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Brandon Weiss Elected As HBA Liaison for USGBC IL Residential Green Building Committee

Brandon Weiss, owner of Weiss Building & Development LLC, was recently elected to serve on the USGBC Illinois Chapter’s Residential Green Building Committee.  He was voted to become the Residential Green Building Committees liaison to the various home builders associations in Illinois. Brandon Weiss has been a member of this committee, but recently wanted to increase his involvement.  This role will provide him with the opportunity to help cross promote educational opportunities for builders and the public to learn more about the science of green building.   “I am  honored to have been voted to this position within the committee by my peers, and look forward to helping the committee expand its reach and influence in the new year”, said Brandon Weiss. The Residential Green Building Committee develops educational content for programs and provides training for advocates & experts specifically for the residential building market and homeowners.* *From USGBC Illinois...

High Performance and Durability Homes At Market Prices

Weiss Building & Development LLC introduces yet another first of a kind project in Illinois by completing the first DOE (US Department of Energy) Challenge Home in the state.  Challenge Home is the DOE’s new program that certifies homes to not only a high level of energy efficiency, but also addresses comfort, health, quality construction, durability, and advanced technology.  Challenge Home also requires that homes be net zero ready on top of their stringent energy requirements. This new custom residence at 4711 Northcott in Downers Grove, also received NAHB Green Building Emerald, their highest green certification level, EPA Indoor Air Plus, and is the first third party certified green home to be built in Downers Grove.  This home offers a great case study into the fact that healthier, very efficient homes, that are sustainable and built to a high level of building science can be done at market prices.  This 3600 sq ft home was completed for less than $140 per sq ft, proving that “green homes” do not have to cost more than code built homes.  Included in this modest budget was an extensive underground storm water system, and 35’ deep caissons for a foundation due to soil conditions and lot elevations. Part of the final performance testing of this home was our third party testing.  We tested the home for duct tightness, air tightness, and indoor air quality.  Our final numbers for the blower door test on this home were 1.25 ACH@50 (60% better than Energy Star 3.0 requirements) which with our insulation values, mechanical systems, lighting, and appliances led to a HERS score of 35.  HERS ...

Chicagoland’s First Certified Passive House : Part 3 of 3

WBD’s last entry and additional Q&A surrounding Chicago’s first Passive House project: So why wouldn’t you build a passive house? I can’t tell you how many times people came through the house under construction at our various construction tours and after the tour asked, “ So why wouldn’t everyone build a Passive House? It seems like a no brainer.” Once people tour this type of home they realize the many pro’s of this type of construction: money savings on utility bills, money savings on maintenance, ultra comfort, super air quality, and overall extreme durability. There were a couple instances where the client had to make some compromises such as an induction cooktop and a condensation dryer. However, after living in the home, they have no complaints on the dryer, and the cooktop gives chefs much more control and even cooking temperatures in their pans. The benefits far outweigh the compromises. Passive houses do not have to look a certain way architecturally. A passive house could look like modern, prairie style, craftsman, Mediterranean, or any other style you may like. A passive house can look however you envision your dream home. It also can be framed using many different approaches. It could be ICF, stick built, or SIPS. There are many options for designing or building. The only limit is the knowledge of your architect and builder. The design/build team for this particular house can build a Passive House in any price range, size, or style. What are some other highlights or green features of the project? • Diverted 96% of waste from landfill • Used windows from old house...

Building Health Into Homes : Part 2 of 2

Building a home to a high level of indoor air quality starts at the very beginning with framing materials, glues, and plywood. It is not simply a wait to the finish stage and use Low VOC paints. We did a lot of legwork to find the best materials to reach our goal of maintaining excellent air quality for the Passive House project. Throughout construction, we meticulously researched how the products we used might affect air quality. We were able to use GreenGuard certified products for most of the materials used on the home. If a GreenGuard certified product was not available, we turned to other third-party certifiers of air quality. Some products we used were lab tested to ensure they would not negatively affect the air we breathe. Some materials we used not only protected air quality, but helped to actively improve it. One example is the drywall we used. CertainTeed Air Renew drywall is a GreenGuard Certified product that actively absorbs volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and aldehydes, including the well known enemy formaldehyde. It then breaks these compounds down to a nonvolatile state and stores it them in a safe way for years. This is a great example of a forward thinking product that is helping to make healthier homes a reality. Not only do the materials in the home play a role with air quality, but also the mechanical systems can make a dramatic difference. Such is the case with our state- of-the-art Zehnder ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator), which helps bring fresh air in and remove stale air from the Passive House. The Zehnder system takes air...

Chicagoland’s First Certified Passive House: Part 2

Following the last blog post on Chicago’s First Certified Passive House, built by WBD, read on to hear common Q&A surrounding this type of home (See April 2013 Archive For or scroll down forPart 1): Shouldn’t My House Breathe? Your house should definitely breathe, but that breathing should be controlled.  A code built home as well as traditional construction methods of letting a home breathe through gaps, cracks, and drafts have proven to be outdated. Since the widespread use of insulation, uncontrolled “breathing (really leaking)” is undesirable.  It is an excuse for builders to be lazy, cut costs, or build homes as fast as possible without attention to details.  Not to mention that way of thinking also leads to a lot of moisture problems in the wall cavities which can lead to mold. Do you really want to be breathing in air that contains dirt, insulation fibers, and passes over mouse droppings or do you want clean fresh filtered air? A home should have a controlled path of breathing.  In Chicagoland’s first Passive House project, we used an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) to manage controlled air exchanges.  This system exhausts air out the rooms that tend to contain moisture and smells, such as the bathrooms, laundry room, and kitchen.  That air passes through the ERV box where the incoming fresh air (lets assume winter – it will pre-cool and dehumidify in summer) is pre-heated and humidified before entering the home.  The heat recovery is rated at 85% so it recovers most of the energy from the outgoing air.  It is also filtered before it enters the ERV as well...