Thanks to all who came out to the Zero-Energy Home tours!
And a BIG thank you to Sustainable Connections for co-hosting! We had a great turn out both nights educating the community about what a Zero-Energy home is all about, and how it differentiates from conventional home building.
Learn more about the embodied carbon and the utilities (calculated by Talia & Nicole) saved by this Zero-Energy House in this case study!
Water is often thought of as an infinite resource because of the vastness of the oceans, lakes and rivers and the great quantities of rainfall across the land.
In actuality, of all the water on this planet, less than 0.3% of it is accessible for human consumption.2 Of that 0.3% of accessible water, many regions are battling pollution in their local tap water, as well as water shortages.
In fact, in a 2014 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, “40 of 50 state water managers expected shortages in some portion of their states under average conditions in the next 10 years”1.
This is a reality that we are seeing ring true 8 years later.
Groundwater in the USA is the main source of drinking water for almost 50% of the total population and “provides over 50 billion gallons per day for agricultural needs.”4 However, as shown in Figure 1 and described by USGS in “Groundwater Decline and Depletion,” many of the USA’s largest aquifers are depleting due to the outweighed removal of water from natural replenishing4.
1 “Map of the United States (excluding Alaska) showing cumulative groundwater depletion, 1900 through 2008, in 40 assessed aquifer systems or subareas….Colors are hatched in the Dakota aquifer (area 39) where the aquifer overlaps with other aquifers having different values of depletion.”4
Although, this is not just an issue with large aquifers and the ramifications on one side of the country will inevitably affect the country as a whole, as we share resources throughout from bottled water to crops and livestock watered with local aquifers. Not to mention, as we deplete our own resources, we are simultaneously depleting the resources for our surrounding ecosystems, which require clean water just as we do.
As with all environmental issues, there is a trickle-down effect that must be taken into consideration.
But as a society or individual, what can we do to help?
Firstly, if your local tap water is safe to drink, then choose that option before purchasing bottled water and taking away the local tap water from others. You can also install a whole-house water filter if worried about certain pollutants in the local tap water.
Secondly, opt to use a dishwasher and heated dry option instead of handwashing your dishes where applicable.3 Unless you are correctly hand washing dishes in a two-basin setup as described in Porras, Gabriela Y, et al article, it is more efficient in both greenhouse gas emissions and water usage, to use a dishwasher (with the only pre-treatment being scraping off food particles).3
Thirdly, when purchasing appliances and plumbing fixtures, only purchase those that are WaterSense® labelled. This ensures they are water efficient. Also opt for dual flush toilets if composting toilets are not an option.
Fourth, do not plant grass for landscaping and instead plant native flora that doesn’t require extra watering. If some form of grass is desired, try planting an alternative like wildflowers, clover, moss or sedum. These can give a similar visual and functional effect as grass but promote a more biodiverse ecosystem while also requiring little to no manual watering.
Lastly, if you do choose a landscape that requires manual watering, install a rain catchment system to supply the water instead of using potable water out of the hose bib. There is no reason to use clean drinking water on plants and lawns, when they will fair just fine with rainwater.
There are many other ways to increase water efficiency and reduce water consumption, however these listed are some of the easiest and best ways that you can make a difference just in your home.
At TC Legend Homes we understand the importance of water conservation through efficiency, which is why we have made it our standard to require WaterSense® labelled fixtures. We also encourage clients to landscape with only native flora and add rain catchment systems to their yard.
In actively reducing our water consumption and using water efficient solutions, we can help reduce the rate at which we are depleting the world’s accessible water, leaving more time to find a solution to the water crisis and help reverse the impact we’ve already had.
This in turn, will also reduce the impact that our water depletion is having on the ecosystems around us, as well as help reduce the inequity that comes with competition for draining resources.
“Freshwater: Supply Concerns Continue, and Uncertainties Complicate Planning.” GAO, U.S. Government Accountability Office, https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-14-430. 2/21/22.
3Porras, Gabriela Y, et al. “A Guide to Household Manual and Machine Dishwashing through a Life Cycle Perspective.” Environmental Research Communications, vol. 2, no. 2, 12 Feb. 2020.
4Water Science School. “Groundwater Decline and Depletion.” USGS, United States Geologic Survey, https://www.usgs.gov/special-topics/water-science-school/science/groundwater-decline-and-depletion. 2/21/22.
For TC Legend Home’s 9th time, we are thrilled to announce another Department of Energy Housing Innovation Award (HIA) winning home!
House-in-a-Hollow has won the grand prize for the ‘Custom for Buyer less than 2500 Square Feet’ category. We could not have achieved this award without the amazing homeowners who helped us push the envelope and our extremely skilled field crew who nailed the execution (pun-intended). 🙂
Each year the HIA updates their application pushing companies to innovate more and change with the times, and this year was no exception.
Along with the house performance, design and materials/sustainability information required, the award also requires the builder to submit information on their business metrics and how they create quality construction.
This year, they added the “Advances Home Concepts” section which consists of written portions on the company’s advanced building practices, smart building techniques and environmental impact.
Much like the Seattle based Built Green program, they have also added a portion to evaluate the company’s sustainable business practices which includes their diversity, equity and inclusion practices, and workforce training.
These latter additions are very valuable as the industry recognizes the interconnection between sustainable housing and equitable housing. Sustainable housing should not just be for the wealthy and, in fact, those of lower incomes are far more likely to live in homes or areas that negatively impact their health.
This is due to the homes being less desirable to the wealthy and therefore cheaper, creating a market where the only homes that are financially available to folks with lower income, are the ones that are unhealthy. It should go without saying that this is unfair and unjust. Making it that much more important the sustainable housing be available for everyone.
Award Winning Features of House-in-a-Hollow
Size: 1935 sf
Lot Size: 9.88 acres
Garage: separated and unconditioned
HERS Index (With PV): -23
Annual Utility Costs: -$278.00
Energy Savings: 20,354 kWh
Aging-in-Place Design: Yes
Clerestory Design: Yes
Zero Energy Ready Home
EPA Indoor airPLUS
Built Green 5 Star
Walls: 6.5 inch Neopor SIP panel (R-29) with Hardie plank lap siding
Roof: 10.25” and 12.25” Neopor SIP panel (R-49 and R-59), IKO Armourshake asphalt roofing, foam splines in place of wood splines
Air Sealing: Aerobarrier sealed to 0.54 air changes per hour (ACH)
Foundation: Slab on grade with R-20 underslab insulation and insulated concrete form (ICF) stemwalls
Windows: Vinyl, Triple-pane, Low-e3 coating, Argon-filled, Fixed U-value of 0.15, Casement U-value of 0.18
Additional: Extended roofs/eaves and clerestory windows for summer shading and passive winter gain
Ventilation: Zehnder Comfoair 550 whole-house HRV, Fantech HEPA filter, whole house CO2 & humidity sensors
Heating/Cooling: Chilltrix CX-34 air-to-water heatpump with Comfopost, radiant in-floor heating on first floor, and fan coil unit heating on second floor
Hot Water: Domestic hot water is heated by the Chilltrix heatpump
Photovoltaics: 10.56kW rooftop array with microinverters on each panel
Electric Vehicle Charging Station: Yes
Additional: Awair Indoor Air Monitor that tracks the internal humidity, temperature, chemical pollution (VOCs), PM2.5, and CO2
Additional: 100% LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, WaterSense and low-flow plumbing fixtures, low-emission finishes
Undisturbed Land: 98%
Tree Retainage: 74%
Wetland Buffer Mitigation: Installation of 630 native trees & shrubs
Landscaping: Installation of only native plants that require no potable irrigation
Additional: Large rocks placed along perimeter to deter human impact on wetlands, a few trees removed on the immediate South side of house for passive solar gain & PV array, trees to East & West retained to shade house
Learn more about other innovative builders and award winners here: