Basic High Performance Building Elements

Basic High Performance Elements for Building a High Performance Home

High-Performance Building – Incorporates environmental considerations into every phase of the home building process to minimize the environmental impact from all decisions.

Seven segments of the overall process should be considered:

1. Lot Design, Preparation and Development

Consider things such as saving trees, minimizing grading changes, on-site stormwater retention, the orientation of the house to maximize passive solar heating and cooling.

Utilizing native and drought-tolerant plantings and minimizing grass areas will save on water used to maintain your yard.

2. Resource Efficiency

Creating resource-efficient designs and using resource-efficient materials to maximize function and optimize natural resources through material selections.

Using advanced framing techniques to reduce lumber usage and increase insulation reduces energy bills.

Also, reducing job site waste and implementing waste management and an on-site recycling program.

3. Energy Efficiency

Considerations should be given to energy efficiency during the construction of the home and the long-term operation of the home.

This includes space and water heating, cooling, lights, appliances, and gas consumption. 

The whole systems approach also includes building envelope air sealing, window selection, duct sealing, and air barriers to complete the home’s overall performance.

These are the most important elements to incorporate in a Green home.

4.Water Efficiency

Implementing water conservation measures both indoors and out, using water-efficient appliances and fixtures, and native and drought-resistant landscaping, and using rainwater collection systems for irrigation.

5. Indoor Environmental Quality – IAQ (Indoor Air Quality)     

Healthy indoor air quality is the second most important feature in Green Building. 

Using materials that do not off-gas in the building and controlling the source of contaminants can reduce or alleviate allergies and respiratory ailments.

Using chemical-free, safe cleaning products will also help maintain a healthy indoor environment. 

6. Operation, Maintenance and Homeowner Education     

Improper or inadequate maintenance can defeat the designers’ and builders’ best efforts to create a healthy, resource-efficient home. 

Providing homeowners with a manual that explains proper operation and maintenance procedures, offering alternatives to toxic cleaning substances, lawn, and garden chemicals, and water-saving practices ensures the long-term effectiveness of the green home.

7. Global Impact

These things are a by-product of home construction, such as the choice of paint, using paints with low to no VOCs (volatile organic compounds). 

Reduces the effects VOCs have on the ozone layer. 

They can not only affect IAQ, but they can create ground-level ozone pollution.

Being mindful of all selections made during the construction process will help ensure that your project is not adding to the long-term effects of global warming.

Homeowner Benefits From Green Building

(Compared to owners of conventional homes)

  1. Lower operating costs – less expensive utility bills due to energy and water efficiency measures.
  2. Increased comfort – experience relatively even temperatures throughout the home, fewer drafts, and better humidity control.
  3. Improved environmental quality – construction details control moisture, materials with fewer chemicals, and air exchange/filtration creates healthier indoor air quality.
  4. Enhances durability and less maintenance – use of longer-lived materials requires fewer resources for replacement and reduces maintenance and costs of repair.  Lawns require less weeding and watering. Homeowners play a huge role in the house performance and should be instructed on how to operate and maintain the home as it was intended. 

Three Levels of Green Building: Bronze, Silver and Gold     

Points are assigned for each of the seven sections.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

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