Green Building is not a new concept, some architects and builders have been building "green" buildings for a long time. It is just in the past few years that it has become required by building departments.
By using more efficient building methods and materials, it is also estimated that we could reduce the energy, resource consumption and/or waste production by 50-60% without decreasing value, aesthetics or function. With the understanding of the Earth's finite resources and the knowledge that manufactured products, including all building materials, have an effect on our resources, it is becoming increasingly important to make wise decisions regarding the use of these limited resources to protect our environment and our ability to sustain ourselves. The design and construction industry is in a position to effect change in building practices through the use of resource efficient construction materials and methods.
In practical terms, green building is a "whole-systems" approach to building that includes:
Designing for livable communities
Using sun and site to the building's advantage for natural heating, cooling and daylighting
Landscaping with native, drought-resistant plants and water-efficient practices
Building quality, durable structures
Reducing and recycling construction and demolition waste
Insulating well and ventilating appropriately
Incorporating durable, salvaged, recycled and sustainable harvested materials
Using healthy products and building practices
Using energy-efficient and water-saving appliances, fixtures and technologies
In California, there are two main entities that have green building guidelines and checklists to assist homeowners and builders to build green. These are Build It Green and the U.S. Green Building Council LEED program. Many cities and counties in California are using these green building guidelines to create green building programs, some mandatory some voluntary.
Green Building Responsible Value Delivered by using panelized construction
Owners and Builders can easily select Green products and components for their projects:
1. All floor systems, beams and headers will be Engineered Lumber. Through increased use of Engineered Lumber, not only can Green Builders deliver increased quality, Engineered Lumber uses smaller diameter and recycled material that in past times may have gone into a landfill. Engineered Lumber also reduces the need for large diameter trees to yield 4x or 6x headers and beams (replaced by Glulams or Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL), as well as for 2 x 12 floor joists (replaced by I joists).
2. All other framing lumber will be FSC-Certified or Engineered Lumber. Lumber can be sourced from mills that are certified by The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). At greater cost, lumber can be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Both ensure that the mill and its suppliers "integrate the perpetual growing and harvesting of trees with the protection of wildlife, plants, soil, water and air quality."
3. All exterior wall framing will be 2 x 6 construction. Exterior wall construction of 2 x 6 framing gives greater depth and insulation properties for energy savings.
4. All floor and roof sheathing will be Oriented Strand Board (OSB). Through the use of OSB in wall and roof sheathing an increase in the use of small diameter trees and recycled material is realized without a decrease in performance. PS2 rated OSB is an accepted substitute for APA rated plywood for walls and roofs and delivers the Green solution.
5. All roof sheathing will include a Radiant Barrier. Roof sheathing with Radiant Barrier results in energy savings.
6. All roof trusses will have Energy Heels where possible. At the intersection of perimeter walls and roof framing, there is often increased heat loss because conventional roof trusses (and rafter framed roofs) reduce the area available for insulation to less than 6 inches. An energy heel is a framing technique that raises the height of the truss at exterior wall top plates to accommodate the full depth of insulation at the homes perimeter.
7. All roof overhangs will be at least 24 inches. Roof overhangs increase a homes durability by protecting it from the elements and helping regulate the amount of rain striking exterior walls. Overhangs also provide shading for windows.
8. All windows will be dual glazed with vinyl frames and low e-coating. Significant Energy efficiency can be attained through the use of Low-E windows and energy efficient flashing.
Even though these options will increase the cost of your framing kit, the energy savings alone will more than repay the added cost in the years to come.