Since the California Solar Mandate took effect in January, sustainable building practices are on everyone’s mind. We all want to do what’s best for the environment and integrating solar energy is a great way to do that; one we’ve been endorsing for years. The mandate is a positive first step toward more sustainable practices. Over the years we’ve found, when it comes to home construction, there’s so much more to sustainability than solar.
We’re seeing the cost of energy rise in a rapid way, and it’s not just in dollars. It’s important to realize our environment is also paying the price. We are used to blaming vehicles, but almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings. In our homes we use energy in the form of electricity, gas, and water to keep our rooms at comfortable temperatures, our showers hot, our lights on, and our gardens green. All of which generates carbon dioxide (CO2).
To lower your carbon footprint, you have to lower the sum of all CO2 emissions these activities introduce into the environment. That’s what we love about the efficiency of high-performance homes. With solar energy as a component, a high-performance home acts as a system supporting the health of our environment by consuming less energy, conserving non-renewable resources and reducing your carbon footprint, all while dramatically lowering your monthly utility bills.
Utilizing solar provides a clean source for our energy but doesn’t address how efficiently we use it. Unfortunately, due to poor construction and thoughtless design, a conventional home often wastes energy simply by being inefficient. Air is pumped in but is slowly leaked out through the walls and windows, requiring more energy consumption to keep the temperature consistent.
In contrast, passive homes represent the highest energy standards, reducing energy consumption by up to 90%! This unbelievable level of efficiency is achieved by minimizing energy loss. A thermal envelope ensures heat and cool air don’t escape the home unless you want them to. Instead of pumping heat into a constantly cooling room, the thermal envelope holds the heat in, reducing the need for a heater or air conditioner.
A high-performance home also optimizes internal gains. The system is so efficient, the heat you generate from your body or even your hair dryer is all you need to heat your home. Imagine living in a home that doesn’t need a furnace or conventional heating unit. From air-conditioning to electricity and water consumption, high-performance home builds are on the cutting edge of energy efficiency.
While Energy-efficiency is vital to reducing your carbon footprint a crucial additional factor to consider is the materials used to build the home. It’s critical to use ecologically friendly building materials in a new home build. Ensuring the source of the materials and how they are manufactured makes a huge impact on reducing carbon emissions and creating a more holistic standard.
The selection of materials should be approached with an emphasis on durability, longevity and environmental responsibility before price. High-performance homes are sustainable beyond solar-power, they also utilize engineered lumber, recycled decking material, eco-flooring which is sustainably harvested and reclaimed from wood floors, eco-cabinets which are formaldehyde-free, drought-tolerant landscaping that conserves water and high-quality windows and doors.
High-performance homes give us a unique opportunity to reduce our impact on the environment while increasing our quality of life. At Clarum Homes we’re excited to see solar energy so widely adopted. We’re also excited to see a more high-performance home building practices being used to reduce our carbon footprints. For more than 15 years we at Clarum have been championing a holistic approach to sustainability, taking every aspect of the home build into consideration. Are you ready to take sustainability beyond solar?
Want to learn more about how Clarum can help you build the sustainable home of your dreams? Give us a call at 650.322.7069