Green Shoots Blog
The average Cali Bamboo customer tends to be pretty eco-aware. Of course, every now and then we come across a client who opens our eyes to an even higher standard of greenness — an environmental overachiever, if you will. Southern Exposure Homes is one such client.
The Virginia-based building company’s latest pride and joy, dubbed Arlington Passivhaus, is green to the extreme with a special focus on energy efficiency. Heating and cooling the average American home accounts for its greatest drain on energy, but a certified “passive house” uses about 90% less energy than average. (Imagine using a hair dryer to heat a two-story home in the middle of winter and you have the right idea.) This incredible conservation is due to basic smart construction — from foundation to roof — wherein the home forms an ultra-tight envelope, sealing in a year-round temperate climate. Layer after layer of thick foam insulation, triple-pane windows, and comprehensive sealant techniques keep the house about as naturally climate-controlled as you can get.
With such a highly regulated air system inside the home, keeping harmful chemicals out of circulation is crucial. By opting for Natural Fossilized® Cali Bamboo floors, the Southern Exposure team keeps energy use down while ensuring toxic emissions never pass the threshold.
“We wanted a sustainable material with no VOC and wanted something that is so durable and so strong that the homeowner will never have to refinish it or replace it. If you have to refinish a floor it creates a lot of dust, and you may have to use a VOC finish,” says developer Roger Lin. He also points out the added cost and extra materials needed for upkeep, so the lack of maintenance in itself makes the home more sustainable and energy efficient.
The air that is kept in is just as beneficial as what is kept out. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, American buildings account for 39% of total U.S. energy use and 38% of total U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In this light, passive housing could be presented as a means for both conservation and energy independence.
Months of planning, experimentation and labor have paid off. The HERS (Home Energy Rater) index score assesses how energy efficient a structure is, with net zero energy consumption being 0. Most homes have a 130 score, while new homes are around 100, but Arlington Passivhaus has received an amazingly low score of 32. The house also received a 2.5 Energy Star grade and won the gold award from the Arlington Green Home Choice Program. Thanks in part to the Cali Bamboo flooring, the team also expects an “indoor air quality plus” rating from the EPA for its ultra-low VOC levels.
With the remarkable home now on the market (Locals had the chance to visit the first open house on June 16th!) Southern Exposure Homes now faces an entirely new challenge — turning over the keys.