Epoch Announces Release of New Eco Collection Homes, Value Engineered Green Home Designs That Are Energy Star and ICC-700 Compliant!!
Go Epoch, Go Green!
Build “Green”, that is the buzzword. Everyone has heard it, but what does it mean? A green home uses less energy, water and natural resources; creates less waste and is healthier for people living inside. Green Building also means a more resource efficient building process. There is reduced exposure to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins, reduced waste streams, conservation and restoration of natural resources along with enhancing and protecting ecosystems. In addition there are the economical benefits like lower operating cost, enhanced durability, less maintenance and optimized life cycle economic performance. Green offers healthier living and greater resale potential. There are many shades of green building; which refers to the various levels of achievement in adopting resource efficiency in a home. Homes with one or two green measures are considered light green, while homes with several green measures are called dark green. There are several programs that attempt to quantify the level of greenness. The NAHB’s Green Building program has three tiers Bronze, Silver and Gold. If you have ordered a house from an Independependent Epoch Builder, you have already started to build Green. Building a home using modular construction is a very effective way to make the best use of materials, manufacturing efficiencies and protects the framing process from the elements. Keeping all materials dry and away from the elements helps to reduce the chance of mold and other toxins from later contaminating the indoor air quality. Local communities are looking for ways to minimize the impact of construction on local infrastructure at the building site. By building with modular construction you can reduce the traffic to a building site by delivering a house that is 80% complete in one day as opposed to having trucks delivering materials day after day. Modular construction minimizes the disturbance at the site and will reduce neighborhood traffic. A recent analysis by Epoch identifies numerous NAHB green specifications already met by our homes. Epoch’s modular system produced 87 points in the Resource Efficiency area, 43 points in the Energy Efficiency area, 60 points in the Indoor Environment Quality area, and 11 points in the Global Impact area. Without making any changes, a typical custom designed Epoch Home achieves over 200 points, qualifying at the Bronze level. With a few additional Green design choices, it is easy to reach even higher levels!
Green Home Building Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Green Home?
A green home uses less energy, water and natural resources; creates less waste and is healthier for people living inside. There are many shades of green building; which refers to the various levels of achievement in adopting resource efficiency in a home. Homes with one or two green measures are considered light green, while homes with several green measures are called dark green. There are several programs that attempt to quantify the level of greenness such as U.S. Green Building Council and NAHB. The LEED rating program has four levels of green: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. The NAHB’s National Green Building Standard has four tiers Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Emerald. In the end, the buyer of a custom home will decide what is important to them in their Green Home.
Why build Green?
There are many reasons to change the way we build and operate homes in 2009. Building a new home will always affect the environment, so when we build a Green Home we work towards minimizing the environmental impact. In the United States buildings account for the following percentage:
- 39% of energy use
- 12% of water consumption
- 68 % of total electricity consumption
- 38% of the carbon dioxide emissions
It is clear that if we can build Green and reduce those numbers we can have a very positive affect on the environment.
However, there are also some very direct benefits to the homeowner. Green Homes save money on energy costs. In some cases these savings can be substantial, ultimately having the potential for net zero energy. The attention to indoor air quality can create a much healthier environment, and reduce problems from allergies. Further economic advantages can come at resale time. Because Green Building is relatively new, the existing stock of Green Homes is limited. To some extent if you want a Green Home, you need to build it. This suggests higher resale values may be found for certified homes. Already, some banks are offering Green Mortgages that take the energy cost savings into consideration when calculating payments to income rations. And, of course, the home you build is a reflection of your own values, so why not do it right.
Many Modular Companies Advertise That They Are Green. How Is Epoch Different?
Epoch has been building Green Homes for many years. As far back as 1998, Epoch partnered with the Department of Energy and The Hickory Consortium to build the Cambridge Co-Housing project, an award winning Energy Star project in Cambridge, MA. We built one of the first LEED Platinum homes in the country, and our factory was the first in the country to be “Green Approved” by the NAHB Research Center. More recently Epoch built a home in the White Mountains of New Hampshire that was rated Platinum LEEDs and also New Hampshire Green Building Program Gold level, the highest award attainable. Epoch offers a wide array of standard and green options, such as Icynene spray foam insulation and low VOC paint. Ask your manufacturer for their resume of Green building projects to see just how extensive their commitment to Green building is.
Epoch supports all of the major Green specifications at all levels, but a manufacturer cannot say that their houses are a given level, such as bronze or Platinum. This is because a valid rating includes elements that are completed in the factory, but also elements that are related to the site or work that is to be completed on site. It is only the completed project that is rated, after it is verified on site. So, while Epoch has built homes that have achieved the highest ratings, we cannot make the claim that our homes are a given level when they leave the plant. Rest assured that together with your recognized Epoch Homes Builder, we can meet your Green Building requirements.
What are the benefits of a Green Home?
Green homes are safer, healthier, more comfortable, and more durable than conventional homes and will greatly improve the overall quality of life for the homeowners. There are many other benefits to building a green home, starting with the environmental benefits such as improved air and water quality, reduced exposure to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins, reduce waste streams, conservation and restoration of natural resources along with enhancing and protecting ecosystems. In addition, there are the economical benefits like lower operating cost, enhanced durability, less maintenance and optimized life cycle economic performance. The last large benefit comes from the social side of green building, increased occupant comfort and health; heightened aesthetic qualities and reducing the strain on local infrastructure.
How Green Are Epoch Homes Today?:
There are many ways that Epoch Homes is a green company. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) organization has created a rating system to define and measure “Green Buildings” based on existing and already proven technology. In addition the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has created the Green Building Standard for use by homebuilders. Here at Epoch, we have already instituted many of these practices as standard and there are many more that can be selected as options.
Epoch makes it a standard practice to control waste and our employees work together as a team to make the best and most efficient use of materials. For example, by doing all of the rough framing in a controlled environment, we are able to keep all materials dry and away from the elements, helping to reduce the chance of mold and other toxins from later contaminating the indoor air quality.
Local communities are looking for ways to minimize the impact of construction on local infrastructure at the building site. By building with modular construction you can reduce the traffic to a building site by delivering a house that is 80% complete house in one day as opposed to trucks delivering materials day after day. One study has shown that modular homes generate 45% less waste than a similar site built home.
What is Energy Star?
ENERGY STAR qualified homes are at least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC). Any home three stories or less can earn the ENERGY STAR label if it has been verified to meet EPA's guidelines for energy efficiency. This includes site-constructed homes, attached or detached homes, single or low-rise multi-family residential buildings, manufactured homes, systems-built (e.g., SIP or modular) and log homes, existing homes, or retrofitted homes. ENERGY STAR qualified homes achieve energy savings through established, reliable building technologies. Epoch has been building Energy Star compliant homes since 2001.
ENERGY STAR is a rating system the focuses on just the energy efficiency elements of Green Building. The requirements are consistent with most Green Building Certification specifications, such as NAHB or LEED. If you are planning on building a certified green Home, it generally makes sense to also achieve an ENERGY Star rating. Most utilities have incentives and rebates available for ENERGY STAR homes.
Builders work with Home Energy Raters or Verifiers to select from a number of features when planning and building homes: These include:
1. Effective Insulation
Properly installed, climate-appropriate insulation in floors, walls, and attics ensures even temperatures throughout the house, less energy consumption, and increased comfort.
2. High-Performance Windows
Energy-efficient windows employ advanced technologies, such as protective coatings and improved frame assemblies, to help keep heat in during winter and out during summer. These windows also block damaging ultraviolet sunlight that can discolor carpets and furnishings.
3. Tight Construction and Ducts
Sealing holes and cracks in the home’s “envelope” and in duct systems helps reduce drafts, moisture, dust, pollen, and noise. A tightly sealed home improves comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills.
4. Efficient Heating and Cooling Equipment
In addition to using less energy to operate, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems can be quieter, reduce indoor humidity, and improve the overall comfort of the home. Typically, energy-efficient equipment is also more durable and requires less maintenance than standard models.
5. Lighting and Appliances
ENERGY STAR qualified homes may also be equipped with ENERGY STAR qualified products — lighting fixtures, compact fluorescent bulbs, ventilation fans, and appliances, such as refrigerators, dish washers, and washing machines. These ENERGY STAR qualified products provide additional energy savings to the owner.
6. Third-Party Verification
With the help of independent Home Energy Raters, ENERGY STAR builder partners choose the most appropriate energy-saving features for their homes. Additionally, raters conduct onsite testing and inspections to verify that the homes qualify as ENERGY STAR.
More information on ENERGY STAR can be found at http://www.energystar.gov/.
What are NAHB’s Voluntary Green Building Guidelines?
The NAHB offers both a Green Building Guideline and a National Green Building Standard. NAHB's voluntary Model Green Home Building Guidelines were designed to be a tool kit for the individual builder looking to engage in green building practices and home builder associations (HBAs) looking to launch their own local green building programs. Since their debut in 2005, the Guidelines have helped move environmentally friendly home building concepts further into the mainstream marketplace.
By the end of 2007, there were approximately 60 locally grown green building programs across the country, many of which are run by the local home builders' association (HBA). Many of the local programs are migrating towards the National Standard. The Guidelines apply to single family construction.
The Guidelines contain six primary sections:
- Lot Preparation and Design - Even before the foundation is poured, careful planning can reduce the home’s impact on natural features such as vegetation and soil; and enhance the home's long-term performance. Such preparation can provide significant value to the homeowner, the environment, and the community. Included for the end user, especially developers, is a Site Planning Appendix that closely mirrors this section and provides additional guidance.
- Resource Efficiency – Advanced framing techniques and home designs can effectively optimize the use of building materials. This section also details how careful material selection can reduce the amount of time and money needed for home maintenance; and demonstrates equally important construction waste management concepts.
- Energy Efficiency – This is the most quantifiable aspect of green building. The information in this section will help a builder create a better building envelope and incorporate more energy efficient mechanical systems, appliances, and lighting into a home, yielding long-term utility bill savings and increased comfort for the homeowner.
- Water Efficiency/Conservation – Although, the relative importance of water availability and usage varies from region to region, the concern with adequate supply is becoming more widespread geographically. Experience also shows that employing the line items from this section of the Guidelines for indoor and outdoor water use can reduce utility bills, regardless of location.
- Occupancy Comfort and Indoor Environmental Quality – Effective management of moisture, ventilation, and other issues can create a more comfortable and healthier indoor living environment.
- Operation, Maintenance and Education - Given the level of effort that a home builder goes through to create a well thought out home system, it would be a shame not to give the home owner guidance on how to optimally operate and maintain the house. Line items from this section show a builder how best to educate homeowners on the features of their new green home.
In summary, the voluntary Model Green Home Building Guidelines are for the mainstream homebuilder. They will help systematize the green design and construction process and assist the builder toward incorporating more green building features into homes. As NAHB Research Center data indicates that there is a growing number of green homes built annually, it is expected that these voluntary Guidelines will help builders meet the needs of this growing market. A copy of the Guidelines is available for downloading at http://www.nahbgreen.com/content/pdf/nahb_guidelines.pdf.
What is NAHB’s National Green Building Standard?
Starting 2007, NAHB partnered with the International Code Council (ICC) to develop, through a consensus process, a national standard for Green Building that met the requirements of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The official standard is identified as ICC-700-2008 National Green Building Standard (NGBS).
The overall content and areas covered are similar to the NAHB Guidelines and LEED for Homes, but benefits form the consensus development process. It is also broader in scope and applies to single family, multifamily and remodeling projects. The Standard also offers a higher level (Emerald) of certification than the Guidelines. More information can be found at www.NAHBGreen.com.
The Information covered for scoring is divided into 5 chapters:
Chapter 5. Lot Design, preparation, and Development
Chapter 6. Resource Efficiency
Chapter 7. Energy Efficiency
Chapter 8. Water Efficiency
Chapter 9. Indoor Environmental Quality
Chapter 10. Operation, Maintenance, and Building Owner Education
What is LEED for Homes?
LEED for Homes is a green home rating system for ensuring that homes are designed and built to be energy and resource efficient and healthy for occupants. LEED can be applied to single and multi-family homes and is intended for both market-rate and affordable housing. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) originally developed the LEED green building rating system in 2000 for new commercial construction. Following LEED’s success in the commercial sector, USGBC began the pilot test of LEED for homes in August 2005. There are currently over 5,800 homes across the U.S. involved in the LEED for Homes pilot program and more than 150 that have already been LEED certified as a green home. The USGBC publicly launched the LEED for homes rating system in the Fall of 2007. More information about LEED for Homes can be found at http://www.greenhomeguide.org/.
What Are The Levels Of The Green Building Program?
Each of the Green Building Certification Specifications, NAHB National Standard, NAHB Guidelines, and LEED, all award points for different elements in different categories as a way of quantifying the “greenness” of a given project. Using the NAHB Guideline as an example, there are three different levels of green building available: Bronze, Silver and Gold. All levels have a minimum number of points required for each of the seven guiding principles to assure that all aspects of green building are addressed and that there is a balanced whole systems approach. After reaching the thresholds, an additional 100 points must be achieved by implementing any of the remaining line items.
Bronze Silver Gold
Lot Preparation and Design 8 10 12
Resource Efficiency 44 60 77
Energy Efficiency 37 62 100
For homes without ducted heating and cooling – deduct 15 points from
Energy Efficiency section.
Water Efficiency/Conservation 6 13 19
Occupancy Comfort and Indoor Quality 32 54 72
Operation, Maintenance and Education 7 7 9
Global Impact 3 5 6
Additional points from sections of your choice 100 100 100
Total points for each level 237 311 395
The NAHB National Standard has 4 levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Emerald. LEED for Homes has 4 levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Epoch Homes can support whatever program and level that you choose to pursue.
How Can Consumers Compare Green Homes?
One of the many challenges faced by a homebuyer is comparing a green home to another home. Any home can be called "green," but how does the homeowner know that it really is green? Certification is something that consumers can look for to readily identify green homes that have been third-party inspected, performance-tested, and certified to perform better than conventional homes. Certification ensures that the home you are purchasing was designed to meet the highest standards and is operating exactly the way it is supposed to.
Are Green Homes More Expensive?
Green Building does not have to more expensive, but can be, depending upon how Green you want to go and what you want to include. Energy efficiency elements, such as more efficient windows, insulation and heating systems often can have a very quick payback. Other elements may be harder to quantify. A more difficult area to measure is related to future resale value. As Green Building becomes more widely understood and sought after, resale values will rise, offering greater return on investment. Every Home Epoch builds is a custom home, so you can decide what elements to include.
Are There Rebates And Incentives For Green Building?
There are many different programs available from numerous sources at any point in time. A great place to research what might be available in your locale is http://www.dsireusa.org/.
What If I Am Not Sure Which Green Features To Include?
While Epoch Homes typically builds custom homes, the Eco Collection of Homes are a series of designs that are pre-engineered to be compliant with a Silver rating on the national Standard. These designs are very efficient and include specifications for Green Living. Take a look at http://www.epochhomes.com/EcoCollection.htm. The same specifications can be easily applied to most floor plans, providing a good place to start, especially with a budget in mind.
What Are The Advantages of Open Cell Foam Insulation?
Reducing energy costs starts with the insulation in your home. One element to consider is the R-Value of the insulation, which will vary by the type of insulation and the thickness of the wall, or insulation layer. A second factor is the ability of the insulation to seal openings and control air infiltration and movement. This second factor, air sealing, is where you can expect to see big differences in energy consumption, despite similar R-values. Spray foam insulation expands to fill and seal off any openings to reduce air flow as compared to fiberglass or cellulose insulation. Studies done by Icynene show their insulation can reduce energy consumption by as much as 50%. The actual results depend upon a number of factors that will vary by design, but substantial savings should be realized. And those savings continue year after year, only to increase as the price of energy rises over time. For more information, visit http://www.icynene.com/benefits-to-homeowner/.