Green Assessment Potential Score GAPScore for Homes

Welcome! From the Founder and CEO, Steve Pohlman

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

There’s common sustainability features in all homes.

Green is a collection of the best of all the best.

At the time your house was built, the developer and builder wanted to provide a top quality product with the latest techniques possible.  Years of training and trail and error went into the design of your home.  The most important thing a builder wants to do is to sell the finished product. So, they add view-able amenities and non-view-able amenities.  The amenities are attributes that create a more comfortable environment which is a long standing philosophy to sell homes.  These common attributes are more prevalent in custom homes and became increasingly common in track built suburban homes.  You can see trends in housing mechanical technology and design from the past change as health and energy concerns the public vision.

The best air quality techniques in your home.

Open fossil fuel burning flame chimneys and hearths are still a air quality hazard throughout the world.  At one point in time, the building in this picture had a coal fired boiler and natural gas wall and ceiling lamps.  The home was originally built in 1894 and renovated in 1942, and was then renovated again in the 1990's.  
During the first renovation the gas lines were used for electrical, mica insulation poured into exterior wall cavities, and a forced air furnace replaced the coal burner.  Sheet asphalt siding was installed covering the original basement window placements on the north and south walls and provides a decent wind protection as a house wrap air and moisture barrier. Vinyl siding was later added over the asphalt sheeting to the front and rear of the house, which you'll still see today.
During the second renovation, an electric static air purifier, cloth wiring replaced, exposed foundation and framing were paint sealed in the basement, new windows, plumbing vent pipes repaired, simple spray foam air sealing techniques and bathroom exhaust fans were added.  
In the summer, the house is primarily shaded after noon. So, open windows utilizing natural ventilation for cooling is enhanced by ceiling fans on each of the upper floors.  A central air conditioning unit should be installed to get the most air quality control over allergens and city street dust. Ceiling fans also support the mechanical air filtration during enclosed winter months. Carpeting in the bedrooms may seem comfortable, but carpeted flooring wears down and releases fibers into the air while also collecting dust and allergens. Solid smooth flooring is preferable for air quality purposes. Providing a HEPA air filtration panel, sealing ventilation ducts to the forced air furnace would also enhance air quality.  
Hopefully, the individual that bought the property a year ago will renovate a little in the "right" air quality direction to continue the trend.

Find out more about air quality at:

Monday, January 23, 2017

How green is my old house?

Green design in homes is always state of the art at the time.

Design Builders have been building the best for, and with, less.
  Comfort-ability has always been an issue for builders everywhere.  Whenever there is a budget, there is a reason to want to add more than is possible to spend.  So, things get set aside for future projects. The builder may only be required to provide a dry operational structure for you to build upon.  The design aspects of being green are in the fact that every design aspect of saving material costs are designed into a "less expensive to build" home.  
  When the bath and kitchen are within 10 feet of each other or shares a wall, it takes less material to plumb.  This type of configuration has a longer life span because of the risk of material loss from environmental use. It also reduces water use when the heater is within 10 feet of the faucets.  The wait time for warm water is minimal and more efficient.
  When a roof is open to direct sunlight, it's good for the entire structure.  The suns rays dry out the roof after rain and snow. The roof get's warm and creates convection of humid or exterior air through the walls to potentially cause damage from condensation.  In desert sun belt areas, the sun is not your friend and it's very dry.  Roofing materials that are used in these types of environments may change. One material may work better for your region, but the goal is the same, keep the sun thermal radiation out, keep the rain and snow off. This philosophy is green for sustainability.  
  Add central air conditioning to your mix and it's a different approach.  The roof and walls are sealed to contain the conditioned air within the cavities of your walls.  When you insulate the walls with any material, the air inside of the wall slows down or stagnates.  The best results happen when you air seal the tops and bottoms of every exterior wall cavity allowing only small amounts of conditioned air into the walls through interior wall outlet and switch placement holes.  Air sealing your house is really practicing the "no water in, no water out" train of thought.  In this case, the water is in vapor form as air with 50% humidity.
Window placement, covered porches, flooring, and orientation are not only pleasing to the eye, but also confirmed green standard design aspects that were built into the structure long ago.  These design traits are important for our sustainable future.

So, how green is my home?  That's a good question.  I asked myself that very same question.  My home was already built and move in ready.  I didn't even have to paint.  When we looked at houses, I noticed energy efficiency design traits in every house, but chose the one I now have.  It's good with energy after I made a few air sealing, mechanical, and insulation upgrades to spots missed by the builder that renovated it in 2001.  My winter natural gas bill on a 90% energy efficiency forced air furnace is under $140.  The electricity use with central air conditioning (we only use it when it's really hot, about 8 weeks total) costs less in the summer than the rise in the winter gas bill.

Sure, there are environmental problems with my house, but my gas bill was reduced by $100 a month in the middle of winter.  The environmental problems concern the air quality, solar, land use and water management.  A non porous driveway that extends the length of the lot, leaving very little open land for foliage.  I don't have a solar panel system, but it is a south facing roof. And the designed openings with tight windows are well proportioned for green. On some days, there's little light in certain rooms and a light is always on when occupied.  There is a radon system, because of the air sealing and finished basement restricted what's called "natural ventilation".  We would score an 11 ppm radon (that's low but detectable), if the radon mitigation system didn't work.  I should have it retested soon.  
The second floor was enlarged during renovation and the bedroom floors are all engineered laminate with a life expectancy of 30 years versus the first floor flooring that has sustainable hardwood and tile with a life expectancy of more than 100 years.  The basement has carpeting and a small laundry area portion is tiled on the slab.  There's no water sense low flow certified faucets, no energy star appliances like water heater, dishwasher, clothes washer, or furnace with a/c, but all four of the toilets are low flow 1.6 gallon flush.  My house has more green potential than I can tackle right now.  I'll take care of them as the materials run out of life as normal maintenance.

When I bought the house, there wasn't a GAPScore available.  So, I originally devised it for my own use in 2007.  I found that my house GAPScored at 24.3 and wasn't that green. It wasn't even a GAPScore blue, an upper yellow showing potential, actually.  There's green in it though.  After the little work, it GAPScore's at 29 (still, it's a low blue) overall sustainability with a pretty good energy score. It could be a lot better environmentally.  In time, it'll change again for the better because I know what it needs.

How do I know this?  Because I GAPScore verified it myself by using the green assessment test as a tool from

Remember This
Green home design standards are built on the past's best results.
There’s common features are in all homes for sustainability.
Green is a collection of the best of all the best.
The best air quality techniques in your home.
The best water usage in your home.
The best land usage on your home’s property.
The best solar design aspects.
The best energy usage techniques.
The best sustainable design traits.
One house is better for all of us, the one that’s greener.