This is an exciting time to be in the building industry. While we all need to be vigilant about conserving our resources and protecting the planet, there are more energy conservation and sustainability options today, than ever before. Chicago Workshop™ never stops looking for methods, materials and energy solutions.
PRECAST CONCRETE FOUNDATIONS
Chicago Workshop™ installs pre-cast concrete foundation walls by Superior Walls®. This system features a continuous layer of waterproof rigid foam insulation bonded directly to the concrete, resulting in a tight thermal envelope for high energy efficiency. Built-in insulation helps lower energy loss. Superior Walls® help contribute to the overall insulation value and reduce air infiltration into the home, thereby making a significant impact on the overall energy efficiency rating of the home. This helps build an ENERGY STAR®-qualified home. (Homes build according to ENERGY STAR® guidelines must be verified by an independent Home Energy Rater to earn the ENERGY STAR® label).
Carbon footprint is reduced, as the amount of materials, particularly wood and concrete used on a project with Superior Walls® is drastically reduced, in no small part due to the reduction of waste. Factory controlled production is efficient, arrives ready to install, and includes a built-in insulation, galvanized studs for hanging drywall, and damp-proofing, thus eliminating the need for on-site installing of insulation, wood studs or bituminous coating.
Insulated Precast Concrete Wall products by Superior Walls® have been pre-qualified to earn specific green points as Green Certified Products by Home Innovation Research Labs (formerly the NAHB Research Center). These products earn points in categories for resource efficiency, energy efficiency and indoor environmental air quality. See http://www.homeinnovation.com/services/certification/green_certified_products
EPS RIGID FOAM INSULATION
Chicago Workshop™ uses rigid foam insulation, or Expanded Polystyrene System (EPS), in walls, decks, and roofs. It has a higher R value per inch than fiberglass, cotton, or cellulose. EPS is an effective material in eliminating thermal bridging. Because studs have a lower R value than insulation, thermal bridging occurs when a stud acts as a bridge in conducting heat escape. Installing rigid foam insulation over wall or roof framing reduces thermal bridging, raises the R-value of the wall or roof, and can eliminate or reduce air leaks. Scientists and forensic engineers Joseph Lstiburek and Peter Baker have reported that adding 1 inch of only R-5 EPS insulation to a 2×6 wall insulated with fiberglass batts increases the effective R-value of the wall by 35% and adding 2 inches of foam raises the R-value by 65%. See Green Building Advisor http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/green-basics/rigid-foam-insulation
INSULATED STEEL WALL SYSTEMS
Chicago Workshop™ installs ENERGY STAR® compliant panel systems, featuring insulation which does not degrade over time. Studies have shown that the exterior wall systems reduce energy costs by up to 75%, when compared to traditionally insulated walls (ASHRAE Journal March 1996, Christian and Kosny).
Steel is “Green” because it contains a minimum of 25% recycled steel and is 100% recyclable. LEED credits are available in conjunction with the panel use. It takes 100 trees to build a 3,000 sq. ft. home. We use systems which only require steel from two recycled cars. No harm to the Ozone layer, as the EPS foam insulation in the wall panels is CFC and HCFC free.
The EPS foam insulation component of the panel is solid (except where wire chases are incorporated) and does not provide voids or allow air movement through the walls. In a study conducted by Energy scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory* the stated R-Value of virtually every product on the market evaluated in the “real world” of thermal breaks such as corners, windows, doors, and stud walls was drastically reduced -EXCEPT when using Structural Insulated Panels.
RADIANT HEAT – FAR INFRARED LIGHT
Chicago Workshop™ installs Warm Waves® in-floor heating system, which is a low-voltage pliant sheet. It heats your home by safe and healthy “invisible light”, which is also referred to as “therapeutic infrared” or “far”, thus far-infrared, and is a UL Certified, state-of-the-art technology that creates safe, efficient and comfortable heat in your home. This in-floor, infra-red system is twice as efficient as even the most efficient forced air systems. A 95% efficiency rating furnace suffers from duct loss and ventilation related heat loss, typically resulting in approximately 35% efficiency, as it heats the air and not the objects or people in the space. In addition, as floors, windows, and other objects are still colder than air, people feel colder and raise the thermostat temperature. Conversely, the far-infrared radiant heat is approximately 70% efficient, which means that 70% of the energy supplied is converted into usable heat. Although energy is still lost as a result of heat loss through doors, windows, and materials, this system is still twice, or 100% more efficient than a forced air system.
GEOTHERMAL HEATING AND COOLING
Geothermal energy refers to the heat stored in the earth, where even at relatively shallow depths of 10 feet, the temperature is a constant 50F-60Fdegrees (10C-16C). It is a clean and sustainable energy source. Some geothermal systems can also take advantage of nearby water, if available. Geothermal systems lower operational expenses of heating and air-conditioning by approximately 70% as compared to the natural gas furnace forced air systems. (Because this energy and temperature is always constant, it can be used for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer). ENERGY STAR® Program provides tax credits and incentives to homeowners to homeowners for using Geothermal Heat Pumps. Geothermal technology generally uses the same distribution-ductwork as a conventional system (and often can be retrofitted to an existing ductwork grid). Under the right circumstances, geothermal systems may also be set up as radiant hydronic systems. See https://www.energystar.gov/sites/default/files/specs/private/Geothermal_Heat_Pumps_Program_Requirements%20v3.1.pdf
PASSIVE SOLAR DESIGN
Chicago Workshop™ Architects use the Sun’s natural energy to provide maximum (passive) heating and cooling of living spaces by taking into account the Sun’s position in relation to your home during different time of day and seasons. We use architectural software to trace the Sun’s path, which helps us design your home’s windows, skylights, rooflines, soffits, overhangs, and even the floor plan to take advantage of the Sun’s energy in the winter, and to provide shade in the summer.
Chicago Workshop™ uses GENEO windows by Wasco™, which provides very high thermal insulation performance. These windows significantly exceed the ENERGY STAR® standards / U.S. Department of Energy R-5 Window program and achieve the Passive House Certification by PHIUS, (Passive House Institute U.S.), leading certifier of passive buildings. The windows are made in Wisconsin, and deliveries to Chicago do not leave a large carbon footprint. This is an American produced version for an energy-efficient, environmentally friendly window developed by the German company REHAU, known for its advanced technology and high quality. NFRC U-Factors range from 0.14 to 0.16 Btu/hr. per s.f. depending on glazing and insulation selected. Windows feature double and triple panes.
DUCT SEALING SOLUTION
All air ducts are prone to air leaks, old or new. This wastes energy and causes more wear and tear on your HVAC system. On the average, 30% of your forced air heating or cooling costs are spent on duct leaks, which can also cause unfiltered air to be pulled in, affecting indoor quality, accumulating dust in the ducts and contributing to allergies and asthma. Chicago Workshop™ uses Aeroseal® Duct Sealing, a breakthrough technology which is 95% effective at sealing air duct leaks. Aeroseal® technicians cover the ducts and use their software to measure leaks. They inject sealant into the ducts, which adhere to the leak prone areas through the escaping air particles, sealing the ducts. This technology was developed at U.C. Berkley with funding from the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy, which declared Aeroseal® one of the most beneficial energy technologies for consumers.