Green houses don’t just happen—they’re planned and built purposefully. This is wise advice from our friends at the Green Building Advisor. They back this up with an amazing collection of one thousand construction details, complete with field notes and best practices. So I’m back to my perpetual question - if this info is out there, why doesn’t every trade seek out this information and build to this level of detail?
A freezer building in the south (remember, hot & humid). Walls are ICF with 10 concrete core and an extra 4” of foam on the inside. So far, so good. The roof? Basic steel trusses, no raised heel and blown in batt insulation. The problem? When the moisture laden air in the attic met up with the cold from the refrigeration – it condensed. Yup – there was flooding in the attic.
Case two. ICF house with mold problems in the basement. Clues were - basement slab, which had been poured up against the ICF (a good thing), had a large chunk in one corner which had cracked off and dropped down several inches. Further questioning revealed that the house was in a flood zone, but – oops – the builder didn’t think he needed to put in drainage. The result - a “bonus” swimming pool under the house – all you had to do was remove the basement slab. In the meantime, it wicked up water and then evaporated it throughout the house.
Amory Lovins called it natural capitalism: shifting from producing goods to providing services. For example, by defining one’s work as providing “cooling services” instead of selling air conditioners, a company is responsible for keeping the client comfortable, and is more likely to produce innovative and responsible solutions. They will keep an eye out for their own details, to make sure it doesn’t compromise their level of service provided.
Contractors could be charged with the purpose of providing a service, such as durability, or comfort through no air infiltration, or water at the right place, time, and quantity. The roofer in our refrigeration scenario would be provide the service of keeping the heat out and the cold in. The ICF contractor in our basement swimming pool would be responsible for a durable and dry structure. Purposefullness brings about thinking, and thinking leads us to details.