In our last blog about indoor air quality (IAQ), we discussed what influences IAQ, what effects it has on humans and nature, and how to create healthier IAQ in your home.
As a recap, IAQ is measured by the quantity and type of pollutants in the air within a building. The pollutants that decrease the IAQ (make the quality worse) can be anything from biological pollutants such as mold and mildew, bacteria, dust or pollen, to carbon monoxide or volatile organic compounds (VOC’s)4. These pollutants can cause a wide variety of health problems for humans and animals, from mild skin irritations all the way to damaging internal organs and causing cancer.2,5
While ventilation is just one of the many factors that affect IAQ mentioned in our previous blog, it is a multifaceted topic and requires a deeper dive than we were able to give.
We’ve already established that healthy IAQ is important, but how does ventilation impact it and what are the current shortcomings of code-standard ventilation systems?
Firstly, IAQ can be 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air quality6; therefore, it is vital to expel a greater quantity of indoor air and intake more outdoor air to increase a building’s overall IAQ.
However, not all ventilation systems are made equally. Often, with forced air-heating and traditional air-conditioning systems, the main method of ventilation is infiltration or purely natural ventilation (opening windows)3.
This is problematic, because there will not be a great enough flow of air to expel the polluted indoor air and the outdoor air comes into the building’s envelope untreated. While outdoor air is generally less polluted than indoor air, it would be counterproductive to bring in smoky, smoggy or pollen filled air, for example, and should still be filtered before entering the building.
When mechanical ventilation is installed in a simply code-standard building, the typical system must be manually turned on and off and doesn’t have the capacity for higher airflows or continual airflows. For this reason, conscious builders like TC Legend Homes go above and beyond the less-than-optimal code-standard systems and always uses a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV).
HRV units allow for continual filtered airflow. They are also capable of utilizing smart technology with sensors to detect CO2 and humidity within the house, allowing the system to automatically adjust air flow.
The humidity tracking and management is a huge advantage because it creates a more comfortable environment to people, pets and indoor plants alike and helps keep mold and mildew growth in check. On top of increasing airflow and managing humidity, the HRV also contains HEPA air filters to ensure the incoming air is stripped of as many pollutants as possible.
Of course, the extra benefit to these systems beyond increased IAQ is that they “recover up to 90% of the heat and contribute to an energy savings of up to 50%.”1
This means HRV systems save money by lowering the overall energy bill, as well as decrease the building’s carbon footprint by using energy more consciously resulting in less consumption of energy, fossil fuels and other precious materials.
In all, choosing the best ventilation system can mean creating a healthier home, as well as reducing your wasted energy consumption and having a lesser impact on the environment.
2“Biological Pollutants’ Impact on Indoor Air Quality.” United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), EPA.gov, https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/biological-pollutants-impact-indoor-air-quality. 2/10/2022.
5“Volatile Organic Compounds’ Impact on Indoor Air Quality.” United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), EPA.gov, https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/volatile-organic-compounds-impact-indoor-air-quality. 2/10/2022.
The TC Legend Family is growing! We have hired two new Carpenters and two new Draftsman trainees! Big welcome to Miles, Lee, Talia & Amber! Check out ‘Our Team’ to learn more about them.
We are always excited to grow our team and hire on other passionate individuals who aim to create a carbon neutral future and affordable housing!
The Bellingham Barn House is coming to an exciting end, and it was a great opportunity to get Senna and Talia out of the office and on-site! (And finally get some headshots of our new crew!)
Talia, our first TC Draftsman Intern, got to get her hands on the house plans and review her first TC Legend Home in action.
Here’s what Talia learned and noticed about this exquisite home:
“Visiting the Bellingham Barn House site was a great way to see the paper plans come to life in a real home. It was fascinating to see HVAC and water heating setup in person as well as all the design details that the on site crew carefully constructed.
I was particularly excited to see the positioning of the stairs in the middle of the house, serving as a visual and physical separation of the upstairs while keeping a cohesive design and smooth flow of traffic throughout the house.
It was also great to meet the crew and chat about the solar system with Jeff. I walked away having learned and seen a number of new things and I am really excited to be a member of this team!”
Talia has always been interested in building design, architecture, the environment, and renewable energy. When she had the opportunity to combine those interests in the form of an undergraduate course called Energy Efficient and Carbon Neutral Design, she jumped at the chance. After that course, she caught the net zero building bug.
Talia will be graduating in June, 2021 from Western Washington University. One of the incredible things that she did in her undergraduate studies that impressed the TC owners was her participation in an extracurricular competition, the DOE Solar Decathlon, where she designed a functional Net Zero Home for the Tri-cities.
“I’m excited to be making an impact on people’s lives and our environment through designing comfortable, affordable, and efficient homes as a member of the TC Legend Homes team!”
Here at TC Legend Homes, we are excited to ring in the New Year! We kept busy in 2018, but we were not as active as we would have liked in keeping our “fans” updated on our recent projects. So, while we’re committing ourselves to doing better in the future, this post is an attempt at bringing everyone up to speed on some of the happenings of 2018 in a (relatively) short summary:
One home completion (started in 2017) in Seattle.
Four complete home builds; two in Bellingham, one in Redmond, and one in North Bend.
Construction initiation on two ADUs; one in Sumas, and one in Bellingham.
All projects were Built Green 5-Star Certified, EPA Indoor airPLUS certified, and met DOE standards as Zero-Energy Ready Homes.
Ted presented at the Built Green Conference 2018 in Seattle. He shared the podium with homeowners Andri Kofmehl and Veena Prasad. Their topic, Bridging Innovation and Affordability: How to Build the Greenest House Possible Without Compromising on Aesthetics or Breaking the Bank, featured our 2017 Emerald Star home. More details on this can be found at this link to our portfolio.
Craig and Thad did a little San Diego couch surfing to attend a Builder’s Round Table, composed entirely of 2018 Department of Energy Housing Innovation Award Winners, where we learned a little about the future of high-performance building.
We participated in the Whatcom County Showcase of Homes, featuring the second home shown above – a great example of an affordable net-positive home in Bellingham. You can also read more about it in our portfolio.
Ted and Thad spoke at the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild’s annual Green Building Slam about how building net-positive can actually make it easier to afford more home while preserving quality of life.
We “expanded” our business operations into a SIPs Tiny Office (above).
Ted wrapped up his speaking engagements in December, at the Sustainable Connections Green Building Slam, with a talk about why we need to embrace sustainable building – because Our Kids are Going to Need a Place to Live.