It is Harvest Time…Rain Water Harvest Time
What is Rain Water Harvesting? Rain Water Harvesting is the capture and storage of the rain and surface water run-off. The water is harvested in barrels, permeable pavement, rainwater storage tanks, infiltration swales, curb bumpouts, cylinders, and/or piping.
A Rain Harvest System is designed to collect, store, reuse, and redirect the captured water. The State of California and the homeowner receive a number of benefits by installing Rain Water Harvesting Systems:
- The Rain Harvest System prevents the infiltration of stormwater run-off.
Rain Harvesting helps reduce energy consumption.
- When rainwater runs out to the sidewalks and streets, it collects a variety of pollutants which then get pushed out to our oceans and bays.
Rain Harvesting increases the ground infiltration which augments the California underground aquifer’s water supply.
- The Rain Harvest System allows for the extra water supply to be reused as landscape irrigation. This will increases the amount of water available for consumption. A homeowner will in turn save money on their water utility bill by reusing the rainwater to water their exterior landscaping.
- “Water-related energy consumption in California accounts for nearly 20% of the state’s electricity.”
It barely rains in Los Angeles, why should I care? In May 2012, Los Angeles, passed a Low Impact Development (LID) Ordinance (http://www.lastormwater.org/wp-content/files_mf/finallidordinance181899.pdf). This ordinance authorizes development and redevelopment projects, greater than 500 square feet, to mitigate runoff by capturing rainwater at its source, while utilizing natural resources including rain barrels, permeable pavement, rainwater storage tanks, infiltration swales or curb bumpouts to contain water. In other words, all new development and redevelopment are now mandated to install a Los Angeles approved Rain Harvesting System on their property in order for their project to be approved. You can read more about the Los Angeles Rain Water Harvesting Program and ordinance here: http://www.lastormwater.org.
*Reference LA Storm Water
Why Build Green?
Third party certified green built homes offer better resale value and sell faster than their non-green built counterparts. Additionally, they offer homeowners the opportunity to have a healthier, energy efficient and more environmentally friendly residence with the same look and feel of any other high-quality constructed home. A third party certified, green built home is simply a better built home.
Sell Faster. Sell at a Premium.
Green-certified homes are selling quicker and for higher prices than other homes in the Seattle, Wash., and Portland, Ore., areas, studies show . In Seattle, homes certified as eco-friendly sold for 8.5% more per square foot and were on the market 22% less time than other homes, according to a report that tracks new home sales from September 2007 through December 2009.
The homes that underwent the strictest certification, being tested by third parties, and thus likely to be the "greenest" did even better. They commanded prices 25% higher than regular homes, says the ECert report by Seattle-based GreenWorks Realty. IGreenWorks Realty evaluates data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which began allowing real estate agents to mark homes as eco-certified in 2007.
Furthermore, the report finds that green homes continued to rise in value in King County, which includes Seattle, from November 2009 through January 2010, while non-certified ones lost value.
Other research indicates this trend is occurring elsewhere, too. In the Portland, Ore., metro area, green-certified homes sold for 12% more -- an average of $408,915 -- than non-certified homes from May 2008 through April 2009, according to a report last year from the Portland-based non-profit Earth Advantage Institute.
Its analysis, based on data from the Regional Multiple Listing Service, also saw a premium per square foot, as eco homes got $193 compared with $173 for other homes.
So why then are third party certified green homes outselling their competitors?
Green homes are designed to provide improved indoor air quality. This is accomplished by selection of building materials to include low chemical content and by use of mechanical ventilation systems. Childhood asthma rates have risen from 4% in 1984 to 40% in 2004. Our indoor air quality has become a potential health risk for our families, so building Greener is a healthier way to build.
Energy efficiency is the cornerstone of all green homes. Reduced energy use reduces impact on family budgets by reducing monthly out-of-pocket-expenses. In addition, reduced energy use results in reduced pollution levels. Strong insulation, the use of high efficiency appliances, heating and cooling equipment, and cutting edge window technology all add up to an energy efficient home.
Green homes are designed to use less material resources, reducing the impact on our environment. Limiting and reducing construction waste help reduce costs and impact of overloaded landfills. Regional and product selection reduces transportation pollution. Thoughtful placement of the home on the lot makes a big difference to our local watersheds. Finally, recycled products, green spaces, rain gardens, native landscaping all help improve our environment.
There really is no surprise that a third party certified green built home is healthier, more energy efficient and more environmentally friendly and that it sells at a premium in less time. Structure Home can design and build your LEED certified home for less than � of 1% of the hard construction costs of your home.
****In both studies, the homes are considered "green" if they receive certification from the government's Energy Star or the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. The Seattle study also includes those rated by Built Green and the Portland one, those by Earth Advantage Homes.****
Why We Love Tankless
Your Home's Energy Rating
If you are thinking about buying or building a new home in the 21st Century then knowing what the energy rating is on your prospective new home is an imperative. 6 of the top 10 largest production builders in the US and the best of the best custom home builders can all post the energy rating of their homes for you to see. For that reason we have included brief primer on Energy Ratings from The Residential Energy Services Network's (RESNET).
Do You Know How an Energy Rating for Your Home Works?
Do you know how energy efficient your home is? Or what your home's HERS Index Score is? If not, but you want to find out, the best way is by doing a home energy rating. What's an energy rating? We're glad you asked!
What is an Energy Rating?
Thanks to high � and ever increasing energy costs, homeowners are now talking about whose home is the more energy efficient. Why? Because they now know that energy efficient homes cost less to run and are more comfortable to live in. In other words �be glad we don't build them like we used to!�
As a result, increasing numbers of homeowners are trying to establish how energy efficient their existing homes are and many of our clients want to know how energy efficient their new home will be. The first step is getting an energy rating, which is like an energy performance check-up for the home.
The RESNET Home Energy Rating System (HERS�) is the nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home's energy performance. When doing a comprehensive HERS energy rating, a certified RESNET HERS Rater will conduct a series of diagnostic tests using specialized equipment, such as a blower door test, duct leakage tester, and infrared cameras to determine:
- The amount and location of air leaks in the building envelope
- The amount of leakage from HVAC distribution ducts
- The effectiveness of insulation inside walls and ceilings
Other variables that are taken into account include:
- Floors over unconditioned spaces (like garages or basements)
- Attics, foundations and crawlspaces
- Windows and doors, vents and ductwork
- Water heating system and thermostats
The comprehensive HERS rating provides:
- A rating score on the HERS Index from 0 to 100 where represents a home that uses 0 energy or a home that produces enough energy to offset all of it's energy consumption.
- The report will also contain a cost/benefit analysis for the recommended improvements and expected return on investment.
The HERS Index Score is like a MPG (miles-per-gallon) sticker for houses. It lets a homeowner know how energy efficient their home is or will be in comparison to other similar homes. It's also an excellent indicator for homebuyers as to the energy performance of the homes they're looking at, and helps them make an informed decision when buying a house.
Top Green Designs for 2013
The Big 3
No matter what budget your have established for building your custom home, or who your builder is, there are three items that you must insist are part of the construction of your new home. These should be included because they are the equivalent of leather seats, a navigation system and side air bags in your BMW (or LEXUS or Bentley)-who would order one of these cars without one?! The items to follow should also be included in your home because if you do not do include them during construction, you can�t do them later on. Insist your builder includes them in your next custom home and know if you select Structure Home as your builder, they are standard in every one of ours!
Radiant Barrier Roof Decking
What it is. It blocks over 95% of the radiant heat hitting the roof from entering the attic.
Why it matters. Radiant barrier roof decking helps reduce energy consumption and can save homeowners up to 17% per month on air conditioning costs. It installs like conventional roof sheathing, requiring no additional labor. In addition, it can allow us to reduce the tonnage of the HVAC system.
Uponor PEX Water Supply Lines
What it is. A flexible crosslinked polyethylene used in plumbing and radiant flooring systems.
Why it matters. Copper water lines and no guarantee, Uponor has a 25- year guarantee. Unlike copper, Uponor PEX retains heat in how water lines, resists condensation in cold water lines and has NSF certification for water purity.
Tankless Water Heater
What it is. Unlike traditional tank water heaters, tankless models don't store hot water. When hot water is needed, water flows through the device and the heat exchanger warms the water to the desired temperature. When the hot-water valve is closed, the flow sensor turns off the burner. It only operates when you need hot water!
Why it matters. Since heating water accounts for up to 30 percent of the average home's energy budget. It only makes sense that we not keep water heated 24/7 when we do not need hot water. After all, do we really need to keep a tank of water at 94 degrees all day when nobody is home?
April 22, 2013
Be The Change...April 22nd, Earth Day
Structure Home would like to wish you, your family, and the world, a Happy Earth Day (April 22) and Arbor Day (April 26)! Arbor Day (www.arborday.org) encourages people to appreciate, care and plant trees and plants. Earth Day (www.earthday.org) was credited with putting environmental issues on the political map and launching the environmental movement to raise awareness in the United States.
"Earth Day not only raised awareness for environmental issues-it was instrumental in the establishment of several government initiatives. In 1970, President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to monitor and safeguard the health of the nation's air and water. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 protected threatened animals around the world. People everywhere began recycling and conserving water and energy." - http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/holidays/earth-day-qotd.htm
Structure Home supports environmental action and in our efforts to be the change we believe in, we built two USGBC LEED Silver homes in 2012, we have two LEED registered homes currently under construction in Brentwood, and we are one of five EPA WaterSense builders in all of southern California!.
Join in the celebration! Find out if your local community is holding any Earth Day or Arbor Day Events.
Here are 5 easy things you can do to also celebrate:
- Pledge to start recycling more
- Plant something (a tree, a vegetable, an herb)
- Ride your bike or walk instead of driving to the store or to work
- Look to start receiving paperless bills
- Fix a leak in your house
"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children." -- Native American Proverb
When building your home there is a certain priority of decision-making you need to be aware of as some decisions cannot be easily (or affordably) altered years later. As your home building experts we can help you leverage our expertise by prioritizing your decision-making in an order that will benefit you for years to come. We will guide your decision making to assist you in "future-proofing" your new home so that you do not need to make senseless upgrades months or years later that could have been foreseen and perhaps avoided.
For example, changing out your faucets five years down the road to reflect a new taste or design is relatively easy to do. Upgrading the insulation in your walls, however, will likely never be affordable within your lifetime. So with that in mind, let me share with you decades of experience and expertise to help you avoid making the wrong choices at the wrong time.
To visualize the building envelope, think of the barrier that separates the conditioned space inside your home from the unconditioned space outside your home. Roofs and walls protect you from the elements, while windows transmit light, views and ventilation to occupants.
When building your new home, you should spend your money on a strong, resilient exterior building envelope that will keep the environmental elements out of your home thereby keeping you comfortable within the home. And since you do not want to live in a cave, the building envelope should enable you to enjoy the view of your yard and neighborhood while ensuring the beautiful windows that provide those views do not require you to pay an unaffordable utility bill.
Roof and Walls
Your roof and walls are made of the roof shingles and wall cladding (brick, stucco or siding), filled with insulation and then punctured with holes filled with glass (windows and skylights)! Let's look at each component individually as they that make up the backbone of your home. If you get these decisions correct up front then you will not have to change them or upgrade them ever again.
Your roof shingles, regardless of style (asphalt, clay, aluminum, concrete, etc...) should be durable. That means you should select a shingle that has at least a 40-year guarantee with an underlayment that will be just as durable. Additionally, we recommend an Energy Star rated "Cool Roof" shingle and radiant barrier roofing decking to reduce the amount of solar heat gain that will occur inside your attic space.
The insulation in your home whether it is fiberglass, spray foam or a hybrid needs to be properly installed-and that is easier said than done! In order to ensure your insulation is properly installed, insist your builder has an independent third party inspection of the installation to ensure you get the insulation value your purchase. We can help you determine which insulation is right for you and your family but in each and every case you know with Structure Home that it will be properly installed.
Finally, your widows! Not only should they look beautiful but they should perform beautifully! That means your windows must have the latest technology to let the light in and keep the heat out. Low "e" Glass. In order to reduce radiant heat gain or loss, low "e" (emissivity) glass was used in all windows. The windows are gas-filled and dual-glazed with a "heat mirror" sheet, a transparent material that allows light, but little heat, to penetrate during warm months and retains heat in winter. These windows not only provide energy savings but also acoustic benefits by minimizing external noise. We can help you find that combination no matter what budget range you select.
The building envelope is just the tip of the iceberg. We would very much like to talk to with you about each component in greater detail in terminology that is easy to learn and understand. Please drop us an email and we will schedule a time to talk about these items and many more that will help ensure your new home has sensible, up to date technology that can last a lifetime. After all, it is you and your family that stands to benefit for many years to come!
Structure Home to Build Custom Homes that Save Water and Energy
Los Angeles, CA - Structure Home is strenghtening its commitment to green building by partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) WaterSense program to provide WaterSense labeled homes in the Los Angeles basin.
Structure Home is now building residential single-family homes that save water and energy by including WaterSense labeled products, water-smart landscaping, and plumbing systems designed to use less water by delivering hot water more quickly. [If an irrigation system is installed, these homes also include WaterSense labeled controllers, which use local weather and landscape conditions to tailor water schedules to acutal onsite conditions.] All WaterSense labeled new homes are independently certified to be about 20 percent more water-efficient than a traditional new home, and they use less energy to heat water.
"WaterSense labeled new homes are an investment that helps consumers save water, energy, and money on utilities," said Sheila Frace, Director of EPA Office of Water's Municipal Support Division. "In fact, compared to a traditional home, a WaterSense labeled new home will save a family of four as much as 50,000 gallons of water per year - that's the equivalent of washing more than 2,000 loads of laudry. These savings can add up to $600 in utility bill savings."
"We're excited to partner with WaterSense to build more efficient homes, save consumers money, and protect natural resources," said Robert Kleiman. "A Structure Home WaterSense labeled home is not only a wise investment for homeowners, but it's an investment in our community and the future of our planet."
Read More About EPA WaterSense or Download this as a PDF
Another Structure Home in Brentwood Certified USGBC LEED SILVER
While demand for traditional residential construction is slowing, the green housing market continues to grow and this custom Structure Home in Brentwood is a great example of why this is, said Nate Kredich, Vice President, Residential Market Development, U.S. Green Building Council. LEED certified homes are healthier places to live, produce lower utility bills, have better air quality, and leave a smaller environmental footprint behind.
LEED-certified homes complete a technically rigorous process that often includes a home energy (HERS) rating and onsite inspections to verify that the home is built to be energy and water efficient, environmentally sound, and a healthier place to live.
This featured home is located in Brentwood, California. The home was built by Structure Home, which is known for their expertise in building LEED homes. Green homes may have substantially lower utility bills and may qualify for advantageous financing, lower insurance rates and government incentives. Through their commitment to green homebuilding, Structure Home is helping to keep homeownership affordable.
As a LEED-certified home, this home in Brentwood, serves as a model of greener living for the entire community," said Nate Kredich, Vice President of Residential Market Development for the USGBC. The home sets the example that we can all live better by reducing our environmental footprint, cutting our utility bills, and coming home to a greener place to live.
VISION House Los Angeles in Pacific Palisades Achieved USGBC LEED Silver
Perhaps more than ever before in history, people all across the world are facing challenges and realizing the importance of change within all aspects of their daily lives. The call for change can be observed in the re-structuring of all facets of the life we live, from our local and global economies, to our political structures, to our security risks, to our culture, to our health and wellness, to our value systems and on and on. On a very positive note, we are being called to move away from fear and doubt drivers into acceptance, compassion and more thoughtful solutions that bring value and benefit to all. And so, in spite of the challenge we feel from upheaval and shifts in systems formed by prior generations and leadership structures, we are at a wonderful time in the history of our planet with huge opportunity to shape the future onto a positive course. If we embrace change and allow our creative spirit to flourish, then the future will be very promising indeed!
Structure Home has embraced change with outstretched arms by 1) implementing systems to support the legacy of our company with sustainable organizational architecture, 2) working diligently to improve and refine the service we provide through our "Journey Systems" and 3) leading change in our industry with building science, green and healthy construction as our highest priority. These accomplishments are only possible because of the support, hard work and dedication that Structure Home garners from a dedicated community...a professional staff of passionate builders, a broad base of talented design consultants, vendors and craftsman as well as the continual loyalty of clients and friends. In addition to the pride we take in every Structure Home delivered, the value of the relationships we have built is a source of abundant gratitude and fulfillment.
Certified USGBC LEED Silver, VISION House Los Angeles was a collaboration between Green Builder Media and Structure Home to build a new, visionary and sustainable showcase home...the first of its kind on the west coast. The primary goal of the project partners was to educate and raise awareness, with a custom home that demonstrated current products, materials and construction methods on the leading edge of sustainable design. The VISION House Los Angeles was a research and training opportunity that provides builders, remodelers, designers and consumers essential green building information relating to both new construction as well as retrofit/remodeling. This unique Structure Home and Green Builder Media project was an inspired, architectural home by KAA Design Group, P2 Design, Jill Wolff Interior Design, MJN Landscape Design Studio.
More Information about VISION House Los Angeles can be found by clicking here or going to www.structurehome.com/vhla.htm