Prefab Construction Promotes Energy Efficiency
Alexander Kolbe, co-owner of ecoDOMUS, an architectural firm that specializes in prefab construction to build green homes that are highly energy efficient, says that, “Given the choice of spending a sizable sum of money for a home that consumes energy at an alarming rate, or spending slightly more initially to benefit from substantially lower utility costs, and thereby helping to conserving our planet’s limited supply of fossil fuels, we at evoDOMUS believe that the latter can prevail … the key is to make it an easily understandable and obtainable choice. Also, this ‘healthy for the planet’ choice need not look healthy, nor must it look like it is good for the planet! It can look bodacious, chic, generous and new, without being bad for anyone.”
The proof of Kolbe’s design concept is this new home he designed for a client in New Canaan, Connecticut. Using prefab modular, panelized construction is the key to energy efficiency, project manager Rob Shearer said in a recent interview.
“When the exterior envelope is constructed in a controlled environment, with precision machinery to assure that everything is flush and square, it makes all of the tiny gaps and cracks inherent to any type of construction much smaller, and easier to seal,” Shearer said.
“In addition, the panel joints are gasketed, and the overall effect is an extremely tight enclosure. Controlling air infiltration is crucial to an efficient, healthy home. Not only for controlling temperature, but also humidity. It is a common misconception among builders that ‘houses need to breathe.’ Houses do not need to breathe. People need to breathe.”
Such air tight construction requires the use of mechanical ventilation system to control the distribution of fresh air throughout the house. Heating and cooling are handled by two Mitsubishi mini split heat pumps, one per floor. The14″ thick walls have an R-35 rating and the roof is rated R-60.
The facade of the house on the first floor is made by Resysta- a wall covering made of rice husks, natural oils and resin. The second floor is finished with StoTherm stucco system that adds a continuous additional layer of insulation. The bathroom fixtures are all water-saving, low-flow fixtures. All tiles in the house have a high recycled material content and LED or CFL lighting is used throughout the home to save energy.
Since designing this prefab home, ecoDOMUS has been tapped for two more homes in Connecticut as well as projects in California, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Florida and Medellin, Colombia.
Source: Green Building Elements
Image: AOL Real Estate
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