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June 10, 2011


Matt Drew

So ... the city is going to waive their stormwater fees, right? :)

Todd Patton

This is a smart way to build and will save the future homeowner a lot in utility bills. It is far easier and cheaper to build this way to begin with than to go back and renovate an existing home.

It would be great to see these same concepts applied to new homes in the $100-150,000 range. The initial extra costs will be offset by lower utility costs in just a few years.


I would like to hear the experts thoughts on the air circulation within the house. I've always heard conflicting information regarding insulation and sealing of houses.

Some people prefer the house to breathe (specifically mold specialists)...while others prefer air tight.

Durham resident

I hope in Part 2 you'll also talk about how restoration of old homes in Durham is probably the very best "green" building that we can do for our community!


Sun River Builders built us a very reasonable energy-efficient 1400sqft cottage in 2009. It wasn't built to LEED standards, but we ended up with a HERS score in the 70s and we definitely save a ton on utilities.

Glad to see more of this type of construction being done, and not just in the buzzword sense.

Lee L

Regarding air circulation, what most of the more energy efficient homes have been doing the past few years and most likely this one too, is make the house as tight as possible and use an Energy Recovery Ventilator, which pulls in fresh outside air and uses an air to air heat exchanger to transfer as much energy as possible from the conditioned air to the outside air.

They can be seperate units that can even be retrofitted to an existing home or built into the HVAC system.

Old houses rarely had mold problems due to the amount of fresh air naturally coming in, but of course that is all oncontrolled and unconditioned air which makes for drafts and the HVAC to work harder. Doing it with an ERV allows you to know how much air is coming in and control its distribution in the home.


Thanks Lee! That makes a lot sense.

Alicia A

Why are all these builders using wood sticks? Where does the wood come from? Is cutting trees renewable? Have American builders forgotten brick and stone?

Frank Hyman

@ "Why are all these builders using wood sticks? Where does the wood come from? Is cutting trees renewable? Have American builders forgotten brick and stone?"

Generally when you see a brick or stone house these days, you are seeing brick or stone used as an exterior veneer (is that redundant?).

So under the veneer is the same "skeleton' of wooden 2x4's or 2x6's. A brick or stone veneer is mostly maintenance-free, but much more expensive than wood siding. Concrete products like Hardiplank are a good in between option.


So they finally caught up with building techniques that are about 8-10 years old?

Yeah, you'll have to dig around to find the information but these "standards" have been around for a while now. Tons of PDFs that can answer your questions,especially around ventilation and "moisture control".

TLDR edition for our area here:

Oh and call me when they aren't building $325K houses.

The Hammer

What about passive solar design?


@ alicia A,
cutting trees is renewable, if it's the right kind of fast-growth high-strength tree that can be harvested and replanted. and of course, bricks and stone are renewable as well, but it's a multi million year process.

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