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.
It seems like everything these days is striving to be “green.” It’s hard to avoid advertisements and TV commercials publicizing green product features. Some of these claims are genuine and based on third party verification, but many are questionable at best and fraudulent at worst. Is a disposable coffee cup green because it contains 10% post-consumer content? Should we believe an insulation’s claim to be “green” without any proof?
The growth of questionable environmental claims has led to a new dictionary entry, “greenwashing.”
Green-wash (green’wash’, -wôsh’) – verb: the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service. From: http://sinsofgreenwashing.org/
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated January as National Radon Action Month. Most people are surprised to learn that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US, after smoking; exposure to both radon and smoking multiplies the risk of developing lung cancer. Radon is a naturally occurring gas that forms from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. It is also colorless, odorless, and tasteless, making it impossible to detect without special equipment. The higher a home’s radon level, the greater the health risk to occupants. Radon can be found all over the US, and average levels are particularly high in the metro Atlanta region (Figure 1).