Thursday, June 14, 2012

Weekly construction update! Learn how the Grow Community is building energy efficiency (and savings) right into the walls.

A lot has been happening at the Grow Community construction site this week and we want to make sure you’re kept in the loop! Last week we talked about the air barrier being put up on the Aria which left some residents wondering if we were painting all of the homes at Grow black. We know that with a project this size there will be lots of questions and general curiosity from the community, so read on for your weekly digest of construction updates at the Grow Community and please let us know in the comments if you have any feedback or if there’s anything specific you would like us to address in a future blog post. 
Energy is the Name of the Game at Grow this Week 
Energy efficiency is about more than turning down the heat.  And we have always said that living at Grow isn't all about warm beers and cold showers.  While residents will need to be mindful of their energy use in order to achieve net-zero energy in their homes, we have put an incredible amount of thought into how we can design homes that will be inherently energy efficient, and even more than that, homes that will be comfortable. You won't be chilly in these homes. We promise.   
In order to achieve this, it’s necessary to build the savings right into the walls. Creating enough solar energy to power an entire home with the amount of space available on most roofs’ is very difficult, so the goal is to eliminate enough heat loss (during the winter), control heat gain (during the summer) and to tighten up the energy systems within the home to keep power needs to a minimum. The cheapest energy in the world is that which is not used.
After much exploration of different types of wall systems, we settled on double-stud walls, which you can see a cross-sectional view of in the picture to the left.  Most homes are built with a layer of insulation within a single 6-inch wall. The homes at Grow are using a double wall system of two, 2x4 walls. This wall system creates insulated areas with a 1" thermal break between them which greatly reduces heat loss and gain, keeping the home warm during the winter and cool during the summer. Combining the efficiency of the walls with the waterproof air barrier system we have put on the outside, the home is essentially given a shell with an R-Value more efficient the Washington State Energy Code requires. Greg Lotakis, our Project Manager on the Grow Community construction site, described it as being as if the home were, “wearing a thicker jacket, but in this case, it’s not just about keeping you warm, but also about keeping you cool in the Summer months”. 

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