Green remodeling gives a tired home a new life

| by Gary Wollenhaupt
Green remodeling gives a tired home a new life

Going green with an existing home is a big, but not impossible job. Consider the green home remodeling job that became the 2011 ReVision project.

The ReVISION home displayed green building techniques and products in a neighborhood infill setting near Orlando, Fla., during the International Builders’ Show in January 2011, presented by Green Builder Media, Southern Traditions Development and Designs by Pat Gaylor.

Pictures: See more of the ReVISION 2011 green remodeling project

The goal for the project was to retrofit the home to optimize performance as well as water use, indoor environment quality, sustainable materials, and disaster resistance.

 However, the goal for Jon Pleveich who, along with his partner Kim Foy of Southern Traditions Development, built the home was to inspire other people to undertake green remodeling.

“We want people to know that you don’t have to get crazy,” Pleveich told Green Builder Media. “You can take an older house that needs love; give it love, and make it energy efficient. People should never shy away from doing this kind of project.”

The ReVISION house was a deep-energy retrofit of an aging single-story ranch-style house. The interior was choppy and did not fit with the family’s lifestyle. On top of that, its HERS rating was 128. The designers had a goal to get to under 50.

A home built according to the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code will score a 100 HERS. A net-zero energy home scores a HERS of 0, meaning it produces more energy than it consumes.

The designers’ goal was to bring the home up to date, both aesthetically and performance-wise. Selection of green building products helped accomplish both goals.

The original 1,800-square-foot house had three bedrooms and one and half baths. The new design gave it four bedrooms and three and a half baths at 2,400 square feet. The house was essentially gutted to the studs and subfloor, and rebuilt.

Improving the insulation was a top priority to make the house feel comfortable while using less energy. For maximum energy efficiency, closed-cell spray-foam insulation from Honeywell went on the walls. The air-barrier properties cut air leakage, reducing heating and cooling costs by 20 percent to 40 percent. With a high R-value per inch the foam can reduce wall thickness, saving on framing material costs.

On the outside, a concrete masonry veneer from the Morrency Stone Collection was installed over pre-molded polystyrene panels that have an R-value of 13.5. The molded panels also provide an easy installation template for the concrete stone pieces. The panels are recyclable and help block sound. On top of the house is a cool roof product by Boral-Monier LifeTile.

For better indoor air quality, Panasonic’s WhisperGreenEnergy Star–rated exhaust fans exchange air throughout the house. The fans are lead- and mercury-free and can run for more than a year using the equivalent energy of a 4-watt light bulb.

Another energy saver was the Rheem HP-Series Hybrid Hot Water Heater, with an Energy Factor of 2.0, which is twice the efficiency of a standard electric water heater. A hybrid unit like this one uses surrounding hot air to heat the water. In Florida, where the home was located, the garage is a sensible choice for a source of warm air. In a colder climate, an interior heated space might make more sense.

At the end of the project, the design and building team was satisfied with their work. “We wanted to take a ranch style home and beautify it—give it a new style for today’s buyers,” Pleveich told Green Builder Magazine. “We also wanted to show what you can do without adding a lot of square footage.”

Topics: Building Green, Insulation, Interior Design, Remodeling

Gary Wollenhaupt

Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.

wwwView Gary Wollenhaupt's profile on LinkedIn

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