A DEMONSTRATION HOME IN Paterson, N.J., by the chemical company BASF recently became the first house on the Eastern seaboard to receive an LEED-Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED designation means the house is 80 percent more energy efficient than the average home.
“We built this house to show builders that you can do a [near] zero-energy house for the same [money] as a typical home or for just a little more,” Jack Armstrong, manager of BASF's construction industry sector, said at the company's booth in February at the International Builders' Show.
Built largely with products featuring BASF ingredients, the house is not technically a true zero-energy house—meaning it does not produce as much energy as it uses—but it is 80 percent of the way there. And Armstrong says that's okay. “You don't have to get all the way to zero,” he explains. “Trying to get as close as you can is okay too.” Still, a tight shell and solar energy mean that the 2,500-square-foot house only costs $300 to cool and $600 to heat per year.
That's mainly due to the tightness of the home's shell. Its basement wall and first level are constructed of insulated concrete forms; the second level and roof are made from structural insulated panels; highly reflective metal tops the roof; and the exterior wall features a ½-inch of color-integrated cement coating. Building with these technologies may cost more, says Armstrong, but builders must also factor other benefits to get a true picture.
“You spend more money on the walls, but it allows you to save in other areas such as faster installation, less stress, [and] lower skill labor,” Armstrong notes. In addition, a [smaller] HVAC system further reduces cost. The house will be donated to a family with a physically challenged son late this year.
Citing the success of this home, BASF is working on a project in Philadelphia to revitalize an area called East Parkside. It involves more than 450 residential, commercial, and public buildings that will be built to LEED and Energy Star standards, Armstrong says. For more information on the house, go to www.betterhomebetterplanet.com.
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