Now that the home is certified, it’s time to catch up on some blog writing! I frequently get asked about the appliances. After extensive research, we opted to use Bosch kitchen and laundry appliances. Bosch was a logical choice because they manufacture energy efficient and well designed equipment. The one exception is the range hood, which Bosch had on back order and we couldn’t wait, so we chose a stainless steel Whirlpool model instead. Selecting appliances involves a number of factors, including energy efficiency, aesthetics, size, warranty, and cost.
For the Green on Gift home, all appliances obviously needed to be ENERGY STAR qualified. We also had space constraints for the refrigerator, which needed to be counter-depth, and stacking laundry, which needed to fit into a specially constructed laundry closet in the bathroom. One of the overarching project goals was to balance energy efficiency and home performance with usability. For instance, we wanted to try out condensing clothes dryer technology, which is not terribly common in the United States and functions without an external vent. Conveniently, Bosch is a leader in condensing clothes dryers, and they also stepped up as a project sponsor.
An essential component of the renovation process was obtaining green building certification with third party verification. From the start, I wanted to practice what my company preaches to our clients – incorporating green into all decisions from design through construction and ultimately occupancy. We tested the ductwork and envelope multiple times to maximize building performance. Today I’m pleased to announce that the Green on Gift home was awarded EarthCraft Platinum certification with one of the highest point totals in the program’s history!
Southface, an Atlanta-based environmental nonprofit, and the Greater Atlanta Home Builders jointly developed the EarthCraft program 15 years ago. Since then, over 30,000 multifamily units and homes have been certified across the southeast. While there are numerous green building certification options available, the EarthCraft renovation program is by far the most robust and flexible option for builders; and as a former Southfacer, it felt good to support the program.
There has been a flurry of activity out at the house recently. We installed two new Panasonic bath exhaust fans and a whole house Panasonic Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV), all three of which were generously donated by Panasonic. Bath and kitchen exhaust fans are essential in ensuring good indoor air quality by removing pollutants from the home. They are also Energy Star certified, so they will be both energy efficient and quiet.
Bath exhaust fans rarely provide the amount of airflow that they are rated for due to poor duct installation. Installing small exhaust ducts with lots of elbows and long runs seriously restricts the airflow, but they are very common mistakes. Instead, the duct should provide a short and direct route outside of the house, and the ductwork should be pulled tight. As though they were trying to prove my point, I had to ask the electricians to rotate both of the bath exhaust fans because the initial installation positioned the exhaust port much too close to the ceiling joist, leaving no place for the duct to connect and run to the exterior. Once they were corrected and facing the right way, we used a combination of hard metal piping and flex duct (see photo below). We’ll do airflow testing at the final to verify the exhaust fans are providing the rated performance.