Holliston LEED House

This is the story of a family who built the first LEED "green" house in Holliston, Massachusetts. We were trying to spend no more than it would take to build an ordinary house,and maybe even succeeded. The dust is still settling.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Posting, not.

So, the house is being painted, but you won't want to hear about that. We're waiting on some calculations to file our paperwork, but you won't want to hear about that. We're putting together a nursery garden of gifted plants from friends, but that's boring, too. I've not been posting; is there anything anyone would like to suggest while we wait for the LEED thing to wind up? Any special topics you'd like to hear more about?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ducts and aerators

Now that we've had our blower test, we have a few things to get to the rater: a duct plan (be nice if you did it when you did the ductwork), and a couple of other things. For a LEED house, water efficiency is key. 45% of your water receptacles need to have low GPM, even if, like us, all your water is kept on site (well + septic). You can find cheap aerators for lavatory faucets to bring down the gallons per minute to as low as .5, but you'll only need it under 1.5 for LEED. Also, shower heads need to be under 1.75. For the aerators, I found two for $5.15, so you know that's not bad, and shower heads go to around $17.


Friday, October 16, 2009

One house, certifiable.

Well, Will D'Arrigo came and spent the morning, did the blower test, pressurized the house, tested the air flow in the fans, went through the check list, told me what further papers I need, and made it official — we will be a silver certified LEED home. We are actually close to gold, but with the points cushion, we have room to lose a couple if the USGBC takes issue with any of our points. In any event, we're good for Silver, thanks to all of everyone's hard work. Here's the house right now, with one room nearly painted...


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

D Day

So our final LEED exam (blower test, etc.) is this Friday morning, and I have a few pieces of paper still to round up. They tell me it takes around a half day, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

Meanwhile, I'm painting trim in the fireplace room, which has decided me on building a house with NO windows next time. There's always CFLs. But I'm nearly ready to start walls, which will, as Eva points out, allow us to call that the "done" room.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Painting prep 101

At top, what your nail holes filled should look like. Use Ready Patch or similar, sandable product. Center, what your nail holes filled should NOT look like. If they do, sand the crap out of them until they look like the first photo.
Lastly, alternative uses for that old note paper someone gave you ages ago...

Paint and primer

Benjamin Moore has a "green" product they call Aura. It is expensive, but it is also called "self priming." Here is our experience: I loved not having to prime the master bath, but noticed as I moved the ladder around that it ding-ed easily, even after two coats. When I consulted my painter friend, David Stoffregen, he said "paint's paint and primer's primer." His point is, I think, that primer is designed to soak into plaster and seal, while paint is designed to cover easily—in other words, to sit on the surface.

On raw wood, this is not as big an issue. But on plaster, which sucks moisture from the paint, it doesn't wear as well as painting over plaster. My new experiment is using the self-priming on the trim (except those places with knot holes, which will bleed through), and using the same paint on primed walls.

The LEED points you will get for low-VOC paints is minimal; I believe you can get a half point or something comparable. Why you would wish to continue with low-VOC is for it's ability to age without "off-gassing," or leaving pollutants in the air.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

LEED Paperwork

A quick overview: LEED paperwork does exist, but if you keep a building file as you go it's not horrible. There are a few things that will be required particularly, but if you look at the green book as you're building you can be sure you collect them along the way. In our case, we involved our rater early and he told us first, keep this blog as it helps to document the process, and second, keep him in the loop with questions and he would help us. If your rater doesn't say the same, get another one!

Here's where I am:

Innovation Design: I have a list of team members, capabilities, meeting dates, meeting notes. The durability planning checklist has all been signed by the responsible parties (many of them us and Lloyd) except that I forgot to get the plumber's signature when I saw him so will have to make a special trip.

Location & Linkages: Most of the location information we need for LEED is either public record (look up flood plains, etc. at town hall) or it is on site drawings (calculations of perimeter area, etc.). With a calculator and a few moments, it's do-able.

Sustainable Sites: Here's where we need various certifications. We will need signed accountability forms demonstrating no invasive plantings, a list of trees and plants installed, a list of invasives of our area, details on the type and quantity of turf, drought tolerant plants and stormwater runoff information. We are not eligible for a couple of points here having to do with irrigation systems, as we don't have one.

Water Efficiency: This is where you will need to have back up on high-efficiency irrigation systems, again.

Energy & Atmosphere: This can be tricky. If you've done what we have, and reached first for the Energy Star label and then for LEED, using the same rater for both, you can skip several steps as the items needed will be on file already. Ask your rater to help you. Primarily, before your paperwork is done, you will need room-to-room load calculations for your HVAC system and lots of back up data on the type of system you have. Also, you will have a final "blower" test which will demonstrate how air-tight your home is.

Materials & Resources: We gained points in this category by having SIPs and shipping them precut to our location. There was very little framing waste and this is verified. Keep your dumpster weight slips after they are picked up.

Indoor Environmental Quality: Keep in mind that if you have a masonry fireplace, as we do, you will need doors on it. If you used an insert, keep the documentation. For air circulation venting equipment (like our low-watt auto airflow fan) keep the paperwork. Document your radon protection program with photos. Note the dates of your flush of ductwork pre-occupancy.

There is a checklist that your rater can give you for what needs to be submitted. There are a number of Accountability forms that your rater will need at the end. If you keep proper backup, you should be fine.