We have been in our Net Zero home for a year now, and have learned a lot, both through the experience of designing the house and the time living in the house.
Our data tracking started on the 30th of September, 2016, so we have a month to go before we have a full year of data. I'll be posting another blog when the final numbers are in.
We also have the approval of much of the local wildlife;) We have had various visitors, and I have to say, I think the rabbits are the happiest and most well fed!
One of the really interesting things in our neighborhood is the number of black and albino squirrels. And they both love exploring all the nooks and crannies in our stack of boulders.
We have seen deer and turkey as well.
We also have completed a number of certifications, including GreenStar Gold and LEED Platinum!
Our Living Building Challenge is still in process. The last piece of that particular certification is a year's worth of data tracking. That will be complete in a month. So far, we are well ahead of our goal so I am very confident we will reach that.
More about what the LEED certification is can be found here.
Additional information about the GreenStar certification can be found here. Our home along with details and the GreenStar and LEED checklists can be found on their site here.
While we strived to reach LEED Platinum, we originally expected to reach LEED Gold. A lot of work was done by our team, and we were thrilled to get the news this summer that we had indeed reached Platinum :)
Our solar array continues to work flawlessly since the final fix last spring. We also have done some preparation work to get ready for three Tesla Powerwalls! If you ready some of our early posts, you may remember we wanted to have one or more in place last winter.
It looks as if we are getting those within a couple of months (we have a signed agreement with an installer).
This was long awaited, but will be worth it once we have them in place.
ProudGreenHome did a piece on our house and posted a video produced by Geocomfort (makers of our geothermal heat pumps). Click here to see it.
Greenhome institute also made a live video earlier this summer.
Each video includes many members of the team, including our architect, builder, HVAC wizard, interior designers, landscape designer and a representative from our solar installers.
Part 1 can be seen at https://youtu.be/NjSwoB8f8Ok
Part 2 is at https://youtu.be/94YlOp_SXZE
Lots of projects got started this week, and a few have been completed. ...
Our driveway and front step are complete! ...
We have lots of stuff happening, which makes me very, very happy!
And I am once again reminded of how many thousands of details go into making a house. It is a huge undertaking and I am thankful for everyone involved in their hard work and great attention to details!...
Let me start by apologizing for the delay in this blog, last week was very, very busy!
I've also heard a few people would like to see more photos, so I am going to start adding more. If anyone reading this has a suggestions please feel free to comment on any of the blogs.
The last couple of weeks we have had a number of parts of the house being worked on...
The waterproof membrane has been installed on the roof, making it much drier to work inside.
The plumbers have roughed in the pipes. There are some fun details to get a little more efficiency out of the house.
In the second photo in the gallery above you can see how a 'box' inside the wall was built for the laundry room plumbing. This is behind the sink, where we will never miss the 4 inches of less depth.
By not having the plumbing in the wall, it leaves room for insulation.
In the third photo, you can see our south wall by the kitchen. Here, we didn't have room for placing the pipes anywhere but in the wall. You can see how the plumbers wrapped the pipes.
Around them, we will use a spray foam insulation. The plumbers wrapped the pipes so as the pipes expand (when hot water is running through them) they don't squeak as they rub against insulation.
I never thought of that, but for my own sanity, I am very very happy they did!
The electrical work has been started. I'm actually helping where I can with this aspect of the house where I can.
I am very happy I have been more of a help than a hinderance so far;)
Some aspects (a few light fixtures, where switches go, etc) are still getting solidified. There are a ton of decisions and options and it is all a bit overwhelming at times.
I have a new appreciation for how wiring a house is as much an art form as a science!
We need to be careful to not run wire where the HVAC guys, or other contractors working on stuff in the walls, will need to be running vents, plumbing or other items. Lengthwise, this isn't too big a deal. When cables cross a line of a vent that isn't there yet, extra play in the cable needs to be left to allow the HVAC guys room to work around it without accidentally cutting the wiring. Yet, not too much extra.
I was also amazed at the bulk of the wire that is needed. This house is about the average sized American house (2475 sq ft). Yet, added all together, the mass of the wires is many hundreds of pounds.
I have a new appreciation of the waste involved in over sized houses. Our last house was far too big for the two of us, so I am very happy we have downsized.
The network/low voltage guys also finished their rough in this week.
The fourth photo in the gallery above is where the mechanical room will be. The wiring on the left is some of the electrical wiring. The garbage bag hanging on the right is the coiled up networking cabling which will be terminating in the mechanical room as well.
The HVAC guys roughed in their cuts for the vents. The heating will all be in-floor radiant heat. The air returns still need holes in the floors, walls, etc. We have a lot of built in cabinets in our house. As such, some of the vents will be in, or through part of the built in cabinets.
In the window boxes, we are using a new type of liquid flashing in some areas. It is the white material you can see along the top corner of the window box in the fifth image in the gallery.
This fluid flashing is fairly new, it is very useful for complex geometries that are difficult to flash with other "peal and stick" flashings.
In the sixth and seventh images you can see another neat trick we are using. The windows are being installed at the inside edge of the window boxes. As the window casings are not the full depth of the wall, where the window ends we are installing a type of siding material. We then wrap the siding (just as you would the outside of the house).
The surface is sloped away from the window frame, so water will not sit up against the edge of the window.
The roof of the screened in porch was also treated and waterproofed. It will have a gentle slope so we can collect rainwater in one of our rain barrels.
In the eighth photo in the gallery you can see our architect up on top of the porch shortly before the waterproofing. He was working on figuring out exactly where the vent from the kitchen exhaust will come out the side of the house.
This week, we also had a few bumps in the road. There was some miscommunication about the placement of the window boxes in the main floor of the house. They ended up all two and a half inches too low.
When we first heard about this, we were very worried. Chris and Corey, the framers, corrected the height of the windows over just a few days. We are again very thankful that they could respond so quickly and worked over the weekend to correct this.
The windows also arrived, YAY!
One was the wrong size, BOO!
They are almost all in place already, YAY!
Two are missing, BOO!
It will all be ok, YAY! (just repeat, serenity now, serenity now, serenity now...)
This coming week, we have more electrical work, the windows to complete, the geo-thermal wells being drilled in the back yard (underneath a future rain garden) and the boulders for the retaining wall should be delivered.
In closing, I want to express my thanks to every one of our contractors, Kerry, our builder with Hage Homes, Marc our architect from SALA.
Working onsite as much as I have has given me a better understanding for just how many details there are in building a house, managing many different craftsmen and trades, dealing with bumps in the road, and keeping everything on schedule. I'll also be adding a couple more photos this week before next week's post. I will add them to the gallery above.
Mark really doesn't like to talk about himself, the house is much more interesting.