We are the Lewandowski family and we're building a new house from the ground up. Our goal is to build a comfortable and efficient green home that works for our family. We want to prove that building green is the right choice for the environment, our lives and our pocketbook.

We invite you to come follow us during our adventure and learn along with us, how to build and live green.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Energy Recovery Ventilation

This is an ERV, Energy Recovery Ventilation unit. What do we need that for?  We spent all this money on insulating the heck out of this house to keep air out, so why would we need to spend more money on this thing to pump air in? 

Here's what I leaned... 

ERV is the energy recovery process of exchanging the energy contained in normally exhausted building or space air and using it to treat (precondition) the incoming outdoor ventilation air in residential and commercial HVAC systems. During the warmer seasons, the system pre-cools and dehumidifies while humidifying and pre-heating in the cooler seasons. The benefit of using energy recovery is the ability to meet ventilation & energy standards, while improving indoor air quality and reducing total HVAC equipment capacity.  This technology, as expected, has not only demonstrated an effective means of reducing energy cost and heating and cooling loads, but has allowed for the scaling down of equipment. Additionally, this system will allow for the indoor environment to maintain a relative humidity of an appealing 40% to 50% range. This range can be maintained under essentially all conditions.

We spoke to a few people who have this system in their homes and had many disuccsion with our HVAC installer.  All say this system is amazing and well worth the cost.  This home is all about living healthy so we are convinced it is the right choice.  As our furnace guy said... "this house is going to purrrrr!"

Drywall is finished!

It's almost like a real house!  This past weekend the drywall was finished.  They did a great job.  I love that everything is level and all corners are square.  The miraculous thing was that they cleaned up after themselves.  What a nice break for us.  The painter comes next week to prime.  Keep your fingers crossed that the rest of the process goes as smoothly as this did.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fire Stopping and Insulation

 I am a little behind in my posting so I'm going to try to get caught up...
The Kitchen

A few weeks ago the house was insulated.  I learned a little something during this process.  Before the insulation is put in, the insulatiors add fire stopping.  It is an expandable foam that insulates around all the openings to the outside of the house.  It is used on every opening in an exterior wall. Basically, anywhere you see light from outside while your inside the house.  These areas are where water and electric pipes come into the house, around the windows, etc.  Here is a photo taken from inside the house of the junction box that an exterior light fixture will eventully be attached to.  The foam further seals the perimeter of the house helping to keep moisture out, reduce drafts and keep the heat/airconditioning in.  There is also a different type of expandable foam used around the floor to fill in any gaps made in the sub-flooring.  In the event of a fire, this helps keep it contained so it doesn't spread to other floors. 

Insulation is important in any home.  If you have or currently live in an old home you understand just how important it really is.  The rental house we are living in is poorly insulated. It is so hot during the warm weather and freezing during the cold.  Unfortunately, we have the heating bills to prove it!

R-value is a number assigned to insulation as a way to measure the efficiancy of insulation in a house.  The US Department of Energy has recommended R-values for given areas of the USA based on the general local energy costs for heating and cooling, as well as the climate of an area. In general, the bigger the number, the better the building's insulation effectiveness.  There are five types of insulation: rolls and batts, loose-fill, rigid foam,dence pack cellulous and foam-in-place. Rolls and batts are typically flexible insulators that come in fibers, like fiberglass. Loose-fill insulation comes in loose fibers or pellets and should be blown into a space. Rigid foam is more expensive than fiber, but generally has a higher R-value per unit of thickness. Foam-in-place can be blown into small areas to control air leaks, like those around windows.  We've done a combination of these things.  There is the foam-in-place as I described above, a 1" rigid foam insulation on the exterior of the building that will be under the siding and stucco, and all perimeter walls are insulated with a dence packed cellulous and in between that is a theral break further adding to the value.   We added roll insulation around the laundry room which is in the center of the 2nd floor and is used as a sound insulator.  The State of Illinos has adopted an energy criteria noting the minimum R-value on a wall be no less than R-19.  The Village of  LaGrange told us in our initial meeting that they won't really inforce that code (not sure why), but it needed to be listed on our drawings anyway.  Our total wall value should well surpass that... somewhere in the R-30's.  The state requies the roof to be R-38 and ours is about higher than a R-44.  This will be a tight and efficient house.

Now that the insulation is finished, drywall in next!

Clean up

Part of the LEED requirements is that the house be kept clean.  So for the past couple of weeks have been a busy time for us.  We have spend a lot of time over the weekends cleaning, cleaning and then cleaning some more!  I'm so proud of the kids because they have really stepped up.  It isn't the most fun job and I'm sure they would rather be out with their friends, but being involved helps them to invest in the house.  They feel part of  the building process and hopefully they will appreciate the hard work that goes into building a home because they are an important part of the process.  This is an opportunity to teach the children to value hard work and to experience that in the end, they will reap the reward of living in this beautiful home.   

The Garage

There wasn't to much to salvage from the old house, but we were able to save one window and a french door.  They ended up on the garage. The window is a little small, but it will get the job done.  The second floor isn't a finished space.  It's storage for the outdoor furniture and such, so the little window will probably never be opened.  The french door became the service door.  It's a little different to have a fancy door on a garage, but when we have summer parties it can be opened so we can use the garage for more space.  I'm really happy about the 8' garage door. The style really dresses up the front.