Arlington Designer Homes is committed to green building for the health benefits, energy savings, and reduced environmental footprint it provides for our buyers and our community. With constantly changing regulations, technologies and products, buidling a new green home from the ground up isn't always easy - but it's always interesting!

Welcome to our behind-the-scenes blog about green building and remodeling, where you can watch a green home go up step-by-step and learn about using green building techniques for your own home. And visit our website at to learn even more about green building and remodeling.

January 30, 2013

Increasing Energy Efficiency with Advanced Framing Techniques

There are many things that go into building a green home. A truly efficient green home is initially designed on paper and then built on the site. There are many homes that have green features, but at Arlington Designer Homes, we believe that to realize a green home's full potential, you need to start at the beginning. Our green homes do much more that create an efficient, comfortable, and healthy home to live in. We also reduce, reuse and recycle our materials to make the whole process more efficient and sustainable.
When we clear a site, we use the trees that must be taken down on site as mulch for remaining and new trees. When we mulch these trees, it helps cover the soil to prevent contamination from entering our streams. The added mulch pad helps to protect existing trees' roots and improves the basic organic composition of the soil for years to come. All this, and we keep these trees out of the landfill. But as I said, that is just the start.

It is important to incorporate green principles from the construction of the foundation to the roof in green home design. Today I also want to talk about Advanced Framing Techniques (AFT). These techniques allow us to integrate green building into the entire home. Some of our AFT are no-brainers, and any team that is not doing them just doesn’t have basic technical knowledge. Some of these items are: insulated headers, ladder blocking and California “T” corners.
An insulated header is the area above a door or window that has added insulation. In standard construction techniques, carpenters put a ½” of plywood sandwiched in between the header material. The plywood is just a spacer, but to us, it is an opportunity. This is an opportunity to add more insulation and therefore efficiency to the house. We put in ½” rigid foam insulation (R-3). It isn’t a high R value, but it costs nothing to do and should be a standard part of an new home being constructed.

Ladder blocking is added where an interior wall meets an exterior wall. Rather than have the interior wall run into the exterior wall and end with three 2x4s in solid wood block, we create a ladder. We string 2x4s horizontally every few feet to fasten the interior wall to the exterior wall. This ladder is not directly in contact with the plywood that is the side of the house sheathing, so we can get insulation behind the ladder 2x4s and create a more efficient house. Where there used to be just wood block, we have eliminated the wood block and added more insulation.

California “T” corners are used where two exterior walls come together. Like ladder blocking, we try to eliminate a mass of 2x4s and wood block and create space where we can add insulation. We do this by doing just what the name implies, creating a T where the walls intersect. This T helps us to get insulation into the corner rather then blocking.

The three examples I gave above are things that all of us at Arlington Designer Homes consider ‘basic’ construction techniques that every house should be using. We use these AFTs, but also go above and beyond by eliminating headers where possible, and using less wood and more insulation in window and doors jacks, along with many, many other techniques that set us apart from those that ‘just build to code’. We build for what the code will be in 20 years.

January 18, 2013

Conserving Water and Preventing Run-Off

It has been a long road but we are well underway building what will surely go down as one of the most amazing and unique homes in Arlington.  We are excited to be working with many new and interesting systems. Because of the unique position this lot is in, we have worked to design the lot in such a way that there will actually be less storm water run-off post development than pre-development.

In this way we are truly ahead of our time. Arlington, Virginia, and all localities within the Chesapeake drainage basin have been working for years to reduce run-off from farming, industrialization and housing development. During our development process we had our civil engineers work to design the lot in such a way that we will be on the cutting edge of development technology in our area. The technologies we will use to prevent run-off and help do our part to preserve the Chesapeake Bay include:

1.       Rain water re-use

2.       Pervious pavers

3.       Green roof

4.       Bio-retention

5.       Swales

6.       Mitigate time for unexposed soils

7.       Shared trenches for utilities

8.       Area appropriate plantings

9.       Hydro-zoning

Not only will these technologies prevent run-off and pollution into Arlington’s storm water systems, they mean our new home will use less water. We will need less water for bio-retention, pervious pavers, and hydro-zoning, as well as the features going into the house.