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Cornerstone Custom Construction, Inc. - Quality Concrete & Carpentry, Expertise, and Integrity - Why Build Green



In the United States, buildings and homes account for:

* 36% of total energy use
* 65% of electricity consumption
* 30% of greenhouse gas emissions

It is imperative that we employ building methods that reduce energy consumption and the related greenhouse gas emissions. The following steps should be taken to reduce energy consumption in buildings and homes.

Step 1: Build structures with substantially better insulation value
  • Build external walls with superior thermal properties.
  • Utilizing an ICF wall system like Fox Block can substantially improve the R-value of the walls to R-24.
  • A standard 2'x4' stud wall with batt insulation typically has about an R-11 whole wall insulation value (when both the insulation in the cavities and the studs are considered). Replacing this construction with a Fox Block ICF wall system will increase the R-value to R-24
  • In addition to the increased R-value, ICF wall assemblies reduce the energy consumption further due to the benefit of the thermal mass of the wall system that provides thermal stability, moderating the fluctuations and reducing the heating and cooling loads, in most climates.
  • ICF walls are recognized for having very low air infiltration rates. Infiltrating rates for ICFs are approximately 0.05 to 0.10 ACH (air changes/hour) as compared to 0.20 to 0.40 for a conventionally built wood frame house. This further reduces the heating and cooling loads.
  • As a result, with the combined performance of the higher R-value of the ICF wall assembly, the stabilizing effects of the thermal mass, and the benefit of the very low air infiltration, the Fox Block wall system can perform equivalent to a typical stick frame wall with R- 35 to R-45+ insulation, in many areas of the country.

Step 2: Use of Low-E thermal pane windows with insulated frames
  • In addition to the walls of a building, windows can be a significant contributor to the energy efficiency of a house. In the average house, 38 percent of the heat loss is through windows and doors.
  • Multi-pane, low-E thermal windows filled with argon gas can save approximately 35% of the energy required to heat and cool a house when compared to aluminum framed single pane windows.
  • It is recommended that prior to ordering windows, a person knowledgeable in window technology be consulted to assist, as such things as geographic location, orientation of the building, and location of the windows in the walls should be considered, to achieve the maximum benefit in the selection of windows.

Step 3: Utilize a roof insulation that provides thermal efficiency

  • Installing insulation that provides an R-50 level will be an excellent investment.

  • This is an excellent way to prevent heat from escaping through the roof of the house.

Step 4: Utilize energy efficient HVAC systems
  • Many excellent options exist for more efficient HVAC systems.
  • Use of a geothermal system to use the earth's natural energy to help heat and cool the structure.
  • Install HVAC systems that divide a structure into multiple zones so that energy is only consumed in areas that require it.
  • Utilize programmable microprocessor to allow the HVAC system to operate at a lower level during periods of the day or week when occupants are not around.

Step 5: Add a solar energy panel to provide some of the electricity required for the home or commercial building
  • Solar panels can provide a high percentage of the required electricity for a structure.
  • Substantial tax incentives are available.
  • Excess electrical power can generally be sold back to the local utility provider.

Step 6: Choose efficient lighting and appliances
  • Newer fluorescent bulbs can be used to save significant energy in comparison to incandescent bulbs.
  • Utilize motion detectors to turn on lights only when occupants are in the room.
  • Carefully study the energy consumption rates posted on all major household appliances. Choose those that operate at the most efficient levels.