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GreenBuilder
The Green Building Pyramid
Several time-tested alternative structural systems offer higher R-values and other advantages over conventional stick framing. They include structural insulated panels (SIPs), insulating concrete forms (ICFs) and others. Don’t rule out factory-made panelization.


Various organizations will “certify” your project’s green features, including NAHB, USGBC, and EarthCraft House. Some may argue that certification belongs lower on the pyramid, but earning that green stamp of approval will come easily if you have given attention to the bottom two-thirds of the pyramid.


At a minimum, windows in a new home should include insulated low-e glazings. Look for durable window frames made with materials that are renewable or recyclable, and seal and flash them meticulously.


Uninsulated concrete foundations can reduce HVAC efficiency by 30%–50%. Specify rigid or spray-on foam insulation or insulating concrete forms (ICFs) for best results. Consider a frost-protected shallow foundation or slab-on-grade construction.


For stick-framed walls and ceilings, we recommend blown-in insulation and/or spray foam (rather than insulating batts) to reduce potential insulation gaps. Specify 2x6 framing with 24” stud cavities, and consider optimal value engineering.


Well-designed site plans take advantage of free solar light and energy and minimize damage to ecosystems.


Automobile dependency is not a green asset. Build close to transit hubs.


KEY: Difficulty/Knowledge required for implementation. Note that some of the easiest changes have the greatest green impact


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GreenBuilder 11.2010

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