Green Building Tips
By Steve Theis
MCGP Master Green Professional
GMB Graduate Master Builder
Those who have been in the CGP or building science classes have studied the five D's of building Science: Deflect – Drain – Dry – Durability and Do-ability.
I would like to focus on Durability and Doability; two of the greenest things we can do as Building Professionals. These are the fourth and fifth lines of defense in moisture management of the building envelope.
Durable means "enduring, lasting, able to resist wear or decay". The way we construct a home can increase its durability; making it last longer and perform better for its' owners. Do not confuse durability with sustainability which is generally defined by the Green community as "the use of materials or practices which do not negatively impact future generations".
We are taught to use the whole-house approach in our building science classes. I would like to take it to the whole building site approach and make our new mantra "Plan to the land". Consider the whole building site as part of the greater building envelope. For a home to be durable it must use the home site to its advantage. Forcing the land to meet a particular requirement, for example forcing daylight or a walkout on topography that does not support it or placing a home so it does not take advantage of the proper solar orientation will result in a home that does not perform to its potential. A proper home orientation will also allow us to manage the drainage plane from the lot line.
Regarding do-ability, the whole home site approach will use strategies which will select materials that are long lasting, robust and resistant to moisture while employing practical and simple design. As building sciences evolve many new products and strategies become available to the home builder. We must evaluate each product and strategy with our climate zone and labor force and its building practices in mind. Most of the new theories and products are based on different climate zones and soil conditions other than we have in the Midwest. Our climate will be semi-tropical in August and arctic-like in February. We must have all the skill sets of a builder in Orlando, Florida and Barrow, Alaska; consequently, a well-informed, educated and experienced builder will earn their keep by understanding best practices.