The Woodka Remodel: Week Six

A month and a half since the renovation work began on the Woodka home, and the new construction continues unabated this week.

PorterSIP Installation Continues

The big construction this week continues to be the installation of the Porter Structural Insulated Panels, which are being used to create the new walls in the parts of the home that are being expanded. SIPs are a newer building product designed to drastically reduce the use of energy in the home with an all-inclusive system that creates a continuous, airtight wall. SIPs cost more upfront, but their energy-saving features and precision manufacturing off-site (reducing installation time onsite) help them recoup their costs over time.You can read more about SIPs HERE.

Last week the work began building the new SIP walls on the rear of the home; that work is ongoing and will take up most of this week as well. This newly expanded area will contain additional space for the kitchen, dining, and living areas. The only gaps created in the new SIPs walls will be the holes cut for the new windows. These new windows will also be extremely energy-efficient, ensuring that the new wall, as a whole, will be much more energy-efficient than those found in traditional homes, including the old walls in this particular structure.

In home renovations where the structure is expanded, what were once exterior load-bearing walls end up being on the inside of the structure. Making sure the new exterior walls are capable of supporting the homes' weight is critical. In the Woodka renovation, the erection of the new girder trusses and built-up beams starts this week; these new trusses and beams are going to carry the load from the second floor, and create a very safe and sturdy structure.

Getting All Our Ducts in a Row

Also beginning this week is the installation of the mechanical ductwork for the new geothermal furnace system, which will be installed at a later date. All-new ducting is necessary not only to reach the newly expanded areas of the home, but also to replace an aging ductwork system.

During the deconstruction process, the team discovered issues with the original ductwork. The ductwork was not properly sealed, which allows treated air to leak throughout the home. This means the HVAC system needs to work harder to heat and cool the home in order to make up for the loss through leakage. This increases energy usage dramatically.

Even more problematic, the old ductwork dead-ended, in several locations, against an outside wall. This sent treated air not into the living space where it's needed, but directly into the wall. These dead end locations created massive amounts of energy loss; the fact that they also contributed to large gaps in the homes' insulating envelope only exacerbated the situation. It all added up to much more energy being used to heat and cool the home than necessary, and equally as much money being spent on utility bills.

The new ductwork is being installed in such a way that it will not penetrate the homes' air envelope. It will be contained entirely within the new walls and their super-efficient insulation. All supply and return ducting is encased in metal, and is being sealed with mastic (a gooey, non-hardening material with the consistency of peanut butter) at each and every seam to seal off any gaps. All ductwork seams are also carefully taped with metallic tape (not duct tape, which ironically is not a good product for sealing ducts).

Duct sealing is an important, though often overlooked, part of a homes' overall energy-efficiency. In a typical home, roughly 20% of the air moving through the ventilation system is lost through gaps and leaks in the ducting. The result? You guessed it: higher energy bills.

The Woodka: Green Built Michigan and ETHOS Certified

Properly sealing the new ducting in the Woodka takes a bit of time, but will pay off handsomely in the long run and allow the entire HVAC perform as efficiently as possible. The sealing of the ductwork with mastic and tape is also required in order for the Michigan Green Built certification the Woodka hopes to attain once finished.

Although we've mentioned that the Woodka home is being redesigned and rebuilt to be incredibly energy-efficient, we haven't mentioned green certification programs yet.

Homeowners who are building or renovating can design as many (or as few) green attributes into their new structures as they want, or can afford. Some owners want to be as green as possible, with documentation to back up their homes' green claims. That's where a green certification program comes in.

There are many different green building certification programs out there for residential homes. They include LEED for Homes, Energy Star for Homes, and the NAHB Green Building Standard. To gain certification, a new or renovated home must undergo a thorough and stringent process by a third-party inspector to prove that it meets or exceeds a set of criteria (which varies from program to program). If certified, the homeowner can back up their claim of having a green home with concrete examples and documentation.

Here in Michigan, the Green Built Michigan certification program is the oldest green building program for homes, and is the official green certification program of the Michigan Association of Home Builders. This is the green building certification that the homeowners have chosen for their new green showcase. Read more about Green Built Michigan HERE.

Achieving a green certification is much easier with a design created by Green Home Source. Every plan we create must meet our own in-house green criteria that we call the ETHOS home: an Efficiently Thought-Out Home, Operating Sustainably. Our new Woodka renovation has been carefully designed to meet and exceed the ETHOS standards, which should help it achieve the Green Built Michigan designation.

The owners of the Woodka hope that once the renovation is complete, their 'new' home will be officially certified as Green Built Michigan, and will be able to proudly display the Green Built Michigan certificate and zinc certification plate.

Week Six Wrapup

With the installation of the SIP walls and new ducting, the Woodkas' new and improved energy-efficient framework is really starting to take shape. The home is very much more a construction site than a home at this point; things are loud, and things are dusty and dirty. But from this torn-apart shell, a new and sustainable structure is rising. Follow along to Week Seven....HERE!

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