November 14, 2013

A Remarkable 72% Energy Savings for Los Angeles Family Home

[Taken from "Go Green Provides Remarkable 72% Energy Savings for Los Angeles Family Home", written by Go Green Construction's Fernando Feldman and Stephen Li as seen in 'Qualified Remodeler']

With its mission to “minimize the impact on the environment using energy-conscious building practices”, Go Green Construction (Go Green or GGC) has strongly committed itself to sustainability. To remain up-to-date with economic demands and current technology, owner Fernando Feldman has followed up on Go Green’s Build-it-Green certification by pursuing a Building Performance Institute (BPI) certificate. BPI sets the “standards for energy efficiency retrofit work using an open, transparent, consensus-based process built on sound building science.”

The BPI certification in hand, Fernando and his team have joined utility companies like So Cal Gas Co. and So Cal Edison in bringing sustainable homes to residents in the LA region. This program, Energy Upgrade California, has led many area homeowners to reconsider their home remodeling projects.
One GGC client’s home in particular has achieved a remarkable, even extraordinary, improvement in energy savings.

Meadowcrest is located in the hills of Sherman Oaks, shaded by several trees and well-positioned to receive natural lighting. The home was originally built in 1963, and has been subjected to several interior remodels over the years, which have resulted in instances of water damage and mold growth, as well as poor insulation and considerable air leakage. Indeed, GGC’s first task was to test the kitchen for mold as the clients had noticed a black stain growing around the kitchen cabinets. Mold from a refrigerator water leak had spread and contaminated a large portion of the drywall and cabinets. GGC removed any and all mold spores, removed the damaged cabinets, and replaced the drywall.

GGC’s contract called for remodeling a large portion of the Meadowcrest home: floors to be changed, a part of the roof repaired, walls moved, the unused fireplace removed, and the kitchen redone. GGC also suggested the client employ the Energy Upgrade California program, which enables savings of up to 40% (as advertised) on the home’s utility bills and, in addition, provides for rebates of as much as $8,000.

Initially, GGC knew it could go above and beyond the advertised energy savings, but even it was surprised its methods of sustainable building would have the dramatic result of 72% in savings.

During pre-construction, GGC performed an energy test to determine existing conditions. The tests included a blower door test for air leakage in the walls, doors, windows and ceiling as well as a duct blaster test of the efficiency of the HVAC ducts. GGC also performed a combustion safety test on all the combustion appliances, for example, the gas oven, dryer, etc. Employing a model derived from the Energy Pro program, GGC was able to compare the home’s existing conditions and a proposed condition model. The proposed energy savings came out to 45%.

During construction, Go Green used smart building techniques to maximize the home’s energy efficiency: meticulous air sealing of the building envelope; duct mastic used at all electrical boxes; fire proof caulking on all seams of recessed light housing; calculation of the specifics of the wall system to address any dew points that could cause problems with moisture in the wall; assuring the quality of the installation of ceiling and wall insulation; replacing the HVAC system using a Manual J,D, & S, which guarantees its proper fit and function; adding insulation in the HVAC ducts to prevent leakage and temperature change, and promoting efficient air flow to the rooms.

Test-out procedures repeated the initial tests. Go Green was able to compare the real post-construction results to the proposed results. Because of Go Green’s excellent job the home achieved 72% energy savings. Factors contributing to this number included the outstanding job Go Green did with air sealing the ceiling and walls, and its replacing the original 10 SEER 5 ton HVAC unit with a 1.5 ton 13 SEER unit. Adding R-38 insulation to the ceiling and R30 insulation to the walls created a comfortable and balanced air temperature from room to room.
In a nutshell: Go Green’s long experience in sustainable construction, its application of the latest technical advances in rational construction and its dedicated and well-conceived craftsmanship while employing only standard construction materials have enabled Meadowcrest’s current HVAC system to consume less energy than a typical hair dryer.

November 5, 2013

Through the Eyes of an Intern - Go Green's Office Space

On my first day at Go Green Construction, I had no idea that the office was sustainable. It was typical of other offices I’ve seen – with working desks, computers, a well-lit environment, a conference room, and a clean bathroom. I did notice however, it was unusually cool in temperature.
As I worked longer here, I began to notice the perks of working in a “green office”. Our lighting sources include not just florescent lights, but natural sunlight to a major degree. Our large windows and our large-windowed doors not only admit light, but also deflect excessive outdoor heat.
Our bathroom is also green. Its dual flush toilet consumes less water than the typical standard toilet. In addition, our sink is controlled by a simple water accelerator, which controls water output.
What surprised me the most about this office is its phenomenal temperature balance. The temperature in the office is always cool during a hot summer day, and it stays warm during the winter. I thought that someone must always be blasting the A/C or the heating unit, but I noticed that there is no air conditioning or heating system to be found.  It turns out that the office maintains its temperature due to a special foam (a 2-lb closed cell roofing foam with an elastomeric coating) our company installs. This foam performs as a superior insulation.
My overall impression of the green design of this office has been positive and inspiring.  It is great to know it consumes a minimal amount of energy while retaining maximal functionality. I am proud I work in a green, eco-friendly office.

October 28, 2013

Energy Efficiency and Comfort Levels

Several factors can affect the comfort level and energy efficiency of a home. In reality all existing homes have a significant opportunity for improvement, especially those that were built 20 years ago when no or minimal research was being conducted on energy efficiency of buildings. Today energy conservation is an important issue due to rising energy prices and the possible effects it may have on our environment. In today’s world, home builders have a better understanding of what affects the energy efficiency and comfort of your home. We at Go Green California are making an effort to keep up with the latest technologies, construction methods, and scientific findings that can potentially have negative effects on energy consumption. Our goal is to understand our customer’s goals and concerns, educate them on how we can help them achieve a more energy efficient and comfortable home, and work together to find solutions .Not only does improvement increase comfort but it can also increase the resale value of your home.
            Good recommendations cannot be given without a proper inspection of the property. Inspection should start before visiting the property and identifying the climate zone in which it is located, important if it’s your first time visiting the area. The person who is conducting the inspection should also familiarize himself with local markets such as energy prices, construction methods, wages, etc. He should also attempt to get in touch with the local building department to see if he may acquire information regarding the drainage, age, additions, and type of construction of the property.  Inspections in home should be carried on by a well trained individual who has knowledge of construction practices and who understand what can affect the energy efficiency and comfort of a home.

Impacts on energy efficiency, health, safety, durability and comfort may result from duct leakages, air infiltration, insulation, moisture management, and building envelope air tightness. A building envelope is the insulation and building materials that surround the conditioned areas of a building and which help maintain the temperature of the conditioned area. An important action when trying to create an air tight building envelope is to identify potential sources of air leakage and take the appropriate means to seal them. Air ducts and pipes are sources where air leakage may occur and depending on what they carry they could have negative effects on comfort and health. Several homes suffer from seasonal issues such flooding, mold, and odor which could result from improper pipe drainage and duct leakage. Proper ventilation is also required in order to maintain good air quality. A tight building envelope helps keep the proper temperature inside a home but it does not help maintain proper air quality, in fact it may create problems such as high CO levels, moisture, and particulate dust. Therefore it is important to provide good ventilation where the amount of air entering and exiting a house is controlled, derived from clean, dry sources, and which helps maintain good air quality and healthy living.

January 22, 2013

Tired of Conventional Roofing? Try Green Roofs for a Change!

Roof gardens are more popular in urban environments especially in the last ten years. They are frequently used as, social, symbolic, and contemporary space. Roof planting provides food, temperature control, hydrological benefits, architectural enhancement, a habitat for wildlife, and recreational opportunities. 

Studies have shown in the past that plants have the ability to reduce the overall heat absorption of the building which then reduces energy consumption. Another great benefit is to reduce the overall heat buildup in cities like Los Angeles, the absorption of solar radiation by roads and by buildings. Plants however do not raise more than 5 F degrees above the ambient and are sometimes cooler. This in fact cools the environment up to 20 F degrees less. Roof garden cooling abilities become more necessary in warmer areas. 

Other benefits are reduction of carbon dioxide impact, reduction summer air conditioning cost, and reduction winter heat demand lengthen, and remove nitrogen pollution in rain fall naturalizing acid rain and finally provides songbird habitat. This is according to the study in the University of Cardiff. 

May 1, 2012

We will be at AltBuild Santa Monica again this year, come see us and other great companies that support sustainable building and healthy living!