Eco-responsible homebuilders work to minimize waste, use local materials and local contractors, and efficient products, according to Segal & Morel’s Adam Segal. His firm is building energy-efficient housing in Forks Township, N.J. The homes are airtight and insulated, with heat recovery ventilators to bring in fresh air, notes Segal & Morel’s Christopher Anderson. Green builders buy local, stimulating the local businesses and using locally sourced materials. In building well-insulated homes, windows are key, says studio26’s Brian Baker. He notes most windows have an “R” value of 3 or 4, but newer, energy-efficient windows are triple-paned and carry “R” ratings of 10 to 12. High-tech window treatments also can help control sun exposure, according to Ruhmel Contracting’s Robin Ruhmel. Meanwhile, Baker says light-emitting diode lighting contains no mercury or toxins and has an average lifespan of 50,000 to 100,000 hours compared to the 3,000-hour lifespan of incandescent bulbs. Water conservation is achieved through low-flow fixtures, and 55-gallon rain barrels with long soaker hoses attached help manage storm water runoff, while watering gardens with recycled water, Anderson says. Ruhmel notes outdoor decks can be built with Thermory, northern American wood cured with steam and heat turning it into a substance such as petrified wood. Troba is a drainage system installed under decks allowing builders to tile decks and use the space under the deck for extra living and storage space. Meanwhile, insulating concrete forms and structural insulated panels marry polystyrene foam with concrete to make soundproof, well-insulated homes, Baker says. Ruhmel says tankless water heaters save energy over constantly heated water held in tanks. | Read More