Saranac McClellan Home goes platinum + zero energy in West Michigan

This 3-bedroom home with an attached 2-bedroom mother-in-law cottage provides living, workshop and home-office space for the homeowners and their mothers. It features barrier-free design throughout with zero-step entry, low thresholds, roll-in showers, grab bars, and knee-space under sinks and cooktops.

Go here to see an interactive website of the home with data on energy use compared to energy captured through PV

The super-insulated shell uses double-stud wall construction with 24,000 pounds of recycled cellulose insulation in the walls and attic, and a 6-inch layer of reclaimed foam insulation under the stained concrete floor. Heat from six flat-plate solar collectors is stored in an insulated 2,500-gallon water tank, which warms the floor and also provides most of the heat for domestic hot water.

High-efficiency wood stoves make up the balance of winter heating needs, and a small electric backup heater maintains temperatures when necessary. The home is designed to produce more electricity than it consumes on an annual basis.

The home has no lawn and is surrounded instead by gardens. The steel roof collects 2,000 gallons per inch of rainwater, which is stored in an 11,000 gallon cistern for garden irrigation and flushing toilets. A root cellar built into the hill behind the house provides zero-energy cold storage of fruits and vegetables.

As of October 2010 the Jay & Liz McClellan home officially earned a LEED Platinum rating, which is the highest of 4 levels of certification offered by the USGBC. They achieved a HERS index of 20, which one of the best in the state of Michigan.

This summarizes our energy production and consumption for calendar year 2011.Ing Label Saranac

Statistics

Solar electricity produced: 6033 kW h (16.5 kW h per day)
Electricity consumed: 6150 kW h (16.8 kW h per day)
Non-heating: 5350 kW h,  heating: 800 kW h
Net electricity deficit: 117 kW h (-2%)

Discussion

“Our first 12-month report started April 1 2010 when we first activated the PV system and went through April 1 2011, but this report covers calendar year 2011 so there are a few months of overlap. For calendar year 2011 we fell just short of our goal to produce more electricity than we consumed, with a net deficit of 117 kW h for the year. Compared to our first 12 months of operation, average daily production dropped by 0.3 kW h but consumption increased 1.8 kW h. Some of that is due to having an additional family member living here since mid-year, and some is due to adding an upright freezer that uses about 1 kW / day.”

“Below is a graph showing the inside (red) and outside (blue) temperatures that we recorded throughout the year. Overall the house was very comfortable, with just a few days in the upper 70s during some hot summer weather when allergies made us reluctant to open up the house at night since our ventilation system filters out pollen from the incoming air.”

“The graph below shows the heat storage tank temperatures over the year. The big gap is when we drained the tank due to a leak, and we were able to get the tank warmed up again in the fall but not to the degree we would have liked.”

Follow their blog at http://brainright.com/

 

The Isabella MN Ecologically Balanced Building goes to the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center

Imagine that every building maintained the ecological balance needed to sustain life on earth. Then, imagine all of humanity motivated to take action, to make this dream a reality. An immensely complicated goal? Maybe. But if we put our fears of failure at the back of the bus, we will maximize the possibility of success.

View & Download Project Profile Here

 

An immensely complicated goal?  Maybe.  But if we put our fears of failure at the back of the bus, we will maximize the possibility of success.

Nature has provided us with many examples of “buildings” that achieve an ecological balance.  If we follow her example, it is indeed realistic to believe we can prevail.

An Ecologically Balanced Building (EBB), then, is the most advanced building possible for our times because it strives to replicate the ecological balance found in nature.

An EBB incorporates a multitude of interrelated, smart design choices, resulting in a building that virtually lives and breathes, is beautifully balanced, aesthetically pleasing, and is socially responsible and sustainable.  It must meet the following criteria:

1.       Generate more clean energy than it uses.

2.       Sustainably manage the use of water.

3.       Waste nothing.

4.       Adapt to new conditions.

5.       Work symbiotically with all other living things.

6.       Eliminate toxins and pollutants.

7.       Add beauty & justice to our world

We have the technology and the building science to achieve these lofty imperatives.  Fortunately, we are also able to monitor, measure, and verify claims that a building actually accomplishes its intended goals.  If we can’t prove our claims, they are meaningless.

The Isabella EBB Project’s initial goal was to create the most environmentally conscious building possible.  It targeted integrating all seven design criteria listed above.  Additionally, each criterion is monitored, measured and verified to prove, we can indeed live in balance with nature.  Following is a description of how the Isabella EBB Project integrated the design criteria:

1.        The Isabella EBB Project was designed to consume an annual energy load of 4.5 kBTU/sq-ft. It achieved Passive House Certification, (HERS rating of 3), as the design method to achieve this extremely low energy use index. This is similar to having a 200 MPG car in lieu of our standard a 25 MPG car. There are 9,700 Heating Degree Days in this climate zone & 189 Cooling Degree Days.  This was accomplished through the design and construction of thermally broken/R 55 walls and R 90 roof, the use of high performance windows with glazing selected specifically to optimize the solar gain for each orientation and an air tightness of .5 air changes per hour.  Using BTU meters on the heating distribution system, the system is to telling us if the design loads are being met.

2.       Because extreme measures were taken to reduce the energy loads for this building, renewable energy generation produces more energy than is needed to operate the building.  An 11,000 kWH per year PV system/8.4 kw peak load and 92 solar heat collecting vacuum tubes averaging 172,500 BTUs per day collect renewable energy. An experimental long term solar storage area using 16 inches of EPS  insulation on all six sides contains both waste taconite from mines and sand.  Excess solar heat collection in the summer, fall and spring are stored in this solar storage containment area under the building.  The monitoriong system is gathering temperatures of the containment area, the Kwh generated and used  and kBTUs for the collection system.  We hope to prove that we are producing more clean energy than we use and that this solar storage system can be scaled down for use in other buildings.

3. Two additional areas used for solar storage: a 500 gallon water tank and an 80 gallon domestic hot water tank.  These are also being monitor and measured to tell us how hot they are and how many days of cloudy conditions depletes the stored energy supply.

4. A small electric boiler is used for backup energy should the building need it due to depletion of solar energy.  This boiler is also being monitor to tell us if it is being powered on.  This has already proven to be a great diagnostic tool, as it told us that the relays and sensors were not properly sequenced because the boiler was turning on whenever the domestic hot water dropped a few degrees.

5. A Heat Recovery Ventilation System makes sure that the building and occupants are receiving the right amount of fresh air at the right temperature.  An innovative ground loop heat recovery system is connected to the HRV to preheat the outside air prior to being heated by the exhaust air from the building.  The success of preheating  the incoming sub zero temperature fresh air with heated water from the ground near the footings of the building is being gathered by the monitoring system.  We hope to discover a 10 to 15 degree preheating of temperature through this system.

6. A rain water collection system and vegetative roof assures that water continues to perform its job of replenishing the aquifers and supporting plants and animals that conversely support an ecologically balanced building.

7. Information being stored through the use of the monitoring system is allowing the building to be adapted to new conditions and future improvements. Security alarms, for example, are sent when power, pumps, temperatures or water levels are not performing as intended.  Historical data gives us the ability to adjust and improve the performance due to accessibility to baseline and historical data.

8. An extreme waste and material management system was incorporated in this EBB.  Sustainable & reclaimed wood products, fast growing bio-fiber products, repurposed materials (e.g., old doors for ceilings, old radiators fins for guard rails, old wine barrels for chairs, old chalk boards for sills, and reclaimed tile), contribute to achieving zero waste and low life cycle assessment values.

9. Two highly recognized environmental third party auditing/certifications (LEED and Passive House) were achieved for this project, certifying the project at it the highest level possible.  This achievement summarizes that there were many other features, to lengthy to describe for this entry, that make this project one of the most advanced ecologically balanced buildings of our times.

10. Social justice and beauty are parts of ecology that acknowledge the value of spiritually engaging people through art  while also supporting  the notion of providing equal access and opportunities to all people.  The Isabella EBB project embraced adding beauty through the creation of a place that is welcoming, educational, inspiring, healthful, intriguing and fun.  The importance of social justice was a goal that surfaced during the learning experiences of the project.  Consequently, the project will be willed to the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, as an extension of their educational mission of teaching and influencing students the importance of living in balance with nature.

Isabella EBB Project Team

The critical success factors for the project team included:

1.    keeping the integrated design process alive and well throughout the entire projects development,

2.    checking  boiler plate designs at the door,

3.    if the project team achieved the goals stated above the points would follow and certification would provide the auditing needed to further validate our assumptions.

3.    understanding that everyone was on a ecological educational journey

4.    that fearless, open and honest communication  was mandatory, (typical passive/aggressive northern climate personality styles would keep innovation from reaching its potential).

 

Owner: John Eckfeldt eckfe001@umn.edu

Architect/Owner: Nancy Schultz, AIA LEED AP, nschultz@compassrose-inc.com

Energy Conservation Specialist:  Mikeal LeBeau, Conservation Technologies, Inc.  mlebeau@conservtech.com

Builder: Brad Holmes, Rod and Sons Carpentry, mooshed2@msn.com

Electrician/Designer: Justin Bartuss,  voltage@q.com

Mechanical Engineer: Bill Gausman PE, Monitoring and Verification System, bill.gausman@peopleselectric.com

HVAC & Plumbing Contractor: John Hill, Heating Plus,   heatplus@frontiernet.net

Landscape Architect: Gus Blumer, SEH,  gblumer@sehinc.com

Green Rater: Jimmie Sparks, The Neighborhood Energy Connection, jimmie@thenec.com

LEED Provider: Mike Holcomb, Green Home Institute, mike@homeinspectorgeneral.com

Helenowski Net Zero home in Chicago

Helenowski LEED Platinum Gut Rehab showcases urban zero energy

Chicago’s Yannell residence has gained a lot of notoriety as the first “net-zero” home in the city – capable of producing as much energy as it consumes. Yet another home on Chicago’s far northwest side, the Helenowski Residence, has joined the prestigious ranks of ultra-green LEED Platinum homes. In fact, it’s one of the highest overall point totals ever achieved for a LEED-certified home.

Helenowski Residence - Chicago Net-Zero LEED Platinum Home

Net-Zero LEED Platinum Home – Zukas Photography

This incredibly energy-efficient home was actually a gut-rehab of Helenowski Residence Scorecard a 1950’s brick split-level home, with a major addition, resulting in 3,300 total square feet. The owner has done an incredible amount of work focusing on the Materials and Resources as well as Energy and Atmosphere areas of the home. Some of the sample strategies include:

  • All drywall was recycled-content (for a $1 per sheet premium)
  • Salvaged douglas fir from 1800’s fire-damaged building for ceiling
  • Reuse or salvage for all new interior framing members
  • Diversion of +90% construction debris
  • Reclaimed copper for roofing and gutters
The home also has some exemplary energy characteristics that helped achieve a remarkable HERS score of 13, meaning the home uses 87% less energy than a new home built to code.
The remarkable energy performance was achieved by using soy-based spray foam insulation and a meticulous attention to air sealing in the project. The technical data is quite impressive. The blower door testing gave a result of 604 CFM at 50 Pascals.  With an estimated volume of 37,725 cubic feet of volume in the house, the air changes per hour at 50 Pa was 1.02, and the air changes per hour at natural pressure is .07. In other words, the home is very tight.
Other strategies contributing to the home’s energy performance include:
  • Triple-paned Pella windows with FSC-certified lumber.
  • Geothermal ground source heat pump for HVAC.
  • Solar photovoltaic panels and a vertical-axis wind turbine to generate electricity.
  • Motorized blinds control solar heat gain on west-facing (front) windows.
  • Extremely efficient cold-cathode lighting, up to six times more efficient than LEDs.
  • Roof is partially reflective white and part vegetative green roof.
The is truly a remarkable addition to the Chicago area’s growing green building inventory and offers many lessons for other builders in the area.  Detailed strategies with photos are available at the project’s web site, www.leedhomeliving.com, as well as by downloading the 1-page PDF Helenowski Project Profile that has assembled.
Download the 1-page PDF Helenowski Project Profile