Contributing Editor

Susan Bady has been writing about the housing industry for 25 years. She most recently served as senior editor of design for Professional Builder and Custom Builder magazines, and is now a contributing editor to those publications as well as the portal Web site HousingZone.com. Bady has also written for such consumer magazines as Cabin Life and Better Homes and Gardens’ Home Plan Ideas. You can reach her at susanbady@sbcglobal.net.

More consumers getting on board with net-zero homes

Whenever I come across an article in the Wall Street Journal touting some new-home trend, I see it as a sign of mass appeal. Take the story in the May 2 issue about the growing numbers of home buyers who are jumping on the net-zero bandwagon.

The number of green-housing projects in general has been increasing. The WSJ article cites research by McGraw Hill Construction indicating that green homes accounted for 20 percent of all newly built homes last year. The figure is projected to rise to 29-38 percent by 2016.

I’m particularly encouraged that WSJ included a description of Passive House, the latest and most rigorous energy-performance standard to hit the United States. The first certified Passive House in the Chicago area, a 3,800-square-foot home in River Forest, Ill., is a great example. Indoor air quality, as well as energy efficiency, was a big emphasis with this project, and I want to mention some of the products used:

·      Logix insulated concrete forms

·      SmartSide engineered wood siding (stronger and lighter than fiber-cement; looks like clapboard siding; comes with a 50-year warranty; won’t need painting for approximately 25 years)

·      24-inch on center wall framing with Knauf Jet Stream fiberglass insulation (made of recycled bottles) blown into the cavities

·      Triple-paned Zola European Windows

·      Electric Bosch Axxis Condensation Dryer for drying clothes (needs no vents or ducts; condenses moisture into water that is then drained)

·      Electric induction stove

·      Solar panels on the garage roof that heat water for household needs

·      Niagara Conservation Stealth toilets that use 0.08 gallons per flush

·      CertainTeed AirRenew drywall, which captures VOCs in the air

·      Bamboo floors everywhere except the kitchen, which has cork floors, and bathrooms

Look for more information about this home and others like it in the July issue of Professional Builder.

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