Green Assessment Potential Score GAPScore for Homes

Welcome! From the Founder and CEO, Steve Pohlman

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Common Sustainable Features in Homes

The best energy usage techniques.

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 viewable amenities and non-viewable amenities.  These amenities are attributes that create a more comfortable environment which is a long standing philosophy to sell homes. 
Everyone knows that the easiest way to save energy with home design is to have LEDs and advanced lighting systems, such as a Smart Home or timed security system. That's the "low hanging fruit.  The exterior of the house and interior fixtures should have timer's on light fixtures where there's no refracted sunlight or light source. Closets, hallways and bathrooms without windows can use motion sensors combined with timers to limit energy use.

Everybody in the world knows that solar powered 
fixtures and appliances are really the simplest green way.  
When you have a solar PV system for 100% of your electrical needs, then there's no question about the type of electrical light bulb or appliances used with the exception of those with contaminants, like mercury.   The energy bill is the price of the solar panel system that you paid for out of pocket, with a loan in monthly payments, or in your mortgage with a good impact on your fixed energy costs and the environment. 100% of your electricity needs include night time needs in which this case there is a battery system to store energy.  So, as long as the sun continues to shine, your can leave all of your lights on all night long.  
But, the less energy you require will depend on the cost of the PV solar system size, so you have 9 volt wiring for LED advanced lighting and a single transformer with computer timer for management.  The selection of appliances that are EnergyStar or 3Star rated that are only electrical systems are a great advantage for emissions reductions and qualify you as net zero ready.

There's more to energy than electricity. 
The solar thermal panel system that provides hot water for drinking, showering, and main radiant heating is very effective in almost every region.  However, there should be a backup system for most solar applications and most municipalities still require conventional systems with a connection to a utility.  Passive solar gain is prevalent in every structure.  The early modern architects used this energy to improve comfort and reduce resource use during times of economic crisis.  The orientation of your house is a situation that is out of your control unless you plan to rebuild, but that's not the green way to do things unless there's no other option.  The advantages of past architectural attributes like roofs over decks and enclosed entryways to the exterior are upgrades that provide sun protection while absorbing solar gain and reduce energy use during the hot seasons and increased heat in winter months.  Any material that is direct sunlight absorbs thermal solar energy from infrared rays that can penetrate the structure through transparent material like window openings and decrease energy needs. Window placements are usually planned at the original build and usually not changed.  With very little window placements facing the sun like those in hot climates, the solar gain in direct sunlight is immense and beneficial for passive solar panel applications.  The solar panels provide shade for the building material and further decreases the solar gain temperatures in the wall.

Energy is passive and active.  
Energy is natural gas, oil, bio fuels, propane, renewables other than solar like wind, active and passive geothermal, heat pumps, hydronic radiant systems, structural thermal properties, appliance heat source, flue heat sources, fireplaces, lighting, solar, and cooking heat.  People and large pets are also heat sources.  But, if we're all about green design of a property, people and pets are a variable and lifestyle becomes a variable to measuring the true efficiency of our personal energy use. When the building uses direct sunlight as passive solar energy to heat and cool itself without any human or mechanical intervention, that's an energy efficient green design with the potential to be be efficient, if the owner has the discipline and lifestyle to maintain the property as designed.
The house in the picture is highly energy efficient, because it's able to control and contain the heat sources and cooling properties of the structure through a passive solar designed, airtight, insulated thermal envelope, and air control systems designed by architect Tom Bassett.  
The owner of the house, Peter wanted to build a home that had as little environmental impact as possible while creating a highly energy efficient model.  

There's nothing too good for the family.  
When I asked him why he had the old house removed and built an entirely new structure, Peter replied, "The original was a tear down, the builder used portions of it to build this Passive House Certified house." 
Then he smiled to say, "And, I love my family very much. I want the very best for the people who love me, too."
Before the finished landscaping this home GAPScored at 60+, definitely green and on it's way to a 70+ GAPScore dark green in 2015.  
How do I know this? Because, I GAPScore verified it myself.

For more information on home energy conservation see an energy auditor or try these links:

Conserve Energy at Home - Stop wasting money -‎

    Find the best options with our tailored guide.

Home Energy Conservation - Cases, Reports & Fact Sheets -‎

    Find recent publications on sustainable construction & energy efficiency polices

Search Results

Energy Saver Guide: Tips on Saving Money and Energy at Home ...

Homes | Department of Energy ... Our homes are a major source of energy use in the U.S. Improving the efficiency of new and ... The Energy Department supports research and development on innovative technologies that save energy and money while also ...

Energy-Efficient Home Design | Department of Energy

Energy.govEnergy .... The Score reflects the energy efficiency of a home based on the home's structure and heating, cooling, and hot water systems. ... You'll save energy and money, and your home will be more comfortable and durable.

Friday, April 6, 2018

HomeGreening101.4 How green is your house?

How green is your house? 

That's a good question because even highly knowledgeable professionals have trouble agreeing on the seemingly unquantifiable green aspects of a property.  Being green and a champion against induced climate change are synonymous, yet vary in overall functions for overall eco environmental climate stability and sustainability. 
Existing homes have evolved to be better with the choices of the green property owners. 

This short video may open your eyes to see the green in your own home.
That's why we made

Everytime you change your house, it should impact the environment in a good way.  Maybe, that should be our next video in the HomeGreening101 Series.
Stay Tuned.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The best land usage on your home’s property.

When people think of green in the home, the last thing that is paid attention to is the landscape and the benefits that come with the property.  Some say that there is no such thing as a green home because the land that it replaces is never the same as the original ecosystem that existed there before building.  However, the impact of your house is really based on the amount of original ecosystem that surrounds it on the property.  The fact that new track homes are clean with new lawns and asphalt driveways are not anything like or resembling the original ecosystem.  This is where home owners can make a quantifiable difference in the environment for the better.

The soil of the earth and it's plants are like the lungs of our planet.  It's approximated that 3% of the square footage area, not counting roads, of the United States is inhabited by residential and commercial buildings.  If you had a lung blockage of 3%, you'd be in the hospital or at least on medication.

The goals for responsible stewardship of your property is to reduce waste, retain and utilize resources, and replenish surface foliage.  Waste is anything that doesn't stay on your property or contaminates the environment.  By reducing the use of petroleum based asphalt or non porous concrete as walkways, a home owner can reduce waste from leaching and water damage.  Water management is important part of sustainability and pertains to land use as well.  The water on your property should be properly used and distributed to foliage and returned to the water tables for natural runoff.  Natural run off can turn neighborhoods into swamps as they were originally.  So home owners are encouraged to use municipal systems if there is a need in your local community and retain water for personal use in a rain water collection and irrigation system.  Water is a resource to conserve and utilize with care and your property can take advantage of that to enhance the ecosystem.

The GAPScore looks for design techniques that incorporate these goals into the property and work with the environment regardless of the lifestyle changes of the owners.  The percentage of your property that is open soil for foliage growth is an important aspect and urban dwellers are generally at a disadvantage when the amount of space available is taken in consideration.  The amount of physical surface area of the globe is expanded when you build a structure.  The area that used to be earth covered by the roof now contains walls with greater surface area.  This extra area can be covered with foliage that would increase your land use management skills and have a better impact on the environment.  Homes with green or vegetative roofs, living walls, and vines on the walls are more environmentally compatible than a building without.  So, if your lot size is environmentally challenged for living space and the ecosystem, then there are always techniques to enhance our environment.

The landscaping for green techniques are using native plantings for decoration with a dual purpose for aesthetics and the environment.  When a tree is planted in the parkway of your house, it's to beautify the neighborhood.  When you plant a tree and decorative grasses on your property, it looks great while providing resources for composting, wind breaks, air quality, natural habitat and shade for energy efficiency.
Here's some great links from Better Homes and Gardens and the Landscaping Network for your information.

Better Home & Garden green-landscaping

Landscaping landscape-design

Driveways have never been an issue until now.  The appraisers are looking for paver, crushed limestone, and porous concrete or materials for driveways because they are more expensive to install but also have a green sustainable potential benefit.  The amount of water that stays away from nonporous concrete and flows through to the earth below is better for the environment.  The less area used by a driveway is better also.  So, urban and city residents have an advantage by not having a driveway, sharing or using a public alley way as a driveway.

Land use from neighborhood development has design water management techniques that flows surface water past natural aquifers and tributaries.  Areas that may have had surface water or flooding during wet seasons are now dry areas.  This makes for a stable dry ground area on which build.  It takes a lot of water in the soil to fill aquifers and it takes a lot of time for the ground to soak up and relaese that much water.  When the water is passed through sand like ground it can move the earth and cause sink holes, sliding or sink-age in entire neighborhoods,  Storm water management tries to reduce the risk of sinkage by diverting water away from neighborhoods.  Many times this system can be efficient to the point the soil doesn't get replenishment.  Plants can only absorb so much water and the water moves too fast for the aquifers to replenish.  So through water management and land management skill, the water on your property can stay on the property longer and distributed slowly and responsibly through the newly created soil from your luxurious vegetative landscaping.  This will help provide cleaner drinking water for generations to come.  By using the ecosystem with your land, your communities can stay more sustainable.

Value of Green in a House? A Study from Evan Mills

Shows how fuzzy the appraisal process can be when green doesn't have a baseline. 
Here's a link for the download of 2015 reports.  It's really quite interesting.

That's why we made