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.

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