Timber Home Nation

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Building a Timber Frame Home Using Sustainable Construction Practices

Energy efficient home design is only one part of the equation in building a timber frame green home. Equally important are the methods and practices your builder uses during the overall construction process in order to minimize impact to the site environment. Two main areas that should be given attention are pollution prevention and site protection. These should be discussed during the interview process with your builder and outlined thoroughly to make sure sustainable construction practices are in place.

Environmental quality on the jobsite is an important consideration and counts toward LEED points if you are looking for LEED certification. Some of the things your contractor should be knowledgeable about are site impact, construction waste, indoor air quality, and the use of paints and adhesives.

Pollution prevention can be controlled on site by addressing soil erosion, airborne dust generation, and waterway sedimentation. The site should especially be protected by eliminating the runoff of sediment created by such practices as silt fencing, seeding and mulching and creating sediment traps and basins. Your general contractor should always keep construction equipment within minimal limits to avoid site disturbance.

Construction waste recycling is a primary concern. Builders who recycle 50% of construction materials are complying with minimum standards. Additional LEED points are given incrementally to projects with over 75% and up to 95% waste recycling. One way to reduce onsite waste is to purchase materials that are prepared for construction, such as having structural insulated panels precut at the manufacturer’s facility.

Best practices in maintaining healthy indoor air quality should be adhered to, including keeping all ductwork, carpets, and other indoor materials covered to remain dust-free. Any and all paints, stains, coatings, adhesives, and indoor sealants should be specified low-VOC in your home to prevent off-gassing. Finally, prior to taking occupancy, the contractor should change all filters and perform a two-week flush of the home with clean outdoor air.

By using sustainable construction practices when building your timber frame home, you will be protecting your health and environment simultaneously.

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Comment by Steve Reddy on May 7, 2009 at 6:32am
Jeremy's post highlights why it is important to follow the guidelines of one of the national green building standards even if you are not paying to have the home certified. He mentions LEED (for Homes), there are also the new code approved National Green Building Standards, and Environments for Living. They are in a checklist format with points awarded for different items so you can highlight what is important to you. It seems every builder is now "green" but there is a lot more to building green then thowing in some bamboo flooring and a solar panel. Building science, which should be the foundation of any well built home, becomes even more critical when building with SIPS or any tight home.

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