Portland, Oregon - The Earth Advantage Institute has listed affordable sustainability, passive housing, and outcome-based energy codes among its ten important building trends for environmental benefit in 2011, in an article on its website by Tom Breunig.
We feels 2011 is going to be a promising year for the green building industry, with flat market conditions for conventional homes, but market share for high-performance homes increasing from 18.5 to 23 percent in the Portland Metro area.
In affordable green building, Breunig said development of new business models, technologies, and the mainstreaming of high performance materials is bringing high-performance, healthy homes within the price reach of all homeowners. Leading the charge are affordable housing groups, including Habitat for Humanity and local land trusts, now building and selling homes certified to LEED for Homes and ENERGY STAR across the country at prices as low as $100 000.
Also, in terms of building codes, the EAI expert says, "Existing buildings are responsible for most energy use and associated carbon emissions, but the prescriptive energy codes used in commercial remodels don't encourage effective retrofitting."
With outcome-based energy codes, owners could pursue the retrofit strategy that they decide is most effective for their building and its tenants, and would have to achieve a pre-negotiated performance target through mandatory annual reporting. Breunig said Seattle and the New Building Institute have teamed up with the National Trusts' Preservation Green Lab to pioneer a framework for just such a code, for both new and existing buildings.
Advances in building science can produce homes that are so tightly sealed and insulated that furnace-less, ductless homes are now a reality, Breunig comments. The "Passive House" standard, for example, calls for such thick insulation in walls and ceiling that the house is heated only by everyday activity of the occupants, from lighting to cooking to computer use.
PIC: Passive House-certified homes such as this one built by Bilyeu Homes in Salem, Oregon, are so well insulated that no furnaces or ducts are needed: they are heated by the everyday activity of the occupants.