By Katie Scarvey
“The houses in our future will always be laboratories.”
That’s what Pete Bogle told his wife, Katie, before they were married.
Fortunately for Katie, though, he wasn’t talking Bunsen burners and beakers. An architect with Ramsay Burgin Smith Architects, Bogle likes to experiment with homes, especially when it comes to environmentally conscious features.
In May 2007, after years of planning, the Bogles began construction of their new home ó a truly grand experiment for Pete. Dubbed PKB house (for Pete and Katie Bogle), it’s designed to be eco-friendly and energy efficient ó a “green” house.
The Bogles, including daughters Abby, 4, and Hannah, 1, hope to move from their current home in Salisbury’s historic district to their new home in May.
Pete wants others to know that “sustainable is attainable” ó that building green does not have to be any more expensive than utilizing traditional construction methods.
One misconception people have, Pete believes, is that a green home is expensive, complicated and must depend on alternative power systems. PKB home, with its holistic common sense approach, proves otherwise.
Many choices that are fairly simple to put into practice ó like deciding which direction most windows should be facing ó can yield long-term benefits in energy savings, Pete says.
In deciding which products and features they would select, the Bogles considered life cycle costs. If a green product or feature cost more than its traditional alternative, the Bogles felt justified in choosing it if the extra expense was made up for in energy savings within five years. For example, they rejected a highly efficient geo-thermal heat pump system because it would have taken 10 years to recover the initial cost.
The Bogles’ home will be an Energy Star rated home. Energy Star is a rating system requiring third party verification to establish that the house uses significantly less energy than what is allowable by current building codes.
Before coming up with a design, instead of making the standard list of rooms, Pete and Katie made lists of their family’s activities to determine how the spaces of the house could promote their family values. Function, rather than style, was the couple’s priority. They also wanted to have a “healthy house” that used materials that don’t off-gas, or release potentially toxic chemicals.
Neither Pete nor Katie wanted a McMansion, one of those extravagantly sized homes that today’s home buyers often desire. The Bogles’ home has 2,200 square feet, plus another thousand or so in the basement. They’ve meticulously planned where possessions and furnishings will go.
“There’s only so much we need to keep, and only so much stuff we need to store,” Katie says.
Pete came up with six or seven different designs and says he almost didn’t even print out the first one because he didn’t think that Katie would like it.
It was her favorite.
“It looks like an architect’s house,” she told Pete, something he’s heard many times since.
After the Bogles move in, they’d like to add additional features to make their home even more energy efficient. For example, they plan to install passive solar water heating panels and are running the necessary piping within the walls in preparation for the system.
To read about some of the specific features of PKB house, see page 4E.
Contact Katie Scarvey at 704-797-4270 or email@example.com. Here are some of the sustainable features of PKB house.
Suitability to the site
“You have to pay attention to what the site is telling you,” Pete says. It’s important, for example, to harness the power of the sun. To do that, it’s best to have a Southern exposure ó so that’s how PKB home is sited.
“You need to design the structure to admit the heat from the sun during cold times of the year and shade the heat from the sun during hot months,” Pete says.
(See feature about W.A. Brown Siptex panels on 1D.) Structural insulated panels are one of the home’s important energy-saving features.
The Bogles chose Siptex panels from a local company, W.A. Brown & Son., which is best known for manufacturing walk-in coolers.
Replacing traditional wooden wall systems, the 4.5-inch thick insulated panels, with a polyurethane foam core, give the home an impressive R-30 insulation value. Normal fiberglass insulation ó even at twice the thickness ó typically has an R-value rating of less than half that.
An additional benefit is that the panels take less time to install and are much stronger than regular wood walls. Because they’re made to fit, the panels also dramatically reduce construction waste.
“In typical wood stud construction, approximately 10 to 15 percent of the wood studs bought for a job end up in the Dumpster,” Pete says.
Pete hasn’t needed to bring in a trash bin for refuse from his home site. “I’m actually collecting my trash just to see the difference. So far, I have one small pile and have only taken away six garbage bags’ worth of non-recyclables.”
The Bogles chose to wrap the panels with Tyvek building wrap, which effectively blocks all air infiltration, lets water vapor molecules out but doesn’t allow water in. Building wrap has become increasingly popular, but choosing a good brand and installing it properly is important, Pete says.
The Bogles built their basement with a local product: pre-insulated precast concrete walls from Superior Walls. The walls’ continuous insulation makes them an energy-conscious choice, as does their ease of installation. For PKB house, they were less expensive than concrete block walls.
A white roof
In a climate where homeowners spend more to cool a structure than heat it, choosing a roof that reflects heat is important. Pete selected a white PVC roof instead of the standard black asphalt shingle style roof.
The white roof dramatically increases the roof’s ability to reject heat, Pete says.
Constructed, like the walls, with structural insulated panels, the roof is also well insulated. Pete added an extra inch and a half of rigid insulation, giving the roof an impressive R-40 insulation value.
Most of the main floor of the house will feature bamboo flooring. Bamboo is highly renewable; the kind the Bogles chose takes only seven years to mature, and since bamboo is actually a grass, not a tree, it is harvested and does not have to be replanted.
The downside ó and there are often such trade-offs when making green choices ó is that the bamboo used in construction typically grows on the other side of the world, which means a lot of fossil fuel is required to get it here.
For the bathrooms, the Bogles have chosen to use rubber tile flooring. Rubber is also a renewable resource and works well in bathrooms because it’s not cold to the feet. It also does not off-gas or shrink over time as vinyl floors do.
High, operable windows can be used to create a natural stack effect to vent heated air ó which rises ó from the house.
Windows are double-paned, for better insulation, and utilize a Low-E coating to block infrared radiation.
Awning windows, located low to the floor, will let cool air in and can be left open even when it’s raining.
Pete chose two-speed high efficiency heat pump units. Pete says the right size is important since an oversized unit can cool too rapidly, leading to interior moisture problems. Since the house will be so airtight, Pete has also added an Energy Recovery Ventilator, which controls how much air to introduce to the space and pre-treats it (to heat, cool or dehumidify) before it enters the space.
The Bogles have chosen to use fluorescent lighting fixtures. Pete emphasizes that it’s a misconception that fluorescent lights ó which consume only a quarter of the energy of regular incandescent bulbs ó hum and make everything look blue and cold. With high-quality bulbs, this is not the case.
For details about the Bogles’ house, go on the Web to pkbogle.spaces.live.com.
Contact Katie Scarvey at 704-797-4270 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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