualities. Its manufacture produces only water as waste, much of which is recaptured as steam and used again; it is termite, fire, earthquake, and hurricane resistant; highly energy efficient; and has high sound insulation. The AAC Mixson is using comes from Florida manufacturer Aercon. As part of the IOn Groups commitment to green education, Mixson held an AAC information session on site, which several area builders attended. One hopes that at least some of these builders will begin to integrate AAC into their building methods, which will greatly reduce their homes energy costs. To further maximize energy efficiency, every Mixson home

Rendering of a view of one of Mixsons courtyards (left). A view of Summey St., one of Mixsons main roads (right).
will use a 14 SEER HVAC system with a Puron split-system heat pump. These systems are each zoned per floor, use fresh air intake, and come with programmable thermostats. Eccotemp tankless gas water heaters are used in each home, as are Kohler dual-force low-flow toilets and faucets, to conserve water. Kitchen appliances, light fixtures, and bathroom exhaust fans are all ENERGY STAR certified. All together, these choices create an energy reduction of 30 percent for the average LEED-certified home, with a water conservation of 20 percent. Mixson homes also use the highly energy-efficient Andersen 400 Series Eagle windows, and are floored with Shaw Green Edge hardwood flooring, which uses 67 percent less newly harvested wood than standard wood flooring. Outside the homes, permeable pavers in alleys and courtyards will reduce water runoff, while native plants in the landscape design reduce the need for irrigation. To create a healthier home, Mixson uses low VOC (volatile organic compound) indoor paints, and the AAC that homes are built of contains no VOCs at all. The laminate used for countertops comes from Wilsonart, a company with a strong environmental record. All of Wilsonarts laminate product
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View of homes and first courtyard.



Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

GREEN build

GREEN build

Elementary, for example, are already planned.

A New Kind Of Urbanism

Mixson is especially original in its integration of different socioeconomic levels. One-, two-, and three-bedroom homes, ranging from the mid-$100s to $300s, are mixed in together, without the divisions typical to suburban design. This means that a couple of empty nesters could move in next to a young bachelor or single woman, who also lives next door to a young family. In subsequent phases of construction, flats, lofts, plexes, and live-work spaces will also be built, offering something for everyone. The parks and gardens also come in many varieties, including a dog park, to appeal to all age groups and residents. It was very

A park in the Park Circle area.

that dated from the 1940s. In order to ease the residents transition during relocationwhich is always a delicate processthe IOn Group held a housing fair, at which representatives from housing nonprofits and local apartment complexes were available to answer residents questions and offer help. Before demolition, the homes were turned into public art installations by North Charleston artists and schoolchildren, for a show put on by the IOn Group called De(re)construction. The event drew hundreds and was a promising beginning for Mixsons relationship with the local community. Because Mixson is joining an already established neighborhoodthe site is adjacent to Liberty Hill, one of the first neighborhoods of freed slaves after the Civil Warcare was taken to maintain the architectural flavor of the area. As such, homes echo the LowCountry style: rising up rather than out, with large porches that often stretch around the front and sides of the house. The IOn Group has hosted several events [such as the aforementioned De(re)construction} in conjunction with the local Park Circle community, such as a second local art show to benefit the Carolina Youth Development

View down E. Montague Ave., the commercial area about three blocks away from the Mixson site.
Center, beautification of nearby Quarterman Park, and a fashion extravaganza showcasing local designers. This sort of participation will ensure that Mixson is contributing in a positive way to the area and not simply coming in to build something brand new. The goal for Mixson is to become a vibrant economic, social, and physical member of North Charleston, and especially the Park Circle neighborhood; as Mark Lipsmeyer, the COO of the IOn Group, says, We want to contribute to the communities in which we buildto become an integral part of what makes them thrive. For any catering needs, the IOn Group uses vendors just a couple of doors down from the Mixson Information Center. The Information Center is frequently open to local artists and community members for arts shows or fundraisers as well. Possible plans for a Mixson community garden, which would become part of a learning program at Hursey Elementary School, are in the works for later in the project. Community among Mixson neighbors is, of course, just as important as Mixsons relationship with the outside community. Along with sustainability, creating a close-knit, neighborly environmentone of the benefits of urbanismwas the driving force behind the design scheme, extending from the location of the site itself down to the interaction of the houses with the streets and green space. In the first phase, most homes are connected, which both reduces the energy used by each home and creates an intimacy among neighbors. As in IOn, mailboxes will be clustered, which not only creates opportunities to meet and chat, but also reduces the number of stops a mail truck must make. In addition to these physical initiators of neighborliness, the developers are creating an independent, nonprofit community support organization called the Mixson Civic Trust. The Trust will coordinate different events, from cleanup days to environmental lectures to dog-wash days in the park, which will provide residents with opportunities to become involved in their neighborhood. Some events will extend to the outside community: Volunteer days with Hursey
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important to the developers to build the parks around existing geographical features; because of this, visitors to the Mixson site have the uncommon pleasure of seeing a two-hundred-year-old oak tree stretching its limbs, safe and undisturbed, on a construction site. Mixson represents a new kind of urbanism, taking the best of both historic and new forms while creating a neighborhood with the strength to thrive in our eco-conscious world. Sustainability, as many have already said, is no longer a choice. The IOn Group is very proud to be on the cutting edge, offering North Charleston and the Southeast a new way of living. As the IOn Groups founder, Vince Graham, says, There's such a need for this kind of community, and it shouldn't be limited to an affluent few. In the end, this is what I get

enthusiastic aboutpushing the envelope of urbanism and making it available to more people.
The Author Elizabeth Pandolfi is a marketing assistant for the IOn Group. A graduate of Davidson College, she began her education in New Urbanism and planning during an internship with Upstate Forever, an environmental organization in Greenville, South Carolina. She now handles most of the written communications for all the IOn Group properties, but especially Mixson. Elizabeth can be reached at or 843-408-9556.


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Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009



The permeable driveway of this home, located in Menlo Park, California, is comprised of unit paving blocks. Slight gaps between the blocks allow for rainwater to drain into the ground.
Photo Credit: Bill Enos, courtesy of Harrell Remodeling, Inc.

DESIGN universal

Paving The Way To A Greener Future

Prevent Runoff With Permeable Surfaces
Nate Traylor

residential use, says Lisa Sten, senior designer with Harrell Remodeling, Inc. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the green movement is in full force, the design/build firm employs the use of permeable pavement where possible. We primarily use it to pave driveways for our clients, although it can be used for walkways and patios as well, says Sten. Sten notes that the product is not only earth-friendly, it has an aesthetic appeal. Some porous surfacing products have an earthy, organic look that a lot of our clients really like, she says. However, the porous cement does require occasional maintenance. Voids in the surface clog over time, so hosing it down with a pressure wash is required. To ensure proper drainage, permeable paving should only be used atop soils having a percolation rate of 120 minutes per inch or faster. Obviously, grounds rich in clay and fine materials, or with shallow bedrock, are counterproductive to pervious surfacing. A percolation test should be performed on soils where paving is to be installed. Build It Green advises the use of permeable paving as part of a larger site design that incorporates additional techniques to effectively reduce runoff. These techniques include: Systems that channel rainwater through gutters and downspouts to an aboveground cistern or underground dry well.

Bioswales: Gently sloped drainage courses slow the flow of rainwater, allowing it to percolate into the soil. Rain garden: A planted depression that absorbs or slows rainwater runoff. While the use of permeable pavement, in conjunction with the above techniques, will reduce the volume of runoff, it is not your only option for a green driveway. Grass or turf pavers, for example, can be made by a honeycomb-like grid filled with topsoil, sand, gravel, and vegetation. Yet another option is unit-paving blocks spaced apart and set in sand to allow rainwater to reach soil. Whichever way you go, these options are far more earth friendly than impermeable, heat-absorbing asphalt, says Hollbacher. For more information on permeable surfacing techniques, visit UHD
The Author
Nate Traylor is the Public Relations Coordinator for Polaris, Inc., who represent the Bay Area non-profits Build It Green and, as a well as several design/build firms that regularly use permeable pavement for projects. Nate can be reached at 541 762 1100 or (

Storm water has two options: 1) It can percolate gently into the soil and recharge water tables, or 2) it can run off into drainage systems, taking with it a nasty mix of pollutants that will eventually course its way into our streams, rivers, and oceans. Because cityscapes are primarily forged with impervious materials, water has no choice but to go with route 1. This interference with the hydrological cycle can lead to depleted water tables and, in cases of severe storms, flash flooding. However, with the advent of permeable pavement, storm water can once again do what Mother Nature intended it to do. Permeable concrete is much like conventional concrete, only with a minimal to zero amount of fine materials, like sand, in the mix. The result is a surface with voids through which water can filter. According to, porous cement has an infiltration rate at about three to five gallons per minute, per square foot of surface areasurpassing the flow rate needed to avoid runoff in most rain events. Its a solution that can go a long way to curb runoff and pollution, especially in metropolitan areas where storm water has limited opportunities to reach aquifers. A lot of cities are looking into zero-runoff scenarios, say Tom Tietz, Executive Director of the California Nevada Cement Association, and the use of permeable pavement is a step in that direction. Permeable pavement can also help ease overstressed drainage systems. The City of Chicago Department of Transportation, for

example, is installing permeable pavement in alleys to reduce the flow of combined sewage and untreated runoff that overwhelms wastewater treatment plants. In addition to preventing runoff, permeable concrete can help reduce the heat-island effect, a phenomenon that occurs when blacktop and asphalt shingles artificially raise the temperature by absorbing heat from the sun, explains Katy Hollbacher, Technical Program Manager for Build It Green, a Bay Area non-profit organization promoting eco-friendly building practices. This can have a pretty dramatic effect on increasing the outdoor air temperature, she says. It creates a situation where cooling systems are overtaxed and energy usage ultimately increases. The product appeals to developers looking to cut costs by limiting the need to tap into mainlines or build subsurface reservoirs. Though permeable paving products might be a bit more expensive than traditional concrete or asphalt, developers can expect overall net savings because permeable paving limits the need to construct expensive storm water infrastructure such as curbing and storm sewers. Earth-conscience homeowners, meanwhile, are utilizing porous surfacing techniques as part of a green solution to water-shedding driveways. Porous cement and asphalt is readily available for
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Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

6/23/08 3:06:12 PM


GREEN build

GREEN build

Half An Acre Of Passionate Green

Shairon Beale
Chinese Proverb: Before you prepare to improve the world, look around your own house three times.
By this stage I had already gotten the house plans accepted at the citythankfully, they were congruent with what LEED wanted from the design phase for biophilic reasons. During the last five months of construction, I have met with my LEED provider three timeshe has been very helpful in many areas. The process of building a LEED-certified house has not been nearly as difficult or intimidating as it first appeared to be. I would encourage everyone to participate. LEED is there to support, along with certifying that everything required has been completed. There is a lot of written documentation and many captioned photos of every phase we go throughwhich does get passed onto the new homeownerso it will feel like I am handing over an ultrasound of their new home. LEED is a scoring system consisting of points awarded in each category of the building, starting at site selection. There are four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The use of photovoltaics, for instance, can earn up to 12 points. The use of non-VOC paints gets you six points. The LEED certification guarantees the home purchaser that the house is in fact green and not a trite imitation. one corner of the kitchen had a wall knocked out, so the room would be re-oriented to the family room for views to the rear garden and pool. A further 1,000 square feet was run off the rear of the house, for a master suite away from the rest of the house. This obviously consists of a large bedroom, bathroom, and walk-in closet. I added French sliding doors to the master suite, family room, and a rear bedroom. The house can be opened for beautiful spring and fall breezes, to extend entertaining areas, creating a more relaxing lifestyle and an inside/out feel to rooms when they are opened up. Another component is minimizing disturbances of the lot plantings. The project has received high marks in this category. When a new block wall was built, two large eucalyptus trees sat at each end of the lot, where the block wall had to be built. In order to save the trees, I custom-built a wood fence around the trees tying back into the block wall. The one large Mesquite that did come down will be used in the landscaping. In the demolition, the crew separated out all the materials like fans, and an oven and dishwasher so they could be donated to the Stardust Foundation for reuse. Some of the other lumber was used in the house, in an effort to reduce landfill pollution. Demolition left two-and-one-half walls standing, and this all took about a month. The ground was then prepped for the new areas of the foundation.

My story about becoming a green builder/developer starts innocently. I am Australian, but was raised in Asia. Water was collected in both places but for completely different reasons. In Australia, the country areas are very prone to drought, so rainwater tanks are set up to collect precious rain to water the cattle and to supply the homestead. We even had to share bathwaterrotating turns in who was first. In Asia, where we had torrential rain every day for months, water was collected to wash cars, footpaths, and clothingthis saved pennies for the locals. I have always loved antiques and architectural salvage. The Asians were always creative in their reuse of things. So when I moved to Austin, Texas in 1989 and started my house-remodeling business it was always a natural to use old doors, windows, porcelain sinks, etc., mainly purchased at Habitat For Humanity and various junk stores. As I redesigned the houses, I would put in windows and doors opposite each other for cross breezes, and if new roofs were required, I would add extra overhangs to keep heat out of the house. Over the years I completed many houses and saved several from demolition, keeping a little bit of history. My last Austin project was to purchase a two-acre property with an old house that I was told used to be

part of a strawberry farm. At this juncture, I became the vernacular architect of two new homes, which I designed to fit in with the neighborhoodagain using some salvage to add warmth and character. Around this time, Glen Murcutt was the architect in Australia so I was reading all his material, and I loved his borrowed Aboriginal philosophy to touch the earth lightly. It rang in my soul each time I started a new project. From 2000 to 2007, I designed one home on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, but the rest of the time my dark side and I went racing Open-Wheel Formula cars around the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand. When I moved to Scottsdale in late 2006, I really missed my houses and wanted to get back to creating again. So 10,000 miles of driving up and down the streets of Phoenix and Scottsdale, I purchased a beautiful one-half-acre property with a 70s Rancher. As I redesigned the floor plans, I researched building green and visited the city for building codes and restrictions. In moving to the desert area, I was incensed at the waste of water in the area and became interested in graywater systems. Through my researching and reading magazines such as Su Casa, I came across the U.S. Green Building Council and set up a meeting with my local provider, and after that applied to be part of their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes pilot program.
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Platinum Certification Components

The components that make the Platinum certification on this house are: It blends seamlessly into its neighborhood, and is close to community resources and transportation. I changed the floor plan slightly to make two bedrooms larger, to accommodate todays lifestyle needs. About 40 square feet was added to the footprint in the family area, and about 20 square feet in
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Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


GREEN build

GREEN build

The concrete mix that was used had 40 percent fly ash added per LEED requirementsall the invoices have to be produced in order to receive points. The height of all the walls was increased from 8 feet to 10 feet. This took about two weeks, during which time I went to Australia for my daughters marriage to a man who had been in charge of all the steel and related components for the new Wembley Stadium in London. A very exciting part of the rebuild was when the trusses were going up. In came a big crane, and up they went. They were left for a week to settle the weight on the building. Plumbers and electricians came in next. All copper plumbing was installed, along with a Jetta Spa Tub and a regular Jetta Tub. I picked Jetta because they are a company that is making efforts to be more earth friendly. The electrical consists of a general lighting control system, which will allow us to set several different lighting scenes throughout the house, in order to save on energy use. CFL bulbs will be used in all lighting.

After a four-week delay, the clay roof tiles were delivered and set in place. They were also left to set for a week, again, letting the building settle further under the additional weight. The stucco was then applied to the exterior and left to dry for four weeks. The drywall crew came in, and I couldnt walk through walls anymore!!! A 9010 texture was applied to the walls, and curved edges were applied. I think this adds softness to a home and helps when you bang into a corner!! A very important component of a LEED home is insulation. Demalac was chosen because when dry, it is very dense. This is an open-cell spray-in foam that allows a ventless attic system and creates a very airtight house. About six inches of foam was sprayed onto the roof deck, giving an R-5O rating, and about four inches were put into the walls, giving an R-30 rating. This will really keep the house much cooler in the summer and toasty warm on one of the three cold days of our Arizona winter! It also has wonderful soundproofing qualities. An independent rater then checked the house physically. This brings the time line to about four months. Also

included in this time line was the large swimming pool. The old chlorine system was removed, and a C.L. Free one was put in its place. I have been asked why salt wasnt chosen. Well, I too thought that was the go until research taught me that the biggest destroyer of the Arizona underground water table is saltit is leeched back into the ground via saltwater backwashing and the all-innocent water softener. I absolutely love the C.L. Free System. It is a copper ionization and carbon-oxidizing process that kills all bacteria and algae. It is easy to maintainmuch cheaper than chlorine, and the water, if kept correctly, is safe to drink, which I have been doing! Another benefit is no more green hair (pardon the pun), itchy skin, or red eyes. Also there is no calcium buildup around the pool edge. The water is absolutely crystal clear and like silk falling through your fingers to touch. The rep for this area has been so enthusiastic and always going above the call of dutythat it was easy to choose the C.F. Free whole-house point-of-entry system for the house. This system will remove chlorine, chemicals, and organic matter

from the water. It changes minerals to digestible bicarbonates. Like the pool, the house water will have a luscious silky feel, which will leave hair soft and shiny, and no dry skin. Even the landscape plants will get a boost from the chemicalfree water. The next exciting part to begin was the tiling. More than three-quarters of the tiles came from Villagio Stone and Tile in Scottsdale. They were chosen because they too are starting to stock more earth-friendly products, and I look forward to working with them again. The tiles are gorgeous. All the bathrooms have Toto dual-flush Aquia toilets installed. Points are awarded for these water-saving products. When I was looking at which toilets to use, Toto consistently came up as No. 1. The sinks are Toto as well. I went to R and R Plumbing, where all the shower/bath and sink faucets were chosen. They are Santec low flow (again, points will be given) made of solid brass, using the latest valve and cartridge technology, which gives a more lasting product. All the bathrooms have Toto dual-flush Aquia toilets


Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

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Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


GREEN build

GREEN build

installed. Points are awarded for these water-saving products. When I was looking at which toilets to use, Toto consistently came up No. 1. The sinks are Toto and Duravit. Two Bradford/White tankless hot water systems will supply instant hot water. These are the plumbers preference because they are a good product, and unlike other heaters, there are repair reps in town if needed. From a points perspective, A LOT of water is saved (approximately eight gallons per run).

Quality Granite Counter Tops, who rescued me from a very bad situation. When non-toxic Yolo Color House Paints began being applied to the walls, it was a joy to walk in and not choke on paint fumes. All paints, stains, and glue are non-toxic. Color matching for touch ups has been difficult. The paint mixes dont seem to be the same, so order plenty. At this time, the kitchen-cabinet installation was started. The

covered in cherry-wood panels. A butterfly sink will sit atop the granite countertops. A beautiful hand-glazed tile with a mixed-glass accent tile from Villagio Stone and Tile will put the final sparkle on the room. At this time of writing, we are fiveand-one-half months in and still waiting (after a lot of mixed stories) for the

in and they are beautiful. Landscaping has just begunit has been professionally designed and installed by Matt Ross of Desert Designer Landscape and Development. He designed a garden around my wishes for a Wildflower Zen feel. There will

for dogs and children on a hot summers day. I always think grass is so coolingbut must be kept to a minimum, per LEED. A small herb garden will be planted near the rear door off the kitchen. A trellised back porch will

the house, and some are switching their product choices as a result. But what is most important for me, as I pass the keys to the new owners, will be the knowledge that I have touched the earth lightly in Arizona.

Anderson dual-pane low-E (wooden on the interior) windows were then installed and stained with a non-toxic soy stain. The interior solid alder doors were stained and their frames put in place. We are waiting for the custom front door to be re-made, but just about everything was wrong when it arrived (oh well, heres hoping). The door finally arrived and is more professional this time. Be careful when you cut the granite; many thanks to Mike Olari from AZ

cabinets are whole-box cherry wood with no formaldehyde. Points are awarded because this is a Forest Stewardship Councio company. The same cabinetry is in the master ensuite with a his-her configuration. The two other bathrooms will be installed with an antique hutch in one and a Chinese storage bench in the other. Cutouts will accommodate the sinks. Back in the kitchen, all ENERGY STAR appliances will be used and

photovoltaic that is approximately 3 KW, which the whole house will be able to run off with an inter-tie to the grid. The woven, mahogany-stained bamboo floors are due tomorrow and will be left for a few days to acclimatize before being installed. The bedroom floors will be laid with organic 100 percent New Zealand Wool carpet with latex underlay that mold and bacteria dont survive in (again, points are awarded). No formaldehydes or ammonias are in the floors! Synthetic carpet contains up to 20 toxins. The floors are
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be walking trails and a large play area with a picnic area close by, under one of the large eucalyptus that was saved by the wooden fence! The mesquite that was felled gets a new life in the form of benches to sit on, along the trail and under the tree. The LEED points system calls for native plantings that are native to the Sonoran Desert. A rainwater catchments system will be around the back of the house to help supplement the drip irrigation. A crushed granite driveway will create a pervious coverage. There are some additional shade trees around the house, where a 400-square-foot grass area will go in creating a romping area
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be relaxing to sit on and watch the children swim and play, or just daydream while watching the garden. As this home nears completion, I look back on how far it has come, and I wonder what the original builder would think of his humble Rancher that will become a Platinum level green house and somewhat of a celebrity. The only irony is that no gray-water system has been installed because it only receives one point. As for me, I hope my passion has had a positive effect on my peers and my neighbors to go a little greener in their projects ahead of them, and to be more environmentally and holistically aware. I know that all the tradesman have really enjoyed the environment of

The Author
Shairon Beale was born in Sydney, Australia and lived in Asia or 20 years. Her first renovation project was a beautiful old bluestone house in Taipei. She later worked at several design businesses in Australia. From 1989 she worked with design teams in Austin and Dallas, Texas. Many home renovations later, she became the vernacular architect of three new houses. Currently she resides in Scottsdale, Arizona where she is a LEED-certified homebuilder. Shairon can be reached at 480 234 9793.


Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


ENERGY efficiency

ENERGY efficiency

Cost-Effective Solutions To Building Tight And Ventilating Right

Susan M. Raterman, CIH
Homeowners today are more concerned than ever before about the quality of the air inside their homes. Buyers demand that their homes be free of mold growth and pollutants generated by building materials. An increasing number of people who believe that they are not getting an environmentally fit homeregardless if they are right or wrongare seeking legal counsel. Proactive builders and contractors will want to address this growing trend before expensive legal actions are taken against them. Adding to the concerns of creating fresh, healthy indoor air is the fact that homeowners and many building codes are concurrently demanding tight energy-efficient homes. Thus, a challenge arises: how to design and build a tight, energy-efficient home with a healthy indoor environment. The quality of the air inside many American homes has become more toxic, more allergenic, more hazardous to infants, asthmatics, seniors and other at-risk population segments, even though aggregate total outdoor emissions for carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), Particulate Matter (PM), Volatile Organic Compounds 1 (VOCs) and lead have decreased by 51 percent over the past 35 years. According to the American Lung Association, in 2004, asthma was the nation's number one childhood disease, afflicting more than six million children, and 14 million adults. Also, research from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicates that indoor levels of common airborne pollutants are two to five times higher than outdoor levels, regardless of whether the homes tested are in rural or urban areas. There seems to be an automatic assumption that building practices alone account for the deterioration in residential
Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009 Page 1/5

indoor air quality, but, it is also important to consider that changes in lifestyles have just as muchand maybe even moreto do with the growing problem. Citing increased home entertainment options and the fact that more people work from home, the EPA estimates that on average, Americans now spend 65 percent of their time at home. That means more than 60 percent of the air most people breathe comes from inside their houses. We cannot ignore the vastly increased use of synthetic building materials, finishes, and furnishings; the proliferation of VOC-heavy personal beauty, cosmetic and hygiene products; and the use of pesticides; as well as some questionable design and construction practices that encourage formation of concealed moisture reservoirs. Add to all of these factors, the fact that in the past we used natural ventilation through windows and doors to provide

and their families. While tight building is not the only cause of increased indoor air pollution, it can exacerbate the situation by limiting natural air changes. Mold and other indoor air pollutants are found more frequently in newly constructed buildings and residences; however, there is a critical need for proper ventilation, air mixing, and pollutant dilution in all types of dwellings.

Complaints, Callbacks, And Courtrooms

Contractor callbacks to investigate IAQ (interior air quality) issues are on the rise. Unfortunately, callbacks are one of the less harmful and least costly problems a builder can face when a homeowner is dissatisfied with home air quality or a ventilation system. Potential lawsuits are a growing concern among builders and HVAC contractors and should be taken seriously. Since 2000, the number of lawsuits alleging residential construction defectsthe majority of them involving mold, moisture, and related health issueshave increased exponentially. Concurrently, the number of verdicts against contractors has also risen substantially.

A challenge arises: how to design and

build a tight, energy-efficient home with a healthy indoor environment.

In the past we used natural ventilation

through windows and doors to provide fresh air in our homes; today we have eliminated the natural ventilation that we used to depend upon for outside air supply.

The quality of the air inside many American homes has become more toxic, more allergenic, and more hazardous to infants, asthmatics, seniors, and other at-risk population segments, even though aggregate total outdoor emissions have decreased by 51 percent over the past 35 years.
fresh air in our homes. Now, even in moderate climates, many residents tightly close and lock windows and doors, even when leaving for short outings. Furthermore, most people rarely leave windows open for extended periods even when they are at home, as they prefer the temperature-controlled environment that their heating and air-conditioning systems bring. Most people prefer to get their desired temperature inside without suffering the traffic noise, dust, loss of privacy, and potential security vulnerabilities of an open house. The result is that in most climates we have eliminated the natural ventilation that we used to depend upon for outside air supply. Heightened awareness of these issues has led to an increase in claims of sick building syndrome (sick home syndrome) and building related illnesses among homeowners
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Ventilating Right As A Cost-Effective, ENERGY STAR Answer

Homeowners want good indoor air quality, but not at the expense of energy efficiency. In July 2006, a new EPA ENERGY STAR qualification guideline went into effect in 44 states, mandating that certified homes perform significantly better than code in key energy-conservation areas, such as home envelope air leakage. The ENERGY STAR qualification also recommends mechanical whole-house ventilation systems to ensure consistent exchange of indoor air. Build tight, ventilate right! Virtually every indoor air quality article written from 1974 through 2000 attributed the increased incidence of indoor air quality complaints to the tighter buildings constructed in response to the energy crisis during the 1970s. However, with a close look at the testing done on those buildings, its been discovered that many buildings arent as tight as originally anticipated and numerous factors, including inadequate ventilation, contribute to poor air quality and moisture problems. To combat the misconception that poor IAQ necessarily accompanies energy efficiency, modern home ventilation technology is now readily available that can provide highquality, clean indoor air that will not compromise heating, cooling, or energy-efficiency solutions in the home. For instance, something as simple as indoor bathroom ventilation fans can help reduce moisture that causes mold to grow on material surfaces. For those homeowners demanding an energy-saving fan, a model like Panasonics WhisperGreen ventilation

Creating a ventilation system that

provides good indoor air quality and sufficient air dilution and mixing in an energy-efficient and temperatureregulated structure requires some pre-planning and design compromises.


Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


ENERGY efficiency

ENERGY efficiency

and exterior wall, and mold can begin to grow. Unfortunately, a lot of organic building materials serve as very tasty nutrient sources for mold. The opposite can occur if the home is under positive pressure. In regions that are very cold and dry in the winter, such as Massachusetts or Illinois, many residents use humidifiers to compensate for the natural lack of moisture in the air and the drying effect that natural gas, propane-forced air, or fossilfuel heating systems, such as wood stoves, have on a home. The temperature and moisture differential between the inside air and the outside air may create positive vapor pressure, which can force the warm, moist interior air to exfiltrate through the perimeter walls and create the same mold-friendly conditions in the building envelope as negative pressurization did in the Florida example.

outside of the home, or if absolutely necessary, they are power vented. Install these appliances in areas that allow enough air to prevent toxic gas buildup.

Hardware Imperatives For User Acceptance

Once all the design and construction pieces of the balanced ventilation puzzle have been set in place, the most crucial issue becomes hardware selection. High-quality fans are key and should be employed as the system's prime air movers. Of the factors that go into this selection, the three most important are the fan's operating characteristics, its energy efficiency, and whether or not people will actually use it. Of these three, the latter is by far the most important. Simply put, if the residents use the system, it will work. If they don't, it wont. Why wouldnt a homeowner use a fan?...Noise! When considering whether or not residents will actually utilize any mechanical ventilation system often enough and long enough to generate sufficient air exchanges to adequately reduce the buildup of biological and chemical pollutants, it is useful to think in terms of a threshold of obtrusiveness. The actual threshold beyond which a user will stop or decrease their usage of the system varies from individual to individual, but the twin components of the threshold are almost universal: noise level and inconvenience. Though personal thresholds in irritations differ widely, most studies indicate that excessive noise turns off more peopleand their ventilation fansthan inconvenient operating controls. Excessive noise is subjective, and it stands to reason that when it comes to the sound made by an operating fan what constitutes too loud and quiet enough will vary widely among individuals. It is reasonable to assume, however, that most people in our industrial society are pretty comfortable with the sound of a refrigerator gently purring in the background of their livesa sound that is typically rated at about one sone. Since the sone measurement scale is linear rather than incremental, a two-sone noise is twice as loud as a onesone noise, and a three-sone noise is three times as loud. Most people find ventilation fans two or three times as loud as a refrigerator obtrusive, many find them so disturbing that they refuse to use them. Fans such as those in the Panasonic WhisperLine, WhisperGreen, WhisperFit, WhisperComfort, and WhisperCeiling lines, which are designed with such advanced noise-reduction features as fully enclosed condenser motors, over-sized double-suction blower wheels, and two-sided intake inductions, are more likely to be used properly than louder fans in both intermittent room and continuous whole-house ventilation applications. A phenomenally quiet fan such as the Panasonic WhisperGreen FV-08VKM1 operating at a full 80 CFM while

Achieving Energy Efficiency And Air Quality Equilibrium

fans, which are all ENERGY STAR rated and were designed to address the new Green Building movement in the U.S. provide a good solution. 1,500 square foot home, requires fresh air intake of 45 cubic feet per minute (CFM). In a home with a reasonably open floor plan where there are not any specific pollutant sources, for example, a basement hobby shop where woodworking is done, general wholehouse ventilation using a high-efficiency bathroom exhaust fan is usually adequate. To further ensure air quality, using a whole house ventilation system is key, but typically expensive. However, Panasonic will soon be releasing the new WhisperComfort spot ERV, an easy and cost-effective way to ventilate an entire home. Like its bathroom ventilation fans, the WhisperComfort is ultra-quiet and it uses two ducts; one exhausts stale air while the other supplies fresh air from the outside. A two-duct system like this performs well to exhaust indoor pollutants and supply fresh air. Creating a ventilation system that provides good indoor air quality and sufficient air dilution and mixing in an energy-efficient and temperature-regulated structure requires some preplanning and design compromises. However, this is fairly simple to do and does not have to be very costly. In a new home, the goal is to create a tight exterior and use indoor ventilation; as opposed to the old practice of building a loose house and counting on outdoor air leaking into the home to keep the concentration of contaminants down. The dated formula creates huge energy bills in both the summer and winter and results in homes with unacceptably large variances in temperature from room to room. It also stimulates mold propagation under high moisture and humidity conditions. A far better solution is to implement a weatherization system that includes a breathable home wrap to provide an air and bulk water barrier, window and door flashing, caulked inlets, and tightly sealed attics with properly designed ventilation to help maintain neutral interior air pressure with minimal impact on energy efficiency. Limiting air pollution at the source is also important. One way to do this is to use certified low-VOC and formaldehydeemitting interior materials. Careful selection of interior finishes is one factor in minimizing the likelihood of contaminated air in the home. Green homes, which emphasize the use of natural materials and non-toxic finishes in interior construction, are inherently less likely to be contaminated by VOCs and formaldehyde than conventional homes using synthetic floor coverings, wall paint, or wallpaper adhesive that off-gas chemicals for months or longer after installation. Also, take notice of combustion-fueled appliances such as hot water heaters, clothes dryers, furnaces, stoves, and fireplaces, to ensure that these systems are venting directly
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The ASHRAE 62.2 Guide To Good Air

There are certainly economical ways to build tight and ventilate right to reduce the risk of the liability involving IAQ and mold claims. The best way for builders and contractors to do this is to follow the ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) Standard 62.2. Published in 2004, the ASHRAE Standard 62.2 will be accepted as a standard of care and a significant factor in defining what constitutes acceptable construction practices in lawsuits relating to indoor air quality issues and construction defects. In drafting the Standard 62.2, ASHRAE noted that the Environmental Protection Agency lists poor indoor air quality as the fourth-largest environmental threat to our country and that asthma is the leading serious chronic illness of children in the U.S. The standard also mentions that moisture-related construction defects and damage are on the increase in new houses. ASHRAE Standard 62.2 defines acceptable indoor air quality as air toward which a substantial majority of occupants express no dissatisfaction with respect to odor and sensory irritationin which there (is) not likely to be contaminants at concentrations that are known to pose a health risk. The standards authors conclude that minimum residential ventilation can improve many of these indoor air quality problems. However, it is important to note that there are also other factors that affect minimum residential ventilation, such as the climate, family size, a homes floor plan, number of bathrooms, construction type and materials, and more. For example, according to the Standard 62.2, a two- or three-bedroom,

The Importance Of Balanced Air Flow

When ventilating an entire home, it is key to remember that air must be balanced and that the volume of air exhausted from the house is being replaced with fresh outside air. If more air is drawn out of the home, rather than in, the home could be put under negative pressure and back draft carbon monoxide and other toxins from combustion appliances, which could be circulated throughout the house. So, it is important to properly install a reliable ventilation strategy. Back drafting is just one of the potential hazards of negative pressurization. If the dwelling is located in a humid area like Florida, or any climatic region with seasonal high humidity, negative pressure invites hot humid air to infiltrate through the exterior wall of the house. Given the conditions in such a building envelope, which typically contain nutrient sources in the wall cavity, moisture can condense between the interior
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Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009


ENERGY efficiency

producing only 0.3-sonesso silent that the sound of a rustling shrub (0.5 sones) would drown it out coupled with a timer, humidistat, or Panasonic's integrated SmartAction motion sensor is an ideal package for both intermittent operation and continuous operation applications. In the intermittent mode, particularly when equipped with the SmartAction sensor, which turns the fan on when a person enters the bathroom and turns it off 20 minutes after they leave, a fan quieter than 0.5 sone is unlikely to annoy anyone to the point of causing them to manually turn it off. In a continuous-operation system, such an extremely quiet fan quickly becomes part of the everyday background noise of the home and will likely go unnoticed. Though noise is the main reason many homeowners do not use their ventilation fansor even want to install themthe convenience of operating them is also an issue. This is a society where people demand conveniencewhether it is fast food or on-demand cable, the easier things are to do, the more likely they will get done. Thus, operating a ventilation fan needs to be simple. So requiring users to manually switch on a ventilation fan when entering the bathroom, and then return 20 minutes later (the time recommended by the Home Ventilating Institute) to turn it off is simply asking too much of most users. To combat this challenge, install ventilation fans

with motion sensors, like Panasonic SmartAction, so it is guaranteed the fan will operate, without relying on the manual operation from the user.

Resolving The Inherent Contradiction

Its true, like all quality products, an energy-efficient home costs more. There is an up-front premium to be paid for energy-efficient homes with good indoor air quality, however, construction defect and indoor air quality claims can be many times more costly. Therefore, the responsible, proactive builders and contractors will foresee the problem before it arises, and install ENERGY STAR-rated ventilation systems to improve indoor air quality. Builders and contractors who carefully design and correctly install mechanical ventilation systems will be at less risk. Todays highly evolved, high-CFM and low-sone ventilation fans provide a cost-effective and builder-friendly way to reconcile demands for better indoor air quality, while not sacrificing a tightly sealed, energy-efficient home. UHD
1 EPA National Air Quality and Emissions Trends Report, 2003

The Author
Susan M. Raterman, CIH, is President of The Raterman Group, Ltd.


Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009

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Ultimate Home Design Issue 17 January/February 2009