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.