Craftsman Bildit Greene Joins BuiltToLastTV.com!
Longtime Carpenter Skilled in Sustainable Construction Set to Answer Your Questions
Due to the volume of mail we receive, we cannot answer each submission personally. We will, however, feature selected questions and their responses below.
Building Envelopes refer to barriers in the construction of any building. There are four main barriers that comprise the building envelope: air, thermal, vapor, and moisture. The air barrier keeps outside air outside and inside “conditioned” air inside. In a building built today, all of the penetrations, cracks, voids and gaps that are created during construction are sealed. If untreated, these areas can add up to the size of a front door. If we shut that front door, especially during a Chicago winter, for example, by air sealing the building, we can save a lot of money on our energy costs. The thermal barrier is the insulation in the building. The more insulation we have, the less heat transfer that will occur. Think of our winter jackets; the more insulating material in the jacket, the warmer we are. A vapor barrier prevents moisture in the form of vapor from infiltrating our walls and reverting to a liquid. This could cause mold and mildew to form in the building, making it an unhealthy environment for the occupants. The last barrier we have is the moisture barrier. This is more than the beautiful facade that has been placed on the building. The moisture barrier is typically hidden behind the outside covering. Any liquid water, from either rain or snow, that gets behind the exterior covering stops at the moisture barrier and is prevented from entering the building. This prevents the deterioration of building materials that would shorten the building’s life expectancy.
Q. Irving: I have been watching the show and have been fascinated by so many interesting and innovative things being done in the way of building a house green and with sustainability in mind. But I am not in the market for a new home. What kinds of things do you recommend I do with my current home to make it more cost and environmentally friendly and comfortable?
A. Current homeowners can do quite a bit to make their homes more comfortable and bring down their energy costs. The website www.energy.gov is a good start. Consider the following efficiency upgrades.
Replace cracked or missing caulk around windows. Seal penetrations around hose bibs and sump pump drain lines, which will make a big difference. Check your home’s weather stripping around windows and doors; replacing it will make a big difference. And add insulation to your attic, which will also help.
There is also a need to check for any holes made by electrical pipes and plumbing vent stacks that need to be foam sealed. Just by doing your own attic inspection you can probably feel the warm air rising through these openings. Your attic access panel also will contribute to your heating loss. Multilayers of 2” rigid foam should be glued to the inside of that panel, and foam weather stripping added to the perimeter will also help. An energy audit will identify all of these energy losses and more in your home.
Hope this helps to get you on your way to a more efficient home.
Q. Melissa: Is it really worth the extra money to build green or remodel green?
A. Thank you for your question, Melissa.
With owners now staying in their homes longer and remodeling rather than moving, it makes sense to add insulation, tighten up the exterior envelope and invest in energy-efficient appliances when they come due for replacement. And where you can’t do the work yourself, be sure to hire a certified contractor familiar with sustainable construction and green products. Because our energy costs have been steadily increasing year after year, these changes and improvements will help cut down on these costs and allow the extra savings to be used elsewhere. Also, in the future if you are moving, you will be able to advertise your home as being energy efficient with less out-of-pocket costs for energy consumption than your neighborhood’s homes. Lastly, you are also doing your part in the way of environmental stewardship.