Hot-Dry and Mixed
September 2005 • NREL/TP-550-38360
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2
Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving New Home Efficiency,
Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
NT OF
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GY
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DEP
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HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
ST
A
AT E S OF
U.S. Department of Energy
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Bringing you a prosperous future where energy is clean, abundant, reliable, and affordable
Building Technologies Program
INTRODUCTION
Taking action in
your community
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2
Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving New Home Efficiency,
Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Prepared by
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Michael C. Baechler
Z. Todd Taylor, Rosemarie Bartlett, Theresa Gilbride, Marye Hefty
and
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Pat M. Love
HOMEOWNERS
Shopping for value,
comfort, and quality
MANAGERS
Putting building
science to work for
your bottom line
MARKETERS
Energy efficiency
delivers the value that
customers demand
SITE PLANNERS
& DEVELOPERS
Properly situated houses
pay big dividends
DESIGNERS
Well-crafted designs
capture benefits for builders,
buyers, and business
SITE SUPERVISORS
Tools to help with
project management
TRADES
Professional tips for fast
and easy installation
CASE STUDIES
Bringing it all together
DISCLAIMER
This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United
States Government nor any agency thereof, nor Battelle Memorial Institute, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty,
express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information,
apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to
any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily
constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof, or
Battelle Memorial Institute. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the
United States Government or any agency thereof.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
Version 3, 9/2005 • TTL-1
Acknowledgments
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building America program is comprised of public/
private partnerships that conduct systems research to improve overall housing performance,
increase housing durability and comfort, reduce energy use, and increase energy security
for America’s homeowners. Program activities focus on finding solutions for both new
and existing homes, as well as integrating clean onsite energy systems that will allow the
homebuilding industry to provide homes that produce more energy than they use. In addition
to the DOE management and staff, the Building America Program includes seven consortia,
four national laboratories, and hundreds of builders, manufacturers, and service providers.
Building America works closely with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s
(HUD) Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) Program, co-manages the
ENERGY STAR Program along with the Environmental Protection Agency, and works with
other federal agencies to coordinate research findings and disseminate information. These
partners make the program a successful source of knowledge and innovation for industry
practitioners and government policy makers. Together, these cooperating agencies have
provided reviews and shared insightful comments, as well as making the authors aware of
their technical libraries.
The U.S. DOE Building America Program funded the development of this series of
handbooks. DOE also funded the Building America consortia and national laboratories to
form the basis for these best practices. The seven consortia are listed on the back cover of
this document. The consortia have taken on the hard work of applied research, field testing,
training builders, and transforming the results into building practices. Numerous drawings,
descriptions, photos, and case studies originated with the consortia.
INTRODUCTION
Taking action in
your community
HOMEOWNERS
Shopping for value,
comfort, and quality
MANAGERS
Putting building
science to work for
your bottom line
MARKETERS
Energy efficiency
delivers the value that
customers demand
SITE PLANNERS
& DEVELOPERS
Properly situated houses
pay big dividends
Many builders have chosen to use the Building America process in collaboration with the
consortia and are quoted in this series of best practices with over a dozen featured in case
studies. These builders deserve thankful recognition for contributing to the success of the
Building America Program and the Best Practices Series.
DESIGNERS
Building America partners worked diligently on this project to further the cause of efficiency,
resource conservation, or improved building performance. These groups have voluntarily
supplied technical materials, review comments, or help in distribution. These contributors
include Southface Energy Institute; Energy and Environmental Building Association,
Wisconsin ENERGY STAR Homes Program; Consortium for Energy Efficiency, Air
Conditioning Contractors of America, National Fenestration Rating Council, and National
Association of Home Builders. National Association of State Universities and Land Grant
Colleges Extension Service Professors from universities throughout the nation provided
valuable and in depth contributions. In particular, professors from the following universities
devoted their time and shared their insights: University of Kentucky, Cornell University,
University of Florida, University of Louisiana; and the University of Minnesota.
SITE SUPERVISORS
This project required coordination among the national laboratories. Pacific Northwest
National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have taken the lead at producing
this document. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory made its library of Building
America documents available to the authors, reviewed the document, and has responsibility
for posting the document to the Web. Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
reviewed the document contents.
Well-crafted designs
capture benefits for builders,
buyers, and business
Tools to help with
project management
TRADES
Professional tips for fast
and easy installation
CASE STUDIES
Bringing it all together
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
Christina Van Vleck lent this project her skill as a graphic artist. She prepared all of the
original drawings and designed and laid out the overall series of books.
The authors and DOE offer their gratitude to the many contributors that made this
project a success.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • ACK-1
Contents
INTRODUCTION
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . INT-1
Taking action in
your community
Homeowners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HOM-1
HOMEOWNERS
Quick Tips: Homeowners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HOM-1
Shopping for value,
comfort, and quality
You’re in Good Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HOM-1
How Quality Houses Perform. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HOM-2
MANAGERS
An Energy-Efficient Home Will Cost You Less . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HOM-3
Putting building
science to work for
your bottom line
Energy-Efficient Mortgages Can Help You Get More for Your Money . . . . . . . . . HOM-3
What’s the Score? (HERS). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HOM-4
Guaranteed Energy Costs and Comfort. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HOM-5
MARKETERS
And There’s More - More Green for You and More Green for the Planet . . . . . . . HOM-5
Energy efficiency
delivers the value that
customers demand
What to Look For . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HOM-6
Sources and Additional Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HOM-6
Homebuyer’s Checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HOM-7
Managers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MNG-1
An Invitation to Building Company Managers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MNG-1
Building America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MNG-1
Quick Tips: Managers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MNG-1
The Business Case for Building Science and Energy Efficiency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MNG-2
Properly Choosing Materials and Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MNG-2
Reduced Risks, Increased Productivity, and Fewer Callbacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MNG-3
From an Economic Standpoint, Everyone Wins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MNG-3
Customer Satisfaction and Referrals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MNG-3
Consumers Expect More . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MNG-4
Competitive Advantage in the Marketplace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MNG-4
SITE PLANNERS
& DEVELOPERS
Properly situated houses
pay big dividends
DESIGNERS
Well-crafted designs
capture benefits for builders,
buyers, and business
SITE SUPERVISORS
Tools to help with
project management
TRADES
Professional tips for fast
and easy installation
Take the Next Step . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MNG-5
Case Studies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MNG-5
CASE STUDIES
Sources and Additional Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MNG-5
Bringing it all together
Marketers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MKT-1
ENERGY STAR Qualified Homes: Telling Your Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MKT-1
Quick Tips: Marketers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MKT-1
Increase Customer Satisfaction and Let Your Customers Sell Your Product. . . . . . . MKT-2
Sell the Value that Home Buyers Expect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MKT-2
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
How Industry Leaders Sell Energy-Efficient Homes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MKT-2
Sources and Additional Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MKT-4
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • TOC-1
Contents
Site Planners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PLN-1
Lot Orientation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PLN-1
Quick Tips: Site Planners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PLN-1
Shade Trees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PLN-3
Xeriscaping. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PLN-4
Other Steps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PLN-4
Sources and Additional Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PLN-6
Designers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DES-1
Quick Tips: Designers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DES-1
Building Science and the Systems Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DES-1
The Cost of Doing Business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DES-3
Hot and Dry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DES-5
Design Best Practices for Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DES-5
Site - Drainage, Pest Control, and Landscaping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DES-6
Foundation Measures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DES-7
Structural Moisture Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DES-9
Structural Air Sealing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DES-13
Structural Thermal Performance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DES-14
Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DES-20
Mechanicals Management and Appliances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DES-27
Sources and Additional Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DES-30
Site Supervisors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-1
Managing Expectations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-1
Develop a Work Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-2
Plans - Get Them Right . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-2
Plans - Keep Them Right. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-2
Contracts - Write Them Down . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-3
Pre-Construction Meeting - Have One . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-4
Permits - Grease the Skids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-4
Managing Execution. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-5
Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-5
Scheduling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-6
Quality Assurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-7
Spot-Check Inspection Checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-8
Pre-Drywall Inspection Checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-9
Pre-Occupancy Inspection Checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-10
Sources and Additional Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUP-11
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • TOC-2
Contents
Trades . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TRD-1
Slabs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TRD-2
Housewrap. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TRD-3
Window Flashing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TRD-4
Air Sealing - Plumbing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TRD-6
Electrical Air Sealing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TRD-7
Air Sealing Drywall. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TRD-8
Air Sealing Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TRD-9
Fiberglass Insulation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TRD-10
Masonry Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TRD-11
Duct Sealing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TRD-12
Case Study: AmLand Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CASE A-1
Case Study: Artistic Homes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CASE B-1
Case Study: Pulte Contruction - Sun Lakes Development. . . . . . . . . . CASE C-1
Case Study: Pulte Contruction - Copper Moon Development . . . . . . CASE D-1
Appendix I: Homebuyer’s Checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . APPENDIX I-1
Appendix II: Energy & Housing Glossary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . APPENDIX II-1
Appendix III: Code Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . APPENDIX III-1
Appendix IV: Counties in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climate Zones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . APPENDIX IV-1
Appendix V: Web Site References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . APPENDIX V-1
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • TOC-3
Welcome
Taking action in your community
INTRODUCTION
This best practices guide is part of a series produced by Building America. The guide
book is a resource to help builders large and small build high-quality, energy-efficient
homes that achieve 30% energy savings in space conditioning and water heating in
the hot-dry and mixed-dry climates. The savings are in comparison with the 1993
Model Energy Code. The guide contains chapters for every member of the builder’s
team—from the manager to the site planner to the designers, site supervisors, the
trades, and marketers. There is also a chapter for homeowners on how to use the
book to provide help in selecting a new home or builder.
•
•
•
•
Homeowners will find how energy-efficient homes package value, comfort, economy,
durability, and performance. This chapter is a great introduction to energy-efficient
home technologies and provides helpful checklists of what to look for when
home shopping.
Managers will learn why building energy-efficient homes makes business sense. They will
find out how much consumers value energy efficiency and the quality that comes with it,
and how their company can gain market advantage by building energy-efficient homes.
Marketers will learn about great resources for selling energy-efficient homes, including
getting plugged into the ENERGY STAR® nationally recognized branding program.
Site Planners will discover the huge impact building orientation, landscaping, and shading
can have on energy costs, plus learn tips on moisture management and pest control.
• Designers will learn about the systems approach to home design backed up by
building science. They will get guidance on key building components for designing
energy-efficient homes.
• Site Supervisors will get guidance on contract specifications, tips on scheduling and
training, and handy checklists for quality assurance and commissioning inspections.
• Trades will find step-by-step, easy-to-follow illustrated instructions for adding key
energy efficiency technologies.
The last chapter has case studies showing real-life examples of builders who are designing
and constructing energy-efficient houses in the hot-dry and mixed-dry climate zones.
We designed this guidebook to be taken apart, passed around, and updated. Give
the sections of the book to the right people in your organization. Pass on pieces to
subcontractors to help them understand your objectives. Copy it as needed.
This first series of guides helps builders understand and implement the Building
America process to reach 30% energy savings in space heating and cooling and water
heating. Future guides will aim at even higher levels of efficiency based on the latest
Building America research, giving builders the knowledge they need to build even
more efficient and durable houses.
Taking action in
your community
HOMEOWNERS
Shopping for value,
comfort, and quality
MANAGERS
Putting building
science to work for
your bottom line
MARKETERS
Energy efficiency
delivers the value that
customers demand
SITE PLANNERS
& DEVELOPERS
Properly situated houses
pay big dividends
DESIGNERS
Well-crafted designs
capture benefits for builders,
buyers, and business
SITE SUPERVISORS
Tools to help with
project management
TRADES
Professional tips for fast
and easy installation
CASE STUDIES
Bringing it all together
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
The practices in this book are intended for the hot-dry and mixed-dry climates. Visit
www.buildingamerica.gov for information on handbooks covering other climate regions.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • INT-1
Introduction
Many builders choose to try out Building America ideas in a prototype house. After building one or a few
prototypes they decide what features they will carry forward into their regular construction. This chart shows a
process for working with a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rating professional, an engineer, or an architect
to build this first house and on an ongoing basis. The person offering guidance could also be a company designer
who has become familiar with this document or has taken other Building America training. An educated staff will
be the best means of selecting building science support.
BUILDING SCIENTIST
BUILDER
ENGINEER / ARCHITECT / HERS RATER
PHASE #1
Management decides to go
forward with best practices
and company submits plan
to building scientist
Management tracks
financial benefits
Designer evaluates changes
in style and materials
Decision
PHASE #2
Pre-Construction
Analysis
Offers design solutions based
on whole building analysis,
including materials compatibility
and durability, and system
tradeoff modeling
Determines impact of design
solutions, including energy savings
Site Supervisors evaluate skills,
subcontractors and code issues
Management ensures proper
materials are purchased
and available
Educates builders about building
science and systems approach
PHASE #3
Construction
Communicates design approach
to supervisors and crew
Observes construction practices
and recommends improvements
and offers training
Site Supervisors train crews
and set clear expectations
Trades professionals implement best practices
in their installation and construction processes
Company evaluates success
and decides on next steps
Company creates marketing
program to emphasize
improvements
Site Planners integrate lessons
learned in selection and siting
of future communities
PHASE #4
Post-Construction
Evaluation
PHASE #5
Marketing
PHASE #6
Lessons Learned
Conducts field tests and
inspections including blower
door, duct pressure, and HVAC
system tests
Provides test results and
data for marketing
Offers help with upgrading
production plans and with solar
and green community design
Designer adds new features to
production plans
*Icons correspond with chapters and company capabilities
Building America welcomes reader feedback on this second volume of the Best Practices Series. Please submit your
comments via e-mail to: Michael Baechler ([email protected]) or Pat Love ([email protected]). You can
learn more about Building America and download additional copies of this document at www.buildingamerica.gov.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • INT-2
Homeowners
Shopping for value, comfort, and quality
INTRODUCTION
Comfort. Economy. Durability. Performance. Some homes force you to choose.
Energy-efficient homes deliver it all. And as a homebuyer, you deserve, and should
demand, the whole package.
One way to know you have found an energy-efficient home is to look for the
ENERGY STAR® label. ENERGY STAR has taken much of the guesswork out of
buying new homes and other products. ENERGY STAR-qualified new homes are
built to strict energy-efficiency guidelines using proven technologies and construction
practices. Your builder also may have incorporated other building features that go
beyond ENERGY STAR criteria for even more energy savings, and for greater
health and comfort.
ENERGY STAR features should be included in all houses from lower cost starters
to high-end customs. This chapter gives you an introduction to the technology that
makes these houses work, how much they cost, how to pay for them, and a checklist
of what to look for in new homes. The features described here are specifically designed
for the hot-dry and mixed-dry climates found in the Southwestern United States.
The companies that build ENERGY STAR homes are among the best and largest in
the nation. Over 2,000 builders work with ENERGY STAR in the United States.
And about 50% of the largest 100 builders in the nation have at least one division
building ENERGY STAR
qualified homes. Thousands
of small companies also build
QUICK TIPS | HOMEOWNERS
ENERGY STAR homes. And
many of these companies are
• Look for the ENERGY STAR label
working with Building America.
for government-endorsed proof that
a home is energy efficient.
In addition to discussing the
• Use the enclosed checklist to shop
for energy-efficient homes.
• Use the nationally recognized HERS
rating to know just how efficient the
homes you are considering really are.
• Own a home you can be proud of
—energy-efficient homes are good
for the environment.
HOMEOWNERS
Shopping for value,
comfort, and quality
MANAGERS
Putting building
science to work for
your bottom line
MARKETERS
Energy efficiency
delivers the value that
customers demand
SITE PLANNERS
& DEVELOPERS
Properly situated houses
pay big dividends
You’re in Good Company
• Learn why an energy-efficient home
is usually a higher quality home all
the way around.
Taking action in
your community
minimum requirements for
attaining ENERGY STAR,
this packet suggests other
techniques developed within the
U.S. Department of Energy’s
Building America program.
These techniques can help you
avoid common construction
problems that occur in the hotdry and mixed-dry climates. The
recommendations in this chapter
are based on Building America’s
building science research on
over 25,000 homes in 34 states
encompassing every climate
region in the nation. Building
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
DESIGNERS
Well-crafted designs
capture benefits for builders,
buyers, and business
SITE SUPERVISORS
Tools to help with
project management
TRADES
Professional tips for fast
and easy installation
CASE STUDIES
Bringing it all together
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
Version 3, 9/2005 • HOM-1
Homeowners
America works with the nation’s premier building scientists to conduct research and
share knowledge with builders to help build better homes.
If you are looking for energy-saving features in your new home you’re in good
company. Recent homebuyer surveys have found that energy efficiency is the top
upgrade that homebuyers choose in new homes (Johnston 2000). And homebuyers in
Phoenix rated energy efficiency as the number one reason related to the house itself in
determining their satisfaction with the production builder recognized by Professional
Builder magazine as having the top customer satisfaction in the nation (2003). This
same builder won the J.D. Powers and Associates top ranking for customer satisfaction
in 12 of 21 markets in the United States. The winner, Pulte Homes, is a Building
America Partner that brands its homes using ENERGY STAR.
Hot & Dry Design Features
A. Efficient Windows: help to control
and reduce ultraviolet light that can fade
carpets and furniture, helping to keep
your belongings looking like new and
keeping window areas cooler and more
comfortable to sit near. Window flashing
protects against water leaks.
B. Compact and Tightly Sealed Duct
Runs: shorter runs mean less to go
wrong and fewer air leaks to put air
where it is intended to go, with fewer
contaminants like humidity and dust from
attics or crawlspaces. Leaky ducts are
a major contributor to mold problems.
Return air paths ensure balanced
air pressure for less drafts and more
balanced temperatures throughout the
house. Put ducts in conditioned space,
if possible.
How Quality Houses Perform
You don’t want to spend the first several months in your new home fixing construction
problems. Not long after unlocking a new home’s door for the first time comes the
reality of keeping the house and its inhabitants happy and comfortable. You’ll save
time, money, and personal energy when you buy a house that works from the start.
The building materials and quality that go into an energy-efficient home help to keep
temperatures even, the air clean, and the house dry, quiet, and draft-free. In a welldesigned home, systems are designed to work together for optimal performance. The
checklist near the end of this chapter provides details of what to look for in quality
home construction. Figure 1 provides an overview of features Building America
recommends to help you avoid problems, while saving time, money, and energy.
C. Right-Sized and High-Efficiency
HVAC Equipment: costs less to install
than bigger equipment, saves energy,
and is designed to comfortably handle
heating and cooling loads.
D. Ventilation: exhaust fans remove
moisture and pollutants. A controlled,
filtered air intake ensures plenty of
fresh air. A fresh air intake is not an
ENERGY STAR* requirement but it is
recommended.
E. Sealed Combustion Appliances:
reduce moisture buildup and ensure
the removal of combustion gases.
We recommend against non-vented
combustion appliances such as nonvented fireplaces or heaters.
FIGURE 1: Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Design Features
All of these features save energy. Read the descriptions at right to see what else they do.
F. Overhangs: provide shade and direct
water away from the house. Overhangs
are not required by ENERGY STAR but
are a sign of thoughtful design.
G. Insulation: holds comfortable
temperatures in conditioned spaces and
helps control noise. For insulation level
recommendations visit www.ornl.gov/sci/
roofs+walls/insulation/ins_16.html
H. Air Sealing: stops drafts, helps keep humid
ity and garage contaminants out of the house,
and creates a barrier to rodents and insects.
I.
Well-Designed Moisture Barriers
and Drainage: avoid expensive
structural damage and help stop
humidity, mold, and mildew.
J. Building System: Perhaps the best
thing about buying a system-designed
house is that all of the parts are designed
to work together. This can save you
money on the purchase price, and it also
means a durable and comfortable system,
one that will help avoid maintenance and
repair costs down the road.
* ENERGY STAR requirements are changing and an Indoor
Air Quality option is available that includes ventilation.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • HOM-2
Homeowners
An Energy-Efficient Home Will Cost You Less
As with any upgrade, precisely how much is paid for an energy-efficiency upgrade will
depend on many factors. Some builders make energy-efficiency features part of their
base price, meaning the cost is built into the overall cost of the house. Others will sell
you a specific upgrade package at a predetermined cost. Depending on how the builder
structures his costs, the home’s size and design, and the prevailing cost of building
materials, the additional cost of a system-designed energy-efficient home may range
from zero to $1,500 or more.
But even if you pay more up front, the good news is you are likely to pay less for an
energy-effiicient house on a monthly basis, if you consider the cost of energy. Here’s
an example showing why:
FIGURE 2: Monthly Cost Comparison
“You don’t know the quality
of life you can experience
until you’re in one of these
homes. Our quality of life has
improved tremendously and
we’ll realize energy cost savings
for years to come.”
John Russo, purchased an ENERGY
STAR home in 2002, as quoted in the
Boston Herald, December 6, 2002.
TOTAL MONTHLY = $1,334
TOTAL MONTHLY = $1,303
$175
< ENERGY BILLS >
$135
$31
MONTH
SAVINGS
$372
YEAR
$1,159
STANDARD HOME
< MORTGAGE BILLS >
$1,168
ENERGY STAR® HOME
Our example assumes a base price on the house of $200,000, an upgrade cost of
$1,500, and a 30-year mortgage at 6% interest. We also estimate that monthly energy
bills will be about $135 after energy savings of about $40 per month in the energyefficient home.
Your builder, realtor, or lender should be able to help you work through the savings for
your house based on actual features, costs, and interest rates.
According to the U.S.
Environmental Protection
Agency, which manages the
ENERGY STAR program with
the U.S. Department of Energy,
nearly 300,000 new homes have
now earned the ENERGY STAR
designation, saving these
homeowners a total of $26 million
in energy costs every year.
Energy-Efficient Mortgages Can Help You Get More for your Money
Lenders recognize that owning an energy-efficient home makes financial sense and
they have developed energy-efficient mortgages to encourage consumers to purchase
these types of homes. The loans work by allowing consumers to borrow more than they
would typically qualify for.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • HOM-3
Homeowners
The following features for energy-efficient loans are taken from Fannie Mae, the
nation’s largest source of funding for mortgages. You can learn more about Fannie Mae
at www.fanniemae.com.
• Energy-efficient mortgages (EEM) are available for both purchase and
refinance in conjunction with most Fannie Mae first mortgage products,
including conventional fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages.
• Monthly savings resulting from energy efficiency can be used to qualify
borrowers for a larger mortgage. This means consumers can buy more home
in the form of energy efficiency or other upgrades.
• The EEM can be used with many Fannie Mae mortgage products. The
guidelines of the selected Fannie Mae mortgage apply, with the EEM allowing
for the projected energy savings to provide an adjustment to the loan-to-value
and qualifying ratios that favor the borrower.
• To qualify, you must obtain a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) report,
which provides a rating of the energy efficiency of the home and estimates the
resulting cost savings using average utility rates and usage data. See What’s the
Score? below for more information on HERS. Building America recommends
that every home receive this type of rating and many ENERGY STAR homes
were rated in order to qualify.
FIGURE 3: HERS Score
*
Based on 2004 International Energy Conservation Code
(*ENERGY STAR standards are under revision and are scheduled to change in 2006)
What’s the Score?
The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) is a nationally recognized method of
evaluating a home’s energy performance. Rating professionals are people trained
in preparing HERS scores and accredited by the Residential Energy Services
Network, found on the Web at www.natresnet.org.
HERS scores can be used to compare across houses even if the houses differ in
design, size, or type of HVAC equipment. Even if homes are not participating in
labeling programs like ENERGY STAR, the HERS score can be used to gauge
energy efficiency. See the Designers
section for more information on HERS.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • HOM-4
Homeowners
Consumers using Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan insurance should
consider FHA’s Energy Mortgage Program. This program helps borrowers to
include energy-efficiency features in their home by stretching the size of the
loan they may qualify for without increasing their down payment. An energyefficient mortgage is one of many FHA programs that insure mortgage loans. FHA
encourages lenders to make mortgage credit available to borrowers who would not
otherwise qualify for conventional loans on affordable terms (such as first-time
homebuyers) and to residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods (where mortgages
may be hard to get). To learn more about FHA programs visit the Web site at
www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/eem/energy-r.cfm.
Some builders are working with lenders to offer special mortgage terms, such as a lower
interest rate, to help buyers of energy-efficient homes. Ask your builder if they have any
special programs.
Guaranteed Energy Costs and Comfort
Some builders go even further than doing a great job of constructing an energyefficient home. Some guarantee it. Builders who guarantee their homes are willing to
tell buyers how much energy the home should use, and they guarantee these levels will
not be exceeded. These guarantees are backed up with payments if limits are exceeded.
Builders can work with insulation companies or other partners to offer guarantees or
caps on their home’s energy costs, or they may develop their own programs. Some
cover room comfort by guaranteeing that the temperature at the thermostat will not
vary by more than 3 degrees at the center of any room served by that thermostat. A
Building America team helped to develop these programs. Information on three of
these programs can be found at:
“Knowing that 100% of our
homes exceed the minimum
standards makes a statement to
our buying public that we are
confident this is the way of the
future and not a fad or style.”
Andrew Nevitt, Architect
Medallion Homes, San Antonio, TX
• Environments for Living – www.eflhome.com/index.jsp
• Engineered for Life – www.us-gf.com/engineered.asp
• The Energy Use and Comfort Guarantee –
www.artistichomessw.com/guarantee.htm
And There’s More – More Green for You and More Green for the Planet
Where else can you find an investment that delivers monthly dividends, makes
you more comfortable and your house more durable, comes with its own financing
incentives, and may even have guaranteed energy performance? ENERGY STAR
homes give you all this, plus they are good for the environment. Just one ENERGY
STAR qualified new home can keep 4,500 pounds of greenhouse gases out of our
air each year.
Just one ENERGY STAR
qualified new home can keep
4,500 pounds of greenhouse
gases out of our air each year.
Last year, thanks to programs like ENERGY STAR and other energy efficiency
measures, Americans cut their energy bills by more than $7 billion, along with saving
enough energy to power 15 million homes. The greenhouse gas emissions saved by
these steps was the equivalent of taking 14 million cars off our country’s roads. Visit the
ENERGY STAR Web site at www.energystar.gov to learn more about how ENERGY
STAR is helping the environment.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • HOM-5
Homeowners
What to Look For
Take the Homebuyer’s Checklist at the end of this chapter with you when you’re
shopping for a new home. Ask your builder or salesperson to help you consider each
item. For a more detailed checklist, go to Appendix I. You may want to ask to see
houses under construction to see how some measures are installed. The builder or
realtor may have models and displays to help you see other features and ask to see the
home’s owners manual. Not all of the measures will apply to every home (for example,
homes don’t typically have more than one kind of heating system). Check the features
that are most important to you. We’ve left some blank spaces at the end of the checklist
in Appendix I so you can fill in features that you want to remember to check that may
or may not be energy related.
You can learn more
about Building America
and download additional
copies of this document at
www.buildingamerica.gov
If You’re Building a Custom Home
A great advantage to building a custom home, or ordering your home before it is built,
is that you can work with your builder or designer to get the features you want. Give
your builder or designer this Best Practices Guide. It contains everything they need to
design and build a durable and comfortable energy-efficient home.
Sources & Additional Information
• J.D. Power and Associates. J.D. Power and Associates 2003 New Home
Customer Satisfaction Study. West Lake Village, California. 2003.
• Johnston, David. 2000. “Buyer Green.” Professional Builder, September 2000.
www.housingzone.com
• Professional Builder. September 2003. “Customer Service Standard Setter.”
Web Sites Not Included with Published Documents Above
• www.artistichomessw.com/guarantee.htm
• www.buildingamerica.gov
• www.energystar.gov
• www.housingzone.com/topics/pb/green/survey/buyer.asp#
• www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/eem/energy-r.cfm
• www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/energy_savers/?appliances.html
• www.eflhome.com/index.jsp
• www.fanniemae.com
• www.natresnet.org
• www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/insulation/ins_16.html
• www.us-gf.com/engineered.asp
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • HOM-6
Homeowners
Homebuyer’s Checklist
Use the following checklist to compare house features in different homes you visit.
A more detailed checklist is available in Appendix I.
MEASURE
BUILDER SERVICES AND RATINGS
Building
America
ENERGY STAR Rated
Yes
HERS Score of 86 or greater
Yes
Energy Performance Guarantee
Good Idea
Energy Efficient Mortgage
Good Idea
Provides Owners Manual
Yes
Builder Builder Builder
#1
#2
#3
If you can answer yes to the above questions you will have a good energy performing home.
Note that in some states, due to more aggressive energy codes, ENERGY STAR may require
HERS scores greater than 86.
VENTILATION
Controlled fresh air provided in the house
Yes
Quiet Exhaust vents in bathrooms
Yes
Quiet Exhaust (not recirculating)
vents in the kitchen
Yes
Supply and return air vents or paths
in bedrooms
Yes
WINDOWS
Windows flashed to help repel water
Yes
Windows rated 0.35 U-factor
and 0.35 SHGC*
Yes
*Solar Heat Gain Coefficient
COMBUSTION APPLIANCES
Combustion appliance exhausts vented
to the outside (except ovens)
Yes
Hardwired carbon monoxide monitors
included for every 1000 square feet of
living space if combustion appliances
or an attached garage are present
Yes
MORE TO LOOK FOR TO ENHANCE ENERGY EFFICIENCY
ENERGY STAR qualified light fixtures
Good Idea
ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator
Good Idea
ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher
Good Idea
ENERGY STAR qualified clothes washer
Good Idea
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • HOM-7
Managers
Putting building science to work for your bottom line
INTRODUCTION
Taking action in
your community
This document tells company leaders how to use proven technologies and a successful
marketing program to gain competitive market advantage and improve your
company’s economic and product performance. A more efficient home can mean
a faster return on your investment
An Invitation to Building
Company Managers
We invite you to use the information
in this packet to lead your company to
increased profits and greater customer
satisfaction. Building America is a
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
program that has sponsored building
science research on 25,000 homes
nationwide. These technologies and the
Building America systems approach can
set your company apart, giving you a
considerable competitive advantage in
how you design, build, and sell homes.
Building America
“About 4-5 years ago, we decided if we were
going to stay in business in the business
climate we are in with all the liability issues,
we needed to find a different way to do
things and that’s when we found Building
America…I have been in construction since
1965 and standard practice hasn’t changed
much. People did things the way they’d
always been done. We were doing a lot of
things wrong, not on purpose, we simply
didn’t know any better. Building America
taught us how to build the right way.
Through their experiments, they found out
why buildings didn’t work. They’ve taken
new technology and they’ve developed a lot
of ways to make a house perform,”
Jerry Wade, President of Artistic Homes,
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Building America works with the nation’s premier building scientists to conduct
research and bring knowledge to builders to help them build better homes. This
knowledge has been gained from private/public partnerships involving builders all
over the country working with DOE. Many builders have adopted the program’s
principles and improved the performance of their houses and companies. Over 250
builders and venders have partnered with Building America, including five of the
largest 10 builders in the nation. This best practices guide contains results from this
research in a form that your company can immediately build into your homes to
increase efficiency, comfort, and durability. Learn more about Building America
at www.buildingamerica.gov.
HOMEOWNERS
Shopping for value,
comfort, and quality
MANAGERS
Putting building
science to work for
your bottom line
MARKETERS
Energy efficiency
delivers the value that
customers demand
SITE PLANNERS
& DEVELOPERS
Properly situated houses
pay big dividends
DESIGNERS
Well-crafted designs
capture benefits for builders,
buyers, and business
SITE SUPERVISORS
Tools to help with
project management
TRADES
Professional tips for fast
and easy installation
CASE STUDIES
Bringing it all together
QUICK TIPS | MANAGERS
• The smartest builders in the industry are working with Building America.
• Applying the Building America process can: cut your production costs,
reduce risks, improve your bottom line, help make you a market leader, and
turn your customers into lead generators.
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
• This document gets you and your company started.
• ENERGY STAR® can help you market your new and improved product.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • MNG-1
Managers
FIGURE 1: A small sampling of Building America’s 250 partners
Building America Partner
“The biggest benefit is the
sense of satisfaction of doing
something good. We’re
conserving the environment
and providing a better product
to our buyers.”
Ranking among Top 100 Builders
Pulte Homes
2
Centex Corp 4
The Ryland Group
7
Beazer Homes USA
8
K Hovnanian
9
Shea Homes 12
Habitat for Humanity International
16
Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company
17
Lucian Kragiel, Co-owner of
Atlantic Design and Construction
Source: Builder
ONLINE, 2005
The Business Case for Building Science and Energy Efficiency
Why are all these builders working with Building America? The answer is simple –
Working with Building America can enhance your company’s bottom line. The Building
America process and systems approach embraces building science, component technology
and the system approach for house design and construction. The benefits include:
• Cost savings from making the best materials and equipment choices
• Reduced risks, increased productivity, and fewer callbacks
• Greater profit margins on energy efficiency and other upgrades
• Competitive advantage in the marketplace
“Any home we produce is going
to be here for a 100 years
or better. Whether for our
own legacy or to try to inspire
a trend…We have never
built a home that would not
conform to ENERGY STAR or
Building America standards.”
Chet Nichols, Executive Vice
President of Amland Development,
builder of The New American
Home 2003, in Lake Las Vegas, NV
• Customer satisfaction and referrals.
More information on each of these points is presented below. But boosting the bottom
line isn’t the only reason builders build quality, efficient homes. Builders tell us it
boosts their pride in their craft, increases the morale of their workforce, and gives
them a good feeling at the end of the day, knowing they’re doing their part to help
the environment.
Properly Choosing Materials and Equipment
Building science offers many tools to help you pick out the right materials and size
them correctly, and to help make sure you are using them to build the right product.
Explanations and suggestions on building systems, designs, and trade-offs are in the
Designers
chapter of this document. The costs of some measures can be more
than what you are currently spending. The idea is to use the materials best suited to
the job and to size equipment accordingly. Higher prices in one area can be at least
partially offset with savings in other areas. Costs for all building materials can vary
tremendously in their own right, but your level of experience and design choices have
a large bearing. For comparison, some builders find they experience no overall increase
in materials costs to offer an energy-efficient package, but others suggest added costs
of up to $1,500 per home. In the Designers
chapter, we show one example of costs
and savings that resulted in no added costs for the design used by a Building America
partner in the mixed-dry climate. Read on to find out how this investment can add to
your bottom line.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
“There is a sense of pride in
knowing that Medallion
Homes takes the extra effort
in research and production to
deliver the best product for
the price.”
Andrew Nevitt, Architect
Medallion Homes, San Antonio, TX
Version 3, 9/2005 • MNG-2
Managers
Reduced Risks, Increased Productivity, and Fewer Callbacks
These benefits follow closely from selecting and properly using the right materials and
equipment. Making a change in your process may take extra time the first few times
you try it, but once established, the payoffs can be significant.
One of the great values of using Building America approaches is that they were
designed to solve construction problems, such as moisture degradation and mold
growth, that plague builders. More than 10,000 mold cases are now pending
nationwide, with an increase in cases of more than 300% since 1999 (Insurance
Information Institute as reported in Wood and Clift, 2003).
Applying building science reduces the risk of big problems and helps to eliminate the
more mundane defects that cost money to fix. If you reduce the time your crews are
working on callbacks, you increase the time they can be working on new product.
From an Economic Standpoint, Everyone Wins
As a manager, watching your profit margins is a full-time job. The structure of your
business and emphasis you place on consistency determines how much profit you get
from options packages. Some builders choose to incorporate energy efficiency and
health and comfort options into their base price; others include them as options with
a profit margin similar to other premium add-ons. Whichever approach you use,
the experience of other builders suggest that customers place great value on energy
efficiency and will pay to get it.
Profit margins vary substantially from company to company. A National Association
of Homebuilders report (1999) and Professional Builder magazine (2003) suggest a net
profit margin of about 10% on overall house construction. This number is consistent
with publicly traded homebuilding companies. Six companies’ annual financial reports
to the Securities Exchange Commission over 2001 and 2002 reported net profit
margins ranging from 4.2% to 9.6%. Gross profit margins over this same time period
ranged from 7.4% to 19.2%. In comparison, builders report they have gained about a
30% profit margin on efficiency upgrade packages.
In the Homeowners
chapter, we offer an example showing how energy-efficient
homes end up costing less for consumers on a monthly basis when both the mortgage
and energy expenses are taken into account. Consumers can either pocket these lower
costs or use them to buy a more expensive home. Any upgrades translate into
added profit.
In short, builders can increase their profits at the same time that consumers lower
their costs. From an economic standpoint, everybody wins.
Customer Satisfaction and Referrals
Customer satisfaction matters to your company’s future and energy efficiency matters
to your customers. Pulte is a Building America Partner that brands its homes using
ENERGY STAR. J.D. Power and Associates, a market research firm, gave Pulte’s
various divisions top rankings in 12 of the 21 U.S. markets it surveys, including Las
Vegas, Phoenix, and San Diego, and placed it among the top 3 companies in 17 markets.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
“We have seen a direct impact on
our quality through the Building
America Program. We are able
to build a better product because
of our consistent approach [in
implementing Building America
practices],”
Josh Robinson, Pulte Sun Lakes
project manager and a Pulte Vice
President (Vice President of
Operations for Pulte, North Inland
Empire Division of Southern California)
“A lot of our first-time home
buyers do not realize what they
are getting because they have
not had the experience with
another home. But the more
sophisticated buyer, once they
find out about our house, they
won’t buy anything else.”
Jerry Wade, President of Artistic Homes in Albuquerque, NM
“Building America’s technical
assistance on building science
helped us to reduce callbacks by
70% in our Chicago Division.
That’s a tremendous savings for
our company and means our
customers are happier with
their homes.”
Frank Beasley, V.P. of Building
Science, Town and Country Homes
“Since partnering with Building
America in 2001, Artistic
Homes reports that its liability
for defects and damage has
been reduced, as has the
number and cost of warranty
calls; ‘meanwhile, customer
satisfaction is at an all-time
high,’ according to Max Wade
of Artistic. The production
builder has produced more than
2000 ENERGY STAR homes in
Albuquerque, NM, since 2001.”
As reported in Builder Magazine 11/1/03
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Managers
Pulte Phoenix, which J.D. Powers ranked first in that local market, also won the
Diamond Award from Professional Builder Magazine and NRS Corp., a market research
company that works with the home building industry. Pulte had the top customer
satisfaction for production builders of nearly 300 builders in the nation.
Paul Cardis of NRS, a market research expert, notes that “customer satisfaction is
important for many reasons, not least is that satisfied customers refer future customers
and the conversion rate for referrals is twice that of non-referred shoppers.”
The September 2003 issue of
Professional Builder provides
six top reasons why customers
are willing to recommend a
builder. Energy efficiency
is first among the reasons
related to product.
Consumers Expect More
Buyers want energy efficiency and
they are willing to pay for it. A 2000
Professional Builder Magazine survey
found that energy efficiency is the
number one upgrade that homebuyers
seek in a new home. Nearly 90% of new
homebuyers in the survey were willing
to spend more for energy efficiency
features (Johnston 2000). Consistent
with this study, the National Association
of Homebuilders (NAHB) found that
Atlantic Design, a Building America partner,
consumers would be willing to spend
was recognized as a 2000 EPA Builder of the
up to $5000 more on a new home if
Year for its quality energy-efficient construction.
it saved them $1000 on their annual
utility bills (NAHB 2002). And Pulte’s
customers in Phoenix rated energy efficiency as the most important product-related
reason for referring their contractor to new buyers.
Competitive Advantage in the Marketplace
One of your key goals as a manager is to gain competitive advantage in the marketplace.
The technologies described in this packet can give your company a technological edge.
One easy way to tell the public about your new product is to partner with ENERGY
STAR. ENERGY STAR is a nationally recognized branding program sponsored by
the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Consumers trust the ENERGY STAR logo to tell them whether their product is
energy efficient. Participating in ENERGY STAR is easy and it gives you an effective
way to distinguish your product from your competition’s. Over 2,000 builders work
with ENERGY STAR in the United States. And half of the 100 largest builders in the
nation have at least one division building ENERGY STAR qualified homes.
ENERGY STAR qualified homes are independently verified to be at least 30% more
energy efficient in space conditioning and water heating than homes built to the
1993 national Model Energy Code or 15% more efficient than the state energy code,
whichever is more rigorous. These savings are consistent with the practices described in
this best practices manual. Heating, cooling, and hot water energy use make up about
half of a household’s total utility bills.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
“Nearly 93%
of buyers of Pulte Homes in
Phoenix had made at least one
positive recommendation.”
Professional Builder Magazine, September 2003, p. 67
“Our attention to energy
efficiency is what really makes
Pulte’s homes stand out.”
Les Woody, Pulte Phoenix Director of Customer Service
“Building America helps us
with our reputation within
the building community. Our
reputation on the street is that
if you want a good quality
home you go to Pulte.”
Alan Kennedy, Vice President of
Construction for Pulte Tucson
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Managers
Take the Next Step
This information packet is designed to give your company all the information you need
to start using the Building America systems approach in the hot-dry and mixed-hot
climates. The techniques described will help you avoid many of the problems plaguing
all builders in hot-dry and mixed-dry climates.
Make sure your team reviews the sections prepared for each of your company’s capability
areas: marketing, site planning, design, building site supervision, and the trades. This
information will help your company compete in an increasingly complex and risky
market. Following the design practices discussed in the Designers
chapter and
the inspection and testing procedures outlined in the Site Supervisors
chapter will give
you the technical information you need to build your business. Find more information
on ENERGY STAR in the Marketers
chapter and on the Web at www.energystar.gov.
Case Studies
Take a look at the case studies at the end of the book. All offer examples of how
builders achieve energy efficiency in the hot-dry and mixed-dry climates. And each is a
working example of building science and building profits in action.
These case studies show builders that companies can set the pace for your move to highquality building science-based construction. Some builders climb stairs one step at a time.
Others jump on the elevator and push the button for the top floor. Both approaches will
get you to your destination.
Sources & Additional Information
• Builder Magazine. Healthier Profits Special Advertising Section. November 2003
• Builder ONLINE, 2005. Builder 100 Listing. www.builderonline.com
• California Energy Commission has a series of brief online videos that describe
why energy efficient building makes business sense. You can find and play the
videos at www.energyvideos.com; click on “Beyond the Codes.”
• J.D. Power and Associates. J.D. Power and Associates 2003 New Home Customer Satisfaction Study. West Lake Village, California. 2003.
• Johnston, David. 2000. “Buyer Green.” Professional Builder, September 2000.
www.housingzone.com
• National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The Truth About Regulatory
Barriers. Washington, D.C. 1999.
You can learn more
about Building America
and download additional
copies of this document at
www.buildingamerica.gov
• National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). 2002. What 21st Century
Home Buyers Want. NAHB, Washington, D.C.
• Professional Builder. “Where are the Giants Headed? Industry Consolidation
is Changing the Way Even the Smallest Production Builders Do Business, but
How Far it Will Go is Still Open to Debate.” April 2003. www.housingzone.com
• Professional Builder. “Customer Service Standard Setters.” September 2003.
www.housingzone.com
• Wood, C., and L. Clift. “Seven Wonders of the Construction World.” ProSales. October 2003, pp. 28-44. Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • MNG-5
Marketers
Energy Efficiency Delivers the Value that Customers Demand
INTRODUCTION
By selling homes you bind your company to its customers. Your work enables the
company to capitalize on the benefits of its investments, including those made
in energy efficiency. And you are the ones who help homeowners understand the
quality, value, and economy represented by your product.
HOMEOWNERS
Shopping for value,
comfort, and quality
MANAGERS
ENERGY STAR Qualified Homes: Telling Your Story
An easy way to sell energy-efficient homes is to become an ENERGY STAR partner.
Even if you build or sell great houses, if they aren’t ENERGY STAR qualified, it’s
hard for your customers to know how much efficiency they are getting. ENERGY
STAR helps you to tell your story. The ENERGY STAR logo makes it easy to tell
consumers you are selling a superior product. And the ENERGY STAR program
offers much in the way of advice and examples of how to use the logo. Differentiate
yourself by offering a home that is certified to be more efficient—and better for the
environment—than standard models.
®
To find out more about marketing with the
ENERGY STAR logo visit the program’s
Web site at www.energystar.gov. You’ll find
information about before-sales marketing,
point-of-sale techniques, and building
ongoing relationships with your customers.
Much of the information comes from
successful techniques used to sell ENERGY
STAR homes across the nation. Tools on
the Web site will help you instantly craft
your message and prepare sales materials.
Taking action in
your community
Putting building
science to work for
your bottom line
MARKETERS
Energy efficiency
delivers the value that
customers demand
SITE PLANNERS
& DEVELOPERS
Properly situated houses
pay big dividends
DESIGNERS
Well-crafted designs
capture benefits for builders,
buyers, and business
ENERGY STAR offers a marketing platform
that home builders can use to recognize that
you offer truly energy efficient homes.
SITE SUPERVISORS
Tools to help with
project management
TRADES
QUICK TIPS | MARKETERS
• Energy efficiency, and the quality that comes with it, gives you a
competitive advantage.
Professional tips for fast
and easy installation
CASE STUDIES
Bringing it all together
• ENERGY STAR can help you capitalize on your competitive advantage,
produce marketing materials, and connect with buyers.
• Your customers see energy efficiency as a sign of value.
• Some of the biggest builders in the country have learned that energy
efficiency can turn existing customers into new sales leads through
customer satisfaction.
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
• Learn how industry leaders sell new energy-efficient homes.
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Marketers
Increase Customer Satisfaction and Let Your Customers Sell Your Product
Wouldn’t it be great if, for every home you sold, you could add a new sales associate
to your staff to sell even more?
That’s what energy efficiency can do for you. Happy customers will sell your products
for you. And energy-efficient homes make happy customers. Compared to standard
homes, energy-efficient homes cost less to own, are more comfortable to live in, and
require less maintenance.
The builder with the top customer satisfaction rating in the nation in 2003, Pulte
Homes of Phoenix, is a Building America partner offering ENERGY STAR qualified
homes. Pulte’s Phoenix division has had one or more positive referrals from 93% of its
homebuyers. The conversion rate for shoppers referred in this way is twice that of
non-referred shoppers. Homeowners talk, and word of mouth is a powerful selling
tool. Some experts, in fact, say word-of-mouth is the most effective selling tool because
it carries with it the credibility of a
trusted third party, such as a friend
or relative. Add to that the fact that
many potential buyers are skeptical
of traditional advertising, and it’s
no surprise that 10% to 30%, and
sometimes more, of builders’ sales
come from referrals (Farnsworth
2003). The best way to sell homes is
to let your customers do it for you.
See the Managers
chapter for
Shoppers love to peer into the attic through this
information on the great customer
viewing window in a Building America model house
satisfaction ratings received by
by Cambridge Homes. Shoppers can see the special
builders selling ENERGY
insulation, and the thermometer tells them how cool
STAR homes.
the attic stays.
“If you don’t tell your story,
you give it away!”
Vern McKown, President,
Ideal Homes
“Building America has raised
the bar, and it has actually
paid off.”
Jerry Wade, President of Artistic
Homes in Albuquerque, NM
Sell the Value that Home Buyers Expect
Market research shows:
• Energy efficiency is the number one upgrade sought by homebuyers of new homes (Johnston 2000)
• Nearly 90% of new homebuyers are willing to spend more for energy efficiency (Johnston 2000 and NAHB 2002)
• Buyers rate energy efficiency as a home builder’s most important product-related reason for referring new customers (Professional Builder Magazine 2003)
How Industry Leaders Sell Energy-Efficient Homes
The NAHB Research Center sponsors an annual award competition called the
Energy Value Housing Award. The Center has compiled the winning builder’s
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Marketers
marketing techniques into a document that can be purchased on the Web at
www.nahbrc.org/tertiaryR.asp?CategoryID=1705&DocumentID=3404 (Sikora 2002).
Here are some of the best practices recommended by the NAHB Research Center and
other sources:
• Educate customers and sales professionals. Show buyers how living in
an energy-efficient home will benefit them with lower household costs.
The ENERGY STAR Web site has an example as does the Homeowners
chapter. Vital to customer education is an informed sales staff and team of
local sales professionals.
• Walk-throughs and model homes can be invaluable educational tools for
both buyers and sales staff. Model homes with display cutaways of energy
features such as insulated attics and wall sections help them understand the
energy-efficient construction process. Use labels, flags, and banners to create
a fun self-explanatory message to give buyers a focus while they drive or
walk the development. Recent research suggests just how important model
home, models of house features, and other educational tools are to shoppers
(Farnsworth 2003).
“We offer ENERGY STAR
as an upgrade, but everyone
chooses it. We have 100%
participation so all of our
homes are ENERGY STAR.”
Lucian Kragiel, Co-owner of
Atlantic Design and Construction
• Training sessions can be an effective tool for educating sales staff and
professionals. Use slides, sample products, and energy bills as aids.
• One way to educate consumers is to emphasize an energy-efficiency upgrade
when signing the final papers. One builder has a wall of testimonials, photos,
and utility billing history in his waiting room. All prospects are given an
opportunity to view this “wall of fame” before the final sale is made. Another
builder has the buyer meet with the building site supervisor after the sale is
made. This person gives them one more chance to sign up noting, from a
builders’ perspective, what a better house they will get (Rashkin 2002).
• Publications are an educational tool that customers and sales professionals can
take home. Develop your own brochures or books or give away reprints of
magazine articles, ENERGY STAR brochures, or Building America brochures.
Don’t overlook vendors and trade associations. They can provide excellent
materials, often at no charge. For example, excellent information on window
performance is available at the Efficient
Windows Collaborative Web site at
www.efficientwindows.org/index.cfm.
Also, give potential buyers a checklist
so they can compare the energy saving
measures in your homes with those of
other builders. A sample is included
in the Homeowners
chapter.
“It’s not hard to sell when you
educate the buyer if you can
show them (the buyer) that
they will get lower utility
bills. And they are also going
to get a higher resale value on
their house. ENERGY STAR
is becoming increasingly well
known. Builders who don’t
do it will lag behind.”
Lucian Kragiel, Co-owner of Atlan
tic Design and Construction
• Advertising can be used to explain the energy-efficiency advantages and
distinguish builders from their competition. The ENERGY STAR Web site
has useful information for designing advertising.
• The Internet and compact disk formats are another forum for presenting all
of your education and advertising messages. Some marketers suggest that all
builders should have a Web site, even if it is simple and offers only limited
information. CDs with brochures or slide shows can be given to potential
buyers to take home and replay your message.
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Marketers
• Seek out free publicity. Nothing is more cost effective than sending a news
release to local media to announce business news and other company activities.
News releases can cover your company’s involvement in educational activities,
for example, teaching school children about energy efficiency or other
charitable actions.
• Offer energy-efficiency guarantees. Energy performance guarantees can
help convince buyers that energy savings are real. Partnerships with outside
companies can help to establish guarantees. For example, some insulation
manufacturers offer home inspections, tests, and cost guarantees.
• Make buyers aware of energy-efficient mortgages.
• Take advantage of the testing data available on your homes. If your company
follows the best practices in this guide, you will have blower door and duct
tightness test data and a HERS score to share with buyers. Use these data to
inform your customers and differentiate your houses. If you can not provide
testing, make it available as an option for homebuyer’s purchase.
Participate in ENERGY STAR and other partnerships. ENERGY STAR and Building
America can provide technical guidance through publications and their Web sites.
Partnering with ENERGY STAR cements your company’s commitment to energy
efficiency and gives you access to the ENERGY STAR brand.
Sources and Additional Information
• Farnsworth, Christina. 2003. “The Weakest Link.” Builder Magazine,
December 2003. www.builderonline.com/article-builder.asp?channelid=55&ar
ticleid=375&qu=consumer+survey
• Johnston, David. 2000. “Buyer Green.” Professional Builder, September 2000.
www.housingzone.com
• Professional Builder. “Customer Service Standard Setters.” September 2003.
www.housingzone.com
• National Association of Home Builders. 2002. What 21st Century Home Buyers
Want. NAHB, Washington, D.C.
• Rashkin, Sam. 2002. “Surprise! Energy Efficiency Sells without Rebates:
Results of Mainstream Builders Selling ENERGY STAR Labeled Homes”
Proceedings of the 2002 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings,
Washington D.C.
• Sikora, Jeannie. 2002. Energy Value Housing Award Guide: How, Build and
Profit with Energy Efficiency in New Home Construction. National Association
of Home Builders Research Center, Upper Marlboro, MD.
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Site Planners
Properly situated homes pay big dividends
INTRODUCTION
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) estimates that 1.6 million new
homes will be built each year over the next decade (NAHB 2002a). How these new
developments are designed will have a major impact on energy use, the environment,
and customer satisfaction.
Developers and site planners can set the stage for efficient communities and can
direct builders to protect a community’s value through quality building practices.
The sun is the main source of heat in all homes. By looking at how houses receive
sunlight, site planners can help optimize how much solar energy is available to heat
a house, and minimize the heat that must be removed with air conditioning.
The hot-dry and mixed-dry climates are dominated by cooling rather than heating.
Avoiding summer cooling is more important than encouraging solar gains for winter
heating. Planners should do all they can to avoid the entry of solar energy into houses
in summer. Site planners have two important tools to help avoid solar heat gain: lot
orientation and, in some areas, shade trees.
Lot Orientation
As planners map out lots and roads, the relationship between buildings and the sun
should be key. Just as you lay out roads to allow houses to take advantage of great
views, or to work around hillsides and other landscape features, also consider how
road design, lot lines, and orientation will influence the way that houses face the sun.
Lot lines and roads should be situated to minimize home exposure to east and west.
These orientations provide the greatest solar heat gains. Plan your subdivision so that
the longer sides of the houses will face north or south. Streets should be positioned in
an east-west direction. Proper orientation can result in substantial savings of heating
and cooling costs, depending on specific site conditions and house designs. Highly
efficient houses, especially when good windows are used, are less dependent on
orientation and shading to manage solar gain. With proper planning, there may be no
added costs to the builder for good orientation.
QUICK TIPS | SITE PLANNERS
Taking action in
your community
HOMEOWNERS
Shopping for value,
comfort, and quality
MANAGERS
Putting building
science to work for
your bottom line
MARKETERS
Energy efficiency
delivers the value that
customers demand
SITE PLANNERS
& DEVELOPERS
Properly situated houses
pay big dividends
DESIGNERS
Well-crafted designs
capture benefits for builders,
buyers, and business
SITE SUPERVISORS
Tools to help with
project management
TRADES
Professional tips for fast
and easy installation
CASE STUDIES
Bringing it all together
• Lots facing north or south are preferred to manage heat gain from the sun,
so position streets to run east and west.
• Preserve trees for shade and cooler air.
• Take advantage of prevailing breezes from lakes, the ocean, or other
geographical features.
• Properly grade your development to take water away from structures.
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
• Use sustainable site and landscaping practices.
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Site Planners
Shading is not nearly as
important when windows
with a low solar heat gain
coefficient (i.e., SHGC of
0.35 or less) are used. Using
a low-solar-gain low-E
coating results in great
energy cost reductions for
all conditions even with no
shading. This is because
the glazing itself provides
the necessary control of
solar radiation, so these
additional measures
become less important
in terms of energy use.
For a description of the
interactions between
window performance and
shading, see the Efficient
Windows Collaborative
Web site at:
www.efficientwindows.org.
FIGURE 1: Plan subdivision lot lines and roads for
predominantly north and south orientation - place
houses within lots to take advantage of solar access
N
N
Typical Subdivision
N
Subdivision with Predominantly
North- and South-Facing Sites
Adapted from Viera et al. 1992. p.3-5
Lot orientation is especially important if solar heating or electric generation systems are
planned. Inexpensive tools can help assess how much solar energy will be blocked by
obstacles on a particular site. Low-cost tools for solar assessments are described in the
Designers
chapter in the section about windows.
Lot orientation provides access to the sun, but window selection and shading are the
controls that manage solar gain. A small Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) limits
the entry of solar energy. Some Building America teams recommend a SHGC of 0.35.
(See the Designers
chapter in the section about windows).
In addition to helping manage the sun and providing a marketing advantage, proper
street design can reduce the environmental impacts of runoff, encourage walking and
bicycling, and discourage speeding by through-traffic.
Subdivision planning can also help to gain cooling benefits from breezes. Houses and
other buildings that are tightly packed may create a wake in the wind that is four to five
times the buildings’ eave height.
FIGURE 2: Wind wake of a typical house
8'
Wind Wake of a Typical House
Source: Viera et al. 1992. p.3-7
Curved streets and staggered lots can
assist in preventing wind disturbance.
Trees can help to keep breezes cool as
described in the next section. Taking
advantage of breezes will reduce
cooling costs. Wind conditions at any
individual site may differ considerably
from regional averages. Local
geography such as ocean beaches,
lakes, fields, golf courses, parks, and
malls can influence local breezes.
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Site Planners
Shade Trees
Tree preservation brings many benefits, one of which is increased salability. Native trees
are most beneficial to the environment. The NAHB reports in its survey of buyers,
What 21st Century Homes Buyers Want, that over 80% of respondents in the West
rated trees as essential or desirable (2002b, page 61). In 1992, the Florida Solar Energy
Center (FSEC) estimated that a treed lot in Florida may increase the value of a home
by as much as 20%. American Forests and the NAHB (1995) found that mature trees
may add from $3,000 to $15,000 to the value of a residential lot.
Trees also bring value by providing shade. It is far better to prevent solar energy from
reaching a house than to attempt to manage it once it enters. Shade trees block summer
sunlight before it strikes windows, walls, and roofs, dissipating absorbed heat to the air
where it can be carried away by the breeze. If photovoltaic or water heating systems will
be added, trees must be placed not to shade these systems.
Truly cool neighborhoods have trees. A study in Florida has shown that a subdivision
with mature trees had cooler outside air with less wind velocity than a nearby
development without trees (Sonne and Viera. 2000). The development with a tree
canopy had peak afternoon temperatures during July that were 1.1oF to 3.1oF ( ±
0.7oF) cooler than the site without trees. The total effect of shading, lower summer
air temperature, and reduced wind speed can reduce cooling costs by 5% to 10%
(McPherson et al. 1994).
Trees are most effective when located to cast shade on the roof, windows, walls, and
air conditioners, and when located on the side of the home receiving the most solar
exposure. Shade to the southwest and west is especially important for blocking peak
solar gain in the summer in late afternoon. Depending on the species, trees more than
35 feet from the structure are probably too far away for shade. Plants too close to air
conditioners or heat pumps
can plug coils.
FIGURE 3: Configuration of shade trees
North Side Shading from Evening and Morning Sun
N
Windbreak Shrubs
Shrub Shading of
Lower Wall
Deciduous
Trees
Source: Viera et al. 1992. p.3-8
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Site Planners
Xeriscaping
However, trees will not work everywhere. In the low-water environments that dominate
much of the Southwest, lots should be landscaped to take advantage of plants that use
less water than traditional turf-dominated approaches. Many communities have been
faced with increased demands on existing water supplies. Consequently, there is a
greater focus on water conservation, not just in times of drought, but in anticipation
of future population growth. Water can no longer be considered a limitless resource.
Conserving water through creative landscaping has engendered the new term, xeriscape.
The term is taken from the Greek xeros, meaning dry, in combination with landscape.
The goal of a xeriscape is to create a visually attractive landscape that uses plants
selected for their water efficiency. Properly maintained, a xeriscape can easily use less
than one-half the water of a traditional landscape. Once established, a xeriscape should
require less maintenance than turf landscape.
By grouping plants with similar water needs together in specific zones, a xeriscape
landscape can use water more efficiently. Low-water-use plants should be grouped
together, away from high-water-use plants and turf. Take advantage of warm or cool
microclimates (the actual climatic conditions around your property which can be
influenced by the placement of walls and shade trees) to create areas of interest
and diversity.
Example of xeriscaping showing
that low-water, low-maintenance
plantings can be a practical and
attractive option.
(Photo by Warren Gretz)
A well-planned and well-maintained irrigation system can significantly reduce a
traditional landscape’s water use. For the most efficient use of water, irrigate turf areas
separately from other plantings. Other irrigation zones should be designed so low-water
use plants receive only the water they require. Proper irrigation choices can also save
water. Turf lawns are best watered by sprinklers. Trees, shrubs, flowers, and groundcovers
can be watered efficiently with low-volume drip emitters, sprayers, and bubblers.
The information presented here was adapted from the City of Albuquerque’s Web site
at www.cabq.gov/waterconservation/xeric.html. Many jurisdictions in dry landscapes
have information, including potential rebates and other incentives.
Other Steps
In addition to orientation and the use of trees, many other steps can be taken during
site planning to make developments user and earth friendly.
Site Grading
Proper site grading directs surface water away from building foundations and walls.
The steeper the slope away from the building, the better the water will drain. Slabs and
crawlspaces should always be above the surrounding grade. Basement floors should be
higher than the surrounding drainage system. Driveways, garage slabs, patios, stoops,
and walkways should all drain away from the structure. See EEBA’s Water Management
Guide (Lstiburek 2003) for more information. Additional information on moisture
management is also available in the Designers
chapter.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • PLN-4
Site Planners
FIGURE 4: Drain all water away from the structure
Drain Building
Drain Roof
Drain Wall
Drain Materials
Drain Components
Drain Openings
Drain Site
Drain Site
“What we tell buyers is that
we sell value…it’s about high
standards in every aspect of
home building…The whole
idea is to get builders all over
the country more concerned
about building this way—it’s
about energy efficiency, indoor
air quality, waste recycling,
water recycling, better
planning—it all leads to
better development.”
GW Robinson, President of GW Robinson Drain Ground
Drain Ground
Source: Lstiburek, J.W. 2003. p.4
Sustainable Development
Builders who choose to advertise their “green” designs have found that buyers are
willing to pay for environmental features.
Features that help to conserve the natural environment can include:
• Orienting lots to best manage energy and light from the sun.
• Land planning that preserves the natural environment and minimizes land disturbance.
• Site design that minimizes erosion, paved surfaces, and runoff.
• Preserving and protecting trees and natural vegetation.
• Conserving water indoors and out.
• Designing energy efficiency into houses.
• Selecting materials that are durable and recyclable, or created from recycled
products, and considering the energy that goes into making products.
• Recycling construction materials and reducing on-site waste.
Good places to start on sustainable development are found in the New Home Construction
Green Building Guidelines by Alameda County, CA (Alemeda County 2003), Rocky
Mountain Institute’s Green Development: Integrating Ecology and Real Estate (Wilson, et.
al. 1998), the NAHB’s Building Greener: Building Better: The Quiet Revolution (NAHB
2002c), the Sustainable Building Council’s Green Building Guidelines (SBIC 2003),
www.lid-stormwater.net, a U.S. EPA-sponsored Web site with tools for watershed
management, and DOE’s Smart Communities Network at www.sustainable.doe.gov.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
G.W. Robinson pipes recycled
irrigation water to cut water
use and costs to homeowners at
the Cobblefield development in
Gainesville, Florida.
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Site Planners
Sources and Additional Information
• Alameda County Waste Management Authority & Source Reduction and
Recycling Board. 2003. New Home Construction Green Building Guidelines.
San Leandro, CA. www.stopwaste.org
• American Forests and the National Association of Homebuilders. 1995.
Building Greener Neighborhoods: Trees as Part of the Plan. NAHB,
Washington, D.C.
• Lstiburek, J.W. 2003. Water Management Guide. Energy and Environmental
Building Association, Minneapolis, Minnesota. www.eeba.org
• McPherson, G.E., D.J. Nowak, and R.A. Rowntree (eds). 1994. Chicago’s
Urban Forest Ecosystem: Results of the Chicago Urban Forest Climate Project.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research
Station, www.f.fed.us/ne/newtown_square/publications/
technical_reports/pdfs/scanned/gtr186a.pdf
• National Association of Homebuilders. 2002.a Builder’s Guide to the APA’s
Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook. NAHB, Washington, D.C.
• National Association of Home Builders. 2002b. What 21st Century Home
Buyers Want: A Survey of Customer Preferences. NAHB, Washington, D.C.
www.BuilderBooks.com
• National Association of Homebuilders. 2002c. Building Greener: Building
Better: The Quiet Revolution. NAHB, Washington, D.C.
• Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC). 2003. Green Building
Guidelines: Meeting the Demand for Low-Energy, Resource-Efficient Homes. U.S.
DOE. Washington, D.C. document available at www.SBICouncil.org.
• Sonne, J.K. and R.K. Viera, 2000. “Cool Neighborhoods: The Measurement
of Small Scale Heat Islands.” Proceedings of the 2000 Summer Study on Energy
Efficiency in Buildings, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy,
Washington, DC. www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/pubs/pf363/index.htm
• Viera, R.K., K.G. Sheinkopf, and J.K. Sonne. 1992. Energy-Efficient Florida
Home Building, third printing. Florida Solar Energy Center, FSEC-GP-33-88,
Cocoa Beach, Florida.
• Wilson, Alex, Jenifer L. Seal, Lisa A. McManigal, L. Hunter Lovins, Maureen
Cureton, William D. Browning. 1998. Green Development: Integrating
Ecology and Real Estate. Rocky Mountain Institute, Old Snow Mass, CO.
www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid220.php
Web Sites Not Included with Published Documents Above
• www.cabq.gov/waterconservation/xeric.html
• www.lid-stormwater.net
• www.sustainable.doe.gov
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
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Designers
Well-crafted designs capture benefits
for builders, buyers, and business
Even good builders can have bad results if they are working toward the wrong product.
Designers have the job of giving builders the opportunity to do the right thing well.
“If you do the wrong things with good materials and good workmanship, it is still
wrong. You must do the right thing with good materials and good workmanship.”
Joseph Lstiburek, Building Science Corporation
QUICK TIPS | DESIGNERS
• Building America brings you the results of research, real-world experience, and
dialogue with builders from over 25,000 homes nationwide (as of early 2004).
• System design and building science offer you tools and techniques to
improve housing performance without sacrificing style and appeal, avoid
problems plaguing new homes, find cost savings to help your company’s
bottom line, and give consumers satisfaction in their investment.
• Seek the help of a home energy rating professional or engineer to avoid reinventing
many of the solutions that have already been found and optimize your designs.
• Review the many technologies discussed in this chapter for help in selecting
the applications right for you.
Building Science and the Systems Approach
Perhaps the most important step in designing any form or function is recognizing
that the design is for the entire product. No one piece can be changed without
affecting all related pieces. This simple proposition applies to all systems and allows
for all kinds of trade-offs. In cars, without any loss in performance, lightweight
frames may be translated into smaller brakes, a smaller engine, and smaller tires.
Or, that same change may be used to produce more speed.
In houses, this systems approach recognizes the interaction of windows, attics,
foundations, mechanical equipment, and all other components and assemblies.
Changes in one or a few components can dramatically change how other components
perform. Recognizing and taking advantage of this fact, and applying appropriate
advances in technology to components, can result in cost and performance payoffs,
both for the builder and buyer of new homes.
Building America has embraced the systems approach and combined it with
the technology development and testing that make up building science. As with
other scientific disciplines, building science provides an intelligent approach to
understanding complex systems and diagnosing problems. Over time, knowledge,
tools, and tests are developed that make the science and the product more efficient
and more powerful. You can learn more about the U.S. Department of Energy’s
(DOE) Building America program at www.buildingamerica.gov (adapted from Florida
Solar Energy Center Web site www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/science/basics/index.htm).
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
INTRODUCTION
Taking action in
your community
HOMEOWNERS
Shopping for value,
comfort, and quality
MANAGERS
Putting building
science to work for
your bottom line
MARKETERS
Energy efficiency
delivers the value that
customers demand
SITE PLANNERS
& DEVELOPERS
Properly situated houses
pay big dividends
DESIGNERS
Well-crafted designs
capture benefits for builders,
buyers, and business
SITE SUPERVISORS
Tools to help with
project management
TRADES
Professional tips for fast
and easy installation
CASE STUDIES
Bringing it all together
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
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Designers
Four steps can help to manage risks and take advantage of system trade-offs.
1) Give builders the right target. Recognize you are designing a complete product—
a system—and ensure the product is right for the hot-dry and mixed-dry climates.
2) Take care of the basics. The basics are proven, cost-effective technologies that
include good windows, insulation, moisture management, and ventilation. Make sure
the house has adequate overhangs for shade and rain deflection. Guidelines for many
of the basics are included later in this chapter.
3) Take only what you need. Size heating and cooling equipment, ducts, and fans to
match the load. If equipment sizing is normally done by a subcontractor, ensure the
sub uses the procedures listed in this document to properly size equipment. Proper
sizing of heating and cooling equipment is a huge opportunity to save money and
increase profit.
4) Put everything in its place. Be sure there is a place for everything the house requires
and show it on your plans. Do not leave it to chance where ducts will be placed or
even where plumbing will run. If there are places that should not be tampered with,
for example a duct chase, make it clear the space is off limits to plumbers, electricians,
and others who need to create routes through buildings.
“Understand the theory of your
construction…then be sure
to question your engineer (or
subcontractor) as to whether
it’s all really necessary. If
you don’t get a straight,
understandable answer, find
an engineer who will give you
one. Remember, it doesn’t cost
the engineer a penny to overdesign. But ultimately someone
foots the bill.”
Tim Garrison, CEO of Construc
tionCalc, made an important point
about the cost of overdesigning
structural components. He is
quoted here because his point is
equally valid for HVAC and other
equipment (adapted from Nation’s
Building News Online, 27 April
2004, www.nbnnews.com).
Building Science and the Systems Approach: Problem Prevention
Moisture, mold, and material degradation are examples of problems that building science can help solve. High temperatures create a need for cooling. High humidity adds to discomfort and is a source of moisture. Humid air and a cold surface result in condensation that can add up to discomfort, material failure, and high repair costs.
Leaky ducts located in attics or crawlspaces create air pressure differences that can draw
in humid air through cracks and holes and deliver it into the house. Humid air inside a
cool space encourages the occupant to turn down the thermostat for more cooling. This
cycle can result in moisture forming as condensation on or in ducts, walls, and other
assemblies. Accumulated moisture supports mold growth and leads to rotting, warping,
and staining.
The result is that a small problem in one assembly (leaky ducts) that is inexpensive to
fix during installation, can lead to big problems in framing, interior finish, and human
health. Moisture problems may have causes other than leaky ducts, but many unintended
problems can be avoided in a similar fashion.
Building Science and the Systems Approach: Reaps Rewards
There is more than avoiding problems to encourage you to use a systems approach. For
example, trade-offs from installing energy-saving measures can help save construction
costs for heating and cooling equipment. If good windows, adequate insulation, and
efficient heating and cooling equipment are installed, the heating and cooling equipment
capacity can also be smaller than typically used and shorter duct runs are possible. All of
this can add up to reduced costs in heating and cooling equipment that offset the cost of
the other measures. Using trade-offs to improve economics, durability, and comfort is
essential to successful business and design.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
You can learn more
about Building America
and download additional
copies of this document at
www.buildingamerica.gov
Version 3, 9/2005 • DES-2
Designers
The challenge to designers is to carefully select new technologies, consider their cost
and rewards for your overall system, and use the changes that make sense. Building
America has taken this systems approach to designing energy-efficient houses. This
document presents you with information that will give you a straight-forward approach
to designing houses that qualify for ENERGY STAR®. Design information is provided
for a variety of measures and components in the remainder of this section. Put in the
recommended measures and your houses should qualify. You may also qualify using
other trade-offs. Suggestions from Building America’s experience are also included that
will improve the health and comfort of your homes.
The Cost of Doing Business
The cost of building homes is different for every builder. Technique, experience,
subcontractors, suppliers, and the size of purchases can all make a difference in how
much a home costs to build. Even a builder’s accounting methods can influence
how costs are reported. These variables all apply to energy-efficiency measures and
contribute to the difficulty of providing cost estimates that apply to more than a
limited example over a short period of time.
In addition to variability, other considerations apply to costs. First, the cost of higher
quality housing represents an added value and holds the potential of a higher profit.
Second, a tremendous benefit of the systems approach described above is that the costs
of energy-efficient measures can often be offset by savings in other areas. And finally,
buyers can recover any additional costs through reduced utility bills, increased resale
value, and for some, better mortgage terms.
FIGURE 1: Cost Comparisons of Energy Efficient Measures to Conventional Practice
in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
COST COMPARISON TO CONVENTIONAL MEASURES
Less Cost
Conventional
More Cost
HOT-DRY CLIMATE
Unvented Roof
+$700 ADDED COST
• Moving insulation
-$250 SAVINGS
• No need to install vents
-$250 SAVINGS
• 2x6s @ 24" o.c. instead of 2x4s @ 16" o.c.
Advanced Framing
High-Performance Windows
+$400 ADDED COST
Air Conditioner System
-$1,000 SAVINGS
• 2-ton reduction
Controlled Ventilation System
+$150 ADDED COST
Higher Efficiency Hot Water Heater
Some builders say that meeting
ENERGY STAR qualifications
does not increase their costs.
However, they must focus on
higher quality installations.
Other builders suggest add
itional costs up to $1,500 to
the consumer, but it’s unclear
if these values apply beyond
their experience. The chart at
left shows an estimate of costs
made in the year 2000 for homes
built in the hot-dry and mixeddry climates using a design with
calculated savings of 50% for
heating and 30% for cooling. The
example is intended to show
how costs and savings trade off,
rather than to provide estimates
of dollar savings.
+$150 ADDED COST
-$100 SAVINGS
COST DIFFERENCE
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
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Designers
COST COMPARISON TO CONVENTIONAL MEASURES
Less Cost
Conventional
More Cost
MIXED-DRY CLIMATE
Advanced Framing
-$250 SAVINGS
• 2x6s @ 24" o.c. instead of 2x4s @ 16" o.c.
High-Performance Windows
+$300 ADDED COST
Air Conditioner System
-$750 SAVINGS
• 1-ton reduction
Air Flow Retarder System
+$200 ADDED COST
Controlled Ventilation System
+$150 ADDED COST
Larger Gas Water Heater Located in Garage
+$150 ADDED COST
Fan-Coil in Place of Furnace
0 NO ADDED COST
-$200 SAVINGS
COST DIFFERENCE
Source: Edminster, Pettit, Ueno, Menegus, and Baczek 2000.
HERS Ratings and Qualifying for ENERGY STAR
Best Practice: Building America recommends working with a Home Energy Rating
System (HERS) professional, architect, or engineer early in the design process to help
select and size materials and equipment. The building scientists can be especially
helpful in right sizing heating and cooling equipment. By forming a relationship with
a rater who later will inspect the construction site, designers can get valuable feedback
about what works and what house features require more detailed information for the
site supervisor and the trades. Find out more about HERS raters at www.natresnet.org.
The best use of a HERS rater involves working with your rater in creating your design.
When following this path, the rater analyses your construction plans, in addition to
at least one on-site inspection and test of the home. The plan review allows the home
energy rater to view technical information such as orientation (if known), shading area,
proposed equipment ratings, and insulation levels. The on-site test involves blower
door testing. Results of these tests, along with inputs derived from the plan review,
are entered into a computer simulation program to generate the HERS score and the
home’s estimated annual energy costs, based on heating, cooling, and hot water heating
requirements. Building America also recommends testing ducts for air leaks.
A HERS rating is an evaluation of the energy efficiency of a home, compared to a
computer-simulated reference house (of the identical size and shape as the rated home)
that meets minimum requirements of the International Energy Conservation Code
(IECC). More information on the code can be found at www.energycodes.gov. The
HERS rating results in a score between 0 and 100, with the reference home assigned a
score of 80. From the 80-point level, each 1 point increase in the HERS score results
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
HERS RATER
Building America recommends
working with a HERS rater or
building scientist early in the
design process.
DUCT TESTING
Building America recommends
testing ducts for air leaks.
Version 3, 9/2005 • DES-4
Designers
in a 5 percent reduction in heating, cooling, and hot water energy usage (compared to
the reference house). An ENERGY STAR qualified new home, which is required to be
30% more efficient, must attain a HERS score of at least 86.
Your HERS rater can be a tremendous resource in the design phase. Raters who are
trained in building science may help to solve construction problems. One important
job your rater can help with is to work with the mechanical contractor to correctly
size heating/cooling equipment, perform room-by-room calculations to determine the
supply air needed for each room, and work with the mechanical contractor on duct
sizes and lay out. This is likely to eliminate callbacks due to comfort complaints and
can save substantial money by right-sizing the heating and cooling equipment. During
the design stage, the rater can suggest alternatives to attain desired performance levels in
the areas of energy, comfort, durability, and health.
Selecting a HERS rater is much like selecting any other professional services provider,
such as an architect, accountant, or engineer. Be sure you are comfortable with the
rater’s communication skills, experience, training, and references before making
a selection.
Best Practice: Building America recommends that every house receive a site inspection
and diagnostic tests from a HERS rating professional. The information gained from
these tests can help to isolate specific problem areas that can be solved with further
training, more explicit details, better building materials, or other production changes.
SITE INSPECTION
Building America recommends that
every house receive site inspections
and diagnostic tests.
Hot and Dry
The recommendations in this Best Practices guide apply to the entire hot-dry and
mixed-dry climate regions. If you aren’t sure that your project is within these climate
regions, check Appendix IV to see a listing of counties and their climate zones, or work
with a HERS rater to confirm your zone.
Hot-dry and mixed-dry climates bring several challenges for home building. The
intense solar radiation imposes a large thermal load on houses that can increase cooling
costs, affect comfort, and damage home furnishings. This chapter contains some of the
best methods to minimize the impact of solar radiation on the building, its mechanical
system, its occupants, and their furnishings.
FIGURE 2.
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
Annual precipitation in these climates is less than 20 inches. Nevertheless, a brief period
of heavy rain can deposit several inches of water onto a building. Improper irrigation
can be a major moisture source, leaks can cause significant damage, and indoor sources
of moisture can be a problem. If water collects in an area that cannot quickly dry,
deterioration of the building will occur.
Managing fire risk, particularly in terms of exterior claddings and landscaping, is an
important issue associated with the dry climate.
Design Best Practices for Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Housing types vary greatly throughout the United States and in the hot-dry and mixeddry climates. In the face of this diversity, this document does not recommend a single
set of measures for achieving the 30% energy savings in space conditioning, water
heating, and reaching ENERGY STAR qualification. We do recommend following
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New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
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Designers
the principles included in these Best Practices and adjusting these practices and your
designs to make them work together. We also recommend working with a building
scientist such as a Home Energy Rating Professional to help with the transition.
The best practices described in this manual are intended to give builders and designers
recommendations resulting from Building America’s work on over 25,000 homes.
Building scientists have tried and tested these measures on actual homes in the field.
This does not mean that every measure will be for you. However, as builders start
aiming for higher performing homes, details become more important. It may not make
sense to install the best practice in every instance. Sometimes you can get away with
less. But making this decision should involve an evaluation of the risks of not using the
best practice, and questioning how the overall house system may be impacted.
FIGURE 3: Drainage
Drain Building
Drain Roof
Drain Wall
Drain Materials
Drain Components
Drain Openings
Drain Site
Drain Ground
Drain Site
Drain Ground
Adapted from Lstiburek 2003
Site – Drainage, Pest Control, and Landscaping
Additional planning information related to overall site development is presented in the
Site Planners
chapter.
Drainage
Moving moisture away from a building is critically important to maintaining structural integrity.
Best Practice: Grading and landscaping should be planned for movement of building
run-off away from the home and its foundation, with roof drainage directed at least 3
feet beyond the building, and a surface grade of at least 5% maintained for at least 10
feet around and away from the entire structure. This topic is also discussed in the Site
Planners
chapter.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
GRADING
Plan grading and landscaping to
direct run-off away from the home
and its foundation.
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Designers
Pest Control
Termites are a serious menace in the hot-dry and mixed-dry climates.
Best Practice: Based on local code and Termite Infestation Probability (TIP) maps,
use environmentally appropriate termite treatments, bait systems, and treated
building materials for assemblies that are near soil or have ground contact (see
www.uky.edu/Agriculture/Entomology/entfacts.htm).
TERMITES
Use environmentally appropriate
termite treatments.
Landscaping
Landscaping is a critical element to the marketability of a house. But plants must be
placed to avoid interfering with visual inspections of termite access. Planting can also
be used to shade foundations and reduce cooling loads.
Best Practice: Plantings should be held back as much as 3 feet and no less than
18 inches from the finished structure, with any supporting irrigation directed away
from the finished structure. Plantings may be selected to shade the foundation edge,
especially on the southwest corner of the structure. Choosing drought-tolerant
plantings results in less irrigation and less chance for irrigation water to create a
moisture problem in the house. Decorative ground cover—mulch or pea stone, for
example—should be thinned to no more than 2 inches for the first 18 inches from the
finished structure. More landscaping information can be found on DOE’s Web site at
www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/factsheets/landscape.html.
PLANTINGS
Select draught-tolerant plantings
and keep them at least 18 inches
from the foundation.
Foundation Measures
Slabs are a common foundation system in the hot-dry and mixed-dry climates. Building
foundations should be designed and constructed to prevent the entry of moisture and
other soil gases. Moisture may cause structural decay and can contribute to human
health and comfort problems. Radon that enters a home exposes occupants and may
cause lung cancer.
Best Practice: Slabs require 6-ml polyethylene sheeting directly beneath the concrete
VAPOR CONTROL
that accomplishes vapor control and capillary control for the slab. The vapor retarder
should continuously wrap the slab as well as the grade beam. Other solutions may work
for the grade beam, such as applying damp proofing. A moisture retarder is needed
between the stem wall and framing.
Achieve vapor and capillary control
with 6-mil polyethylene sheeting
directly below the slab.
Best Practice: A sand layer under the slab should never be placed between a vapor
CASTING CONCRETE
retarder and a concrete slab. Cast the concrete directly on top of the vapor barrier.
Differential drying and cracking is better handled with a low water-to-concrete ratio
and wetted burlap covering during initial curing.
Cast the concrete directly on top
of the vapor retarder, with no sand
in between.
Best Practice: Sub-slab drainage should consist of a gravel capillary break directly
DRAINAGE
beneath the slab vapor retarder.
In addition to other benefits, the gravel and vapor barrier are important first steps to
radon control. The gravel provides a path for radon and other soil gas to escape to
the atmosphere rather than being drawn into the house. And the vapor retarder helps
to block soil gas entry into the house. Where gravel is scarce, builders often pour
slabs onto sand. When sand or other native fill is used, a 3- or 4-inch perforated and
corrugated pipe loop can be use for both drainage and radon control.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Place a gravel capillary break
directly beneath the slab vapor
barrier.
Version 3, 9/2005 • DES-7
Designers
Or drainage matting may be installed over sand. Both approaches are described in a
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) document described in the following
list., Building Radon Out (2001).
Radon-resistant construction practices are described in the following documents:
• ASTM WK2469 New Standard (Formerly E1465-92)(draft) Guide for
Radon Control Options for the Design and Construction of New Low-Rise
Residential Buildings
• Model Standards and Techniques for Control of Radon in New Residential Buildings (U.S. EPA 1994)
• Building Radon Out: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Build Radon-Resistant Homes (U.S. EPA 2001) available on the Web at www.epa.gov/199/iaq/radon/images/buildradonout.pdf.
FIGURE 4: Typical Building Slab Foundation
Roof Flashing
Optional Blower
Radon reduction
3" plastic pipe vent stack
Wood Framed
Masonry
Seal all slab
penetrations
Concrete Slab
Gravel Base
6 Mil. Polyethelylene
Vapor Diffusion Retarder
Foam Insulation
(provides thermal break
for slab and functions
as an expansion joint)
Sill Gasket
Membrane
(also serves as
capillary break)
Metal Termite
Flashing
Stem Wall
(4-6" deep coarse, no fines)
Perforated
Drain Pipe
(extends under grade beam)
Grade Beam
Adapted from Building Science Corporation
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • DES-8
Designers
Best Practice: Other than identifying areas that have had radon problems, it is not
possible to predict radon levels in houses prior to construction, so it is important to
include inexpensive radon control measures. One measure recommended by the EPA
to control potentially high radon levels and other soil gasses, is a passive soil gas stack
connected to a perforated drain pipe embedded in the gravel under the slab. The stack
may also be attached to a perforated pipe loop or mat. If it turns out the house has
unacceptable radon levels, a fan can be added to the stack to actively draw soil gas away
from the house. To determine potential radon levels in the county in which you are
building, visit the EPA’s radon potential map at www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap.html.
RADON
Houses built in areas with
potentially high radon levels can
install a soil gas stack to draw soil
gas away from the home.
For information about local variation in radon levels you can find local contacts at
the following EPA Web site: www.epa.gov/iaq/whereyoulive.html. The EPA divides
counties into one of three zones based on radon level potential. The EPA recommends
that all homes built in Zone 1 (high radon potential) areas have radon reduction systems.
Foundation Energy Performance
Slabs are a common foundation system in the Southwest.
Best Practice: In the hot-dry portion of these climate zones, slabs are generally not
insulated, even at the perimeter, because of the low overall heating load. Slabs in the
mixed-dry climate should be insulated at the perimeter with one inch of borate-treated
foam board insulation or rigid glass fiber insulation.
SLAB FOUNDATIONS
Slabs are generally not insulated in
the hot-dry climate. In the mixed-dry
climate slabs should be insulated at
the perimeter.
Crawlspace Foundation Systems
Although not prevalent, some houses in the hot-dry and mixed-dry climates are built
with crawlspaces.
Best Practice: Crawlspaces should be built as a conditioned space. Insulation should
be applied to exterior walls and vents to the exterior should not be installed. The
crawlspace should receive conditioned air from at least one supply duct, and transfer
grills should allow for the transfer of air back to the living space. Other features include
a ground cover that is continuous and sealed to the perimeter walls and piers, air sealing
of the exterior walls, and sealed air distribution ducts. If a heating system is installed in
the crawlspace, use only a sealed combustion appliance. For more information see:
CRAWLSPACES
Crawlspaces should be built as
a conditioned space.
• The addendum to the Site Supervisors
chapter, look for the section
entitled: Details for Mechanically Vented Crawlspaces.
• Yost, Nathan. May 2003. “The Case for Conditioned, Unvented Crawl
Spaces.” Building Safety Journal. Available on the BSC Web site at:
www.buildingscience.com/resources/articles/24-27_Yost_for_author.pdf
Radon measures for crawlspaces can be found in the references on the previous page.
Structural Moisture Control
Annual precipitation in the hot-dry and mixed-dry climates is less than 20 inches.
However, often the precipitation comes in heavy doses as part of intense storms.
And moisture can come from other sources, such as landscape irrigation and indoor
activities. In some regions, periodic humidity is also present.
Two types of rain management systems have been identified: barriers and screens. Barriers
rely on exterior cladding to drain water and are best used with water-resistant building
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materials, such as masonry block or concrete. Screens have multiple lines of defense
against water entry and are used with wood, brick, and gypsum-based materials. Both
barriers and screens rely on lapped flashings to direct water to the exterior at critical areas
such as seams, windows, and penetrations. In both systems, it is essential that materials
are lapped shingle fashion to direct water down and out, away from the wall assembly.
Best Practice: Roof and wall assemblies must contain surfaces that will drain water in
a continuous manner over the entire area of the building. Water must have a path that
will take it from its point of impact, around any elements such as windows, doors, and
seams, all the way to the exterior ground, sloping away from the house.
Best Practice: In areas with potentially high winds and heavy rains install four inch to
six inch “peel and seal” self adhering water-proofing strips over joints in roof decking
before installing the roof underlayment and cover.
Water Leakage
One critical point of concern is water leakage around windows. The EEBA Water
Management Guide offers examples of many window flashing applications. The window
flashing examples here are taken from the Trades
chapter. These examples are for
homes with housewrap and plywood or OSB sheathing.
Best Practice: Specify that flashing be installed for all windows and doors. Window and
door flashing details should be designed to match specific wall assemblies and claddings.
Flashing systems should be designed in accordance with the ASTM standard entitled
Standard Practice for Installation of Exterior Windows, Doors, and Skylights (ASTM
2002). In addition to the standard and the EEBA guide, see DOE’s Technology
Fact Sheet on Weather-Resistive Barriers (DOE 2000), available on the Web at
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/documents/pdfs/28600.pdf.
Extreme Weather
Parts of the hot-dry and mixed-dry climates can be vulnerable to catastrophic highwind, heavy-rain events, hurricanes and tornadoes. Parts of Oklahoma and Texas are
part of “tornado alley,” a section of the country prone to tornados. Proper structural
fastening and impact resistant windows, doors, and skylights are critical to surviving
high winds. Proper use of roofing materials can help roofs withstand high winds and
protect against severe rains. This document does not provide detailed information on
disaster survival but the following sources provide structural details and guidance and a
listing of building materials acceptable for high wind areas.
• Federal Emergency Management Agency. Building a Safe Room Inside
Your Home. www.fema.gov
VAPOR BARRIERS
Roof and wall assemblies must
contain elements that, individually
and in combination, permit drying
of spaces inside of walls.
WATER-PROOFING
ROOF DECKING
Install water-proofing strips over
joints in roof decking.
WINDOW FLASHING
Flashing should be installed
for all windows.
FIGURE 5:
Window Flashing Building Tips
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Complete instructions for window
flashing are provided in the Trades
chapter of this handbook.
• Federal Alliance for Safe Homes – FLASH, Inc. Designed primarily for
Florida, this Web site contains generally-applicable information about
building to resist high winds, wild fires, and floods. Blueprint for Safety.
www.blueprintforsafety.org
• Institute for Business and Home Safety. The IBHS has building guidelines and
public information. www.ibhs.org
• U.S. Department of Energy. A training program for home inspectors to
identify hazards. www.eere.energy.gov/weatherization/hazard_workshop.html
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Vapor Management
Water has many guises and water in its liquid state is not the only problem. Water can also
cause problems as vapor. The problem is especially bad when vapor gets trapped within an
assembly, such as a wall; turns to its liquid form (condenses); and wets structural assemblies.
Condensation can also form in and on ductwork, especially when air conditioning
cools duct surfaces that come in contact with humid air, such as in an attic or
crawlspace. Humid crawlspaces and attics are less of a problem in the hot-dry and
mixed-dry climates than in other climates, but problems can arise under humid weather
conditions or in areas with high ground moisture. The recommendations below are
intended to help control both liquid water and vapor.
Best Practice: Do not install impermeable coverings, such as vinyl wallpaper, on
exterior walls and do not install vapor retarders on the framing side of gypsum board or
other wall coverings. Use unfaced insulation.
IMPERMEABLE COVERINGS
Impermeable coverings inside the
house are not recommended.
BACKPRIMING
Backprime all wood cladding
to avoid water saturation.
Best Practice: Water soaking through wood can carry with it contaminants that
interfere with the ability of housewraps and building papers and felts to resist water.
One step in the solution is to backprime all wood cladding to avoid water saturation
and migration. This practice also makes the wood much more durable.
Best Practice: Creating an air space between the cladding and the drainage plane
effectively increases the durability of both components. With some exterior
finishes, such as bricks, an air space is even more important. An air space stops
the capillary movement of moisture, stops the contamination of the drainage
plane via contact with the cladding, and allows for better drying. Information on
housewrap and building paper performance behind brick and stucco can be found at
www.buildingscience.com/resources/walls/brick_stucco_housewraps.pdf
Best Practice: If building paper or felt is used in areas prone to severe rain, install two
layers. The use of two layers was once common and provides better than twice the
performance of one layer. By providing a double drainage plane, they offer increased
resistance to leakage at fasteners and allow for more flexible installation.
Best Practice: Installation is key for all types of housewraps. The sheets must be lapped,
shingle-style, especially over and around windows, doors, and other penetrations (and
their flashing systems). Use manufacturer-specified fasteners and space them closely
enough to provide required support.
AIR SPACE
Creating an air space between
the exterior finish and the drainage
plane effectively increases the
durability of both components.
TWO LAYERS OF
BUILDING PAPER OR FELT
Consider installing two layers
of building paper or felt to create
a double drainage plane.
CAREFUL INSTALLATION
Pay close attention to lapping,
especially around windows and
doors, as well as the proper use
of fasteners.
Additional information on moisture control can be obtained from:
• DOE’s Technology Fact Sheet on Weather-Resistive Barriers, available on
the Web at www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/documents/pdfs/28600.pdf.
• Building Science Consortium’s Web site at www.buildingscience.com/
housesthatwork/buildingmaterials where you can compare wraps and other materials.
• www.buildingscience.com/resources/walls/problems_with_housewraps.htm
• The following article provides an overview of house wraps and was a key
source for this section: Straube, John. 2001. “Wrapping it Up,“ Canadian
Architect. May, 2001. Available at www.cdnarchitect.com.
• The National Association of Home Builders Research Center’s
Moisture Protection of Wood Sheathing is available on the Web at
www.nahbrc.org/docs/mainnav/moistureandleaks/792_moisture.pdf.
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Housewrap, Building Paper, or Felt – Your Choices for Wrapping it Up
Housewrap, building paper, or impregnated felt should be part of the exterior wall system
that protects the building from water penetration. None of the materials are waterproof,
but are intended to shed rainwater that penetrates exterior cladding. The surface formed
by these materials is called a drainage plane, house membrane, or rain barrier. They are
used to shed liquid water that may penetrate siding or roofing and to prevent liquid water
from wicking through them, while remaining sufficiently vapor permeable (“breathable”)
for outward drying (Straube 2001). By helping to keep building materials dry, these
membranes improve building durability, decrease maintenance costs, and reduce the risk
of moisture-related problems such as pests, mold, and rot.
Building Paper is a Kraft paper sheet impregnated with asphalt to increase its strength
and resistance to water penetration. It is primarily employed as a drainage layer. It is
graded according to a test of the amount of time required for a water-sensitive chemical to
change color when a boat-shaped sample is floated on water. Common grades include 10,
20, 30, and 60 minutes. The larger the number, the more resistant the paper is to water.
Building Felts have been in use over a hundred years. Originally made from rags, today’s
felts are made of recycled paper products and sawdust. The base felt is impregnated with
asphalt. Ratings for felt harken back to the traditional weight of the material before the oil
crisis of the 1970s. At that time 100 square feet of the material (1 square) weighed about
15 pounds. Modern #15 felt can weigh from 7.5 to 12.5 pounds per square depending on
the manufacturer.
Housewrap typically refers to specially-designed plastic sheet materials. Housewrap
comes in a variety of materials and can be perforated or non-perforated. If joints and
connections are sealed, housewraps can serve as air retarders to reduce air leakage.
Housewraps are highly resistant to tearing, unlike building paper. Non-perforated wraps
tend to have higher liquid water resistance because the holes between plastic fibers are
very small.
Most building paper is UV-resistant, whereas recommended housewrap exposure limits
may vary by manufacturer. Check with manufacturers if outdoor exposure will exceed
a month. One person can usually install building paper, while housewrap requires two
people. However, housewrap is available in wide sheets that can cover an entire one-story
wall surface in a single pass.
Adapted from Straube 2001.
Roof and wall assemblies must contain elements that, individually and in combination,
permit drying of spaces inside of walls and other assemblies. Exterior housewraps,
including building paper, will allow vapor to pass through and should be installed on
the exterior of sheathing. Interior walls should be painted but not covered with plastic
vapor retarders (on the framing side of gypsum board) or impervious coatings, such as
vinyl wallpaper.
A more recent and graphical reference on moisture control is the EEBA Water
Management Guide (Lstiburek 2003), available for sale from the EEBA Bookstore, on
the Web at www.eeba.org/bookstore.
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Structural Air Sealing
ENERGY STAR
THERMAL BYPASS CHECKLIST
FIGURE 6: Envelope Air Sealing
The checklist stipulates 13 areas
that require special attention to
insulation and air barrier continuity.
1) Exterior walls behind tubs
and showers
2) Floors over garages
3) Attic knee walls
4) Attic hatch openings
and drop-down stairs
5) Cantilevered floors
6) Duct shafts
7) Flue Shafts
8) Piping shafts and penetrations
9) Dropped ceilings and soffits
10) Fireplace walls
11) Staircase framing on
exterior walls
12) Recessed lighting
Building Science Corporation
13) Whole-house fan penetrations
Best Practice: Use either interior gypsum board, exterior sheathing, or both as a
continuous air flow retarder. Exterior stucco may also serve as an air flow retarder.
Carefully seal big and little holes. Pay particular attention to sealing shared walls and
attic spaces between garages and houses.
A tight building envelope is necessary to control the movement of air in and out of
building assemblies. Air infiltration can contribute to problems with moisture, noise,
dust, and the entry of pollutants, insects, and rodents. Using mechanical ventilation as
a superior approach to supplying fresh air is discussed in the section on Mechanicals,
Electrical, and Plumbing.
AIR SEALING
Be sure to seal shared walls and
attic spaces between garages
and houses.
Moisture-laden air moving into wall or roof assemblies may lead to condensation and
result in deterioration of moisture sensitive materials. Airflow retarders can be installed
on the interior or the exterior side of the envelope or on both sides. Insulation made
up of batt or loose fill products does not seal against air leakage. Rigid foam board
insulation can be used as both a moisture and air retarder.
Controlling air movement through the building envelope requires sealing both the
“big” holes and the “little” holes. The big holes occur behind bathtubs and showers
on exterior walls, behind fireplaces, and where soffits or utility walls (double wall with
chase) meet exterior walls or ceilings. Recessed lights collectively can be a really big hole
in the ceiling assembly. These big holes are responsible for wasted energy (high utility
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bills) and condensation that can cause mold and wood decay. These holes are easy to
seal during the framing stage but only when someone has the responsibility for making
sure it gets done. Only airtight recessed lights (ICAT-rated) should be used in ceilings
leading to unconditioned spaces.
The little holes occur between framing members (such as band joist to sill plate),
around electrical boxes, and where plumbing or wiring penetrate the envelope. All
penetrations leading to unconditioned spaces should be sealed with foam or caulk. See
the Trades
chapter, Building Tips on air sealants and the instructions for plumbers,
electricians, and framers. Also see the sections later in this chapter for plumbing
and electrical.
When air sealing drywall, gypsum board acts as an interior air flow retarder. The
gypsum board is sealed to the framing members at the perimeter of exterior walls and
around penetrations such as doors, windows, and attic hatches. The gypsum board is
also sealed to electrical boxes on exterior walls. Air cannot move through the gypsum
board and the taped corners.
There are many approaches and practices to sealing buildings. Many details and
photographs of air sealing techniques can be found on the Building Science
Corporation Web site at www.buildingscience.com/housesthatwork/airsealing.htm,
in the EEBA Builders Guides, and in the DOE Technology Fact Sheet on Air Sealing
available on the Web at www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/documents/pdfs/26448.pdf.
INTERSECTIONS OF
WALLS & ROOF
Tight sealing of the intersection
of the roof and wall may require
blown-in foam.
FIGURE 7 & 8: Knee Walls
Figures 7 and 8 show possible
approaches to sealing knee walls.
Desired
ventilation
Use rigid foam or sheet goods
to seal joist cavities
Seal knee wall to create a
continuous air barrier. Knee walls
can be sealed following the wall
and attic floor.
Best Practice: One area to pay attention to for sealing is the intersection of the walls
and roof. This area may involve an attic, cathedral ceiling, knee walls, all of the above,
or other examples of complex roof lines. Figures 7 and 8 show knee wall examples.
Tight sealing of this intersection may require blown-in foam.
Seal
Hardboard
Best Practice: Another area needing special attention for occupant health and safety is
sealing shared walls and ceilings between attached garages and living spaces. Carefully
seal any penetrations, block air pathways through the attic, and weatherstrip any doors.
Structural Thermal Performance
Properly installed insulation is like your favorite winter comforter for keeping
heat where it’s wanted. Any interior insulation type is acceptable that has vapor
permeability. These include cellulose, fiberglass, and foam. Foam can also serve as an
air retarder, but air sealing must be accomplished by a separate component or system
when cellulose or fiberglass is used.
Seal
In new homes, it is preferred
to seal along the sloping edge
of the attic roof.
SHARED WALLS & CEILINGS
WITH GARAGES
Pay special attention to the shared
walls and ceilings between attached
garages and living spaces.
The following descriptions of insulation were adapted from DOE’s Fact Sheet on
Insulation available on the Web at www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/insulation/ins_08.html.
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Blankets
Blankets in the form of batts or rolls are flexible products made from mineral fibers,
typically fiberglass. They are available in widths suited to standard wall, floor, and
attic framing spaces. Continuous rolls can be hand-cut and trimmed to fit. They are
available with or without vapor retarder facings. High-density fiberglass batts are
about 15% more effective than traditional batts. Even if you choose to use other types
of insulation, such as blown or sprayed in cellulose or foam, batts can be installed in
areas that may become inaccessible as construction unfolds. These areas could include
behind-shower inserts, stairs, or rim joists. Batts also make good dams in attics around
access points or other areas where blown-in insulation should be held back.
INSULATION
Use high-density batts, when
fiberglass batt insulation
is specified.
FIGURE 9: Insulation
Best Practice: When fiberglass batt insulation is specified, use high-density, unfaced
batts. Batt facing is a vapor retarder and can trap moisture inside walls. Check local
code requirements
Blown-In
Blown-in, loose-fill insulation includes loose fibers or fiber pellets that are blown into
building cavities or attics using special pneumatic equipment. Another form includes
fibers that are co-sprayed with moisture or an adhesive that allows them to set in
walls and makes them resistant to settling. The blown-in material can provide some
resistance to air infiltration if the insulation is sufficiently dense.
Blown-in wall insulation
Foamed-In-Place
Foamed-in-place polyurethane foam insulation can be applied by a professional
applicator using special equipment to meter, mix, and spray into cavities. Polyurethane
foam makes an excellent air seal and can be used to reach hard-to-get-at places.
Rigid Insulation
Rigid insulation is made from fibrous materials or plastic foams that is pressed or
extruded into sheets and molded pipe-coverings. These provide thermal and acoustical
insulation, strength with low weight, and coverage with few heat loss paths. Such
boards may be faced with a reflective foil that reduces heat flow when next to an air
space. Foil facing also makes the board nearly impervious to water and vapor and so
should be used with caution. Rigid foam insulation may be used in combination with
other insulation types, such as on the exterior of walls that are filled with cellulose or
fiberglass. Foam sheets that may be in contact with the ground should be borate-treated
for termite resistance (see Figure 10 on page 17 for an example of rigid foam insulation).
Reflective Insulation Systems
Reflective insulation systems are fabricated from aluminum foils with a variety of
backings such as roof sheathing, craft paper, plastic film, polyethylene bubbles, or
cardboard. The resistance to heat flow depends on the heat flow direction; this type
of insulation is most effective in reducing downward heat flow and requires an air
space adjacent to the reflective surface. Reflective systems are typically located between
roof rafters, floor joists, or wall studs. Reflective insulation placed in walls must be
perforated. If a single reflective surface is used alone and faces an open space, such as an
attic, it is called a radiant barrier. Radiant barriers are sometimes used in buildings to
reduce summer heat gain and winter heat loss. They can be effective in the hot-dry and
mixed dry climates at reducing peak cooling loads, especially if ductwork or cooling
equipment is located in the attic. All radiant barriers must have a low emittance (0.1 or
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
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Batt insulation
Reflective insulation
Spray-in foam insulation. Soy-based
foams are now available
(Photo: Building Science Corporation)
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less) and high reflectance (0.9 or more). Additional information on radiant barriers is
available in the following sources:
• FPC Residential Monitoring Project: New Technology Development
– Radiant Barrier Pilot Project, available at the FSEC Web site at
www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/pubs/rbs/index.htm
• DOE’s Radiant Barrier Attic Fact Sheet, available on the Web at www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/radiant/rb_01.html
How Much Insulation Do You Need?
This is an excellent question to ask your Home Energy Rater. The answer depends
on your location, the overall design, and the efficiency of other building features.
The ENERGY STAR Web site contains Builder Option Packages (BOPS) that
recommend insulation levels on a county by county basis. The BOPS can be found at
www.energystar.gov. Examining the ENERGY STAR BOPs provides some examples of
how insulation can be traded off with other features such as efficient windows and HVAC
systems. DOE can also help with insulation recommendations for each zip code. Visit the
Web site below. Have in hand the first three digits of your zip code, the type of heating
system that you are considering, and local energy costs for electricity or natural gas. The
calculator will recommend an insulation level.
www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/insulation/ins_16.html
If you prefer to work with a map, the following DOE Web site will give you recommended insulation levels.
www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/energy_savers/r-value_map.html
These recommendations are only guidelines and are limited in scope. The more complex
or advanced your design, the more you should rely on specific calculations.
Frame Walls
Best Practice: Best practice for frame wall construction involves advanced
framing techniques. However, these techniques are not required to achieve 30%
space conditioning energy savings in the hot-dry and mixed-dry climates. If you
want to gain greater efficiency, more information on advanced framing can be
found in the guidance provided in this document for code officials, in the EEBA
Builders Guides, in DOE’s Fact Sheet on Wall Insulation, and on the Web at
www.buildingscience.com/housesthatwork/advancedframing/default.htm. If advanced
framing is to be used, a detailed plan should be developed showing framing placement.
ADVANCED FRAMING
Consider advanced framing
techniques when contructing walls.
Building America sponsored work by the Building Science Consortium and the U.S.
Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory to develop an inset shear panel
for advanced framing in seismic regions. Information on the inset shear panel is
available at www.buildingscience.com/resources/walls/default.htm.
External walls with 2x4 framing may achieve 30% energy space conditioning savings in
the hot-dry and mixed-dry climates and should include the following features:
• Examples of exterior finish can include stucco over paper (paper to have perm
rating of <1 perm) backed with lath, vinyl siding, or cementitous board.
• A housewrap should be installed as an air and water barrier.
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• Insulation may be R-13 (high-density) friction-fit, unfaced fiberglass insulation or blown-in cellulose insulation.
• Frame walls between the garage and the conditioned space, including bonus
rooms, should have unfaced insulation.
• Rim joists: unfaced R-13 friction-fit batt insulation cut to fit.
• Penetrations: Foam seal or caulk all top-plate penetrations and exterior wall
penetrations.
• In addition to sealing all penetrations, air leakage through the walls should be
controlled by sealing the gypsum board. Pay particular attention to air-sealing
penetrations to garages and porches.
• Do not install vapor barriers or retarders on the framing side of wall board on
exterior walls.
Masonry Walls
Masonry walls may be finished with stucco, wood, or other claddings. Best practices to
improve thermal efficiency include the following:
FIGURE10: Masonry Walls
with Interior Rigid Insulation
• Semi-vapor permeable rigid insulation should be installed on the interior of
wall assemblies and should be unfaced. Foil facing and polypropylene skins
should be avoided.
• Wood furring should be installed over rigid insulation. The rigid insulation
should be continuous over the surface of the wall, except for a 2x4 furring at
the intersection with the ceiling. This blocking attaches directly to the masonry
block and serves as draft and fire stop. The rigid insulation abuts the blocking
but does not cover it or extend behind it.
• Foam seal or caulk all top plate penetrations and exterior wall penetrations.
• Electrical boxes can be surface mounted to the masonry, avoiding chipping
or chiseling. The rigid insulation, furring, and gypsum board will build up
around the box for a flush finish.
• Use pressure treated lumber to frame out sub-jambs and spacers within
window and door rough openings.
• As with other walls, penetrations to the exterior or through top and bottom
plates should be foam sealed or caulked.
• In addition to sealing all penetrations, air leakage through the walls should be
controlled by sealing the gypsum board. Pay particular attention to air-sealing
penetrations to garages and porches.
• When pouring the slab take care to create a seat in the concrete to accept the
block and seats in the concrete to act as drain pans where exterior doors and
sliding doors will be located.
More information on masonry construction can be found in the Builders Guides
(Lstiburek 2002) and on the Web at the Building America Houses that Work section of
the Building Science Corporation Web site www.buildingscience.com/
housesthatwork/hothumid/orlando.htm. Look for the Orlando Profile. Window
flashing details can be found in the ASTM standard entitled Standard Practice for
Installation of Exterior Windows, Doors, and Skylights (ASTM 2002) and the EEBA
Water Management Guide (Lstiburek 2003). The Water Management Guide also
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contains information on other approaches to draining masonry assemblies. The
Trades
chapter contains a building tips sheet for masonry walls.
Concrete Walls
Some builders are beginning to use poured concrete walls for residential construction.
For more information on this approach see Builder System Performance Package Targeting
30%-40% Savings in Space Conditioning Energy Use prepared by CARB (CARB 2004).
Windows
Best Practice: Specify efficient windows to control solar energy gains and to help reduce
heating and cooling loads. Some Building America experts recommend that, nationwide,
windows be used with a U-factor of 0.35 or lower and a SHGC of 0.35 or less. Note
that ENERGY STAR qualification can be met with windows at less stringent ratings.
Windows are a prominent feature of any wall. High-performance windows can be an
easy way to achieve ENERGY STAR qualification. Efficient windows will add expense
to your project, but will provide tremendous value in comfort, durability, and energy
savings. High-performance windows add so much to energy efficiency that smaller
cooling and heating equipment can often be specified, which may recapture much of
the cost. A voluntary rating system developed by the National Fenestration Rating
Council (NFRC) provides performance information for about half the windows
sold. The NFRC label contains ratings for the following features. You can find more
information about the NFRC on the Web at www.nfrc.org.
WINDOWS
Specify efficient windows to control
solar energy gains and to help
reduce heating and cooling loads.
FIGURE 11: NFRC Window Label
• U-factors take into account the entire window assembly and rate how well
the window prevents heat from passing through the window. The lower the
U-factor the better the window performs at stopping heat flow. U-factors are
the inverse of R-values used to measure the effectiveness of insulation. U-factor
values for windows generally fall between 0.20 and 1.2.
• SHGC is the solar heat gain coefficient, which measures how well the window
blocks heat caused by sunlight. The lower the SHGC rating the less solar heat
the window transmits. This rating is expressed as a fraction between 0 and 1.
• Visible transmittance (VT) measures how much light comes through a
window. VT is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The bigger the
number the more clear the glass.
• Air leakage through a window assembly is included on most manufacturers’
labels, but is not required. The AL rating is expressed as the equivalent cubic
feet of air passing through a square foot of window area (cfm/sq.ft.) The lower
the AL, the less the window leaks. A typical rating is 0.2.
• Another optional rating is Condensation Resistance (CR), which measures
the ability of a product to resist the formation of condensation on the interior
surface of that product. The higher the CR rating, the better that product
is at resisting condensation formation. While this rating cannot predict
condensation, it can provide a credible method of comparing the potential
of various products for condensation formation. CR is expressed as a number
between 1 and 100, with a higher value representing more resistance to the
formation of condensation.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Energy efficient windows are
comfortable to sit near and
provide protection for furniture
and window treatments.
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Designers
ENERGY STAR qualifies specific windows in addition to qualifying houses. ENERGY
STAR divides the U.S. into four climate zones. For ENERGY STAR’s south/central
climate region, which is not identical to the climate zones of the Building America and
DOE’s Building Codes Program, all windows and doors qualifying for the ENERGY
STAR label must have a U-factor rating of 0.40 or below and a SHGC rating of 0.40
or below, skylights must have a U-factor of 0.60 or below and an SHGC rating of 0.40
or less. You need not use ENERGY STAR-labeled windows to qualify a total house for
an ENERGY STAR label.
The Efficient Windows Collaborative operates a Web site that can help designers and
consumers choose windows. The Web site includes a tool that allows users to analyze
energy costs and savings for windows with different ratings. Visit the Web site at
www.efficientwindows.org/index.cfm.
The Web site also has fact sheets with comparisons for each state. These fact sheets
could make effective marketing tools. Also described on the Web site is a book entitled
Residential Windows: A Guide to New Technologies and Energy Performance (Carmody
et al. 2000), which offers homeowners, architects, designers, and builders a fascinating
look at the state of the art in window technology. Emphasizing energy performance,
the book covers every aspect of window design and technology: the basic mechanisms
of heat transfer; new products and rating systems; the effects of window frame material
and installation; and how to make the best decisions when purchasing windows.
OVERHANGS
Design roofs with overhangs
to shade and protect windows
and doors.
FIGURE 12: Overhangs
Overhangs
Best Practice: Design roofs with overhangs to shade and protect windows and doors.
Overhangs may take the form of eaves, porches, or other design features such as
awnings, pergolas, or trellises.
Single glazing is not recommended, but when a house has clear single glazing, lightcolored interior shades, overhangs, and combinations of shading devices significantly
reduce energy costs. Naturally, a completely shaded house has the best performance in
a hot climate.
Reliance on any form of shading is not nearly as important when windows with a low
solar-heat-gain coefficient are used. Using a low-solar-gain low-E coating results in
great energy cost reductions for all conditions even with no shading. This is because
the glazing itself provides the necessary control of solar radiation, so shading measures
become less important in terms of energy use. For a description of the interactions
between window performance and shading, see the Efficient Windows Collaborative
Web site at www.efficientwindows.org.
Winter
Sun
31o
Summer
Sun
74o
Overhangs should be sized to account for differences in sun angles, elevation,
window height and width, and wall height above the window. Free and low-cost
computer programs and tools are available to help. For example a free program
telling you the angle of the sun for any point in the country is available at
www.susdesign.com/sungangle/. Latitude, longitude, and elevation data can be
obtained at www.wunderground.com. Overhang dimensions can be calculated at
www.susdesign.com/overhang/index.html. For a listing of free and available-for
purchase energy models, including solar design tools, see DOE’s Building Technology
Program Web site at www.eere.energy.gov/buildng/index.cfm?flash=yes. Click on
Sun angles for Albuquerque,
New Mexico. A four foot window
would need an overhang extending
19 inches with 12 inches of wall
above the window.
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Software Tools on the lower right side. A low-cost sun angle calculator is available from
the Society of Building Science Educators at www.sbse.org/resources/sac/index.htm.
Overhangs also provide protection from rain, hail, and the effects of overheating and
ultraviolet radiation on siding and windows.
Ceilings and Roofs
As indicated earlier, ceilings, roofs, and attics represent complex building assemblies. In
addition to the sealing and insulation approaches shown in the Air Sealing section, here
are additional insulation guidelines. These guidelines apply to traditionally ventilated
attics. Unvented attics must be tightly sealed and are not described in detail in this guide.
• If attic access is provided, it must be insulated and weather-stripped.
• Use baffles to allow ventilation air to freely flow past insulation.
• Install an “energy” truss for more headroom at the eave to avoid compressing
insulation and allow for consistent attic coverage.
Builder GW Robinson of
Gainesville, Florida, was able
to go from two HVAC units—
a 5-ton unit for the house and
a 1.5-ton unit for the bonus
room—to a 4-ton HVAC
unit for the whole house, by
giving extra thought to duct
layout, specifying duct layout
on the floor plans and using
zone dampers and return air
pathways in each room of
his up-to 4,500 ft2 houses.
• Use dams to hold insulation away from openings and storage areas. Thick batt
insulation makes an excellent dam. Waxed cardboard, foam sheathing, and
other sheet goods can also be used as dams.
• Only recessed lights rated for “insulated ceiling and air tight” (ICAT) should
be installed in ceilings. See the section on electrical for more information.
Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
Best Practice: For the best results in comfort, efficiency, and durability, HVAC system
design for both equipment and ducts must be integrated in the overall architectural
design. Work closely with your HVAC engineer, HVAC contractor or HERS rater to
properly design, size, and select your HVAC equipment. If done properly, you will save
money and go a long way with this single step toward improved energy efficiency and
comfort and substantial cost savings.
A well-designed house should have an HVAC system properly sized to its demands.
Proper equipment sizing ensures a comfortable environment and provides opportunities
to recapture some of the expense of an efficient building envelope. Rules of thumb for
equipment sizing do not work in modern homes and should not be used.
Unfortunately, rules of thumb are still prevalent. A Florida survey points out some of
the practices of HVAC contractors (Viera, Parker, Klonbergo, Sonn, and Cummings
1996). Although only a small percentage of Florida’s HVAC contractors responded,
the survey found that about one-third of respondents size air conditioning and
duct capacities based on square footage or other rules of thumb. Compounding the
problem, the rules were not consistently applied. Some respondents provided twice
as much capacity as others for a given square footage of floor area. Over one-third of
respondents indicated intentional oversizing of HVAC equipment on some jobs, in
order to avoid complaints, accommodate future expansions, enable quicker cooling
down of homes, and to allow for lower cooling set points by homeowners.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
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HVAC
Integrate HVAC system design in
the overall architectural design.
“‘The recommended changes in
our practices meant we were able
to downsize our equipment by a
half-ton,’ explains Andrew Nevitt,
Medallion’s head architect. ‘Our
contractors were concerned that
they’d experience increased callbacks
because of comfort issues.’ That
hasn’t been the case. Medallion
is building all its homes to reach
ENERGY STAR performance
levels and is working with Building
America to learn practices that will
push the performance of its homes
even further.”
As reported in Professional Builder
3/1/03.
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Designers
Sizing Air Conditioners
Best Practice: Right-size air conditioners and other HVAC equipment.
RIGHT-SIZING
One estimate states that a Manual J calculation takes about 30 to 60 minutes for
an average home, using the measurements from construction drawings. Manual S
calculations require an additional 15 to 30 minutes (SBIC 2003). A single calculation
can work for multiple use of the same plans.
FIGURE13: ACCA Manuals
Right size air conditioners and other
HVAC equipment.
Four Sources for HVAC Design
The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) has published simple but
effective methods for determining loads and sizing ductwork and heating and
cooling equipment.
• Manual J tells you how to calculate loads.
• Manual D tells you how to size ducts.
• Manual S guides you through the selection of appropriate heating and
cooling equipment to meet identified loads.
• Manual T gives you the basics for small buildings.
For more information or to purchase these documents on the Web, go to www.acca.org.
Air Conditioner and Heat Pump Ratings
Best Practice: Central air conditioners should be rated at a minimum of 13 Seasonal
Photos by ACCA
Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) for air cooling and heat pumps should be rated at a
minimum of 7.6 Heating Season Performance Factor (HSPF) for heating.
In September 2006 DOE will begin enforcing a 13 SEER standard for all
residential central air conditioners. For more information on this standard, visit
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards.
RATINGS
Central air conditioners should be
rated at a minimum of 13 SEER and
heat pumps should be rated at
a minimum of 7.6 HSPF.
Consider using SEER-14 air conditioning equipment to achieve performance levels greater
than 30% savings. Equipment with SEER ratings up to 20 are now available. Currently,
ENERGY STAR-labeled central air conditioners have a minimum rating of SEER 12.
Heat pumps are preferable to electric resistance heating in all but part of the hot-dry and
mixed-dry climates, where there are fewer than 500 annual heating degree days. A unit
with a HSPF of 7.7 or more will reduce the electric consumption during heating by more
than 50% relative to electric resistance heating. The new standard will require that central
heat pumps have a minimum rating of 7.7 HSPF. Lists of all ENERGY STAR-rated
appliances can be found at www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=appliances.pr_appliances.
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Central Gas-Fired Furnace
Best Practice: Sealed combustion gas furnaces should be specified for central gas-fired
heating systems. ENERGY STAR labels furnaces that meet a minimum Annual Fuel
Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) of 90.
GAS FURNACES
Specify sealed combustion gas
furnaces for central gas-fired
systems.
Sealed Combustion
Sealed combustion means than an appliance acquires all air for combustion through
a dedicated sealed passage from the outside, to a sealed combustion chamber, and all
combustion products are vented to the outside through a separate, dedicated sealed vent.
Mechanical Ventilation
Best Practice: Building America recommends that whole-house mechanical ventilation
be provided as specified in ASHRAE standard 62.2. Recommended ventilation systems
for indoor air quality include mechanical exhaust fans, systems that supply air, or a
combination of the two.
VENTILATION
Integrate mechanical ventilation
into the HVAC system.
• Base Rate Ventilation: controlled mechanical ventilation at a minimum base
rate of 15 CFM for the master bedroom, plus 0.01 CFM for each square foot
of conditioned area, and 7.5 CFM for each additional bedroom, should be
provided, as listed in ASHRAE 62.2.
• Spot Ventilation: intermittent spot ventilation of 100 CFM should be
provided for the kitchen; all kitchen range hoods must be vented to the
outside (no recirculating hoods). Intermittent spot ventilation of 50 CFM or
continuous ventilation of 20 CFM, should be provided for each washroom/
bathroom. Fans should be quiet, with a sound rating of less than 1.5 sonnes.
Central fan-integrated supply ventilation can be an easy and inexpensive way to provide
outside air to the HVAC system. This system provides fresh, filtered, outside air in a controlled
amount using the existing HVAC delivery system for even distribution and mixing.
A New Standard in Residential Ventilation
In Autumn 2003, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating And Air-Conditioning
Engineers (ASHRAE) established a new standard for indoor ventilation in residences. The
standard is ASHRAE 62.2, Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential
Buildings (ASHRAE 2003). The following information is adapted from the forward that is
published with the Standard:
The standard contains three main sets of requirements and a host of secondary ones. The
three primary sets involve whole-house ventilation, local exhaust, and source control. Whole
house ventilation is intended to dilute the unavoidable contaminant emissions from people,
materials, and background processes. Local exhaust is intended to remove contaminants from
specific rooms, such as kitchens and bathrooms, where pollutant sources are produced. And
source control measures are included to deal with other anticipated sources. The standard’s
secondary requirements focus on properties of specific items, such as sound and flow ratings
for fans and labeling requirements.
The standard is principally about mechanical ventilation, but its purpose is to provide
acceptable indoor air quality. The most effective way for keeping exposure to pollutants low is
to keep them from being released to the general indoor environment in the first place.
ASHRAE is planning to publish guidance documents on meeting this standard.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
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Air Intake being installed in a
porch overhang to provide fresh
air to attic HVAC.
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Designers
Most of the Building America teams
FIGURE 14: Outside Vents
have designed and field-tested these
ventilation systems. The systems involve
exterior air intakes, ductwork running to
the return air side of the HVAC system,
dampers to allow control of the air
intake, and electronic controls to ensure
that the HVAC fans operate frequently
enough to draw in adequate fresh air.
For an example of these systems, see
www.buildingscience.com/resources/
mechanical/air_distribution.pdf for
more detailed information.
Compact Air Distribution System
FIGURE 15: Duct Run Configurations
Best Practice: Make duct runs as
short as possible.
An efficient building envelope and
efficient HVAC equipment allow for
a compact air distribution system.
Conditioned air may be discharged
from inside walls (see the discussion
in the next section on chase design)
or from ceiling diffusers up to 12 feet
from the window wall in most cases
without compromising comfort. Such
“inside throw” layouts cut ductwork
runs, saving money and reducing the
amount of ductwork that may run in
unconditioned space.
Efficiency Measures for Air
Conditioners, Heat Pumps,
and Furnaces
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency
Ratio (SEER) is a measure of
equipment energy efficiency over
the cooling season. It represents
the total cooling of a central
air-conditioner or heat pump (in
Btu) during the normal cooling
season as compared to the total
electric energy input (in watt-hours)
consumed during the same period.
The Heating Season Performance
Factor (HSPF) is a measure of a heat
pump’s energy efficiency over one
heating season. It represents the
total heating output of a heat pump
(including supplementary electric
heat) during the normal heating
season (in Btu) as compared to the
total electricity consumed (in Watthours) during the same period.
The Annual Fuel Utilization
Efficiency (AFUE) measures the
amount of fuel converted to heat
at the furnace outlet in proportion
to the amount of fuel entering
the furnace. This is commonly
expressed as a percentage. A
furnace with an AFUE of 90 could be
said to be 90% efficient.
DUCT RUNS
Seal All Ducts and Air Handlers
Make duct runs as short
as possible.
Best Practice: Seal all ductwork seams
DUCT SEALING
and connections to air handlers with
UL181-approved water-based mastic
and seal drywall connections with caulk
or foam sealant.
FIGURE 16: Mastic
Sealing ductwork is very important.
Leaky ductwork in an unconditioned
attic or crawl space can draw unhealthy
air into the air distribution system.
Sealing ducts with mastic is desirable
even for ducts located in conditioned
spaces. Properly sealed ducts make
sure air gets to the spaces intended,
rather than leaking into a plenum
space. It also minimizes the chances of
Seal all ductwork and air handlers
with mastic and seal duct boots to
sheetrock connections.
Figure 14 and 15 Source: Building Science Corporation
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Mastic provides the most reliable duct
sealing method for new construction.
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Designers
creating pressure differentials from space to space that would induce airflow through
the envelope. The process of sealing each joint reduces the chances of unconnected
ductwork, a surprisingly common mistake.
Mastic provides the most reliable duct sealing method for new construction. All
ductwork, including the air handler compartment (which typically has many leaky
joints), should be mastic sealed.
DOE research has found that some tapes perform adequately for sealing ducts,
particularly fiberglass duct board. However, good performing tapes may be difficult to
identify and traditional duct tape (cloth-backed rubber adhesive tapes) should never be
used to seal ducts, even if it meets UL ratings. Do not use sealing tapes for structural
purposes. Tapes have low tensile strength and should not be used to mechanically
support ducts. A technical report (Walker, Sherman, Modera, and Siegel 1998) on duct
sealants can be found on the Web at http://ducts.lbl.gov/Publications/lbl-41118.pdf
and a less technical article (Sherman and Walker 1998) on similar research can be
found at www.homeenergy.org/archive/hem.dis.anl.gov/eehem/98/9807.html.
Ducts and Air Handlers in Conditioned Space or Ducts Buried in Insulation
Best Practice: Ducts and air handlers should be placed in conditioned spaces to the
extent possible. High temperatures can be found in unconditioned spaces and create an
unfavorable environment for ducts and air handlers. California recognizes crawlspace
placement of ducts as preferable to putting ducts in attics.
Best Practice: As an alternative to placing ductwork in conditioned space, Building
America research has shown that in the hot-dry and mixed-dry climates, burying
attic ducts in insulation is acceptable. The approach is described in California’s 2005
Building Energy Efficiency Standards Residential Compliance Manual (CEC 2005). The
new standards take affect in October 2005.
“Sealing the ducts with mastic is I
think the single most important
thing that anyone should do.
Sealing gets leakage rates down
to about 2%. Not doing duct
sealing on new construction is
extremely short sighted. Mastic
will last the life of the system,
while conventional duct tape
can fail within a year.”
Lucian Kragiel, Co-owner of
Atlantic Design and Construction
DUCT RUNS
Ducts and air handlers should be
placed in conditioned spaces to the
extent possible.
DUCTS BURIED IN INSULATION
Based on Building America
research, California’s Title 24
includes provisions for buried and
deeply buried ducts in attics.
Ducts and air handlers perform best when placed within conditioned space. Keeping
ducts inside conditioned space may require one of several strategies, such as:
1) Placing ducts in a chase designed to run through a central corridor below
the attic or on top of the ceiling through the attic. If the chase runs
through the attic, it must fit within the roof truss design and will be
covered with insulation. For more information on designing and building
an interior chase see the report, Design and Construction of Interior Duct
Systems (McIlvaine, Beal, and Fairey 2001), available on the Web at
www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/baihp//pubs/interior_ducts.pdf.
2) Insulating and sealing the underside of the roof sheathing to create a
conditioned attic. This strategy requires tightly sealing the roof structure,
especially where it connects with the walls, to avoid the entry of outside air.
This technique essentially requires building a non-vented roof assembly. For
more information on this technique see www.buildingscience.com/resources/
roofs/unvented_roof_summary_article.pdf. This approach may require a
variance from local code officials.
3) In houses with a crawlspace, insulating and sealing the exterior walls of
the crawlspace so that it becomes a conditioned space, such as a mini
basement. This strategy requires treating the crawlspace much like a living
space with conditioned air supply, moisture control, and air returns to
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the HVAC system. More information on this approach can be found at
www.buildingscience.com/housesthatwork/hothumid/montgomery.htm.
FIGURE 17: Air Handler in Conditioned Space
Air handlers should be placed inside conditioned space. One approach is to build
a conditioned closet with sealed access from the garage. In addition to improving
the efficiency of the equipment, this approach adds additional square footage to the
conditioned space.
California Title 24 residential building standards requires that duct sealants meet UL 181,
UL 181A, UL 181B, or UL 723 (for aerosol sealants). The California Energy Commission
has approved a cloth-backed duct tape with a special butyl adhesive (CEC 2005).
Standards for Duct Sealants
Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) publishes several standards that relate to duct
sealants, the most important of which is UL 181. It deals with ducts in general, with UL
181A covering field-assembled duct-board, and UL 181B covering flex duct systems.
Each standard includes test procedures for sealants. Duct tapes and packing tapes that
pass UL 181B are labeled “UL 181B-FX.” Mastics can pass 181A or B and
are labeled “UL 181A-M” or “UL 181B-M.” Foil tapes are designated with a P.
Most tapes that are labeled 181B-FX are duct tapes. UL 181A and 181B appear to do a
good job of testing for safety, tensile strength, and initial adhesion. However, they may
not do a good job of rating how well sealants seal typical duct leaks or how well they stay
sealed under normal conditions.
Adapted from Sherman and Walker 1998
Duct Insulation
Best Practice: Ducts in unconditioned spaces must be insulated.
To the extent possible, ducts should be placed inside conditioned space. In conditioned
spaces, they require minimal insulation. If the ducts are placed in unconditioned spaces,
due to the extreme summer temperatures in these spaces, 10% to 30% of the energy
used to cool the air can be lost to conduction through the duct surfaces. Therefore,
they must be insulated. ENERGY STAR recommends R-8 insulation levels for supply
ducts in unconditioned attics and R-4 in crawl spaces (EPA 2000, available on the Web
at www.energystar.gov/ia/new_homes/features/DuctInsulation1-17-01.pdf) (based on
Treidler et al. 1996).
INSULATING DUCTS
Ducts in unconditioned spaces
must be insulated.
Transfer Grilles and Jump Ducts
Best Practice: Use jump ducts and transfer grilles and other return pathways to
maintain balanced pressure in rooms that are often isolated from the rest of the house
by a closed door, such as a bedroom.
To maintain balanced pressure, air must be returned from each room to the central
HVAC equipment. One way to do this would be to add a ducted return from each
room. However, this would be expensive and consume a lot of space. A cost-effective
approach is to provide a central return and make sure that there are transfer grilles or
transfer ducts, of adequate size, that allow air to pass from individual rooms to the
central return even when doors are closed. Figure 18 illustrates different approaches
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
BALANCED PRESSURE
Use jump ducts and transfer
grilles and other return pathways
to maintain balanced pressure in
bedrooms and other isolated rooms.
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Designers
to creating paths to equalize air pressure and allow air to return to HVAC equipment.
When designing registers and transfer grilles, place them high on the wall in areas
where furniture may block air movement.
FIGURE 18: Jump Ducts
FIGURE 19: Jump Ducts
Source: IBACOS
Draw Duct Layouts on Plans
Best Practice: Clearly identify on plans and drawings the locations, sizes, and types for
all duct work and registers, including the heating and cooling supply ducts, passive
return air ducts or transfers, the locations for the mechanical ventilation air inlet (at
least 8 feet away from any exhausts or condensers), and all exhaust outlets. If chases or
other spaces are to be dedicated to duct runs, indicate this on the plans.
DUCT WORK LOCATION
Clearly identify on plans and
drawings the locations, sizes, and
types for all duct work and registers.
This level of detail can be referenced in contract documents so you know exactly what you
will be getting. These documents can provide guidance in the field for proper installation.
Energy Performance and Commissioning
Best Practice: Air conditioners and heat pumps should be evaluated after installation
with a duct pressure test and, if needed, a smoke test to identify the location of leaks.
Procedures are discussed in the Site Supervisors
chapter.
EVALUATION
Evaluate air conditioners and heat
pumps after installation.
Building Science Corporation has identified performance testing as a key reason for
substantial reductions in callbacks (BSC 2003).
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Occupant Health and Safety
The following best practices should be included in the house design:
• All combustion appliances in the conditioned space must be sealed combustion
or power-vented. Specifically, any furnace inside conditioned space shall be
a sealed-combustion 90%+ (AFUE of 90 or greater) unit. Any water heater
inside conditioned space shall be power vented or power-direct vented.
Designs that incorporate passive combustion air supply openings or outdoor
supply air ducts not directly connected to the appliance should be avoided.
Gas cooking ranges shall follow the practices described in the second bullet.
• Use sealed-combustion gas fireplaces to eliminate the threat of harmful combustion
gases from entering the house. All fuel-burning fireplaces should have sealed
combustion and be properly vented to the outside. If not properly vented and
sealed, the fireplace can produce harmful combustion pollutants that may be emitted
into the home, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.
• Provide filtration systems for forced air systems that provide a minimum
atmospheric dust spot efficiency of 30% or MERV of 6 or higher. MERV
(Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) is a measure of an air filter’s efficiency
at removing particles. A fiberglass panel filter may have a MERV of 4 or 5.
Critical areas in hospitals may use a MERV 14 filter. Electronic air cleaners
should be used with caution because the ozone they produce may affect
sensitive individuals.
• Indoor humidity should be maintained in the range of 25% to 60% by
controlled mechanical ventilation, mechanical cooling, or dehumidification.
See www.buildingscience.com/resources/moisture/relative_humidity_0402.pdf.
• Carbon monoxide detectors (hard-wired units) shall be installed (at one per
every approximate 1,000 square feet) in any house containing combustion
appliances and/or an attached garage.
• Maximize hard surface areas (tile, vinyl, hardwood) to better manage dust for
health purposes. For slab-on-grade houses, it also reduces the cooling loads.
• Information relating to the safe, healthy, comfortable operation and
maintenance of the building and systems that provide control over space
conditioning, hot water, or lighting energy use shall be provided to occupants.
Mechanicals Management and Appliances
Plumbing
Water heater efficiency is described by the energy factor rating. The Consumers’
Directory of Certified Efficiency Ratings, Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association
(GAMA) provides a concise listing of energy factors for water heaters of all fuel types at
www.gamanet.org.
PLUMBING SEALING
penetrations in all exterior surfaces, surfaces that border on unconditioned spaces, and
Seal plumbing penetrations in
exterior surfaces and keep plumbing
out of exterior walls.
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Best Practice: Do not install plumbing in exterior walls. Seal around plumbing
Designers
FIGURE 20: Additional Plumbing Air
Sealing Building Tips can be found
in the Trades Chapter.
between floors. Use fire-resistant sealant in
plates between floors.
Best Practice: Because of the dominance
of warm temperatures in the hot-dry and
mixed-dry climates, water heaters are best
kept out of living spaces, where heat losses
could add to the cooling load. A garage
location may also save money by eliminating
the need for power-vented equipment.
Water heaters can be located freestanding
or enclosed within a closet in the garage. If
enclosed, ventilation grilles will be needed to
provide combustion air.
Air admittance vents may be accepted in some
jurisdictions and can help reduce the quantity
of needed vent pipes. More information can
be found at www.toolbase.org.
Best Practice: Be sure to specify insulation
WATER HEATERS
Keep the water heater away from
living spaces to avoid adding to the
cooling load. If it will be located in
a living space, use a power-vented
water heater.
SPECIFY INSULATION
REQUIREMENTS
Be sure to specify insulation
requirements for pipes, especially
pipes that will be inaccessible.
Water Heaters
Water heaters come in many shapes, sizes, and efficiencies. The Oregon Department of
Energy maintains a list of high-efficiency water heaters that qualify for state tax credits.
The list contains high-efficiency gas combustion water heaters, instantaneous (tankless)
water heaters, and water heating heat pumps. You may consider these products for your
projects. The tax credits only apply to Oregon installations by Oregon taxpayers. See the
list at: http://www.energy.state.or.us/res/tax/appheat.htm.
requirments for pipes, especially pipes that will
be covered by the slab, or will otherwise be
inaccessible.
FIGURE 21: Additional Electrical Air
Sealing Building Tips are available in
the Trades chapter.
ELECTRICAL SEALING
Seal all wire penetrations.
Electrical
Best Practice: Seal around wires penetrating
all exterior surfaces, surfaces that border
on unconditioned spaces, and between
floors. Use fire-resistant sealants between
floors. If recessed downlights are to be used
they should be rated for insulated ceilings
and airtight (ICAT).
ICAT is a combination of two standards.
The first is ASTM E283, the standard for
testing restricted air movement (ASTM
2004) and the second is Underwriters
Laboratory standard for direct burial in
insulation contained in the Luminaires
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Designers
standard (UL 1598). The ICAT standard originated in the State of Washington building code and now, as part of the International Energy Efficiency code,
covers almost 75% of the country’s population. See the Trades
chapter for Building
Tips for electricians for more information.
Consider the use of recessed downlights and other fixtures that qualify for ENERGY
STAR labels. Highly energy-efficient recessed downlight fixtures that have undergone
stringent testing are available for purchase at the following DOE sponsored Web site:
www.pnl.gov/cfldownlights/. The lights featured are ICAT rated and hard-wired for
compact fluorescent bulbs. Fixed prices have been negotiated for the featured fixtures.
Using compact fluorescent lamps in lighting fixtures will reduce energy usage and
lower the cooling load.
Appliances
Major appliances meet high-energy efficiency standards using current appliance ratings.
Only those appliances in the top one-third of the DOE Energy Guide rating scale
should be selected (see list at: www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/energy_savers/
appliances.html). One approach is to use appliances with the ENERGY STAR label.
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Sources & Additional Information
• Air Conditioning Contractors of America. Manual D: Residential Duct Systems. ACCA, Arlington, VA. www.acca.org.
• Air Conditioning Contractors of America. Manual J: Residential Load Calculation, Eighth Edition. ACCA,
Arlington, VA. www.acca.org.
• Air Conditioning Contractors of America. Manual S: Residential Equipment Selection. ACCA, Arlington, VA.
www.acca.org.
• Air Conditioning Contractors of America. Manual T: Air Distribution Basics for Residential and Small Commercial
Buildings. ACCA, Arlington, VA. www.acca.org.
• American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, INC (ASHRAE). 2003. ASHRAE
Standard: Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings. ASHRAE, Atlanta, GA.
• ASTM. 2002. Standard Practice for Installation of Exterior Windows, Doors, and Skylights. ASTM E2112-01.
• ASTM 2003 WK2469 New Standard (Formerly E1465-92) Guide for Radon Control Options for the Design and
Construction of New Low Rise Residential Buildings.
• ASTM 2004. Standard Test Method for Determining Rate of Air Leakage through Exterior Windows, Curtain Walls,
and Doors Under Specified Pressure Differences across the Specimen. ASTM E283-04.
• Building Science Corporation (BSC). 2003. 9. BSC Final Report: Lessons Learned from Building America
Participation, February 1995-December 2002. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO.
• Building Science Corporation. 2003b. 1.C.2.1 Report Expert Meeting Summary. National Renewable Energy
Laboratory, Golden, CO.
• CARB (Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings). 2004. NREL/SR-550-34560. National Renewable
Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO. Available at www.buildingamerica.gov.
• Carmody, John, Stephen Selkowitz, Dariush Arasteh and Lisa Heschong. 2000. Residential Windows: A Guide to New Technologies and Energy Performance. W. W. Norton and Company, New York. www.wwnorton.com/npb/welcome.htm.
• California Energy Commission. 2005. 2005 Residential Compliance Manual. Sacramento, CA.
www.energy.ca.gov/2005publications/CEC-400-2005-005/CEC-400-2005-005-CMF.pdf.
• Edminster, Ann, Betsy Pettit, Kohta Ueno, Stephanie Menegus, and Steven Baczek. 2000. “Case Studies
in Resource-Efficient Residential Building: The Building America Program.” 2000 ACEEE Summer Study
Proceedings. ACEEE, Washington, D.C.
• Garrison, Tim. 2004. Nation’s Building News Online, 27 April 2004. www.nbnnews.com.
• Institute for Business and Home Safety. The IBHS has building guidelines and public information. www.ibhs.org.
• Lstiburek, Joseph. 2004. EEBA Builders Guide: Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates. EEBA, Minneapolis, MN.
www.eeba.org/bookstore.
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• Lstiburek, Joseph. 2003. EEBA Water Management Guide. EEBA, Minneapolis, MN. www.eeba.org/bookstore.
• McIlvaine, Janet, David Beal, and Philip Fairey, III. 2001. Design and Construction of Interior Duct System. Report Number FSEC-PF-365-01, Florida Solar Energy Center, Cocoa, FL. www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/baihp//pubs/interior_ducts.pdf.
• Parker, D.S., J. R. Sherwin and M. T. Anello, 2001. “FPC Residential Monitoring Project: New Technology
Development — Radiant Barrier Pilot Project,” Contract Report FSEC-CR-1231-01, Florida Solar Energy Center,
Cocoa, FL. www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/pubs/rbs/index.htm.
• Rudd, Armund. 2003. Refrigeration System Installation and Startup Procedures, and Air Conditioning System
Efficiency. Building Science Corporation, Westford, MA.
www.buildingscience.com/resources/mechanical/air_conditioning_equipment_efficiency.pdf.
• Sherman, Max and Iain Walker. 1998. “Can Duct Tape Take the Heat?” Home Energy, Berkeley, CA. www.homeenergy.org/898ductape.title.html.
• Straube, John. 2001. Canadian Architect. “Wrapping it Up”. May, 2001. www.cdnarchitect.com.
• (SBIC) Sustainable Buildings Industry Council. 2003. Green Building Guidelines: Meeting the Demand for LowEnergy, Resource-Efficient Homes. U.S. DOE. Washington, D.C. document available at www.SBICouncil.org.
• Treidler, B., M.P. Modera, R.G. Lucas, J.D. Miller. 1996. Impact of Residential Duct Insulation on HVAC Energy
Use and Life-Cycle costs to Consumers. ASHRAE Transactions: Symposia, AT-96-13-4. American Society of
Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers, Atlanta, GA.
• U.S. Department of Energy. 2000. Technology Fact Sheet on Weather Resistive Barriers. DOE/GO-102000-O769,
Washington D.C. Available on the Web at www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/documents/pdfs/28600.pdf.
• U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1994. Model Standards and Techniques for Control of Radon in New
Residential Buildings.
• U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2000. Duct Insulation: Air Distribution System Improvements. EPA 430
97-028. Washington, D.C. www.energystar.gov/ia/new_homes/features/DuctInsulation1-17-01.pdf.
• United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2001. Building Radon Out: A Step by Step Guide on How to Build
Radon Resistant Homes. www.epa.gov/199/radon/images/buildradonout.pdf.
• Vieira, Robin K., Parker, Danny S., Klongerbo, Jon F., Sonne, Jeffrey K., Cummings, Jo Ellen. 1996. “How Contractors Really Size Air Conditioning Systems.” Florida Solar Energy Center, Cocoa, FL. www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/pubs/ACsize/index.htm.
• Walker, I., M. Sherman, M. Modera, and J. Siegel. 1998. Leakage Diagnostics, Sealant Longevity, sizing and
Technology Transfer in Residential Thermal Distribution Systems. Lawrence Berkeley Natonal Laboratory, Berkeley,
CA. http://ducts.lbl.gov/Publications/lbl-41118.pdf.
• Yost, Nathan. May 2003. “The Case for Conditioned Unvented Crawl Spaces.” Building Safety Journal. www.buildingscience.com/resources/articles/24-27_Yost_for_author.pdf.
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Web Sites Not Included with Published Documents Above
(See Appendix V for more information on Web sites.)
• www.blueprintforsafety.org
• www.buildingamerica.gov
• www.buildingscience.com/housesthatwork/airsealing.htm
• www.buildingscience.com/housesthatwork/buildingmaterials.htm
• www.buildingscience.com/housesthatwork/hothumid/montgomery.htm
• www.buildingscience.com/housesthatwork/hothumid/orlando.htm
• www.buildingscience.com/resources/mechanical/advanced_space_conditioning.pdf
• www.buildingscience.com/resources/moisture/relative_humidity_0402.pdf
• www.buildingscience.com/resources/roofs/unvented_roof_summary_article.pdf
• www.buildingscience.com/resources/walls/problems_with_housewraps.htm
• www.buildingscience.com/resources/walls/default.htm
• www.certainteed.com/pro/insulation
• www.eere.energy.gov/buildings
• www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/energy_savers/appliances.html
• www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/energy_savers/r-value_map.html
• www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/factsheets/landscape.html
• www.eere.energy.gov/weatherization/hazard_workshop.html
• www.efficientwindows.org/index.cfm
• www.energycodes.gov
• www.energy.state.or.us/res/tax/appheat.htm
• www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=bop.pt_bop_index
• www.epa.gov/iaq/whereyoulive.html
• www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap.html
• www.fema.gov
• www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/science/basics/index.htm
• www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/pubs/rbs/index.htm
• www.gamanet.org
• www.nahbrc.org/docs/mainnav/moistureandleaks/792_moisture.pdf
• www.natresnet.org
• www.nfrc.org
• www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/insulation/ins_16.html
• www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/radiant/rb_01.html
• www.pnl.gov/cfldownlights/
• www.sbse.org/resources/sac/index.htm
• www.susdesign.com/sunangle
• www.toolbase.org
• www.uky.edu/Agriculture/Entomology/entfacts.htm
• www.wunderground.com
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Site Supervisors
Tools to help with project management
INTRODUCTION
In the chain of events that results in a finished home, the site supervisor (or project
manager) has the critical job of turning ideas into reality. The site supervisor’s job is
to make sure everything happens. Plans must be correct, permits must be in order,
contracts must be signed, subs must be scheduled, materials must be on site, and it
all must happen on schedule. Successful construction of an energy-efficient home is
essentially the same as other homes, although a few details are different and can demand
more careful scrutiny because of the interdependencies in a systems-designed house.
Site supervisors working to build energy-efficient homes can generally do their jobs
as they already know how, with a few simple but important changes. There are
three keys to constructing any quality home—managing expectations, managing
the schedule, and controlling quality and costs. This section will explain how to
incorporate those three keys into your construction process.
An energy-efficient home built using these Building America recommendations
looks a lot like any other home. It will maintain its visual appeal and style. The key
points at which it differs typically involve more efficient heating, ventilating, and air
conditioning (HVAC) equipment (including ducts), an engineered HVAC system
design, a supply of outside air for ventilation, humidity control, better windows,
better insulation, and better air sealing. The Designers
chapter contains best
practices recommendations on the features energy-efficient homes should include.
Many builders make the comment that it’s not the quantity of changes that make an
energy-efficient home, but the quality that is put into building the home.
Of course, it is not always easy for a
site supervisor to control all aspects of a
subcontractor’s work. It may be necessary,
especially while these best practices are new
ideas, to prioritize activities and “pick your
battles.” In hot-dry and mixed-dry climates,
the top priorities are: 1) window selection and
installation, 2) HVAC sizing and installation.
“We found no significant increase
in materials costs or in subcontract
labor costs. It was really more in
techniques,”
Walter Hendrix, Executive Director of
Troup Chambers Habitat for Humanity
and Dependable Affordable Sustainable
Housing for La Grange, Georgia
Managing Expectations
A project manager who can foster a set of shared expectations among the important
players in his or her building team can successfully build efficient houses. Two goals
should influence the project manager’s actions at the start of the project:
Taking action in
your community
HOMEOWNERS
Shopping for value,
comfort, and quality
MANAGERS
Putting building
science to work for
your bottom line
MARKETERS
Energy efficiency
delivers the value that
customers demand
SITE PLANNERS
& DEVELOPERS
Properly situated houses
pay big dividends
DESIGNERS
Well-crafted designs
capture benefits for builders,
buyers, and business
SITE SUPERVISORS
Tools to help with
project management
TRADES
Professional tips for fast
and easy installation
CASE STUDIES
Bringing it all together
• Make sure subcontractors and in-house workers understand what you want
• Eliminate the need for unknowledgeable (and often unskilled) laborers to
make design decisions.
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
The following best practices will help meet these goals.
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Develop a Work Plan
Decide who is going to do what. Will the plumber install insulation behind the tub
or will the framer, or some other trades person? Develop a schedule for the order that
activities should occur to be sure that actions are done in a reasonable order and that
no actions will be forgotten. Be sure that all needed materials are on the site when the
activity is scheduled to take place. More information on scheduling is included in the
Managing Execution section.
Plans – Get Them Right
Best Practice: Before starting a project ensure that plans are correct and that you have
everything you need to go forward. Once you have the plans you need, follow them.
PLANS
Make sure they are correct
and follow them closely.
Existing stock plans will likely need to be modified to both include necessary changes
and to add details not commonly included in residential prints. See the Designers
chapter for a description of design best practices.
A well-designed home should have well-designed plans that include everything
necessary to explain expectations to the subs. Some points that should be included are:
• HVAC design details and duct layout. The duct layout must be included on
a floor plan. The duct and diffuser sizes, quantities, and locations must be
installed as specified. Subcontractors should be contractually obligated to these
specifications. Performance requirements, such as seasonal energy efficiency
ratio (SEER) and annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE), for system
components should be specified on the plans.
• Framing plan. If advanced framing is to be included in the design, a detailed
plan is needed showing how advanced framing techniques will be applied.
These should detail the placement of studs to ensure proper “stacking” in twostory homes and should show details of window and door framing. Advanced
framing is not required to achieve 30% energy savings in the hot-dry and
mixed-dry climates but is an important money and time saving measure for
more highly efficient homes.
• Other details or specifications. Details and specifications should be written
or drawn to specify how particular measures will be installed, including both
the techniques and the materials to be used. Of particular importance are
specifications and details for items that differ from local standard practice
such as caulking; draft stops behind bathtubs, stairs, and dropped ceilings;
duct sealing requirements; gasket materials; window schedules specifying
U-factors and solar heat gain coefficients (SHGCs); and product performance
metrics. Also specify items that should not be done, such as caulking ceiling
penetrations under conditioned attics.
Plans — Keep Them Right
Best Practice: Avoid plan changes. When they are required, document the changes as
AVOID CHANGES
Thoroughly document
any changes to plans.
you would the original contract.
Numerous difficulties can be avoided with correct building plans. If the plans have
been properly developed, with the proper sizing of equipment, you must be sure that
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Site Supervisors
changes will not undo this good work. The practice of verbally communicating changes
is always risky and is potentially disastrous for a systems-designed home where highperformance features interact to achieve energy efficiency, comfort, and durability.
Before making any changes ask yourself these questions:
• Why are the changes being made? If there are no clear benefits from the
change, don’t do it.
• What effect will the change have on building performance? Will the change
deviate from best practice recommendations? Will you need to change HVAC
sizing or system selection? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, ask
your designer, engineer, or home energy rating system (HERS) professional.
Be sure to adjust all the systems related to the change.
• Are new drawings or specifications needed to clearly document your expectations? Be clear in your expectations.
Contracts – Write Them Down
Best Practice: Prepare or update formal contracts with key subs that clearly show what
you expect of them and what they can expect from other subs. Relevant details, plans,
and specifications described in the last section should be referenced in the contracts. If
the sub is providing materials, list the specific materials that you want. Here are some
examples of materials that a sub may supply:
WORKING WITH SUBS
Always prepare formal
contracts and be clear
about your expectations.
• Recessed downlights, which should be air-tight and rated for insulation contact
• Water-based mastic, to seal ducts
• High-density fiberglass insulation
• Sealants and caulks to seal penetrations
• Windows are typically ordered along with other major purchases, but if the
sub is supplying them, be sure they are rated as called out in the plans
• Draft-stopping sheathing.
If you have expectations for a sub, such as sealing certain types of holes, or installing
insulation in some space that may become inaccessible, be sure these expectations are
spelled out in the contract. The scope of work should cover things like equipment size,
duct sizes, identification of who is responsible for sealing which holes, etc. Contract
specifications and written assignments of responsibility can greatly simplify the ordering
of materials. Duct installers, for example, will know exactly what kind of duct material
will be used and how much; and with this knowledge may be able to prefabricate many
of their assemblies back at the shop, rather than in the field. These pre-assembled pieces
tend to be of higher quality thanks to the proximity of tools and materials and better
working conditions in the shop.
The Trades
chapter contains instructions that you may consider incorporating
into your contracts. Other sources of useful contracting tools include statements of
work that were developed by ConSol, one of the organizations that lead a Building
America team. Here is a partial listing of statements of work, designed for California,
that are available on the Web at www.comfortwise.com/installationprotocols.shtml or
at www.thebii.org/rpsw.asp:
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• Quality caulking and sealing
• HVAC system design and installation
• Quality installation of insulation
• Sliding door installation
• Window installation
Pre-Construction Meeting – Have One
Best Practice: A final strategy to manage expectations among the subs is to hold a pre-
construction meeting that includes as many of the subs as possible. At this meeting you
can emphasize the changes in workflow, shifts in responsibilities, and newly introduced
building details. Tell your subs about your goals for energy-efficient houses.
PRE-CONSTRUCTION MEETING
Include your subs in preconstruction meeting to discuss
changes associated with your
energy efficiency goals.
Give the subs drawings and instructions on how to accomplish their jobs. Sample
instructions are included in the Trades
chapter. This meeting will go a long
way toward helping people to understand their roles and responsibilities. Make sure
that your subs are aware that you will be conducting inspections and that both the
ductwork and the building envelope will be tested for air tightness.
It may be necessary, especially when starting your first energy-efficient homes, to hold
additional training sessions with key subs. More on this is discussed in the Managing
Quality section below.
Permits – Grease the Skids
A home built according to the instructions contained in this document for the hot-dry
and mixed-dry climates does not violate any provisions of the national model codes or,
usually, of local regulations. However, many local code officials are unfamiliar with some
of the recommended construction techniques. It is well worth your while to raise these
issues yourself before construction begins so that you’re not surprised by a red tag later.
Best Practice: Ensuring that the “new” techniques are clearly delineated on the building
plans can also help flag these issues during plan review rather than during inspection.
SHOW TECHNIQUES
ON BUILDING PLANS
Ensure that all “new” techniques
are delineated on the building plans.
Best Practice: A meeting with the building department before construction is well-
advised. Your code official may need information in support of the new techniques you
may use in an energy-efficient home.
Appendix III contains a sample of a draft code note that may be helpful. A set of draft
code notes is available on DOE’s Building Energy Codes Resource Center. These draft
documents are written for codes officials, and provide a description of energy efficiency
techniques, citations to relevant codes, and guidance for plan reviews and field
inspections. The sample in Appendix III is the last one on the list below and is entitled
Rigid Board Insulation Installed as Draft Stop in Attic Kneewall – Code Notes (Draft).
Here is a list of available code notes that should help assure your local code official that
the proposed techniques are both safe and in compliance with the model codes. The
code notes are available at www.energycodes.gov/support/code_notes.stm.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
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PLAN A MEETING WITH THE
BUILDING DEPARTMENT
Your code official may need
information about energy-efficient
home techniques.
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• Single Top Plate
• No Headers in Nonbearing Walls
• Header Hangers in Bearing Walls
• Framing Floor Joists Spaced at 24 inches on Center
• Framing Studs Spaced at 24 inches on Center
• Open Spaces as Return-Air Options
• Details for Mechanically Vented Crawl Spaces
• Ventilation Requirements for Condensing Clothes Dryers
• Drywall Clips
• Rigid Board Insulation Installed as Draft Stop in Attic Kneewall
Managing Execution
If you’ve managed to establish clear expectations with your subs and suppliers, you’re
almost ready to begin construction. The final parts of the plan involve training subs
as necessary, scheduling everything, and monitoring progress.
Training
Best Practice: Attend and have your key subs attend a training course on
systems-designed housing.
SYSTEM DESIGNED HOUSING
Be sure to attend a training
on systems-designed housing.
One good way to accomplish this may be to let your HERS provider (see Quality
Assurance below) conduct the necessary training. Information on general training is
available from:
• Building America – www.buildingamerica.gov
• Energy and Environmental Building Association – www.eeba.org
• Building Science Corporation –www.buildingscience.com/workshops/default.htm
• National Association of Home Builders Research Center – www.nahbrc.org
• Southface Energy Institute – www.southface.org
• IBACOS – www.ibacos.com
Other sources may include regional universities or Cooperative Extension Service
programs, homebuilder associations, utilities, and codes programs. For example,
Louisiana State University published a book on building homes in Louisiana (Reichel,
et al. 2002). More specialized training is available at the above sources, plus trade
organizations, such as:
• Air Conditioning Contractors Association – offers technician certification
– www.acca.org
• American Architectural Manufacturers Association – offers window installation master certification – www.installationmastersusa.com
The Web provides a free and easy method to train crews. The California Energy
Commission offers on its Web site a series of brief videos, lasting only a few minutes a
piece, that cover many installation processes. Visit www.energyvideos.com for access to
dozens of videos. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Pathnet
Web site contains videos on buildings systems and new plumbing technologies.
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Visit www.pathnet.org/sp.asp?id=10787 to view PATH TV. PATH stands for the
Partnership for Advanced Housing Technology.
Scheduling
Constructing an energy-efficient home requires careful attention to scheduling. Several
of the new construction techniques may require changing the order of subs; some
require (or benefit from) a shifting of responsibilities from one sub to another; and
some new activities will need to be added into the schedule. Here are some of the more
important schedule considerations:
• Schedule HVAC rough-in before plumbing and electrical. It is far more
important for the ductwork to have un-constricted access and pathways than
it is for wires or pipes. But be sure needs for other systems, such as drain pitch,
are coordinated.
• If using a conditioned attic, schedule insulating under the roof deck before
HVAC rough-in. The insulators must be able to do their job without
tromping on the carefully placed ductwork.
• Don’t forget to schedule for pipe insulation under the slab.
• Be sure to schedule pre-drywall insulation inspections, flashing inspections,
and envelope and duct pressure tests. Inspect at key points to ensure that
insulation and envelope sealing take place before areas become inaccessible.
Inspections are much more likely to happen if scheduled. And subs may be
a bit more conscientious if they know their work will be evaluated.
• Be sure to schedule caulking of electrical and plumbing penetrations after
drywall is completed and the lines have been installed.
Some situations that may require a shifting of responsibilities include:
• If using advanced framing techniques that include two-stud corners and
floating drywall corners (see the section on wall framing in the Designers
chapter and Appendix III), someone must attach drywall clips. The framer
is a more likely candidate than the drywall installer for framing modifications.
• Some caulking work needs to be done by the HVAC subcontractor. In
particular, main supply and return trunks that lead through walls need to
be caulked by the person connecting them to the equipment. Don’t let the
drywall finisher do this with mud—it is neither a good sealant nor durable
enough. Also, all duct terminations, including jump ducts, must be sealed
when registers are installed.
• Some post-finish caulking can be avoided by having the electrician use
pre-fabricated air-tight electrical boxes (see the Trades
chapter for an
electricians tip sheet).
• If installation of windows and drainage planes are done by different subs,
the window installer must be careful to leave flashing unattached at the
bottom so that the first row of building paper may be tucked under it (see the
Trades
chapter tip sheets for window flashing, house wrap, and sealants).
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Site Supervisors
• If you are using insulated headers, the framer will need to install insulation
inside any double headers (using sandwiched foam insulation). Open headers
may be left for the insulation contractor.
• Draft stops must be installed behind bathtubs and stairwells on exterior
framed walls. The framer should do this, but be sure that insulation is installed
before the draft-stop material goes on.
• Innovative scheduling of subcontractors can bring huge rewards in reduced
costs and improved quality. See our case study on Pulte Sun Lakes for
more information.
“Building America is
a way to manage risk,
potential litigation issues,
and building systems
failures.”
Josh Robinson, Pulte Sun Lakes project manager and a Pulte Vice President
Quality Assurance
The NAHB, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and other
sources of builder technical and management information offer guidance for improving
quality assurance on job sites. The following sections contain quality assurance
information related to energy efficiency.
Inspections
Best Practice: Conduct several inspections during the course of construction, always
conduct pressure tests of both the whole house and the HVAC ductwork, and always check
AC and heat pump refrigerant charging. Have the house rated by a certified HERS rater.
INSPECTIONS
Conduct inspections throughout
the construction process.
Especially when energy-efficient systems-designed housing is new to your subs, you
should conduct multiple inspections to ensure that the subs have understood what is
required of them and how to implement it. After the process has become more routine,
you might get by with just a couple of inspections. One key inspection should occur
prior to installation of drywall.
The pre-drywall inspection allows you to ensure that insulation and draftstopping have
been properly installed before they get permanently enclosed. This is also the best time
to conduct a pressure test on the ductwork. The duct pressure test should be conducted
with the HVAC contractor present, at least for his or her first several energy-efficient
homes. If the ductwork fails to meet the pressure criteria, a smoke test will reveal the
worst leaks. It is crucial that this happen while the ductwork is still visible and the
HVAC contractor is present to see what the problem areas are.
Duct testing services can be most easily obtained through a certified HERS rater.
The rater can also conduct whole-house pressure tests and assist with training. And
the HERS rating itself can be a valuable marketing tool for an energy-efficient house.
To identify a certified rater in your area, check the registry at the Residential Energy
Services Network (RESNET) Web site: www.natresnet.org.
The second important inspection comes after completion of the home, including all
interior and exterior finishes. This pre-occupancy inspection should check for proper
sealing of electrical and plumbing (fixtures and drywall penetrations), HVAC registers,
and the HVAC closet. A whole-house air leakage test (aka “blower-door” test) is
crucial. Again, your HERS provider is the easiest resource for this service, and this is
when he or she would be rating the home anyway. Also, if your HVAC contractor has
not done it, a final check of the AC or heat pump refrigerant charge is crucial. Studies
have shown that failure to check refrigerant charging results in the average system using
13% too much energy (http://hem.dis.anl.gov/eehem/00/001105.html).
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • SUP-7
Site Supervisors
Energy Efficiency Checklists
A successful energy-efficient building involves many details. It is worthwhile to
maintain for each house a checklist of important features to keep track of what has
been done. Although the best checklist is one you’ve made specific to the design(s) you
are implementing, the three checklists on the following pages are a good baseline to
work from and may be integrated with your existing checklists.
SPOT-CHECK INSPECTION CHECKLIST
These items should be checked if possible as they are installed because they may not be
accessible at the pre-drywall inspection.
ÿþ" Grading is sloped at 5% away from the house for at least 10 feet.
Roof drainage is directed at least 3 feet beyond the building.
ÿþ" A 6-mil polyethylene sheet is installed directly beneath the
concrete slab, continuously wrapping the slab and the grade beam.
ÿþ" Roof materials are installed to provide a continuous drainage plane over the entire surface of the roof. Wall/roof junctures should be appropriately flashed, including kick-out flashing at the bottom.
ÿþ" HVAC system is appropriately sized and installed according to plans. No deviations should be made in the field.
ÿþ" A mechanical ventilation system is installed as specified in the plans.
ÿþ" Each bedroom has a separate HVAC return duct, a transfer grille, or a jump duct.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • SUP-8
Site Supervisors
PRE-DRYWALL INSPECTION CHECKLIST
Note: Some measures in this list are unnecessary depending on whether the house is
sealed on the interior (e.g., air-tight drywall) or exterior (e.g., sheathing) of the wall.
ÿþ" Bathtubs on exterior walls have insulation behind them and draftstops installed.
ÿþ" Dropped ceilings, dropped-soffit cabinets, and stairwells on
exterior walls have draftstops installed behind them (unless drywall
was installed prior to framing-in).
ÿþ" Windows and doors are sealed to framing using caulks, foams, backer rod, and/or similar.
ÿþ" Window flashing is properly installed to shed water.
ÿþ" All electrical and plumbing penetrations between conditioned and unconditioned spaces are caulked or otherwise sealed.
ÿþ" All recessed lights beneath unconditioned spaces are air-tight and
rated for insulated ceiling (IC). All kitchen and bathroom fans are
appropriately rated (capacity and sound) and exhausted to
the outside.
ÿþ" All exterior penetrations (exterior light fixtures, phone and other
service cables, etc.) are sealed with caulk, gaskets, or similar.
ÿþ" All housewrap seams are overlapped and taped; top and bottom
edges are sealed past the plates; housewrap is appropriately lapped
under window flashing.
ÿþ" Building paper seams are overlapped shingle style to shed water and appropriately lapped under window flashing.
ÿþ" Batt insulation is unfaced or blown-in insulation is used.
ÿþ" No vapor retarder is installed on the inside of the walls.
ÿþ" Ductwork is sufficiently air-sealed as verified by a duct pressure
test conducted by a HERS rater. Ductwork leakage to the exterior
should be not more than 5% of the total air handling unit capacity
(at high speed) when tested at 25 Pa pressure.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • SUP-9
Site Supervisors
PRE-OCCUPANCY INSPECTION CHECKLIST
ÿþ" Entry of main supply/return ducts into air handling unit closet is
appropriately sealed with foam, caulk, or similar materials
(NOT with drywall mud).
ÿþ" Plumbing penetrations through drywall are air sealed.
ÿþ" Electrical switch and outlet boxes are sealed to drywall with caulk or gaskets.
ÿþ" Light fixture boxes are sealed to drywall with caulk or gaskets.
ÿþ" Bathroom and kitchen fans are sealed to drywall with caulk or gaskets.
ÿþ" Bathroom and kitchen fans are drawing air-tested with a small piece of tissue; the fan should hold the paper against the grille.
ÿþ" Duct boots/registers are sealed to floor or drywall with caulk or gaskets.
ÿþ" Attic hatches and kneewall entries are weatherstripped and insulated.
ÿþ" Refrigerant charge on air-conditioner/heat pump is verified in writing by installer to be within specs, using superheat method for non-Thermostatic Expansion Valve (TXV) systems or subcooling method for TXV systems; this may require a return visit during warm weather.
ÿþ" The whole-house envelope is sufficiently air-sealed as verified by a
whole-house pressure test. Air leakage should be tested by a HERS
rater and should be less than:
ÿþ" 2.5 in2 per 100 ft2 of envelope area (Canadian General Standards
Board (CGSB), calculated at a 10 Pa pressure differential), or
ÿþ" 1.25 in2 per 100 ft2 of envelope area (American Society for
Testing and Materials (ASTM), calculated at a 4 Pa pressure
differential), or
ÿþ" 0.25 CFM/ft2 of envelope area when tested at a 50 Pa
pressure differential.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • SUP-10
Site Supervisors
Sources & Additional Information
• Reichel, Claudette Hanks, Ann Berry, Pat Skinner. 2002. Building Your
Louisiana House: Homeowners’ Guide to Shaping the Future for Louisiana Living.
Louisiana State University Ag Center. www.lsuagcenter.com.
Web Sites Not Included with Published Documents Above
(See Appendix V for more information on Web sites.)
• www.acca.com
• www.buildingamerica.gov
• www.buildingscience.com/workshops/default.htm
• www.comfortwise.com/installationprotocols.shtml
• www.eeba.org
• www.energycodes.gov/support/code_notes.stm
• www.energyvideos.com
• http://hem.dis.anl.gov/eehem/00/001105.html
• www.ibacos.com
• www.installationmastersusa.com
• www.nahbrc.org
• www.natresnet.org
• www.pathnet.org/sp.asp?id=10787
• www.southface.org
• www.thebii.org/rpsw.asp
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • SUP-11
Trades
Professional tips for fast and easy installation
INTRODUCTION
On the following pages you will find step-by-step,
easy-to-follow illustrated instructions for implementing
key energy efficiency technologies.
These Building Tips are designed to be easily duplicated
and distributed.
• Slabs
• Housewrap
• Window Flashing
• Air Sealing - Plumbing
• Air Sealing - Electrical
Taking action in
your community
HOMEOWNERS
Shopping for value,
comfort, and quality
MANAGERS
Putting building
science to work for
your bottom line
MARKETERS
Energy efficiency
delivers the value that
customers demand
• Air Sealing - Drywall
SITE PLANNERS
& DEVELOPERS
• Air Sealing - Glossary
Properly situated houses
pay big dividends
• Fiberglass Insulation
• Masonry Construction
• Duct Sealing
DESIGNERS
Well-crafted designs
capture benefits for builders,
buyers, and business
SITE SUPERVISORS
Tools to help with
project management
TRADES
Professional tips for fast
and easy installation
CASE STUDIES
Bringing it all together
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • TRD-1
Slabs
Building Tips
Roof Flashing
Optional Blower
Radon reduction
3" plastic pipe vent stack
Wood Framed
Masonry
Seal all slab
penetrations
Foam Insulation
(provides thermal break
for slab and functions
as an expansion joint)
(also serves as
capillary break)
Metal Termite
Flashing
Concrete Slab
Stem Wall
Gravel Base
6-mil Polyethelylene
Vapor Diffusion Retarder
Sill Gasket
Membrane
(4-6" deep coarse, no fines)
Perforated
Drain Pipe
(extends under grade beam)
Grade Beam
Sources & Additional Information
• U.S. DOE, Technology Fact Sheet on Slab Insulation (www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/documents/pdfs/29237.pdf).
• U.S. EPA, Buildding Radon Out: A Step-By-Step Guide oni How to Build Radon Resistent Homes (www.epa.gov/199/iaq/radon).
• Southface Energy Institute. Fact Sheets #29: Insulating Foundation and Doors
(www.southface.org/home/sfpubs/techshts/29_insulatefloors4PDF.pdf).
• Southface Energy Institute. Fact Sheets #30: Radon-Resistant Construction for Builders (www.southface.org/home/sfpubs/techshts/30_radonresistantconst.pdf).
• Building Science Corporation: www.buildingscience.com/housesthatwork/hothumid/wood/default.htm
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • TRD-2
Housewrap
Building Tips
Minimize cuts in housewrap and caulk or tape to seal all penetrations
Tape housewrap according to manufacturers specifications at top plate,
band joist, and horizontal seams, and secure with plastic-capped nails
Housewrap
Plastic-capped Nails
P
RA
US
US
HO
Fasten flaps of window "T-cut"
to the inside of the framing.
HO
US
EW
HO
RA
P
Seal floodlight
at opening
EW
EW
RA
P
Unroll around house
US
P
RA
HO
US
K
K
US
HO
HO
HO
US
EW
RA
P
US
EW
RA
P
Housewrap Tape
EW
RA
P
UL
UL
EW
HO
CA
EW
H OR A P
US
EW
RA
P
(* See Window Flashing Building Tips)
HO
HO
EW
US
EW
RA
CA
EW
HO
P
US
U
P
US
O
RA
US
RA
RA
DOW
WIN
HO
H
W
SE
EW
RA
P
K
P
Sheathing
UL
P
CA
Seal spigot
at opening
Caulk under housewrap
and seal gap between
electrical box and
sheathing
Caulk
Housewrap
Housewrap should
be overlapped shingle-style
Seal overlap with tape
Seal housewrap to foundation
below bottom plate in basement
or crawlspace.
Sill Gasket
Tape
= Another trade may have completed this step. Confirm with the site
supervisor. If not, and you need to complete the step yourself, ensure
that the necessary materials are available on site.
Sources & Additional Information
•
Southface Energy Institute. Fact Sheets #8 Air Sealing (www.southface.org/home/sfpubs/techshts/8_airsealing.pdf)
•
U.S. DOE. Technology Fact Sheet on Air Sealing (www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/documents/pdfs/26448.pdf).
•
See also the Building Tips on Air Sealing and Window Flashing
•
See: http://construction.tyvek.com/en/productServices/HomeWrap/index.shtml
•
Straube, John. 2001. Canadian Architect. “Wrapping it Up”. May, 2001. www.cdnarchitect.com.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • TRD-3
Window Flashing
Building Tips
Example of window flashing details for home with housewrap and plywood or OSB wall sheathing.
STEP 1- If Housewrap Has Not Been Installed
STEP 1- If Housewrap Has Been Installed
HO
Cap Nails
HO
>10"
U
HO
SE
W
RA
P
US
EW
RA
SE
W
R
R
U
HO
AP
H
P
S
OU
EW
RA
HO
US
EW
SE
W
RA
P
P
H
>12"
p
P
RA
ewra
W
SE
Hous
U
O
S
OU
EW
RA
P
HO
P
RA
H
EW
EW
6"
45˚
OU
US
H
S
OU
EW
RA
US
P
P
RA
H
S
OU
EW
RA
P
Apply at least a 12" flap, or apron, of building paper
or housewrap just below the windows sill.
Cut the housewrap covering the rough opening in the
shape of a modified "Y".
If the window sill is close to the sill plate, the apron
can extend all the way to the sill plate.
Fold the side and bottom flaps into the window
opening and secure.
The apron should extend at least 10" past the sides of the
window opening, or to the first stud in open wall construction.
Above the window opening, cut a head flap and
flip up to expose sheathing, and loosely tape in place
out of the way.
Attach only the apron’s top edge with cap nails.
STEP 2 - Sill Flashing
HO
U
W
SE
RA
STEP 3 - Jamb Caulking
P
HO
6"
E
US
W
RA
HO
U
W
SE
RA
HO
CA
Tape E W R
HO
U
SE
Self-adhesive
P
RA
Window
Flashing
W
HO
UL
AP
US
Install self-adhesive flashing to the sill, ensuring that
flashing extends up jambs at least 6".
One commercial product comes with two removable strips
over the adhesive. Remove the first strip to expose half the
adhesive and apply this area to the sill. Begin pressing in the
middle of the sill and work towards the sides. Remove the
second strip to expose the adhesive that will be used to apply
the flashing below the window to the outside wall.
P
HO
US
EW
E
US
W
RA
K
RA
P
HO
U
W
SE
RA
P
Caulk the outside edges of the head and side jambs
Do not caulk across the sill
Install the window using corrosion-resistant nails and
following manufacturer's specifications.
Tape down the bottom corners of the flashing
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • TRD-4
Building Tips: Window Flashing
STEP 4 - Jamb and Head Flashing
SE
W
STEP 5 - Seal Rough Opening Gap
R
OU
Fold HDown
Head Flap
1"
4"
H
S
OU
P
Self-adhesive
RA
W
S EHead Flashing
U
O
HO
Self-adhesive
Jamb Flashing
HO
US
EW
RA
US
EW
RA
P
CA
EW
R
HO
SE
W
RA
K
AP
P
U
HO
UL
US
P
Install self-adhesive jamb flashing extending 4" above the top
of the head flange and even with the bottom of the sill flashing.
Install self-adhesive head flashing extending 1" beyond
the jamb flashing.
On the interior side of the window, seal gap
between the window and the rough opening with
appropriate sealant.
If housewrap has been installed, be sure that the head flap,
when it is folded down, will cover the top of the flashing.
STEP 6 - If Apron was Installed
HO
HO
U
W
SE
RA
E
US
W
RA
P
HO
P
HO
Housewrap
secured to WRAP
E
US
windowHOflange
with tape
U
HO
SE
W
RA
STEP 6 - If Head Flap was Created
US
EW
RA
HO
P
Existing
Apron
HO
U
W
SE
RA
US
E
Head flap
secured with tape
P
HO
US
EW
R
U
W
SE
RA
P
AP
H
P
If an apron was installed under the window, slip the housewrap
or building paper under the apron.
Tape the edges where the housewrap meets the window flange
if housewrap is installed after flashing.
If building paper is used, embed the edges in a bead of sealant
where the paper meets the window flange.
HO
US
EW
RA
S
OU
EW
P
If headflap was created, fold it over the head flashing
and tape across the top window flange and the
45o angle seams.
Sources & Additional Information
•
Lstiburek, J.W. (2002). Water Management Guide. Minneapolis, MN: Energy and Environmental Building Association
(ww.eeba.org).
•
U.S. DOE Technology Fact Sheet on Weather-Resistive Barriers
(www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/documents/pdfs/28600.pdf).
•
Standard Practice for Installation of Exterior Windows, Doors, and Skylights. ASTM E2112-01, September 2002.
West Conshohocken, PA.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • TRD-5
Air Sealing - Plumbing
Building Tips
Seal all plumbing and electrical penetrations.
Wall
Top Plate
Staples
Prefabricated roof vent pipe flashing can be adapted as air sealing gaskets.
Vent pipe may be eliminated with an air admittance valve in some jurisdictions.
CA
UL
K
Plumbing
Vent
Caulk/
Sealant
Insulate and airseal behind tub.
Blocking
Sealant between
gasket and plate
Thin sheet
goods as draft
stop behind tub
or enclosure
Caulk/sealant
Draft Stop
Ex
ter
Draft stop behind enclosure.
ior
Another trade may have
completed this step.
Confirm with the site
supervisor. If not, and
you need to complete
the step yourself, ensure
that the necessary
materials are available
on site.
Continuous bead
of sealant or
adhesive
Wa
ll
Keep pipes out of exterior walls and seal
penetrations through floor.
Seal penetrations through rim joists.
Be careful not to compress or disrupt floor
insulation, if it is present, keeping pipe runs
parallel and close to studs leaving more room
for insulation.
Exterior Wall
Rim
Joist
Insulate pipes
exposed to
unconditioned
areas
Seal tub penetration
Pipe
Floor Insulation
Sources & Additional Information
•
Lstiburek, J. W. 2000. Builders Guides. Minneapolis, MN. Energy and Environmental Building Association. www.eeba.org.
•
U.S. DOE Technology Fact Sheet on Air Sealing (www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/documents/pdfs/26448.pdf).
•
www.toolbase.org: click on New Building Technology > Plumbing > Distribution Systems > Air Admittance Vents
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • TRD-6
Electrical Air Sealing
Building Tips
Recessed light fixtures should be rated for Insulated Ceiling Air Tight (ICAT).
Airtight Wire
Connection From
Junction Box
Ceiling fans should be wired to a wall switch.
AIRTIGHTNESS LABEL
Seal light fixture boxes to drywall with caulk or foam.
AIR TIGHTNESS
LABEL
Caulk
Airtight Can
Sealant
Seal all exterior penetrations, such as
porch light fixtures, phone, security,
cable and electric service holes, with
caulk, spray foam, or gaskets - note
that foam degrades in sunlight.
Electrica
l
Panel
Decorative
Cover
Suppo
rt
UL
CA
Seal bath fan box to drywall
with caulk or foam.
Seal Wire
Connection
Use air tight outlet boxes
or seal standard boxes.
Sheath
in
g
K
Nailing
Flange
Built-in
Sealant
Run wiring
along side
of stud at
exterior wall
and along
plates
Air Sealed
Electrical Box
Built-in
Gasket
Flange for sealing to
drywall air barrier
Seal standard plastic
electrical box at face
to drywall with joint
compound or cover
the plate gasket
with caulked foam.
Caulk at wire
penetrations
LK
CAU
EXTER
IOR W
ALL
Caulk/seal/foam all electrical wires penetrating
top and bottom plates of exterior walls.
Standard Plastic
Electrical Box
Run wiring along bottom plate at exterior wall.
Caulk
NOTE: Some codes require wires to be held up from
bottom plates 6"-8" to protect from future drilling through plates.
Sources & Additional Information
• Lstiburek, J.W. 2000. Builder Guide Hot-Humid Climates. Minneapolis, MN: Energy and Environmental Building Association (ww.eeba.org).
• U.S. DOE. Technology Fact Sheet on Air Sealing (www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/documents/pdfs/26448.pdf).
• See also Air Sealing Building Tips in the chapter.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • TRD-7
Air Sealing Drywall
WINDOW
INSTALLER
PLUMBER
DRYWALLER
ELECTRICIAN
MEASURE
*Actual assignments to be made by site
supervisor. The supervisor may choose to
work with a sealing specialist instead.
FRAMER
Building Tips
EXTERIOR WALLS
Install gaskets or caulk at top and bottom plates of exterior walls.

Seal between the bottom plate and subflooring.

 
Install gaskets behind coverplates.
 
Seal large holes behind bathtubs or stairs with sheathing.
PARTITION WALLS

Seal the drywall at the intersection with the top or bottom plate.
Seal penetrations through the top and bottom plates for plumbing, wiring,
and ducts using fire-resistant sealants.
Knee walls can be insulated and sealed at either the roofline or along the line formed by the
roof, wall, and floor. Rigid foam insulation, taped at the seams with housewrap tape, can be
used to seal the backside of the knee wall and the underside of the roof. Sealing along the
roofline is preferred in new construction.




WINDOWS & DOORS
Caulk or glue drywall edges to either framing or jambs.

Fill rough opening with foam backer rod and caulk (preferred) or low-expanding foam sealant.

Caulk window and door trim to drywall with clear or paintable sealant.


CEILING
Seal the junction between the ceiling and walls.

Whenever possible, use continuous drywall sheets for the ceiling
and walls to minimize joints to be sealed.

Seal all penetrations in the ceiling for wiring, plumbing, ducts, and attic access openings.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
  
Version 3, 9/2005 • TRD-8
Air Sealing Glossary
Building Tips
Caulk
Sheet Goods
Seals gaps of less than 1/2". Select grade (interior,
exterior, high temperature) based on application.
(Plywood, Drywall, Rigid Foam Insulation) These
materials form an air retarder. Air leaks only at unsealed
seams or penetrations.
Expanding Spray Foam
Fills large cracks and small holes. Expanding foams are
messy but useful for filling large holes or cracks. The
material expands 2 to 3 times in volume after application.
It comes in one-part cans that require no mixing or in
two-part systems for larger jobs. It degrades in sunlight
and users should be careful not to get the foam on their
skin. DO NOT USE near flammable applications (e.g.,
flue vents). DO NOT USE on windows and doors.
In large applications, a two-part system is used, which
involves mixing the sealant on site. For small jobs, onepart spray cans are used.
Sheet Metal
Low-Expanding/Non-Expanding Spray Foam
Weatherstripping
These latex-based spray foams come in one-part spray
cans. They expand very little or not at all and will not
pinch jambs or void window treatments.
Used with high-temperature caulk for sealing hightemperature components, such as flues, chimneys,
and framing.
Polyethylene Plastic
This inexpensive material for air sealing also stops vapor
diffusion. All edges and penetrations must be completely
sealed for an effective air retarder. Poly is fragile, and
proper placement is climate specific.
Used to seal moveable components, such as doors,
windows, and attic accesses.
Mastic
Backer Rod
Closed-cell foam or rope caulk. Press into crack or gap
with screwdriver or putty knife. Often used with caulk
around window and door rough openings.
A thick paste that can be used on all duct materials that
provides a permanent seal. Seals air handlers and all duct
connections and joints. UL-181-approved water-based
mastic is best.
Gaskets
UL-181 or Foil-Faced Tape
Apply under the bottom plate before an exterior wall is
raised or use to seal drywall to framing instead of caulk
or adhesive.
Tapes approved for ducts and air handlers. Temporarily
seals the air handler.
Housewrap
Installed over exterior sheathing. Must be sealed with
housewrap tape or caulk to act as an air retarder.
Resists water, but is NOT a vapor barrier.
Sources & Additional Information
•
U.S. DOE. Technology Fact Sheet on Air Sealing (www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/documents/pdfs/26448.pdf).
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • TRD-9
Fiberglass Insulation
Building Tips
INSTALLING FIBERGLASS BATT INSULATION
ALWAYS:
Ceilings:
ÿþ" Avoid gaps, tight turns, and compression
ÿþ" Insulate and seal the attic access door
• Cut insulation to fit snugly in non-standard spaces.
• Slit batts to fit around wiring and plumbing.
• Notch out around electrical boxes and use scraps to fill in behind.
ÿþ" Install long runs first – then use scraps to fill in
smaller spaces and gaps.
ÿþ" Use unfaced batts in hot and humid climates.
ÿþ" Install insulation over ICAT-rated recessed cans.
ÿþ" Verify ventilation pathways.
ÿþ" Install insulation baffles.
Band Joists:
ÿþ" Place insulation in the cavities between
joists and subfloor.
ÿþ" Even if blown-in insulation is to be generally applied,
use fiberglass batts to insulate areas that will be
inaccessible to the blown-in insulation, such as
behind bath enclosures.
ÿþ" Caulk bottom plate to subfloor.
Walls:
Under Floor Insulation:
ÿþ" Friction fit the batts in place until covered by drywall
or sheathing.
ÿþ" Metal stays, lathe, or stainless steal wire support
insulation in joist cavities.
ÿþ" Insulate before installing stairs and tubs and other
features that will block access.
ÿþ" In new construction it is preferred that crawlspace
walls are insulated. If underfloor insulation is to be
used, it can be held in place with metal staves, lathe,
stainless steel wire, or twine.
Knee Walls:
ÿþ" Seal knee wall to create a continuous air barrier. Knee
walls can be sealed following the wall itself and attic
floor or along the sloping edge of the attic roof. Rigid
foam insulation, taped at the seams with housewrap
tape, can be used to seal the backside of the kneewall
and the underside of the roof. Sealing along the
roofline is preferred in new construction.
ÿþ" Insulate and air seal the rafter space along the sloping
ceiling of the knee wall attic space or insulate and air
seal the roofline wall and floor.
ÿþ" Rafters should receive (R-19 or R-30) insulation.
ÿþ" Cover rafters with a sealed air barrier (such as drywall
or foil-faced hardboard).
ÿþ" Caulk band joist to subfloor and plates and insulate.
ÿþ" Caulk bottom plate to subfloor.
ÿþ" If truss systems are used under floors, an approach
better than batt insulation is to install netting or rigid
insulation to the underside of the floor trusses and fill
the joist cavity with blown-in insulation.
Sources & Additional Information
• Energy Efficient Building Association’s Builder’s Guide
Hot-Humid Climates, 2000.
• U.S. DOE Technology Fact Sheet on Attic Access.
• U.S. DOE Technology Fact Sheet on Crawlspace Insulation.
*
Refer to the Air Sealing Building Tips in this chapter
ÿþ" Caulk the barrier to the top plate of the wall below the
attic space and to the top plate of the knee wall itself.
ÿþ" Seal all other cracks and holes.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • TRD-10
Masonry Construction
Building Tips
Semi-vapor permeable rigid insulations used on the interior
of wall assemblies should be unfaced or faced with permeable
skins. Foil facings and polypropylene skins should be avoided.
Wood furring should be installed over rigid insulation; the
rigid insulation should be continuous over the surface of the wall,
except for the 2x4 furring near the ceiling. This blocking attaches
directly to the masonry block and is above the insulation, not behind it.
WINDOW SILL DRAINAGE
Wood Sub-Jamb
(positioned toward wall exterior so that
face of interior window frame is flush with
center point of rib in precast masonry sill)
Continuous 2x4 or 2x2 Horizontal Furring
(acting as draft or fire stop; seal all
service/wiring penetrations)
Sealant between
masonry opening and
treated wood sub-jamb
Interior Gypsum Board with
permeable or semi-permeable finish
Treated Wood
Sub-Jamb
Mounting Member
("back-caulked")
Masonry
Wall
Sealant forming
end dam
Semi-Permeable Rigid Insulation
(Expanded Polystyrene, Extruded Polystyrene,
Fiber-faced Isocyanurate)
Source: EEBA 9.5
Wood Furring
Gypsum Board
Sloping Precast Masonry
Sill with Precast Rib
Treated Wood Spacer/Mounting
Block to support window
Latex Paint or other permeable or
semi-permeable interior finish
Masonry Wall
Rigid Insulation
(Minimum 1/2" Thick)
Concrete
Slab
Wood Furring
(Minimum 3/4" Thick)
Gypsum Board
Source: EEBA 9.1
Shallow Electrical Box
(surface-mounted On
Masonry Interior)
Electrical boxes can be surface-mounted
eliminating chiseling/chipping masonry
Source: EEBA 9.7
ELECTRICAL BOX
Sources & Additional Information
•
Lstiburek, J. W. 2000. Builders Guides. Minneapolis, MN. Energy and Environmental Building Association. www.eeba.org.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • TRD-11
Duct Sealing
Building Tips
AIR HANDLER
SUPPLY & RETURN PLENUMS
Mastic collars to
metal plenum on
inside or outside
Mastic or caulk
Mastic
Mastic
Collar with strap;
mastic on take-off
Mastic all corners
of metal plenums
Mastic plenum
to air handler
SUPPLY
Mastic
Mastic to seal
refrigerant and
condensate line
Mastic or tape
exterior of duct board
Mastic
RETURN
Mastic exterior of collars
Mastic or caulk
Filter Rack
FLEX DUCT
BOOTS
Use wide straps to support flex duct
spaced at 5-foot intervals
Strap inner liner and
outer insulation
REGISTER
Seal
joints
in boots
Mastic
boot seams
Mastic before
attaching flex
duct
Run lines straight
using metal elbows at
bends and corners
Seal boots to sheet goods (drywall/subfloor)
with caulk, mastic or spray foam
Seal metal or flex to boot or elbow
and joints in elbow with mastic
Never puncture inner liner. If repair is
needed; install a coupling and seal properly
Mastic is a gooey adhesive that is applied wet. It fills gaps and dries to a soft solid. Mastics may or may
not contain reinforcing fibers, and they may be used with reinforcing mesh tape.
Sources & Additional Information
• Energy Efficient Building Association Builder’s Guide Hot and Humid Climates, 2000.
• Southface Energy Institute. Fact Sheet #2 Ductwork Questions & Answers (www.southface.org/home/sfpubs/techshts/2duct_q&a.pdf).
• Southface Energy Institute. Fact Sheet #18 Energy Checklist (www.southface.org/home/sfpubs/techshts/checklist.pdf).
*
Diagrams courtesy of Southface Energy Institute Fact Sheet #2 Ductwork Questions & Answers.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • TRD-12
AmLand Development
The New American Home 2003 – Las Vegas, Nevada
INTRODUCTION
Building America helps 2003 New American Home Earn Energy
Score of 90 in Sunny Nevada
Taking action in
your community
AmLand Development faced some stiff challenges when it agreed to build the New
American Home® 2003 (the display home for the National Association of Home
Builders International Builders’ Show). AmLand wanted to capture the killer views
of the Lake Las Vegas resort location without being done in by the solar gain of
Nevada’s 300-plus sunshine days per year.
HOMEOWNERS
The building team wanted to produce
three townhouses ranging from 2,775
to 3,151 square feet that provide
maximum window exposure—with one
window 28 feet tall and 20% to 25%
wall area—to showcase the beautiful
lake setting. At the same time, AmLand
Development committed to building
homes at least 50% more energy efficient
than their conventional counterparts
of the same plan by reaching a Home
Energy Rating System (HERS) score
of 90. And they had committed to
all of this at a site where average daily
summer temperatures reach a scorching
102 degrees while average winter
temperatures dip below freezing.
MANAGERS
Putting building
science to work for
your bottom line
MARKETERS
Energy efficiency
delivers the value that
customers demand
SITE PLANNERS
& DEVELOPERS
AmLand Development got help from Building
America to build the New American Home®
2003, the display home for the National
Association of Home Builders International
Builders’ Show, a complex of three luxury
townhouses, with large view windows of Lake
Las Vegas that still managed to achieve a
HERS score of 90.
To help AmLand reach this goal, Building America’s IBACOS Consortium provided
engineering, design, inspection, and testing services.
“It is always challenging, to build
in any economical and energyefficient systems in a house where
at the same time you are trying to
provide maximum view exposure
in a climate where we have over
300 days of sunshine.”
Shopping for value,
comfort, and quality
Another challenge involved the building
complexity. For the first time ever in 2003, the
New American Home contained three attached
multi-family townhouses, targeting the needs
of different lifestyles: the single executive, the
empty nester/active retiree, and the second/third
home buyer.
Properly situated houses
pay big dividends
DESIGNERS
Well-crafted designs
capture benefits for builders,
buyers, and business
SITE SUPERVISORS
Tools to help with
project management
TRADES
Professional tips for fast
and easy installation
CASE STUDIES
Bringing it all together
Chet Nichols, Executive Vice President
of AmLand Development
“The first model (at 2,950 square feet) has two
stories with the master suite on the second level,
and above that an unconditioned star gazing
room, which towers over Lake Las Vegas,” says Nichols. “The second unit has three
levels (at 3,151 square feet). It has an upper and lower master suite and an elevator.
This is an ultra-luxury home. We have buyers who buy this home as a second, third,
or fourth home, and adopt the upper or lower suite as their home and entertain in
the second master. The third unit (at 2,775 square feet) is the smallest square footage
even though it is three levels. It is a stacked townhouse, and a lot of people compare it
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
Version 3, 9/2005 • CASE A-1
Case Study: AmLand Development
to what they see in San Francisco. With three levels, the main level is for entertaining,
with a guest bedroom downstairs and a master suite upstairs.”
BUILDER PROFILE
Innovations
Where:
Las Vegas, Nevada
The New American Home is built to showcase the latest products, technologies, and
design ideas (through sponsorship from the National Council of the Housing Industry,
Builder Magazine, and Home Planners, LCC). And Chet Nichols knows that new
products, technologies, and design ideas made a difference in meeting his energyefficient goals. Building America helped Nichols see the house as a system, and the
system components that made the difference for him were the insulation, the windows,
the zoning of the mechanical systems, and the use of higher-efficiency HVAC and
water heaters.
The team used Icynene® insulation, which is a water-based spray foam polyicynene
insulation. “The Icynene insulation is fabulous because it serves as the ultimate air stop.
It is an expanding foam.” The R-20 insulation was applied directly to the underside of
the roof sheathing to create an air and thermal barrier. By eliminating venting into the
attic and sealing all external penetrations, the attic space is not subject to temperature
extremes. R-20 insulation also filled the 2 by 6 studded exterior walls.
Cost is the one downside to Icynene insulation. “It is very expensive,” says Nichols. At
$13,000 to install for each town home, this is about $10,000 more than if fiberglass
batt insulation is used exclusively.
Windows proved another challenge. “We had an exceptional amount of glass on the
exteriors,” says Nichols. ‘The primary heating and cooling loss within a home is not
directly through the walls. You can insulate every wall, and you can plug every gap. It is
the quality and quantity of the windows that is the biggest factor in energy efficiency.”
The New American Home 2003 used low-emissivity glazing Weather Shield®
ProShield® LowE2 line with a U value of 0.33 and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.35
for fixed windows. Typically builders use windows that have a U value of 0.75 and a
solar heat gain coefficient of 0.68. “The Weather Shield® ProShield® line of windows
is a fabulous product. I have them in my new home, and I attribute my own energy
savings to these windows,” says Nichols. Because of the windows, the project did meet
the energy efficiency score of 90. Testing by Building America’s IBACOS Consortium
on townhouse A showed that if the builder would have used standard windows instead,
the HERS score would have dropped to 86, if all other factors remained the same.
Comfort, Durability, and Health
Zoning proved a key to comfort. “It is almost mandatory that you zone in three-level
homes because it is very hard to get air from one area to another with ductwork,” says
Nichols. Townhouse A (2,950 square feet) contains two HVAC systems serving four
different zones. Three manufacturers (Lennox, Carrier, and Trane) provided equipment
for one town home, and Lennox provided the equipment for model A. Lennox’s
Signature™ gas furnace with two-stage heating, a variable-speed motor, and a 94%
AFUE provides heating and air distribution. The Lennox Harmony II zone control
system allows for independent temperature control in multiple zones. Each air-handling
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
AmLand Development
Founded:
1991
Employees:
Approximately 40 employees
Development:
Lake Las Vegas Resort in
Henderson, Nevada
Size:
221 homes including The
New American Home 2003
(three townhouses)
Square footage:
Townhouse A is 2,950 sq.ft.
Townhouse B is 3,151 sq.ft.
Townhouse C is 2,775 sq.ft.
Price range:
Originally sold for
$880,000 to $1.2 million
Key Features:
• Water-based spray foam
polyicynene insulation
(Icynene® Insulation)
• Weather Shield® ProShield®
low-e windows with a Ufactor of 0.33 and solar heat
gain coefficient of 0.35
• Multi-Air™ filtered fresh air
supply distribution system
• Heat recovery ventilator
• Heat-pump water heater
• Mechanical systems in
conditioned spaces
• Controlled mechanical
ventilation
Version 3, 9/2005 • CASE A-2
Case Study: AmLand Development
unit serves two zones. In addition, a Lennox heat recovery ventilator provides balanced
mechanical ventilation that allows for tempering of outdoor air before being distributed
through two air-handling units.
In townhouse B (3,151 square feet) Carrier supplied the WeatherMaker™ Infinity
furnace. It was installed in three locations to provide two-stage heating, up to 96%
AFUE in a variable-capacity design. One air-handling unit serves each floor.
Both townhouses A and B contain a heat pump water heater, which uses heat in the air
surrounding the unit to heat the water inside the tank. With an energy factor rating of
2.4, the heat pump water heater is nearly three times as efficient as the most efficient
electric water heater.
In townhouse C (2,775 square feet) Trane provided two-stage heating, variablespeed capacity, and 93% AFUE. For mechanical ventilation, townhouses C and B
contain positive-pressure multiport supply air systems. The system continuously draws
outside air into the unit where the air is filtered and distributed through four ducts
to individual room locations. The fan unit is a Multi-Air™ filtered fresh air supply
distribution system.
“When people think of energy
consumption and efficiency,
it is always geared toward
the automobile industry. It
would be easy to cut the energy
consumption of the average
home in half,”
Chet Nichols, Executive Vice
President of AmLand Development
The Bottom Line
“When people think of energy consumption and efficiency, it is always geared toward
the automobile industry. It would be easy to cut the energy consumption of the average
home in half,” says Nichols. “I am a big advocate for higher standards and better
education of consumers and industry professionals in our industry. In fact, I think the
ENERGY STAR standards and Building America [principles] should be much higher.”
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • CASE A-3
Artistic Homes
El Rancho Grande – Albuquerque, New Mexico
INTRODUCTION
Shocking Success
Taking action in
your community
“I live in the biggest d--- dump,” states Jerry Wade, the founder and owner of Artistic
Homes, when explaining how the house he built for himself 10 years ago compares to
the affordable housing he builds today using the Building America process.
HOMEOWNERS
Artistic is currently New Mexico’s number one home builder, building 650 houses in
2003, all of them to the Building America process.
“I have been building since
1965, and in the early 1990s
home building really changed,”
explained Wade. “It went from
being a pretty simple procedure to
being a very complex procedure.”
State building code requirements
became more stringent and the
home construction climate saw an
increase in liability issues. “I call
it the Wal Mart syndrome,” he
explains. If customers don’t get
exactly what they want, they want
to return it for their money back.
It is hard to do this with homes.”
Shopping for value,
comfort, and quality
MANAGERS
Putting building
science to work for
your bottom line
MARKETERS
Energy efficiency
delivers the value that
customers demand
SITE PLANNERS
& DEVELOPERS
Artistic Homes of Albuquerque New Mexico built
650 homes in 2003, all of them using Building
America principles.
To remain competitive, Wade and his three sons began researching how to develop
better practices and better homes. Through their search, Wade and his sons found
the Building America Program. Working through Building Science Consortium, he
explains, “We told DOE, we want you to take our homes and show us the best things
we can do. Don’t hold anything back. Go ahead and give us the total shock. Give us
the heart transplant. And, they did. That was four years ago—2000.”
Properly situated houses
pay big dividends
DESIGNERS
Well-crafted designs
capture benefits for builders,
buyers, and business
SITE SUPERVISORS
Tools to help with
project management
TRADES
And Jerry Wade has not looked back. “We build all of our homes now to Building
America standards. This is a commitment we made when we started this.”
Professional tips for fast
and easy installation
Innovations
CASE STUDIES
Bringing it all together
Wade’s El Rancho Grande Development in Albuquerque is a good example of what
makes his homes so different now from the home he built for himself 10 years ago.
To start, Artistic Homes uses 2-by-6 framing instead of the standard 2-by-4 framing,
which allows R-23 insulation in the walls and R-38 in the ceiling of these single-family
two- to three-bedroom (1000 to 1500-square-feet) homes priced at $79,000 to $129,000.
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
“At Building Science Consortium’s suggestion,” Wade states, “we used refrigerated
air instead of swamp coolers. It works like the system in your car.” Wade explains
that an air conditioning condensing system sits on the rooftop, and the system sends
refrigerant down through lines to a centralized air handler unit located in a closet
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • CASE B-1
Case Study: Artistic Homes
within the house. Inside the air handler
unit is a refrigerant coil, a hot water coil,
and a fan unit. In the summer time, the
Freon comes from a condensing unit on
top of the roof, down through the lines to
the refrigerant coil, and the fan blows air
across that coil. They use one centralized
duct system for both heating and cooling,
and this system distributes the cooling
throughout the house. On the heating side,
it pulls water from the hot water heater,
which is located in the garage, into the
same air handler unit and circulate the hot
water through the hot water coil and the
fan unit.
Artistic Homes: The Guarantee
Every Artistic Home has a 2-year
energy guarantee. The guarantee states
that the annual energy required to
heat and cool the building will not
exceed the annual guaranteed energy
consumption. The energy amount
is based on the amount of MBTUs
consumed, as converted from Therms
and kilowatt hours. Should the actual
consumption for space heating and
cooling exceed the guaranteed energy
consumption, in either one-year
period, Artistic Homes, Inc. will
reimburse the original
homeowner
for 100% of the
actual cost of the
consumption
difference.
For Albuquerque, a key innovation is the
refrigerated air. “Ninety percent of homes
in Albuquerque use swamp coolers,” said
Wade. According to the Albuquerque
Tribune, refrigerated air saves water. The
Tribune states that evaporative coolers use
15 gallons an hour, or 15,000 gallons a year
in a 1,400 square-foot home. Wade estimates that if he builds 700 homes a year, the
refrigerated air systems save 10 million gallons of water annually.
Wade is equally excited about the utility bills. “We know from PNM—the utility
company—that our utility bills are no higher than those for a swamp cooler and a
regular heating system,” said Wade. In fact, according to the Tribune, his Building
America homes are 40 percent more efficient than the requirements set by the Model
Energy Code for identifying energy-efficient homes. The homes at El Rancho achieved
an average HERS rating of 88.
Artistic Homes has worked with Building America to get production methods that
work in his home designs. For example, the builders were having difficultly getting the
chase air tight. It was not working to have the framer box it in with Thermoply and
the HVAC contractor later seal it with mastic. Therefore, they switched to drywalling.
“One trade, one detail, one solution,” states Wade.
Another innovation developed by Artistic Homes is a shelf for plants in homes with
cathedral ceilings. This shelf provides the space needed for central supply ducts.
Comfort, Durability, and Health
Wade is quick to point out that following Building America’s integrated approach
provides a major health benefit to homeowners. “Through codes the builders today
are forced to build pretty tight homes, but the homes are still not energy efficient.
You have not addressed the problems. These swamp coolers pull in outside air with
pollutants, pollens, and molds. What you have is a tighter home, and the home can’t
breathe, and all the house cleaners, and fumes, and pollutants remain in the house,”
states Wade.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
BUILDER PROFILE
Artistic Homes
Where:
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Founded:
1987 (although the president
has been building since 1965)
Employees:
12 dedicated employees and
over 300 employees in several
building-related companies,
like plumbing.
Development:
El Rancho Grande
Size:
Approximately 550 homes
Square footage:
1,000 to 1,500 sq.ft.
(3 bedroom, 2 bath)
Price range:
From $79,000 to $129,000
Key Features:
• Continuous air barrier—
slab to walls to ceiling
• 2-by-6-framing, allowing for
R-23 blown-in insulation
in the walls and R-38 in
the ceiling
• Advanced framing with
detailed job site plans
• Sealed ducts with
mechanical ventilation
• Transfer grilles for
air distribution
• Low-e spectrally selective
windows
• Combo unit for hot water
and forced hot air
• Reduced sizing of air
conditioning equipment
Version 3, 9/2005 • CASE B-2
Case Study: Artistic Homes
Wade addresses indoor air quality issues by using a mechanical fresh air intake that
supplies the refrigeration unit/central air conditioning unit with fresh outside air that
has been filtered through high-efficiency filters. “Fresh air exchangers circulate air a
couple of times an hour for 24 hours a day,” explains Wade.
For Wade, the integrated approach to energy efficiency works. “We are providing a real
comfortable home with low utilities and a healthy environment. We feel quite good
about that. We have endorsements from the American Lung Association. In fact, we
have people moving in with bad allergies and bad asthma, and they say it is the best
place they have ever lived.”
Artistic Homes Building Characteristics
BUILDING AMERICA
BUILDING ENVELOPE
STANDARD CONSTRUCTION
(Meets 1992 MEC)
CEILING
R-38 attic
R-25 attic
WALLS
R-19 24 oc + R-1.2 asphalt
impregnated sheathing to exterior,
OSB on corners
R-13 16 oc
R-19 24 oc + FC drywall to garage
R-13 16 oc to garage
Slab, R-5 perimeter insulation
Slab un-insulated
Double Vinyl, Low-E vinyl frame;
U=0.36, SHGC=0.45
Double glazed metal frame
U=0.87, SHGC=0.73
FOUNDATION
WINDOWS
SKYLIGHTS Skylight (metal) U=0.80, SHGC=0.73
INFILTRATION
2.5 sq in leakage area
per 100 sf envelope
Skylight (metal) U=0.80, SHGC=0.73
12 ACH 50
MECHANICAL SYSTEMS
HEAT
COOLING
DHW
DUCTS
LEAKAGE
VENTILATION
Carefully designed duct runs, placed
in interior spaces, save energy and
help maintain comfort.
Combo system 75% CAAFUE
in conditioned space
80% AFUE furnace in garage
12 SEER A/C
10 SEER A/C
Combo system 0.57 CAEF
40 gal in garage
Standard gas 0.56 EF
40 gal in garage
Sheet metal
in conditioned drop ceiling
R-4.2 in attic
None (to outside)
20% of high speed flow
AirCycler™ Supply-only system
10 minutes on; 50 minutes off
none
Artistic Homes uses advanced
features recommended by Building
America including 2-by-6-framing,
allowing for R-23 blown-in
insulation in the walls and R-38 in
the ceiling, application of wrap and
sealing to create a continuous air
barrier from slab to ceiling, sealed
ducts with mechanical ventilation,
and transfer grilles between room for
even air distribution and less drafts.
The Bottom Line
“I’m not a big government-sponsored person, but I think Building America is fantastic.
I really believe in this,” states Wade. “To a builder interested in building to Building
America standards, I would say that the process is very painful at first. It is a mind set
change for everyone involved, but after 4 years, I know it is worth the relearning.”
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • CASE B-3
Pulte Construction
Sun Lakes Development – Banning, California
Pulte takes Production Building to New Heights at Sun Lakes
INTRODUCTION
Pulte Homes has pushed production building to a new level at its Sun Lakes
Development in Banning, California, taking homes from start to finish in 55 days.
And all of the homes were built using the Building America process and meeting
Environments for Living™ platinum level for energy efficiency.
HOMEOWNERS
Pulte achieved these remarkable
construction times (twice typical
local construction builder
output) by preassembling
some building components,
offering a limited number of
options, and implementing an
innovative construction method
of sequentially building five
houses at a time on each side of
the street. This process kept their
trades consistently employed
and promoted an unusually high
amount of cooperation on site.
Taking action in
your community
Shopping for value,
comfort, and quality
MANAGERS
Putting building
science to work for
your bottom line
MARKETERS
Energy efficiency
delivers the value that
customers demand
Using innovative construction methods and Building
America know-how, Pulte built 600 homes in its
Sun Lakes development in Banning, California,
all of them 15% to 20% over California’s new
Title 24 requirements.
“In all my years in the construction business I have not seen such remarkable
cooperation among subs and management. Every visit to the site I’m approached
by everybody from the installers to management anxiously asking how we’re doing
and how we can improve,” said Building America field testing partner Bill Irvine of
BCI Testing, part of the Building Science Consortium. Irvine noted that work site
meetings between subs were a daily occurrence.
Says Josh Robinson, the Pulte Sun Lakes project manager and a Pulte Vice President.
“They (the subs) are really able to take ownership and pride in what they are doing
here. They actually can’t wait to get their houses tested to see if they are able to outdo
the one before.”
All of this cooperation and efficiency spells
good news for home buyers. The 1,458- to
Engineered for Life:
2,139-square-foot, 2 and 3 bedroom homes
Platinum Level
achieve 35% to 40% reductions over the
requirements of the 1995 Model Energy
Pulte Homes in Southern
Code and 15% to 20% over California’s
California are built to the
new Title 24 requirements, and Pulte can
Platinum Level of the Engineered
offer them at $165,500 to $239,500, very
for Life program, which was
reasonable by Southern California standards.
developed by Louisiana Pacific
Although options for buyers are limited to
with assistance from the
just three models with a total of six options,
Building Science Consortium.
This Platinum Level meets the
every home comes with high-performance
ENERGY STAR Standard and
windows, Corian countertops, 16-inch
includes advanced energy features.
ceramic tiles in the kitchen, bath and
entryway, and all appliances, as well as an
energy-performance guarantee.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
SITE PLANNERS
& DEVELOPERS
Properly situated houses
pay big dividends
DESIGNERS
Well-crafted designs
capture benefits for builders,
buyers, and business
SITE SUPERVISORS
Tools to help with
project management
TRADES
Professional tips for fast
and easy installation
CASE STUDIES
Bringing it all together
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
Version 3, 9/2005 • CASE C-1
Case Study: Pulte - Sun Lakes
Innovations
BUILDER PROFILE
In 2000 Sun Lakes became the first Southern California subdivision built with Building
America guidance. “We have seen a direct impact on our quality through the Building
America Program. We are able to build a better product because of our consistent
approach [in implementing Building America practices],” says Robinson.
Pulte Southern California
Pulte decided in this development to offer limited floor plans. “We don’t give the
consumer much variation. Instead we give them an upgraded package—granite slabs,
maple cabinets, 20-inch floor tiles—all standard. We are doing this with every single
home, so the consistency allows us to buy better, avoid the margin of error that comes
through options, and build in a more efficient fashion,” says Robinson.
The home components—from roof
trusses to wiring and cabinetry—are
factory assembled by builder employees to
exacting specifications and delivery times.
For example, wiring is pre-cut to specific
lengths and labeled for one particular run.
In addition to consistent components,
the building process itself is consistent.
“We do not bounce around on different
communities; we commit to even flow
production,” says Robinson. “What I
mean by this is that most builders will
fluctuate with what the market does. We
drive what we want the market to do, and
it is all based on the efficiencies that we
get out of the production system.”
“Building America is a way to
manage risk, potential litigation
issues, and building systems
failures.”
Josh Robinson, Pulte Sun Lakes project
manager and a Pulte Vice President
Environments for Living Program
The Environments for Living program
provides a 2-year Heating and Cooling
Cost plus Comfort guarantee to every
Pulte home in Southern California
meeting the gold and platinum level
standards. The heating and cooling
guarantees are based on the kWh and
the BTUs usage on an annual basis at
the current utility rates. If the home
goes over the guaranteed usage, the
homeowner is reimbursed 100 percent
of the difference through the program.
This means that when Robinson and
his team begin housing production
within a development, they do not
stop production until they are finished.
Sun Lakes was built using the DiVosta
Building System™ (after Otto “Buz”
DiVosta who sold his company to Pulte in 1997). On the job site, homes are sequenced
in a zipper-like fashion down each street so the installation crews can capitalize on the
efficiency of the factory-assembled components. At Sun Lakes, trade contractors work
together so that each of their crews can follow the “five on one side, five on the other”
sequencing of five houses at a time construction down a street.
“We have activity on every house every day,” explains Robinson. “So, in the past
in Southern California through the life of any project, you might have 15 different
HVAC guys, and you can’t keep them busy, and the guy you had last time is working
somewhere else, and the learning curve is ongoing. In this environment, we have had
the same guy doing our duct work now for 2 plus years. He understands the product
and the expectations. This is huge.”
Where:
North Inland Empire Division
of Southern California
Founded:
1999 (for this division)
Employees:
Approximately 240 employees
Development:
Sun Lakes
Size:
Approximately 600 units
Square footage:
1,458 to 2,139 sq.ft.
Price range:
$165,500 to $239,500
at construction
Key features:
• Continuous air barrier—
slab to walls to ceiling
• All ducts in conditioned space
• Unvented conditioned attic
• Vinyl frame Low-E2
spectrally selective windows
• Sealed combustion 90%+
AFUE gas furnace
• Pressure-balancing
jump ducts
• Controlled ventilation
with AirCycler™ control
• Cellulose insulation
• Built using the DiVosta
Building System™
Robinson explains that this consistency has allowed his team to pay more attention to
the details recommended by Building America and to fine tune their ductwork and
insulation installation practices.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • CASE C-2
Case Study: Pulte - Sun Lakes
Comfort, Durability, and Health
“Our homes are healthy. We really focus on the house as a system. With Building
America’s Building Science Consortium as our partner, we did extensive duct testing
and value engineering. We really tightened down the duct system and learned the
performance of this on a house-by-house basis,” says Robinson.
This approach has paid off. The average HERS rating is 88.
The duct layout allows supply registers to be placed where they make the most sense
and improves the air distribution. Jump ducts through the unvented conditioned attic
are used to prevent pressurization of bedrooms and depressurization of the main space
when bedroom doors are closed. The typical one-inch door undercut does not provide
an adequate return path for the supply air and can result in discomfort and stagnation
in closed bedrooms. The AirCycler™ controller runs the air handler on a consistent
cycle that evenly mixes house air to prevent stagnation.
Jump ducts help to equalize a house’s
air pressure to ensure air quality and
comfort, and provide return air for
heating and cooling.
The ceiling is insulated with R-22 cellulose insulation. The 2 by 4, 16-inch o.c. walls are
insulated with R-13 cellulose insulation with R-4 1-inch EPS foam stucco substrate. Because
the ducts are in conditioned space, duct insulation can be reduced from R-6 to R-4.2.
These health benefits are a boon to the senior buyers Sun Lakes is marketed to. The
lower utility bills achieved are another plus for buyers on fixed incomes.
COST COMPARISON TO CONVENTIONAL MEASURES
Less
Conventional
More
Sealed Combustion Furnace
+$400 ADDED COST
Careful sealing of air handling
equipment and a sealed combustion
furnace save energy and help ensure
comfort and combustion safety.
Placing this equipment in conditioned space improves performance.
High Performance Windows
+$750 ADDED COST
Jump Ducts/Fresh Air Ventilation
+$250 ADDED COST
Unvented Conditioned Attic
+$750 ADDED COST
COST DIFFERENCE
+$2,150 ADDED COST
The Bottom Line
“Building America has changed the way we build,” says Robinson. “We clearly believe
we are building the best house on the market. We also understand that we are building
for the future. Homes built under Building America’s program will clearly outlast
anything we have ever done before, more so than what our competitors are doing.
In terms of our long-term growth plan, we think we are doing the right thing. It has
changed our approach from not just looking at the short-term value in how to get a
good sale but in how to build a good house that is going to last.”
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Coordination between the trades
on a community scale encouraged
quality installations, speedy
schedules, and reduced labor costs.
Version 3, 9/2005 • CASE C-3
Pulte Construction
Copper Moon Development – Tucson, Arizona
Pulte Gets Customer Satisfaction
INTRODUCTION
In 1986, Pulte Homes in Tucson was plagued by customer complaints and even
law suits for construction and material defects in their homes. Today, customer
satisfaction is above 90%, and the Tucson Division ranked #1 in customer
satisfaction in the Tucson market in the J.D. Power and Associates 2003 New Home
Builder Customer Satisfaction Study.
HOMEOWNERS
“We finally got the message from
our buyers—value is as important
as cost,” says Vice President of
Construction for Pulte Tucson,
Alan Kennedy. Home buyer
surveys revealed that energy
efficiency, ease of maintenance,
and builder reputation were
topping the list of what home
buyers thought was important.
Kennedy adds, “A large part
of achieving these qualities has
been our work with the Building
Science Consortium through the
Building America program.”
Building America helped Pulte
Tucson change the way it builds,
with new designs, new systems,
and new materials. Pulte Tucson
built its first Building America
home in 1998. It now builds all
of its homes to Building America
performance standards, backs all
of its homes with an Engineered
for Life energy guarantee, and has
two full-time employees dedicated
to performance testing and
construction inspections.
Innovations
Taking action in
your community
Shopping for value,
comfort, and quality
MANAGERS
Putting building
science to work for
your bottom line
MARKETERS
Energy efficiency
delivers the value that
customers demand
Pulte Tucson has turned around customer opinions
with customer satisfaction now at 90%, two-thirds of
its customers recommending Pulte three times or more,
and call-backs and customer complaints are a fraction
of their peak ten years ago.
SITE PLANNERS
& DEVELOPERS
Properly situated houses
pay big dividends
DESIGNERS
Pulte Homes, Inc.
Pulte Homes, Inc, is a Fortune 500
company with $7 billion in revenues. Over
its more than 50-year history, Pulte Homes
has constructed more than 330,000 homes.
Pulte Homes ranked #1 in customer
satisfaction in 12 of its divisions (including
Tucson) in the J.D. Power and Associates
2003 New Home Builder Customer
Satisfaction Study.
Pulte Homes was also awarded Builder
of the Year 2002 by Professional Builder
magazine, and the Tucson division was
presented the 2001 Energy Value Housing
Award from the National Association of
Home Builders.
“Under the direction of Building
Science Consortium, we’ve learned
to approach the house as a system,” explains Kennedy. “The shell of the home is a
critical component of making the home efficient.”
Well-crafted designs
capture benefits for builders,
buyers, and business
SITE SUPERVISORS
Tools to help with
project management
TRADES
Professional tips for fast
and easy installation
CASE STUDIES
Bringing it all together
HOT-DRY & MIXED-DRY
CLIMATES
At Copper Moon, a development of 1,332 to 1618 square-foot homes, the shell
consists of 2-inch by 6-inch construction with studs on the exterior walls spaced at
24-inch on center. “We use what is termed ‘in-line’ framing on our exterior walls,”
says Kennedy. “In this framing the trusses are placed directly above each stud.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • CASE D-1
Case Study: Pulte - Copper Moon
Conventional framing of exterior walls places studs at 16-inch centers. Our in-line
framing strategy allows us to achieve greater effective wall insulation values. Lumber has
a poor insulating value; eliminating what we can improves efficiency.”
Copper Moon uses Thermoply instead of plywood as an air barrier to define the
attic conditioned space. “It is light and easy to work with,” says Kennedy. “Our goal
is to eliminate gaps from the attic space to the outside, thus our attics are tight and
unvented.” Because the roof is unvented, a vapor impermeable roofing underlayment
is installed between the 30-pound felt paper and concrete tile for roofing and the
structural roof deck.
With the rough framing complete, the insulation contractor “nets the deck” in
preparation for Pulte’s cathedralized insulation technique. Pulte uses a fabric similar to
that found on the bottom of furniture. They staple this fabric to the bottom face of the
top chord, between each truss. This netting is used to hold insulation in place after the
mechanical trades have run venting through the roof deck.
The insulation (Cocoon manufactured
by U.S. GreenFiber and trademarked
by Louisiana Pacific) is installed in the
netting. It is sprayed-in cellulose, a
nontoxic material made from recycled
newspapers. “We have no voids, gaps,
or compression, which is typical with
batt insulation,” says Kennedy. The
ceiling contains R-22 insulation. The
24-inch o.c. exterior walls contain
R-19 cellulose insulation plus R-4
extruded polystyrene.
The furnace and ductwork are
installed in the attic space. Pulte uses
a sealed combustion 92.6% efficient
heating unit rather than the typical
80% model. Its HVAC contractor
seals every duct connection with
mastic, for a tightly sealed system.
“Because we do all of these things, we
are able to reduce air conditioning
tonnages by nearly 50%,” says
Kennedy. The average HERS rating
for the Copper Moon homes ranges
from 87.6 to 90.3.
Comfort, Durability, and Health
“Building America should be the
building standard. It is the way all
homes should be built.”
Alan Kennedy, Vice President of
Construction for Pulte Tucson
BUILDER PROFILE
Pulte Homes
Tucson Division
Where:
Tucson, Arizona
Founded:
Reentered the Tucson market
in 1991 after pulling out in
1986
Employees:
Approximately 120 employees
in the Tucson division
Development:
Copper Moon
Size:
Approximately 250 homes
Square footage:
1,332 to 1,618 sq.ft.
Environments for Living Program
All Pulte Homes in Tucson are built to
the Platinum Level of the Engineered for
Life program, which was developed by
Louisiana Pacific with assistance from
the Building Science Consortium. This
Platinum Level meets the ENERGY
STAR Standard and includes advanced
energy features, including all ducts within
conditioned space. The Environments for Living program provides a 3-year Heating and Cooling
Cost plus Comfort guarantee to every Pulte
home meeting the gold and platinum
level standards. The heating and cooling
guarantees are based on the kWh and the
BTUs usage on an annual basis at the
current utility rates. If the home goes over
the guaranteed usage, the homeowner is
reimbursed 100 percent of the difference
through the program.
“Our homes provide comfort, better
windows which reduce fading of interior upholsteries, and mechanical equipment
placed in conditioned space, which prolongs their life,” explains Kennedy.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Price range:
$145,900 to $155,900
Key features:
• Post-tensioned slab
foundation
• “In-line” framing with air
barrier insulation
• Unvented cathedral attic
• Sealed ducts with
mechanical ventilation
• Air returns in each bedroom
• Low-e spectrally selective
windows
• Recycled-cellulose blown-in
“Cocoon” insulation that
hugs the roof line for an
insulated attic.
• Carbon monoxide detectors
• Reduced sizing of air
conditioning equipment
Version 3, 9/2005 • CASE D-2
Case Study: Pulte - Copper Moon
The low-e windows use spectrally selected vinyl, which lets visible light through but
keeps solar heat out, lowers the cooling load in the summer, and reduces the fading of
the furniture caused by direct sunlight.
The ventilation system includes the AirCycler™ controller, which runs the air handler
only periodically and operates the fan only after a selected amount of time following the
last operation. This system also reduces air stagnation by providing mixing of house air.
Air returns are placed in each bedroom, and carbon monoxide detectors are provided
every 1000 square feet.
COST COMPARISON TO CONVENTIONAL MEASURES
Less Cost
Conventional
More Cost
Unvented Roof
+$750 ADDED COST
Right-Sized Air Conditioner System
-$1,000 SAVINGS
Careful attention went into sealing
and insulating the attic.
• 2-ton reduction
High-Performance Windows
+$300 ADDED COST
Not Installing Roof Vents
-$500 SAVINGS
Controlled Ventilation System
+$150 ADDED COST
Sealed Combustion Furnace
+$400 ADDED COST
COST DIFFERENCE
+$100 ADDED COST
The Bottom Line
“From our perspective, the incremental cost that consumers see in sales price for our
homes is more than offset by their utility bills,” says Kennedy. “It costs our customers
roughly $800 to have a home that comes with a two-year guarantee on heating and
cooling bills that use up to 50% less than code requires. If you look at the pay back on
energy savings, it is worth every penny. For example, financing $800 at 8% for 30 years
costs roughly $6 per month,” states Kennedy.
“If it hadn’t been for the Department of Energy and Building America, I don’t think
builders would be where they are today. They helped us take the initiative to become
innovative,” says Kennedy.
“This took a lot of work—we had to educate and train our staff, realtors, and even our
building inspection department on some of the innovative systems. But if you take the
same total systems approach with the industry as you take with your homes, it pays
off.” It certainly seems to—Pulte Tucson has 10 communities under full development,
two-thirds of their customers are recommending Pulte three times or more, and call
backs and customer complaints are a fraction of their peak ten years ago.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • CASE D-3
Appendix I
Homebuyer’s Checklist
Below is a more detailed list of building features for those who really want to investigate their house.
To really see how some of these measures are installed, visit houses that are under construction.
MEASURE
Building
America
Builder
#1
Builder
#2
Builder
#3
HEATING AND COOLING EQUIPMENT
ENERGY STAR qualified air conditioning of SEER* 13 or greater
Yes
ENERGY STAR qualified heat pump
Yes
ENERGY STAR qualified boiler
Yes
ENERGY STAR qualified furnace of AFUE* 90
Yes
ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostat
Yes
Ductwork sealed with mastic (no duct tape)
Yes
5% or less duct leakage found with pressure test
Yes
Duct Insulation:
R-4 in conditioned space, R-8 in attic, R-6 in crawlspace
Yes
House plans show duct layouts
Yes
Ducts located in conditioned space as much as possible
Yes
Ducts sized according to industry standards in Manual D
Yes
Heating and cooling equipment sized according to industry
standards in Manual J
Yes
House pressure balanced with jump ducts
Yes
HVAC* equipment and duct work was inspected
and tested after installation
Yes
INSULATION (take a look at a house under construction before sheetrock is installed)
Insulation installed behind tubs, landings, and other hard to
reach places
Yes
Insulation fills entire cavities – no voids or compressed batts –
Attic insulation level without gaps and covers entire attic floor
Yes
Where fiberglass batt insulation is used it is high-density
Yes
Rim joists are insulated
Yes
WINDOWS (take a look at a house under construction before exterior siding is installed)
ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors, and skylights
Yes
Windows flashed to help repel water
Yes
Windows rated to 0.35 U-factor and SHGC
Yes
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX I-1
Appendix I: Homebuyer’s Checklist
MOISTURE MANAGEMENT (take a look at a house under construction before exterior siding is installed)
Ground slopes away from house
Yes
Housewrap or building paper covers exterior sheathing in
wood framed houses
Yes
Roof flashing in valleys, where walls and roofs intersect, and
at other places where water may enter the house – the more
complex the roof, the more flashing you should see
Yes
Overhangs for shade and to direct water away from walls
Yes
AIR RETARDERS
All penetrations through exterior walls sealed
Yes
Careful sealing of sheetrock or exterior sheathing
Yes
Canned lights rated as airtight and for insulated ceiling (ICAT)
Yes
Electrical boxes on exterior walls caulked or gasketed
Yes
Holes into attic sealed
Yes
Attic hatch weather-stripped and insulated
Yes
Air leakage determined with house depressurization test
Yes
SLAB FOUNDATION MEASURES
Radon vent pipe installed
Yes
4 to 6 inch gravel base
Yes
Polyethylene (plastic) vapor barrier between gravel and slab
Yes
PLUMBING
No hot water pipes in exterior walls or ground
Yes
YOUR FEATURES FOR COMPARISON
*SEER: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio
*AFUE: Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency
*HVAC: heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
If you want to know more about any of these or other house features review the other chapters of the Best
Practices guide. Other chapters are designed to help site planners, designers, site supervisors, and crafts
people design and build efficient, comfortable, and durable homes.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX I-2
Appendix II
Energy & Housing Glossary
Accreditation
The process of certifying a Home Energy Rating System
(HERS) as being compliant with the national industry
standard operating procedures for Home Energy
Rating System.
AFUE Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)
Measures the amount of fuel converted to space heat in
proportion to the amount of fuel entering the furnace.
This is commonly expressed as a percentage. A furnace
with an AFUE of 90 could be said to be 90% efficient.
AFUE includes any input energy required by the pilot
light but does not include any electrical energy for
fans or pumps.
Air Flow Retarder
Sealants used to keep outside air and inside air out
of the building envelope. Four common approaches
to retarding air flow include careful sealing using the
following building components: drywall and framing,
plastic sheets (should not to be used in hot and humid
climates) between drywall and framing, exterior
sheathing, and building paper. Air flow retarders define
the pressure boundary in a house that separates indoor
and outdoor air.
Building Envelope
The outer shell, or the elements of a building, such
as walls, floors, and ceilings, that enclose conditioned
space. See also Pressure Boundary and Thermal
Boundary.
Btu (British Thermal Unit)
A standard unit for measuring energy. One Btu is the
amount of energy required to raise the temperature of
one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit from
59 to 60. An Inches-Pounds unit.
CABO (Council of American Building Officials)
A national organization of building code officials and
interested parties, which, through a national consensus
process, developed, adopted and promulgated the
national Model Energy Code (MEC). CABO has
recently become CABO International and has taken on
the administrative responsibility for the development
of a uniform international building code through an
International Code Council (ICC).
Capacity
The rate at which a piece of equipment works. Cooling
capacity is the amount of heat a cooling system can
remove from the air. For air conditioners total capacity
is the sum of latent capacity, the ability to remove
moisture from the air, and the sensible capacity, the
ability to reduce dry-bulb temperature. Heating system
capacity indicates how much heat a system can provide.
Heating and cooling capacities are rated in Btu per hour.
Chase
An enclosure designed to hold ducts, plumbing,
electric, telephone, cable, or other linear components.
A chase designed for ducts should be in conditioned
space and include air flow retarders and thermal barriers
between it and unconditioned spaces such as attics.
Construction Documents
The drawings (plans) and written specifications that
describe construction requirements for a building.
COP (Coefficient of Performance)
A measure of efficiency typically applied to heat pumps.
The COP for heat pumps is the ratio, at a given
point in time, of net heat output to total energy input
expressed in consistent units and under designated
conditions. Heat pumps result in a COP greater than
1 because the system delivers or removes more heat
energy than it consumes. Other specific definitions of
COP exist for refrigeration equipment. See HSPF for a
description of a unit for seasonal efficiency.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX II-1
Appendix II: Energy & Housing Glossary
Debt-to-Income Ratio
The ratio, expressed as a percentage, which results
when a borrower’s total monthly payment obligations
on long-term debt are divided by their gross monthly
income. This is one of two ratios (housing expenseto-income ratio being the other) used by the mortgage
industry to determine if a prospective borrower qualifies
(meets the underwriting guidelines) for a specific
home mortgage. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA
underwriting guidelines set an upper limit of 36% on
this value for conventional loans but increase (“stretch”)
the ratio by 2% for qualifying energy efficient houses.
Dry-Bulb Temperature
The temperature of air indicated on an ordinary
thermometer, it does not account for the affects
of humidity.
ECM (Energy Conservation Measure)
An individual building component or product that
directly impacts energy use in a building.
EEM (Energy Efficient Mortgage)
Specifically, a home mortgage for which the borrower’s
qualifying debt-to-income and housing expense-to
income ratios have been increased (“stretched”) by
2% because the home meets or exceeds CABO’s 1992
version of the Model Energy Code (MEC). This socalled “stretch” mortgage is nationally underwritten
by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing
Administration (FHA). This term is often used
generically to refer to any home mortgage for which the
underwriting guidelines have been relaxed specifically
for energy efficiency features, or for which any form of
financing incentive is given for energy efficiency.
EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio)
A measurement of the instantaneous energy efficiency
of cooling equipment, normally used only for electric
air conditioning. EER is the ratio of net cooling
capacity in Btu per hour to the total rate of electric
input in watts, under designated conditions. The
resulting EER value has units of Btu per watt-hour.
EF (Energy Factor)
A standardized measurement of the annual energy
efficiency of water heating systems. It is the annual hot
water energy delivered to a standard hot water load
divided by the total annual purchased hot water energy
input in consistent units. The resultant EF value is a
percentage. EF is determined by a standardized U.S.
Department of Energy (DOE) procedure.
Energy (Use)
The quantity of onsite electricity, gas or other fuel
required by the building equipment to satisfy the
building heating, cooling, hot water, or other loads or
any other service requirements (lighting, refrigeration,
cooking, etc.)
Energy Audit
A site inventory and descriptive record of features
impacting the energy use in a building. This includes,
but is not limited to all building component descriptions
(locations, areas, orientations, construction attributes
and energy transfer characteristics); all energy using
equipment and appliance descriptions (use, make, model,
capacity, efficiency and fuel type) and all energy features.
ENERGY STAR® Home
A home, certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), that is at least 30% more energy
efficient than the minimum national standard for home
energy efficiency as specified by the 1992 MEC, or as
defined for specific states or regions. ENERGY STAR
is a registered trademark of the EPA.
Envelope
See Building Envelope
Fannie Mae (FNMA - Federal National Mortgage Association)
A private, tax-paying corporation chartered by the U.S.
Congress to provide financial products and services that
increase the availability of housing for low-, moderate-,
and middle-income Americans.
FHA (Federal Housing Administration)
A division of the U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development (HUD). FHA’s main activity is
the insurance of residential mortgage loans made by
private lenders.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX II-2
Appendix II: Energy & Housing Glossary
Freddie Mac (FHLMC - Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation)
A stockholder-owned organization, chartered by the
U.S. Congress to increase the supply of mortgage funds.
Freddie Mac purchases conventional mortgages from
insured depository institutions and HUD-approved
mortgage bankers.
Grade Beam
A foundation wall that is poured at or just below the grade
of the earth, most often associated with the deepened
perimeter concrete section in slab-on-grade foundations.
HERS (Home Energy Rating System)
A standardized system for rating the energy-efficiency
of residential buildings.
HERS Energy-Efficient Reference Home (EERH)
The EERH is a geometric “twin” to a home being
evaluated for a HERS rating and according to a newlyrevised system, is configured to be minimally compliant
with the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code.
HERS Provider
An individual or organization responsible for the
operation and management of a Home Energy
Rating System (HERS).
HERS Rater
An individual certified to perform residential building
energy efficiency ratings in the class for which the rater
is certified.
HERS Score
A value between 0 and 100 indicating the relative
energy efficiency of a given home as compared with the
HERS Energy-Efficient Reference Home as specified by
the HERS Council Guidelines. The greater the score,
the more efficient the home. A home with zero energy
use for the rated energy uses (heating, cooling and hot
water only) scores 100 and the HERS Reference Home
scores 80. Every one point increase in the HERS score
amounts to a 5% increase in energy efficiency.
Housing Expense-to-Income Ratio
The ratio, expressed as a percentage, which results when
a borrower’s total monthly housing expenses (P.I.T.I.)
are divided by their gross monthly income. This is
one of two ratios (debt-to-income ratio being the
other) used by the mortgage industry to determine if a
prospective borrower qualifies (meets the underwriting
guidelines) for a specific home mortgage. Fannie Mae,
Freddie Mac and FHA underwriting guidelines set an
upper limit of 28% on this value for conventional loans
but increase (“stretch”) the ratio by 2% for qualifying
Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEM).
Housewrap
Any of several spun-fiber polyolefin rolled sheet goods
for wrapping the exterior of the building envelope.
HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor)
A measurement of the seasonal efficiency of an electric
heat pump using a standard heating load and outdoor
climate profile over a standard heating season. It
represents the total seasonal heating output in Btu
divided by the total seasonal electric power input in
watt-hours (Wh). Thus, the resultant value for HSPF
has units of Btu/Wh.
Jump Duct
A flexible, short, U-shaped duct (typically 10-inch
diameter) that connects a room to a common space as
a pressure balancing mechanism. Jump ducts serve the
same function as transfer grilles.
Load
The quantity of heat that must be added to or removed
from the building (or the hot water tank) to satisfy
specific levels of service, such as maintaining space
temperature or hot water temperature at a specified
thermostat setting (see also the definitions of energy
and thermostat).
Low-E
Refers to a coating for high-performance windows, the
“E” stands for emissivity or re-radiated heat flow. The
thin metallic oxide coating increases the U-value of
the window by reducing heat flow from a warm(er) air
space to a cold(er) glazing surface. Low-E coatings allow
short-wavelength solar radiation through windows, but
reflect back longer wavelengths of heat.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX II-3
Appendix II: Energy & Housing Glossary
MEC (Model Energy Code)
A “model” national standard for residential energy
efficiency. The MEC was developed through a
national consensus process by the Council of American
Building Officials (CABO) and is the accepted
national minimum efficiency standard for residential
construction. Since MEC is a model code, it does not
have the “force of law” until it is adopted by a local code
authority. The MEC is used as the national standard
for determining Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM)
qualification, and it serves as the national “reference
point” used by Home Energy Rating Systems (HERS)
in the determination of energy ratings for homes.
Mechanical Ventilation
The active process of supplying or removing air to or
from an indoor space by powered equipment such as
motor-driven fans and blowers, but not by devices such
as wind-driven turbine ventilators and mechanically
operated windows.
Performance Test
An on-site measurement of the energy performance
of a building energy feature or an energy using device
conducted in accordance with pre-defined testing and
measurement protocols and analysis and computation
methods. Such protocols and methods may be defined
by national consensus standards like those of the
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air
Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the American
Society for Test and Measurement (ASTM).
P.I.T.I.
An abbreviation which stands for principal, interest,
taxes, and insurance. These generally represent a
borrower’s total monthly payment obligations on a
home loan. The taxes and insurance portion are often
paid monthly to an impound or escrow account and
may be adjusted annually to reflect changes in the
cost of each.
Pressure Boundary
The point in a building at which inside air and outside
air are separated. If a building were a balloon, the
rubber skin would form the pressure boundary. Where
inside and outside air freely mingle there is no
pressure boundary.
Pressurization Test
A procedure in which a fan is used to place a house,
duct system, or other container, under positive or
negative air pressure in order to calculate air leakage.
RESNET (Residential Energy Services Network)
The national association of energy rating providers.
Rated Home
A specific residence that is evaluated by an energy rating.
R-Value
Measures a material’s ability to slow down or resist the
transfer of heat energy, also called thermal resistance.
The greater the R-value, the better the resistance, the
better the insulation. R-values are the reciprocal of
U-values. See U-values for more information.
Sealed Combustion
Sealed combustion means that a combustion appliance,
such as a furnace, water heater, or fireplace, acquires all
air for combustion though a dedicated sealed passage
from the outside; combustion occurs in a sealed
combustion chamber, and all combustion products
are vented to the outside through a separate dedicated
sealed vent.
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio)
A measurement similar to HSPF except that it measures
the seasonal cooling efficiency of an electric air
conditioner or heat pump using a standard cooling load
and outdoor climate profile over a standard cooling
season. It represents the total seasonal cooling output in
Btu divided by the total seasonal electric input in watthours (Wh). The SEER value are units of Btu/Wh.
Semi-Permeable
The term vapor semi-permeable describes a material
with a water vapor permeance between 1 and 10 Perms.
Water vapor can pass through a semi-permeable
material but at a slow rate.
Shading Coefficient (SC)
The ratio of the total solar heat admittance through
a given glazing product relative to the solar heat
admittance of double-strength, clear glass at normal
solar incidence (i.e., perpendicular to the glazing
surface).
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX II-4
Appendix II: Energy & Housing Glossary
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)
SHGC measures how well a window blocks heat caused
by sunlight. The lower the SHGC rating the less solar
heat the window transmits. This rating is expressed as
a fraction between 0 and 1. The number is the ratio of
a window’s solar heat admittance compared to the total
solar heat available on the exterior window surface at
normal solar incidence (i.e., perpendicular to the
glazing surface).
Sone
A sound rating. Fans rated 1.5 sones and below are
considered very quiet.
Supply ducts
The ducts in a forced air heating or cooling system that
supply heated or cooled air from the or air conditioner
to conditioned spaces.
Thermal Boundary
The border between conditioned and unconditioned
space where insulation should be placed.
Thermostat
A control device that measures the temperature of the
air in a home or the water in a hot water tank and
activates heating or cooling equipment to cause the air
or water temperature to remain at a pre-specified value,
normally called the set point temperature.
Ton(s) of Refrigeration
Units used to characterize the cooling capacity of air
conditioning equipment. One ton equals 12,000 Btu/h.
W (watt)
One of two (Btu/h is the other) standard units of
measure for the rate at which energy is consumed by
equipment or the rate at which energy moves from
one location to another. It is also the standard unit of
measure for electrical power.
Wet-Bulb Temperature
A measure of combined heat and humidity. At the same
temperature, air with less relative humidity has a lower
wet-bulb temperature. See Dry-Bulb Temperature.
Wind-Washing
Air movement due to increased pressure differences that
occur at the outside corners and roof eaves of buildings.
Wind-washing can have significant impact on thermal
and moisture movement and hence thermal and
moisture performance of exterior wall assemblies.
Xeriscaping
Landscaping that minimizes outdoor water use while
maintaining soil integrity and building aesthetics.
Typically includes emphasis on native plantings,
mulching, and no or limited drip/subsurface irrigation.
Zero Energy House
Any house that over time, averages out to net zero
energy consumption. A zero energy home may supply
more energy than it needs during peak demand,
typically using one or more solar energy strategies,
energy storage and/or net metering.
U-Value
Measures the rate at which heat flows or conducts
through a building assembly (wall, floor, ceiling, etc.).
The smaller the u-value the more energy efficient an
assembly and the slower the heat transfer. Window
performance labels include U-values (calling them Ufactors) to help in comparing across window products.
Ventilation
The controlled movement of air into and out of a house.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX II-5
Appendix II: Energy & Housing Glossary
Sources & Additional Information
• American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). 1991. Terminology of Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. Atlanta, GA. • Building News. 2001. Construction Dictionary. BNi Publications, Los Angeles, CA.
• Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC). Energy-Efficiency Economics Terms and Definitions available on the Web at www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/fyh/ratings/e_terms.htm
• Lstiburek, Joseph. 2002. Builder’s Guide Hot and Humid Climates. Energy & Environmental Building
Association. Minneapolis, MN www.eeba.org
• Home Energy Magazine. 1997. “No-Regrets Remodeling: Creating a Comfortable, Healthy Home That Saves
Energy.” Energy Auditor & Retrofitter, Inc. Berkeley, CA.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX II-6
Appendix III
Code Notes
A meeting with the building department before construction is
well-advised. Should your code official need information in support
of the new techniques you may use in an energy-efficient home,
this appendix contains Web sites and a sample document that
may be helpful. A set of draft code notes are available on DOE’s
Building Energy Codes Resource Center. These draft documents
are written for codes officials, and provide a description of energy
efficiency techniques, citations to relevant codes, and guidance
for plan reviews and field inspections. The sample is the last one
on the list below and is entitled Rigid Board Insulation Installed
as Draft Stop in Attic Kneewall – Code Notes (Draft). Here is a
list of available code notes that should help assure your local
code official that the proposed techniques are both safe and in
compliance with the model codes. The code notes are available at
www.energycodes.gov/support/code_notes.stm.
• Single Top Plate
• No Headers in Nonbearing Walls
• Header Hangers in Bearing Walls
• Framing Floor Joists Spaced at 24 inches on Center
• Framing Studs Spaced at 24 inches on Center
• Open Spaces as Return-Air Options
• Details for Mechanically Vented Crawl Spaces
• Ventilation Requirements for Condensing Clothes Dryers
• Drywall Clips
• Rigid Board Insulation Installed as Draft Stop in Attic Kneewall
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 1 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for
Improving New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX III - 1
Rigid Board Insulation Installed as Draft Stop in Attic Kneewall ­
Code Notes (DRAFT)
Framing kneewall
Rigid board insulation (foam plastic) is an effective draft stop and also increases the R-value of the attic
kneewall if installed on the attic side of the kneewall, replacing the need for separate draft stop and insulation
products. The IRC requires foam plastic insulation to be protected against ignition by using fiberglass batt
insulation, gypsum board or other products that meet the flame and smoke density requirements. Foam
plastic products rated for flame and smoke density can be installed without such a protective covering.
Insulating attic kneewalls between a conditioned space with vaulted ceilings and the attic is important to
reduce energy loss through the wall, especially in the summer months. To be effective, the insulation installed
in the kneewalls must be supported so that it stays in contact with the gypsum board, and protected against
air moving through the insulation.
http://energycode.pnl.gov/cocoon/energy/
Page 1 of 3
Kneewall sheathing insulation to increase R-value to equal the outside wall.
Foam plastic insulation can be installed on the attic side of the attic kneewall (see Figure) to both act as a
draft stop between the conditioned house and the unconditioned attic and to increase the insulation R-value of
the attic kneewall. Installing such an insulating backing in the kneewall supports the fiberglass batt insulation
between framing members, replaces an air barrier, and adds insulating value to the attic kneewall.
Plan Review
1. Verify that plastic insulation called out on the construction detail meets the ASTM E 84 requirements for
flame spread and smoke development. Require manufacturer literature or an ICC Evaluation Service
report.
2. Verify that the insulation R-value of the foam plastic insulation called out on the building plans meets or
exceeds the R-value requirements called for on the energy code compliance documentation (only if credit
has been taken for the foam plastic insulation).
Field Inspection
1. Verify that the foam plastic insulation installed in the field is consistent with that called out on the building
plans.
2. Verify that the insulation R-value specified on the insulation meets or exceeds the R value called out on the
plans or documentation.
3. Verify that that sealant has been installed around the edges of the insulation and that any holes or
penetrations in the foam plastic insulation are sealed.
Code Citations
http://energycode.pnl.gov/cocoon/energy/
Page 2 of 3
IRC 2000, Section R318.2.3 and IRC 2003, Section R314.2.3
Within attics and crawlspaces, where entry is made only for service of utilities, foam plastics shall
be protected against ignition by 1 #-inch-thick (38 mm) mineral fiber insulation, #-inch-thick (6.4
mm) wood structural panels, 3/8-inch (9.5 mm) particleboard, #-inch (6.4 mm) hardboard, 3/8-inch
(9.5 mm) gypsum board, or corrosion resistant steel having a base metal thickness of 0.016 inch
(0.406 mm).
IRC 2000, Section R318.3
Plastic foam not meeting the requirements of Section R318.1 and R318.2 may be specifically
approved on the basis of one of the following approved tests: ASTM E 84, FM 4880, UL 1040,
ASTM E152, or UL 1715, or fire tests related to actual end-use configurations. The specific
approval may be based on the end use, quantity, location and similar considerations where such
tests would not be applicable or practical.
IRC 2003, Section R314.3
Plastic foam not meeting the requirements of Section R318.1 and R318.2 may be specifically
approved on the basis of one of the following approved tests: ASTM E 84, FM 4880, UL 1040,
NFPA 286, ASTM E152, or UL 1715, or fire tests related to actual end-use configurations. The
specific approval may be based on the end use, quantity, location and similar considerations where
such tests would not be applicable or practical.
http://energycode.pnl.gov/cocoon/energy/
Page 3 of 3
Appendix IV
Counties in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
This section contains a list of all the counties, broken out by state, that are inside the
hot-dry and mixed-dry climates. You can find a master list for the entire country at
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/building_america/pdfs/climate_regions_us_county_rev02.pdf
ARIZONA
CALIFORNIA
HOT-DRY CLIMATE
MIXED-DRY CLIMATE
Shasta
Lincoln
Cochise
Amador
Solano
Luna
Gila
Butte
Stanislaus
Otero
Graham
Calaveras
Sutter
Quay
Greenlee
Colusa
Tehama
Roosevelt
La Paz
Contra Costa
Trinity
Sierra
Maricopa
El Dorado
Tulare
Socorro
Mohave
Fresno
Tuolumne
Union
Pima
Glenn
Yolo
Valencia
Pinal
Imperial
Yuba
NEVADA
Santa Cruz
Inyo
Yavapai
Kern
Baca
Yuma
Kings
Las Animas
Beaver
Cochise
Lake
Otero
Cimarron
Gila
Los Angeles
Graham
Madera
Bernalillo
Greenlee
Mariposa
Chaves
Andrews
La Paz
Merced
Curry
Armstrong
Maricopa
Orange
DeBaca
Bailey
Mohave
Placer
Dona Ana
Baylor
Pima
Riverside
Eddy
Borden
Pinal
Sacramento
Grant
Brewster
Santa Cruz
San Bernardino
Guadalupe
Briscoe
Yavapai
San Diego
Hidalgo
Callahan
Yuma
San Joaquin
Lea
Carson
COLORADO
NEW MEXICO
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Clark
OKLAHOMA
Texas
TEXAS
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX IV-1
Appendix IV:
Counties in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Castro
Garza
Lipscomb
Runnels
Childress
Glasscock
Loving
Schleicher
Cochran
Gray
Lubbock
Scurry
Coke
Hale
Lynn
Shackelford
Coleman
Hall
Martin
Sherman
Collingsworth
Hansford
Mason
Sterling
Concho
Hardeman
McCulloch
Stonewall
Cottle
Hartley
Menard
Sutton
Crane
Haskell
Midland
Swisher
Crockett
Hockley
Mitchell
Taylor
Crosby
Hutchinson
Moore
Terrell
Culberson
Hemphill
Motley
Terry
Dallam
Howard
Nolan
Throckmorton
Dawson
Hudspeth
Ochiltree
Tom Green
Deaf Smith
Irion
Oldham
Upton
Dickens
Jeff Davis
Parmer
Ward
Donley
Jones
Pecos
Wheeler
Ector
Kent
Potter
Wilbarger
El Paso
Kerr
Presidio
Winkler
Fisher
Kimble
Randall
Yoakum
Floyd
King
Reagan
Foard
Knox
Reeves
Gaines
Lamb
Roberts
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for Improving
New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
UTAH
Washington
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX IV-2
Appendix V
Web Site References
This section lists all of the Web sites referenced in the Best Practices Series. It is intended to help readers in two ways.
First, those interested in finding a reference without going back through the text may do so. Secondly, this list will
be included as a live portion of the Building America Web site. The list will be updated periodically to incorporate
changes in links. In this way, readers may visit the Building America Web site and click on a current link rather than
monitoring and tracking down links on their own. The links are listed by chapter and for the Designers and Trades
chapters, also by secondary headings.
INTRODUCTION
www.buildingamerica.gov
Building America is a private/public partnership that
develops energy solutions for new and existing homes.
HOMEOWNERS
www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/insulation/ins_16.html
Easy to use R-value recommendation form uses input such
as house status, fuel type and zip code to form analysis
for installation.
www.fanniemae.com
Known for energy-efficient loans, Fannie Mae is the
nation’s largest source of funding for mortgages.
www.natresnet.org
The Residential Energy Services Network’s (RESNET)
mission is to improve the energy efficiency of the nation’s
housing stock and to qualify more families for home
ownership by expanding the national availability of
mortgage financing options and home energy ratings.
www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/eem/energy-r.cfm
Energy Efficient Mortgages Programs helps to achieve
national energy-efficiency goals (and reduce pollution)
as well as provide better housing for people who might
not otherwise be able to afford it.
www.eflhome.com/index.jsp
The Environments for Living Program’s energy use and
comfort guarantees promise potential savings, comfort
and durability that were never thought possible.
www.us-gf.com/engineered.asp
An Engineered For Life® home is an energy-efficient home
that has been designed, built and tested according to the
principles of building science for optimal safety, durability,
affordability, and comfort.
www.artistichomessw.com/guarantee.htm
Artistic Homes clearly marks every new home floor-plan
with the annual amount of space heating and cooling
energy that is expected to be used. Artistic Homes’
guarantee: If your actual space heating and cooling
usage is less than guaranteed, you pay less.
www.energystar.gov
ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program helping
businesses and individuals protect the environment
through superior energy efficiency.
www.buildingamerica.gov
Building America is a private/public partnership that
develops energy solutions for new and existing homes.
www.housingzone.com
Housingzone.com contains content for builders,
remodelers, architects, suppliers, consumers, and
manufacturers. The Web site includes material from
Professional Builder, Professional Remodeler, and
Custom Builder magazines
MANAGERS
www.energystar.gov
ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program helping
businesses and individuals protect the environment
through superior energy efficiency.
www.housingzone.com
Housingzone.com contains content for builders,
remodelers, architects, suppliers, consumers, and
manufacturers. The Web site includes material from
Professional Builder, Professional Remodeler, and
Custom Builder magazines
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for
Improving New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX V-1
Appendix V: Web Site References
www.energyvideos.com
The California Energy Commission Web site contains
brief videos explaining how building homes beyond the
levels required by code is good for business. Other videos
provide training on meeting California code and installing
energy efficient building measures.
MARKETERS
www.energystar.gov
ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program helping
businesses and individuals protect the environment
through superior energy efficiency.
www.nahbrc.org/tertiaryR.asp?CategoryID=1705&
DocumentID=3404
The EnergyValue Housing Award guide is a compilation
of best practices of winners of the national EnergyValue
Housing Award. It can be purchased from the NAHB
Research Center Web site.
www.efficientwindows.org/index.cfm
The Efficient Windows Collaborative Web site provides
unbiased information on the benefits of energyefficient windows, descriptions of how they work, and
recommendations for their selection and use.
www.builderonline.com/article-builder.asp?channelid=
55&articleid=375&qu=consumer+survey
Builder Online Web site presents a survey that reveals
builders and buyers may be on different wavelengths
when it comes to the choice of products and materials.
www.housingzone.com
Housingzone.com contains content for builders, remodelers, architects, suppliers, consumers, and manufacturers. The Web site includes material from Professional Builder, Professional Remodeler, and Custom Builder magazines
SITE PLANNERS
www.efficientwindows.org
The Efficient Windows Collaborative Web site provides
unbiased information on the benefits of energyefficient windows, descriptions of how they work, and
recommendations for their selection and use.
www.lid-stormwater.net
Sponsored by the EPA, this Web site contains information
and low-impact urban design tools to help developers and
watershed managers.
www.southface.org/home/sfpubs/large-pubs/
Sustainable_community_development.pdf
Located in Atlanta, Southface Energy Institute is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit corporation that promotes sustainable homes,
workplaces and communities through education, research,
advocacy and technical assistance. This URL contains a
PDF version of the referenced document.
www.eeba.org
The Energy and Environmental Building Association (EEBA)
promotes the awareness, education and development of
energy efficient, environmentally responsible buildings and
communities. The EEBA Web site includes a bookstore
where the referenced document may be purchased.
www.fed.us/ne/newtown_square/publications/
technical_reports/pdfs/scanned/gtr1869.pdf
PDF version of the Chicago’s Urban Forest Ecosystem:
Results of the Chicago Urban Forest Climate Project
from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Northeastern
Research Station.
www.BuilderBooks.com
Purchasing Web site of books for the builder, bookstore of
the National Association of Home Builders.
www.SBICouncil.org
Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC) is an
independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to
advance the design, affordability, energy performance, and
environmental soundness of America’s buildings.
www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/pubs/pf363/index.htm
The Florida Solar Energy Center presents an article on
housing in rural areas that could result in changes to local
climate and increased energy bills.
www.lid-stormwater.net
Sponsored by the EPA, this Web site contains information
and low-impact urban design tools to help developers and
watershed managers.
www.cabq.gov/waterconservation/xeric.html
The City of Albuquerque’s Web site provides information
on xeriscaping strategies for dry climates.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for
Improving New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX V-2
Appendix V: Web Site References
DESIGNERS
Building Science and the Systems Approach
www.buildingamerica.gov
Building America is a private/public partnership that
develops energy solutions for new and existing homes.
www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/science/basics/index.htm
The Florida Solar Energy Center presents the basics of
building science for more efficient and powerful products.
www.nbnnews.com
National Association of Home Builders offers an online
newsletter center with a tool for accessing back issues of
the publications.
www.natresnet.org
The Residential Energy Services Network’s (RESNET)
mission is to improve the energy efficiency of the nation’s
housing stock and to qualify more families for home
ownership by expanding the national availability of
mortgage financing options and home energy ratings.
www.energycodes.gov
A Web site describing U.S. DOE’s Energy Codes Program.
Site – Drainage, Pest Control, and Landscaping
www.uky.edu/Agriculture/Entomology/entfacts.htm
University of Kentucky Entomology site has a block of options to navigate which include field crops, fruit, livestock, misc., landscape plants, vegetables, home and health and a list of facts.
www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/factsheets/
landscape.html
This Department of Energy’s Web site includes information
for energy efficiency landscaping.
Foundation Measures
www.epa.gov/199/iaq/radon/images/buildradonout.pdf
A guide to building radon-resistant homes is outlined by the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap.html
Environmental Protection Agency’s map of radon zones
includes all states with a breakdown of zone information
classified by region.
www.epa.gov/iaq/whereyoulive.html
State and regional contact information for indoor air quality and radon control.
www.buildingscience.com/resources/articles
/24-27_Yost_for_author.pdf
An Article by Dr. Nathan Yost, M.D. is presented
by buildingscience.com and offers information on
conditioned, unvented crawl spaces.
www.buildingscience.com/housesthatwork
/hothumid/montgomery.htm
The Building Science Corporation leads a Building America
team. Houses that work provides drawings, specifications,
materials characteristics for sample housing types in five
climate zones.
Structural Moisture Control
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/documents
/pdfs/28600.pdf
The Department of Energy presents a Technology Fact
Sheet on how to select and install housewrap and other
types of weather-resistive barriers.
www.fema.gov
The Federal Energy Management Agency’s mission is to
prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage
federal response and recovery efforts following any
national incident.
www.blueprintforsafety.org
Florida Alliance for Safe Homes’ building guidelines for
hazardous areas.
www.ibhs.org
The Institute for Business and Home Safety has building
guidelines and public information for surviving disasters.
www.buildingcodeonline.com
The Miami-Dade County Building Code Compliance
Office offers a searchable database of building materials
approved for high-wind locations.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for
Improving New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX V-3
Appendix V: Web Site References
www.eere.energy.gov/weatherization/hazard_workshop.html
U.S. DOE offers a training program for home inspectors to
identify hazards.
www.buildingscience.com/resources/walls
/brick_stucco_housewraps.pdf
Website provides information on housewrap and building
paper performance behind brick and stucco.
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/documents/pdfs/28600.pdf
The Department of Energy presents a Technology Fact
Sheet on how to select and install housewrap and other
types of weather-resistive barriers.
www.buildingscience.com/housesthatwork
/buildingmaterials.htm
The Building Science Corporation leads a Building America
team. Houses that work provides drawings, specifications,
materials characteristics for sample housing types in five
climate zones.
www.buildingscience.com/resources/walls
/problems_with_housewraps.htm
The function of a housewrap and the problems associated
with them are laid out in a well written article on
buildingscience.com.
www.cdnarchitect.com
Canadian Architect is a magazine that offers information
for architects and other professionals in related fields.
www.nahbrc.org/docs/mainnav/moistureandleaks
/792_moisture.pdf
This document from the NAHB Research Center provides
information to help control leaks.
www.eeba.org/bookstore
The Energy and Environmental Building Association (EEBA)
promotes the awareness, education and development of
energy efficient, environmentally responsible buildings and
communities. The EEBA Web site includes a bookstore
where the referenced document may be purchased.
www.buildingscience.com/housesthatwork/airsealing.htm
The Building Science Corporation leads a Building America
team. Houses that Work provides drawings, specifications,
materials characteristics for sample housing types in five
climate zones.
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/documents/
pdfs/26448.pdf
The Department of Energy presents a Technology Fact
Sheet on the benefits of sealing air leaks to save energy.
Structural Thermal Performance
www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/insulation/ins_08.html
What kind of insulation should you buy? An insulation fact
sheet presented by the Department of Energy clarifies.
www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/pubs/rbs/index.htm
The FPC Monitoring project has evaluated radiant barrier
systems (RBS) as a new potential DSM program.
www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/radiant/rb_01.html
Provides descriptions and a fact sheet about radiant barriers.
www.energystar.gov
ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program helping
businesses and individuals protect the environment
through superior energy efficiency.
www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/insulation/ins_16.html
Easy to use R-Value recommendation form uses input such
as house status, fuel type and zip code to form analysis
for installation.
www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/energy_savers
/r-value_map.html
A detailed map represents recommended total R-Values
for existing houses according to the Department of Energy.
www.buildingscience.com/housesthatwork
/advancedframing/default.htm
Advanced framing details the Building Science Corporation.
www.buildingscience.com/housesthatwork/hothumid/
orlando.htm
The Building Science Corporation leads a Building America team. Houses that work provides drawings, specifications, materials characteristics for sample housing recommendations in five climate zones.
www.nfrc.org
National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) is a non-profit,
public/private organization created by the window, door
and skylight industry which provides consistent ratings on
window, door and skylight products.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for
Improving New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX V-4
Appendix V: Web Site References
www.efficientwindows.org/index.cfm
The Efficient Windows Collaborative Web site provides
unbiased information on the benefits of energyefficient windows, descriptions of how they work, and
recommendations for their selection and use.
www.susdesign.com/sunangle/
Input and output variables form a calculation tool for sun angles.
www.wunderground.com
A weather forecasting and data Web site.
www.susdesign.com/overhang/index.html
www.buildingscience.com/resources/mechanical
/conditioning_air.pdf
The Building Science Consortium’s Houston study of
dehumidifiers (BSC 2002) is available on the referenced
Web page.
http://ducts.lbl.gov/Publications/lbl-41118.pdf
A technical report on duct sealants can be found on the
referenced Web page.
www.homeenergy.org/archive/hem.dis.anl.gov/
eehem/98/9807.html
The magazine, Home Energy, contains an article describing
duct sealants.
Overhang design tool allows the shading performance of
window overhangs to be easily analyzed using precise
calculations and positioning.
www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/baihp//pubs/interior_ducts.pdf
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/index.cfm?flash=yes
Web page offers information on designing and building an
interior chase.
DOE’s Building Technologies Program works to improve
the energy efficiency of our nation’s buildings through
innovative new technologies and better building practices.
Site includes research and regulatory activities.
www.sbse.org/resources/sac/index.htm
Presented by the Society of Building Science Educators,
this Web page offers general information and purchasing
details on the sun angle calculator.
Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning
www.acca.org
From technical topics to management tips, the Air
Conditioning Contractors of America provide a wealth
of knowledge and information useful for the successful
contracting business, including selection and sizing
manuals.
www.energy.ca.gov/2005publications/CEC-400-2005
005/CEC-400-2005-005-CMF.pdf
California Energy Commission’s 2005 Residential
Compliance Manual
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards/
DOE’s tips on saving energy and money at home.
www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=appliances.pr_appliances
A list of appliances with an ENERGY STAR rating can be
found on this Web page.
www.buildingscience.com/resources/mechanical
/air_distribution.pdf
Examples of HVAC systems with detailed information
on the energy and economic benefit is provided by
buildingscience.com.
www.buildingscience.com/resources/roofs
/unvented_roof_summary_article.pdf
The linked article summarizes the various papers on
unvented conditioned cathedralized attics found on the site.
www.buildingscience.com/housesthatwork/hothumid
/montgomery.htm
The Building Science Corporation leads a Building America
team. Houses that work provides drawings, specifications,
materials characteristics for sample housing types in five
climate zones.
www.energystar.gov/ia/new_homes/features
/DuctInsulation1-17-01.pdf
Recommendations for insulation levels for ducts in uncondi
tioned spaces can be found on this site.
www.buildingscience.com/resources/moisture
/relative_humidity_0402.pdf
Relative humidity discussion.
Mechanicals Management and Appliances
www.toolbase.org
This Web site contains PATH’s listing of building
technologies, including air admittance vents and
manifold water distribution systems. PATH stands for the
Partnership for Advanced Housing Technology. To reach
information about air admittance valves after reaching
the Web site select new building technologies, plumbing,
distribution systems, and finally, air admittance vents.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for
Improving New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX V-5
Appendix V: Web Site References
www.gamanet.org
GAMA, the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association, is a
national trade association of manufacturers of residential,
commercial and industrial appliances and equipment,
components and related products.
www.energy.state.or.us/res/tax/appheat.htm
A list of high-efficiency water heaters that qualify for state
tax credits is presented by The Oregon Department of
Energy. Only Oregon taxpayers qualify for the credits.
www.pnl.gov/cfldownlights/
The purpose of the Residential Recessed Downlights
Project is to increase the availability and use of highly
energy-efficient recessed downlight fixtures for homes.
Website provides highly energy-efficient recessed
downlight fixtures that have undergone stringent testing
available for purchase.
www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/energy_savers
/appliances.html
A list of major appliances with high-energy efficiency
standards are documented by the Department of Energy.
Only appliances in the top one-third of the DOE Energy
Guide rating scale should be selected.
Web Sites Listed Only in Designers Chapter References
www.buildingscience.com/resources/mechanical
/advanced_space_conditioning.pdf
A Building Science Corporation document discussing
system tradeoffs between building envelopes and heating
and ventilation equipment.
www.buildingamerica.gov
Building America is a private/public partnership that
develops energy solutions for new and existing homes.
www.wwnorton.com/npb/welcome.htm
Norton Professional Books offers an online bookstore in
subjects such as architecture/design.
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/documents/pdfs/28600.pdf
The Department of Energy presents a Technology Fact
Sheet on how to select and install housewrap and other
types of weather-resistive barriers.
www.eeba.org/bookstore
The Energy and Environmental Building Association (EEBA)
promotes the awareness, education and development of
energy efficient, environmentally responsible buildings and
communities. The EEBA Web site includes a bookstore
where the referenced document may be purchased.
www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/baihp/pubs/interior_ducts.pdf
Web page offers information on designing and building an
interior chase.
www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/pubs/rbs/index.htm
The FPC Monitoring project has evaluated radiant barrier
systems (RBS) as a new potential DSM program.
www.buildingscience.com/resources/mechanical
/air_conditioning_equipment_efficiency.pdf
A Building Science Corporation document providing
procedures for refrigeration system installation and start up.
www.homeenergy.org/898ductape.title.html
Home Energy Magazine contains an article describing
duct sealants.
www.SBICouncil.org
Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC) is an
independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to
advance the design, affordability, energy performance,
and environmental soundness of America’s buildings.
www.energystar.gov/ia/new_homes/features
/DuctInsulation1-17-01.pdf
Recommendations for insulation levels for ducts in
unconditioned spaces in the hot and humid climate can
be found on this site.
www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/pubs/ACsize/index.htm
The Florida Solar Energy Center presents a document
on how air conditioning systems are sized.
http://ducts.lbl.gov/Publications/lbl-41118.pdf
A technical report on duct sealants can be found on the
referenced Web page.
www.buildingscience.com/resources/articles
/24-27_Yost_for_author.pdf
An Article by Dr. Nathan Yost, M.D. is presented
by buildingscience.com and offers information on
conditioned, unvented crawl spaces.
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/index.cfm?flash=yes
DOE’s Building Technologies Program works to improve
the energy efficiency of our nation’s buildings through
innovative new technologies and better building practices.
Site includes research and regulatory activities.
www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=bop.pt_bop_index
ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program helping
businesses and individuals protect the environment
through superior energy efficiency. Index includes builder
option packages referenced by state.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for
Improving New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX V-6
Appendix V: Web Site References
SITE SUPERVISORS
www.comfortwise.com/installationprotocols.shtml
ConSol leads a Building America team and developed the
statements of work listed on this Web site for builders in
California. These statements of work can be incorporated
into contracts.
www.thebii.org/rpsw.asp
Statements of work developed by ConSol for builders
in California are also available on this Web site. These
statements of work can be incorporated into contracts.
www.energycodes.gov/support/code-notes.stm
DOE’s building codes program provides draft Code Notes
to help code officials
www.buildingamerica.gov
Building America is a private/public partnership that
develops energy solutions for new and existing homes.
www.eeba.org
The Energy and Environmental Building Association (EEBA)
promotes the awareness, education and development of
energy efficient, environmentally responsible buildings and
communities. The EEBA Web site includes a bookstore
where the referenced document may be purchased.
www.buildingscience.com/workshops/default.htm
Building Science Corporation offers workshops and
seminars that are tailored towards building professionals.
www.nahbrc.org
The National Association of Home Builders Research
Center leads a Building America team and conducts
training for builders. This Web site contains articles,
schedules, and links describing technical materials and
training opportunities.
www.southface.org
Located in Atlanta, Southface Energy Institute is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit corporation that promotes sustainable homes,
workplaces and communities through education, research,
advocacy and technical assistance.
www.ibacos.com
IBACOS, Inc. (Integrated Building and Construction
Solutions) was created to help enable the homebuilding
industry to deliver Quality Homes®—homes of inherently
higher performance that are safe, healthy, durable,
comfortable and efficient.
www.acca.org
From technical topics to management tips, the Air
Conditioning Contractors of America provide a wealth
of knowledge and information useful for the successful
contracting business, including selection and
sizing manuals.
www.installationmastersusa.com
This Web site describes a window installation training
program developed by the American Architectural
Manu-facturers Association.
www.energyvideos.com
The California Energy Commission Web site contains
brief videos explaining how building homes beyond the
levels required by code is good for business. Other videos
provide training on meeting California code and installing
energy efficient building measures.
www.pathnet.org/sp.asp?id=10787
This Web site contains training videos available from
PATH TV. PATH stands for the Partnership for Advancing
Technology in Housing.
www.natresnet.org
The Residential Energy Services Network’s (RESNET)
mission is to improve the energy efficiency of the nation’s
housing stock and to qualify more families for home
ownership by expanding the national availability of
mortgage financing options and home energy ratings.
http://hem.dis.anl.gov/eehem/00/001105.html
Home Energy Magazine explores HVAC questions.
TRADES
Slabs
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/documents/
pdfs/29237.pdf
The Department of Energy presents a Technology Fact
Sheet on how to improve comfort and save energy in
homes with slab-on-grade floors.
www.epa.gov/199/iaq/radon
A guide to building radon-resistant homes is outlined
by the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air at the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for
Improving New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX V-7
Appendix V: Web Site References
www.southface.org/web/resources&services/
publications/factsheets/29_insulatefloors4PDF.pdf
Located in Atlanta, Southface Energy Institute is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit corporation that promotes sustainable homes,
workplaces and communities through education, research,
advocacy and technical assistance. This URL contains a
PDF version of the referenced document.
www.southface.org/web/resources&services/
publications/factsheets/30_radonresistantconst.pdf
Located in Atlanta, Southface Energy Institute is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit corporation that promotes sustainable homes,
workplaces and communities through education, research,
advocacy and technical assistance. This URL contains a
PDF version of the referenced document.
www.buildingscience.com/housesthatwork
The Building Science Corporation leads a Building America
team. Houses that Work provides drawings, specifications,
materials characteristics for sample housing types in five
climate zones.
Housewraps
www.southface.org/home/sfpubs/techshts
/8_airsealing.pdf
Located in Atlanta, Southface Energy Institute is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit corporation that promotes sustainable homes,
workplaces and communities through education, research,
advocacy and technical assistance. This URL contains a
PDF version of the referenced document.
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/documents/
pdfs/26448.pdf
The Department of Energy presents a Technology Fact
Sheet on the benefits of sealing air leaks to save energy.
http://construction.tyvek.com/en/productServices
/HomeWrap/index.shtml
Tyvek® HomeWrap® is a weatherization membrane that
provides a protective layer under a home’s siding and over
the sheathing.
www.cdnarchitect.com
Canadian Architect is a magazine that offers information
for architects and other professionals in related fields.
Window Flashing
www.eeba.org
The Energy and Environmental Building Association (EEBA)
promotes the awareness, education and development of
energy efficient, environmentally responsible buildings and
communities. The EEBA Web site includes a bookstore
where the referenced document may be purchased.
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/documents/
pdfs/28600.pdf
The Department of Energy presents a Technology Fact
Sheet on how to select and install housewrap and other
types of weather-resistive barriers.
Air Sealing – Plumbing
www.eeba.org
The Energy and Environmental Building Association (EEBA)
promotes the awareness, education and development of
energy efficient, environmentally responsible buildings and
communities. The EEBA Web site includes a bookstore
where the referenced document may be purchased.
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/documents/
pdfs/26448.pdf
The Department of Energy presents a Technology Fact
Sheet on the benefits of sealing air leaks to save energy.
www.toolbase.org
This Web site contains PATH’s listing building
technologies, including air admittance vents and
manifold water distribution systems. PATH stands for the
Partnership for Advanced Housing Technology. To reach
information about air admittance valves after reaching
the Web site select new building technologies, plumbing,
distribution systems, and finally, air admittance vents.
Electrical Air Sealing
www.eeba.org
The Energy and Environmental Building Association (EEBA)
promotes the awareness, education and development of
energy efficient, environmentally responsible buildings and
communities. The EEBA Web site includes a bookstore
where the referenced document may be purchased.
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/documents
/pdfs/26448.pdf
The Department of Energy presents a Technology Fact
Sheet on the benefits of sealing air leaks to save energy.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for
Improving New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX V-8
Appendix V: Web Site References
Air Sealing Glossary
www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/documents
/pdfs/26448.pdf
The Department of Energy presents a Technology Fact
Sheet on the benefits of sealing air leaks to save energy.
Masonry Construction
www.eeba.org
The Energy and Environmental Building Association (EEBA)
promotes the awareness, education and development of
energy efficient, environmentally responsible buildings and
communities. The EEBA Web site includes a bookstore
where the referenced document may be purchased.
Radiant Barriers
www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/refbriefs/bc7.html
The Department of Energy presents an information fact
sheet on radiant barriers.
www.southface.org/home/sfpubs/techshts
/14radiantbarriers.pdf
Located in Atlanta, Southface Energy Institute is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit corporation that promotes sustainable homes,
workplaces and communities through education, research,
advocacy and technical assistance. This URL contains a
PDF version of the referenced document.
www.southface.org/home/sfpubs/techshts
/25_insulateceilings_4pdf.pdf
Located in Atlanta, Southface Energy Institute is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit corporation that promotes sustainable homes,
workplaces and communities through education, research,
advocacy and technical assistance. This URL contains a
PDF version of the referenced document.
Duct Sealing
www.southface.org/home/sfpubs/techshts
/2duct_q&a.pdf
Located in Atlanta, Southface Energy Institute is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit corporation that promotes sustainable homes,
workplaces and communities through education, research,
advocacy and technical assistance. This URL contains a
PDF version of the referenced document.
APPENDIX I
No Web sites
APPENDIX II
www.fsec.ucf.edu/bldg/fyh/ratings/e_terms.htm
Terms and definitions for energy efficiency economics is
offered in two organized lists: Energy-Efficiency, Code and
Rating Terminology & Economic, Financial & Real Estate
Terminology. Both lists are useful for Energy Raters to
effectively perform their function as energy auditors.
www.eeba.org
The Energy and Environmental Building Association (EEBA)
promotes the awareness, education and development of
energy efficient, environmentally responsible buildings and
communities. The EEBA Web site includes a bookstore
where the referenced document may be purchased.
APPENDIX III
www.energycodes.gov/support/code-notes.stm
DOE’s building codes program provides draft Code Notes
to help code officials
www.eeba.org
The Energy and Environmental Building Association (EEBA)
promotes the awareness, education and development of
energy efficient, environmentally responsible buildings and
communities. The EEBA Web site includes a bookstore
where the referenced document may be purchased.
www.fsec.ucf.edu
Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), A Research Institute
of the University of Central Florida, conducts research
and develops energy technologies that enhance Florida’s
and the nation’s economy and environment. FSEC also
educates the public, students and practitioners on the
results of the research.
www.e-star.com
E-Star Energy Ratings allow homeowners and builders to create energy-efficient homes that are economical, comfortable, and better for the environment.
www.southface.org/home/sfpubs/techshts/checklist.pdf
Located in Atlanta, Southface Energy Institute is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit corporation that promotes sustainable homes,
workplaces and communities through education, research,
advocacy and technical assistance. This URL contains a
PDF version of the referenced document.
Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2 – Builders and Buyers Handbook for
Improving New Home Efficiency, Comfort, and Durability in the Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates
Version 3, 9/2005 • APPENDIX V-9
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Building America Best Practices Series: Volume 2. Builders and
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This best practices guide is part of a series produced by Building America. The guidebook is a resource to help
builders large and small build high-quality, energy-efficient homes that achieve 30% energy savings in space
conditioning and water heating in the hot-dry and mixed-dry climates. The savings are in comparison with the 1993
Model Energy Code. The guide contains chapters for every member of the builder’s team—from the manager to the
site planner to the designers, site supervisors, the trades, and marketers. There is also a chapter for homeowners on
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A Strong Energy Portfolio
for a Strong America
Energy efficiency and clean, renewable
energy will mean a stronger economy,
a cleaner environment, and greater
energy independence for America.
Working with a wide array of state,
community, industry, and university
partners, the U.S. Department of
Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency
and Renewable Energy invests in a
diverse portfolio of energy technologies.
Research and Development
of Buildings
Our nation’s buildings consume more
energy than any other sector of the
U.S. economy, including transportation
and industry. Fortunately, the opportunities to reduce building energy use—
and the associated environmental
impacts—are significant.
DOE’s Building Technologies Program
works to improve the energy efficiency
of our nation’s buildings through innovative new technologies and better
building practices. The program
focuses on two key areas:
• Emerging Technologies
Research and development of the
next generation of energy-efficient
components, materials, and
equipment
• Technology Integration
Integration of new technologies
with innovative building methods
to optimize building performance
and savings
For more information contact:
EERE Information Center
1-877-EERE-INF (1-877-337-3463)
www.eere.energy.gov
Visit our Web sites at:
www.buildingamerica.gov
www.pathnet.org
www.energystar.gov
Building America Program
George S. James • New Construction • 202-586-9472 • fax: 202-586-8134 • e-mail: [email protected]
Terry Logee • Existing Homes • 202-586-1689 • fax: 202-586-4617 • e-mail: [email protected]
Lew Pratsch • Integrated Onsite Power • 202-586-1512 • fax: 202-586-8185 • e-mail: [email protected]
Building America Program • Office of Building Technologies, EE-2J • U.S. Department of Energy • 1000 Independence Avenue, S.W. •
Washington, D.C. 20585-0121 • www.buildingamerica.gov
Building Industry Research Alliance (BIRA)
Robert Hammon • ConSol • 7407 Tam O’Shanter Drive #200 • Stockton, CA 95210-3370 • 209-473-5000 • fax: 209-474-0817 •
e-mail: [email protected] • www.bira.ws
Building Science Consortium (BSC)
Betsy Pettit • Building Science Consortium (BSC) • 70 Main Street • Westford, MA 01886 • 978-589-5100 • fax: 978-589-5103 •
e-mail: [email protected] • www.buildingscience.com
Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings (CARB)
Steven Winter • Steven Winter Associates, Inc. • 50 Washington Street • Norwalk, CT 06854 • 203-857-0200 • fax: 203-852-0741 •
e-mail: [email protected] • www.carb-swa.com
Davis Energy Group
David Springer • Davis Energy Group • 123 C Street • Davis, CA 95616 • 530-753-1100 • fax: 530-753-4125 •
e-mail: [email protected][email protected] • www.davisenergy.com/index.html
IBACOS Consortium
Brad Oberg • IBACOS Consortium • 2214 Liberty Avenue • Pittsburgh, PA 15222 • 412-765-3664 • fax: 412-765-3738 •
e-mail: [email protected] • www.ibacos.com
Industrialized Housing Partnership (IHP)
Subrato Chandra • Florida Solar Energy Center • 1679 Clearlake Road • Cocoa, FL 32922 • 321-638-1412 • fax: 321-638-1439 •
e-mail: [email protected] • www.baihp.org
National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center
Tom Kenney • National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center • 400 Prince George’s Boulevard •
Upper Marlboro, MD 20774 • 301-430-6246 • fax: 301-430-6180 • toll-free: 800-638-8556 • www.nahbrc.org/
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Ren Anderson • 1617 Cole Boulevard, MS-2722 • Golden, CO 80401 • 303-384-7433 • fax: 303-384-7540 •
e-mail: [email protected] • www.nrel.gov
U.S. Department of Energy
Energy Efficiency
and Renewable Energy
An electronic copy of this publication is
available on the Building America Web
site at www.buildingamerica.gov
Tim Merrigan • 1617 Cole Boulevard, MS-2722 • Golden, CO 80401 • 303-384-7349 • fax: 303-384-7540 •
e-mail: [email protected] • www.nrel.gov
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Pat M. Love • P.O. Box 2008 • One Bethel Valley Road • Oak Ridge, TN 37831 • 865-574-4346 • fax: 865-574-9331 •
e-mail: [email protected] • www.ornl.gov
Produced for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a DOE national laboratory.
September 2005 • NREL/TP-550-38360
Printed with a renewable-source ink on paper containing at least 50% wastepaper, including 20% postconsumer waste.
Bringing you a prosperous future where energy is clean, abundant, reliable, and affordable
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