Detailed planning delivers a high-performance Proud Green Home (video)
Story by Steve Arel.
Building a high-performance home, as was the case with the Proud Green Home at Serenbe, begins with good design. Before the first lines are ever sketched on paper or a vision plugged into computer drafting software, considerable thought goes into the environment in which the home will sit.
After all, those factors collectively influence how the home might be positioned on the lot, its material makeup and, ultimately, its appearance.
The Proud Green Home illustrates the painstaking detail that goes into design and is an example of how dedicated pre-construction planning proves invaluable. Here are some of what architects Chris and Jodi Laumer-Giddens took into account in Serenbe.
The site. In coming up with their design, the Laumer-Giddenses worked to ensure its appearance didn’t standout adversely from the neighboring structures. In the Georgia climate, lighter bricks typically would be used on the home to avoid too much heat being absorbed, but the darker ones were chosen to blend more seamlessly with other Serenbe homes.
To alleviate uncomfortably high temperatures, the brick section of the facadethat extends up to the highest point of the Proud Green Home’s face has an inch-and-a-half gap that is filled with foam insulation. The foam stops the transfer of heat from the outer bricks to the interior of the home.
The sun. The Proud Green Home features 40 solar panels made by LG that line the roof. To capture maximum light and generate sufficient power for the home, the pitch is positioned at an angle to where they sit directly in the sun’s glow throughout the day.
While the sun’s rays are desirable for energy production, it’s not as coveted when it comes to comfort. Separate overhangs extend over the main door and a sizable front patio off the dining area that face east. And in back, a trellis was built over the back patio to shield occupants from afternoon and evening sun. The boards that normally rest straight along their thin sides atop the structure are angled at the Proud Green Home to provide maximum shading as the sun passes overhead.
Paint used on the metal siding and roof panels is another deterrent to solar heat. Containing ceramic pigments, the dark hue actually deflects light rather than absorbing it.
Trees. Growing naturally in the back of the home, a mix of fledgling pines and maples provide relatively adequate shading during the peak heating periods of the day. That allows for the incorporation of tall windows in the master bedroom and a virtual wall of panes off the kitchen, neither spots of which will be subjected to direct sunlight at any point. The sun rises in front of the home, and the trees muscle the rays away in the afternoons and evenings.
Moisture. Humidity is a constant presence in the Georgia climate. Particularly in the mornings when dew points combine with peak atmospheric moisture and mild temperatures, condensation can quickly bead on the façade and try to work its way into the crevices of the home.
To combat potential problems, a tight thermal envelope was created with insulation and flashing at the concrete foundation to form an impenetrable barrier against water.
The metal siding of the Proud Green Home, which covers most of its exterior, features a quarter-inch gap between the siding and the primary sidewall. Inside the opening is Benjamin Obdyke’s Home Slicker Rainscreen and Blockade Mortar Deflection System. The moisture management product features a vertically channeled, porous screen that allows space for drainage and drying. The mesh of the blockade system has been installed in the cavities of the brick wall at the home’s front to keep mortar from blocking weep holes that promote drainage and air circulation within the wall.
Here builder Luis Imery of The Imergy Group explains the exterior wall design.
Read more about the Proud Green Home at Serenbe.
Exterior photo by James Moses, Bisig Impact Group, © 2013
Companies: ProudGreenHome.com, Southface Energy Institute, BASF Corporation, PPG Pittsburgh Paints, Bisig Impact Group, Serenbe Sustainable Community, LG Squared, Inc., The Imery Group, Benjamin Obdyke, Zehnder America, SmartBIM, Huber Engineered Woods, Wood-Mode, Inc.