High-Performance Homes | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

High-Performance Homes

Connecting efficiency, comfort, health and durability

Technology is evolving at an unprecedented rate. Change is happening so rapidly that it's hard to keep up with the newest of the new. This change and evolution is widely accepted amongst the public in certain sectors, but support is still lagging in the home-building sector. Comparing the auto industry, which has continually pushed forward in research and development in creating safer, more fuel-efficient vehicles that produce less harmful emissions, it's time that the building industry strives for higher standards and makes changes to catch up with the current needs and wants of this generation.

High-Performance Homes

Even though it's not widely implemented, there have been significant breakthroughs in building practices and technology. Some builders are beginning to utilize them to produce higher quality, extremely energy-efficient homes. A prime example of this is a High-Performance Home. These homes are raising the bar and setting a new precedent by providing a superior living experience, while performing on a highly energy-efficient level.

The New Home Stakeholders Group defines a high-performance home by increased comfort, durability, better indoor air quality and lower energy use. This is achieved through a focus on a few main components, covering a broad spectrum ranging from types of insulation to alternative building methods while incorporating the most energy efficient appliances, lighting, heating and cooling systems.

These homes are built to perform highly throughout their lifespan by incorporating building science methods to reduce mold, rot and other issues, and they also have long-lasting materials which require less maintenance. When you construct a home that can stand the test of time, all the energy and materials that went into making it remain there, reducing the need to produce more replacement materials. This is a more forward-thinking approach and always takes into consideration the total cost of ownership of a home.

Properly executed air sealing and mechanical ventilation providing clean indoor air for the occupants will extend the lifespan and durability of a home. The building envelope is a continuous barrier around the perimeter of the home that is a physical separation between the conditioned and unconditioned environment and helps make the home resistant to air, water, heat, light and noise transfer. Northwest AeroBarrier, a local company, uses a process that stops air leakage from within the home by pressurizing the space and spraying a fine mist of waterborne acrylic, which collects and seals leaks and holes, creating a very tightly sealed home.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration states that 41% of all energy Americans use is consumed by residential and commercial buildings. Electricity production is the largest contributor to climate change in the U.S., creating 31% of total greenhouse gas emissions as per the Environmental Protection Agency. It really comes down to educated homebuyers demanding homes that function at high efficiency standards and contain materials that aren't harmful for the residents or surrounding landscapes. Then the builders and developers will have to listen and change will come at a faster pace.

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