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Green Building / Energy Star Construction

The buildings where you live and work may be functioning efficiently or inefficiently. Inefficient homes and offices are costly to operate and maintain. The initial expense of making a building energy efficient and environmentally friendly is well worth it, saving you money and significantly improving your health over the ensuing years.

hvac02a_200w.jpgYou save money and improve the health and comfort of a facility when you first take cost-effective measures that reduce building heating and cooling loads. Then you should install systems and appliances that are the right size to meet those reduced loads. In general, over-sizing worsens performance and increases costs. CRW Builders can help you design, build and install the right materials and equipment for your facility.

The most effective strategy for improving energy efficiency is to first target your building's envelope — walls, attic, windows, and doors. Then improve the energy efficiency of systems, such as heating, cooling, lighting, and appliances. Finally, consider clean energy generation (e.g., solar, geothermal). CRW Builders can help you to implement Green Building and Energy Star products and construction into your residence or commercial facility to help you realize such improvements.

Energy Efficient and Environmentally Friendly Improvements

There are many, many ways to make your home and workplace environment healthier and more energy efficient. CRW Builders can audit your facility to identify ways in which to do so. Here are a few suggestions free of charge. Contact Us for specific ways to upgrade your home or workplace.

  • HVAC

INSULATION: Make sure your walls and attic are well insulated

Effective insulation slows the rate that heat flows out of the house in winter or into the house in summer, so less energy is required to heat or cool your workplace or residence. If your building has no wall insulation, and it has more-or-less continuous wall cavities (such as conventional stud walls), blown-in insulation can greatly improve your comfort and save enough energy to be very cost-effective. (It rarely pays to blow additional insulation into already insulated walls.) If your attic is unfinished, it often pays to upgrade its insulation. CRW Builders can help you determine the best insulation material to use and can ensure that it is properly installed, ensuring that all voids and gaps are filled.


WINDOWS: Upgrade or replace windows

If your windows are old and leaky, it may be time to replace them with energy-efficient models or boost their efficiency with weatherstripping and storm windows. It is almost never cost-effective to replace windows just to save energy. According to EnergyStar.gov, replacing windows will save 7 to 24 percent of your heating and air-conditioning bills, but the larger savings would be associated with replacing single-glazed windows. However, if you are replacing windows for other reasons anyway, in many areas the additional cost of Energy Star-rated replacement windows is very modest, perhaps $15 per window. This upgrade would be both cost-effective and will significantly increase your comfort.


SHADE: Plant shade trees and shrubs around your workplace or house where possible

If your facility is older, with relatively poor insulation and windows, good landscaping (particularly deciduous trees) can save energy, especially if planted on the house's west and south sides. In summer, the foliage blocks infrared radiation that would warm the house, while in winter the bare branches let this radiation come through. Obviously, it will take years for new trees and shrubs to grow to the size to provide effective shade. But you can install insulation and Energy Star or better windows, which will provide the best energy efficiency now while you wait for those plants to grow!

HVAC: Replace an older HVAC system with a high-efficiency system

Older heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems expend significantly more energy than newer systems. If your furnace was built before 1992 and has a standing pilot, it probably wastes 35 percent of the fuel it uses, and it is probably near the end of its service life. In this case, you should consider replacing it with a condensing furnace with annual efficiency of at least 90 percent. This type of furnace wastes no more than 10 percent of the natural gas you buy, and may save you as much as 27 percent on your heating bill. Similar inefficiencies exist with older central air conditioning systems and fan motors. Our residential HVAC partner, Twin Air, LLC can assess your existing systems and determine the best replacement system to maximize your health, comfort and budget.

WATER HEATER: Improve the efficiency of your hot water system

First, turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). Second, insulate your hot water lines so they don't cool off as quickly between uses. Third, use low-flow fixtures for showers and baths.

LIGHTING: Replace incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)

CFLs can save three-quarters of the electricity used by incandescents. One of the new CFLs costs about two or three dollars, but it lasts 10,000 hours and uses only about 27 watts to generate as much light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb. The lighting cost of the CFL is less than one-third of the cost for the incandescent. The best targets for replacement are 60- to 100-watt bulbs used several hours a day, because usage affects how long it takes to recover the investment.

REGRIGERATOR: When you buy a new refrigerator, throw out the old one

When you buy a new refrigerator, do not leave the olde one plugged in as a backup. It will cost you an extra $50-150 per year to run a second, older refrigerator. In contrast, the new one, particularly if Energy Star-rated, may cost only $30-60 per year to run because refrigerator efficiency has improved so much in the past three decades. Under these circumstances, think about how much refrigeration you really need. The best rule is to have only one refrigerator, and to size it to meet your real needs.

TAXES: Take advantage of new tax incentives to improve your home

Federal tax incentives are available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Energy efficiency incentives for upgrades to existing homes have been extended, and are now available for 2009 and 2010. These incentives now cover up to $1,500 (from $500), based on 30 percent of the cost of the improvement. Improvements can include building-envelope improvements (windows, insulation) and heating/air-conditioning upgrades. There are also 30-percent credits, without a cap, for on-site renewables (solar photovoltaic and solar hot-water systems, small wind systems, and geothermal heat pumps).

ENERGY AUDIT: Let us help you evaluate opportunities for energy savings

Schedule an energy audit. CRW Builders and our residential HVAC partner, Twin Air, LLC use specialized tools and skills to evaluate your home or office and recommend the most cost-effective measures to improve its comfort and efficiency.


More About Green Building Construction and Energy Star Programs

Here are links to provide you with more information and ideas on how to incorporate energy efficient and envirnomentally friendly products and construction into your business and home.



This page was last updated on February 4, 2011 6:24 hours.