Asheville Healthy Homes: Green Building for a Sustainable Home Environment

Building an Asheville home is so much more than curb appeal. When our clients choose to build with us, they choose to build a home that will not only look exquisite but will also feel luxurious. We want our clients to live in a home that caters to their health by choosing to use sustainable building materials and energy-efficient products. A luxurious custom home inside and out is what makes an Osada home a trusted choice in the Asheville area.

As a member of Greenbuilt Homes, we aim to build our homes to above code certifications via Greenbuilt and Energy Star certification programs. Through these programs, homes are inspected and tested by a third party to demonstrate top-quality performance in energy efficiency, sustainable sites, water efficiency, indoor air quality, and environmentally preferable materials.

We asked local expert, Amy Musser with Vandemusser Design, why she recommends getting your custom home certified; “A home is the largest expense that most people will experience in their lives. For a very small percentage of the overall cost, certification allows you to have a knowledgeable third-party review and test your home to give you more confidence that it’s efficient and has other attributes that add to comfort, health, and environmental stewardship. It’s like having a mechanic look at a car before you buy it. Studies by local realtors have shown that certified homes sell more quickly and earn higher prices, and the certification can be used to get higher valuation for bank loans.”

Osada Construction Greenbuilt Certified Home in West Asheville

The HERS Index (Home Energy Rating System Index) is another program we use to gauge home energy efficiency. A certified RESNET Home Energy Rater assesses the home and determines its HERS Index score by evaluating such things as exterior walls, ceilings and roofs, foundations, crawlspaces, windows and doors, vents and ductwork, and water heating systems, just to name a few of the items that apply to the HERS Index. Once evaluated, the HERS rater will score the home and provide a final report which includes energy features of the home and the expected cost of utility bills. The lower the score, the more efficient the home is.

As an Asheville luxury home builder, we also aim to improve our custom homes by addressing anything that might affect the indoor air quality. Here in Western North Carolina, radon (a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless, and tasteless) is high, so we conduct radon tests in all our homes. Paint’s and finishes can too impact indoor air quality because they contain VOC’s or volatile organic compounds that create harmful gasses. With eco-friendly products on the rise, paint brands have recognized the need for products that reduce or remove these harmful compounds, which is why we prefer to use low or no-VOC paint’s and finishes that are water-based to better serve our clients and ensure our homes are healthier. CertainTeed AirRenew® Drywall, which actively removes formaldehyde from the air, is another example of a state of the art building material we like to use as a means of creating a healthier home for our clients.

When choosing fireplaces for our custom-built homes, we look for EPA rated products as another way to ensure healthy indoor air quality for our clients. EPA certified products must meet regulatory emission requirements established by the EPA, creating a cleaner burning product. Direct vent gas fire places, take outside air and use it for ignition, expelling the exhaust and by-products, such as carbon monoxide, outside of the home. These fireplaces can also work to improve indoor air quality by circulating fresh air through the home while exhausting an equal amount of stale air. Fresh air systems help reduce the amount of mold and mildew within homes by reducing the amount of moisture in the air, making it a healthy and balanced environment for the whole family.

As a top builder in Asheville, energy efficiency is a high priority within the homes we build, so we always look for ways we can make our homes more economical. When choosing air conditioning systems, we look for systems that have high SEER ratings. SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is determined mathematically by measuring the systems total cooling capacity during normal periods of operation divided by total electric energy input during the same period. A high SEER means that the system uses less electricity to perform efficiently. This is a great option for clients looking to supplement their home energy using solar power.

When clients are in the market for solar panels as a means of powering their home, the most popular and efficient way of using a solar panel system is through a grid-tied system. Grid-tied systems mean that even though your home primarily runs off power that is generated by the solar panels; in the event the system does not produce enough energy, your home will use back-up power from the grid and vice versa, when the solar panel system produces more energy that what is needed to run the home, that excess power is fed back into the grid for use elsewhere. Unlike off-grid homes which use solar power as their only source of energy, grid-tied systems benefit the homeowner and the entire power grid.

Solar power is not the only way we use natural resources to create a more efficient and green home. Geothermal energy is another sustainable way we incorporate the use of natural energy into our custom homes by using the earth’s temperature for heating and cooling. There are two ways to incorporate geothermal energy in a home. One way is through a heat pump system that works by circulating air via ductwork, through the heat pump, and into a heat exchanger system (pipes that are buried in shallow ground near the home), to heat or cool the air using the ground temperature, which is usually at a steady 50-60 degrees year-round. The heat pump method is great for all seasons as it can convert cold air into warm air or vice versa. Radiant floor heating is the other way to use geothermal energy but comes at a more involved building process and only provides warmth. Radiant floor heating works by using water instead of air by laying pipes within or just under the floors of the home. These pipes circulate water warmed by the ground throughout the home and heat rises through the floors. Since this system is laid out in zones, it allows the temperature of each zone to be controlled separately if need be.

Radiant floor system being installed in an OC custom home located in Falcon Ridge

These days, virtually every aspect of your home can be built using energy-efficient and sustainable building methods and materials. Low-e glass is yet another building material that we as a custom home builder like to use. Low-e glass is an energy-efficient option we offer our clients when they are choosing their windows. There are two types of low-e coatings that work to either help heat the home; passive coatings or help keep the home cool; solar-control coatings. Both work by controlling the amount of ultraviolet and infrared light that pass through the glass, without limiting the splendor of natural light. When it comes to lighting our homes after the sun goes down, we turn to LED lights to continue to ensure the home runs efficiently day in and day out, helping our clients cut their overall energy costs for a lifetime of sustainable and economical living.

There are so many benefits to building sustainable luxury custom homes and we are here to help our clients find the best options for their needs, while also making sure we reduce our carbon footprint on our planet. By using the natural resources we have available and sustainable building materials we aim to make sure our homes are built to green standards, provide our clients with a lifetime of healthier living, and offer ways to cut long-term energy costs.

 

Sources:

https://www.greenbuilt.org/programs/green-built-homes/

http://www.hersindex.com/understanding

https://www.energystar.gov/newhomes/explore_features_benefits

https://www.certainteed.com/drywall/products/airrenew-essential-indoor-air-quality-drywall/

https://www.thespruce.com/low-voc-paint-and-no-voc-paint-1976533

http://www.ahrinet.org/Homeowners/Save-Energy/Seasonal-Energy-Efficiency-Ratio

https://rgsenergy.com/how-solar-panels-work/how-does-a-solar-grid-tied-system-work/

http://www.ecomech.net/radiant-flooring-system-atlanta/

https://www.renewableenergyworld.com/geothermal-energy/tech.html

http://glassed.vitroglazings.com/glasstopics/how_lowe_works.aspx

http://www.heatilator.com/Shopping-Tools/Blog/Making-the-Healthy-Hearth-Choice.aspx

https://www.epa.gov/burnwise/choosing-wood-burning-appliances