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Old 01-05-2009, 06:33 PM
 
Location: Iowa City, IA
12 posts, read 39,743 times
Reputation: 11

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Vandemusser, we are going to have Greencraft build us a house on Gray Street. While speaking with builders in Asheville last week, I believe your last name came up, and everyone spoke very highly of your work. I hope you get to certify our healthy built home. Thanks for your advice before. We feel like we made a good decision, and we are extremely excited to call Montford home in the somewhat near future. We've come to terms that every neighborhood is going to have some shady folks. We feel that the positives in Montford will outweigh this negative. You'll have to let me know what you think of our house if you see it!
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Old 01-05-2009, 07:39 PM
 
1,378 posts, read 3,689,347 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thebiggestfro View Post
we are going to have Greencraft build us a house on Gray Street.
If you want a truly energy-efficient home, install SIPs instead of traditional stickbuilt framing. It's true that the energy star certified homes are going to be more efficient the mass-produced tract homes built by Pulte and such, but the standards are pretty low, so I'm not sure that's the best comparison.

I think the NC Healthy Home specs call for R-19 insulated walls, but even that is not that great in my opinion. Every place you have a stud there is not going to be any isulation, and that provides a gap for energy loss, so the advertised R-19 levels are not really R-19. SIPs have no studs so when you add up all that space that is not lost to studs, it makes a big difference.

If you installed R-30 wall SIPs and R-50 roof panels, along with 5/8 sheetrock instead of the standard stuff, you could get at least 40% more efficiency than the standard "green certified" home, according to experts I have talked to.

2 cents.
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Old 01-06-2009, 07:46 AM
 
Location: Asheville, NC
187 posts, read 989,516 times
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Thebiggestfro:

Congratuations! James will treat you well, and I think you will love the benefits of living in Montford. It's a mixed bag over here, but that's why I love it so much! There's a very good likelihood that I will be certifying your house. It will be nice to meet you!

NC Paddler:

As we discussed via PM, SIP's are a cost issue. They are great and significantly more efficient than stick-built framing (they use a lot less wood), but when we run the numbers in the energy model, it takes a while for the SIP's to pay back. For some people, it's worth the up-front cost. For builders who are watching the bottom line, especially on spec houses, they can't justify the increased cost. The house I designed for me and my wife is planning on using 4.5" polyurethane SIP's (R26) because I understand the benefits, but I also know that it will take 7-10 years for the energy savings to pay me back for the increased cost of the panels. I was originally planning on 6.5" SIP's (R40) for the walls, but the payback jumped to 20 years. That's what I was talking about with the diminishing returns on wall insulation.

SIP manufacturers claim that the additional up-front costs are largely mitigated by the reduced labor costs for installation, but the problem we see is that most builders aren't comfortable enough with SIP construction to lower their labor estimates for a bid job. It takes most GC's a few jobs using SIP's to be able to estimate their labor costs accurately. Even when they do, the SIP's are still more costly. Still a good system, though.

NC HealthyBuilt Home awards bonus points for using R19 insulation, but it is actually not a requirement. A 2x6 stick-framed wall with R19 is still a very good wall system, especially if you are on a budget.
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Old 01-06-2009, 10:01 AM
 
1,378 posts, read 3,689,347 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vandemusser View Post
NC Paddler:

As we discussed via PM, SIP's are a cost issue. They are great and significantly more efficient than stick-built framing (they use a lot less wood), but when we run the numbers in the energy model, it takes a while for the SIP's to pay back. For some people, it's worth the up-front cost. For builders who are watching the bottom line, especially on spec houses, they can't justify the increased cost.
Hey Vandemusser. I think a builder who is not familiar with SIPs construction is not going to push the benefits of SIPs.

But regardless, there are two separate issues: cost benefit and "green-ness". Is the buyer primarily interested in the bottom line or the environmental benefits? If the latter, then whether or not you see a ROI is not that relevant, assuming the up-front costs are relatively affordable.

For example, let's say my house has R-30 SIPs and R-50 roof panels, and as a result, I get 33% more efficiency than the "R-19" and "R-30" (which aren't totally accurate, as I pointed out) walls and roof in the "green" home. And let's say that cost me $10K more than the other home (I don't know if that number is realistic -- perhaps you would know -- but just for the sake of argument), and as a result, I will only see $5K in utility bill savings over the course of my life.

So from a strictly cost/benefit perspective, it was a net loss. But from a "green" perspective, my home was still 33% more efficient than the other home, and therefore much "greener" than the green home. So it all depends on one's priorities.

(btw, I'm not knocking the builders -- their products are certainly better than the tract home builders -- but from a strictly objective perspective, there is a certain element of marketing fluff to the "green builders" if they are not using the greenest building techniques).

Quote:
SIP manufacturers claim that the additional up-front costs are largely mitigated by the reduced labor costs for installation, but the problem we see is that most builders aren't comfortable enough with SIP construction to lower their labor estimates for a bid job. It takes most GC's a few jobs using SIP's to be able to estimate their labor costs accurately. Even when they do, the SIP's are still more costly. Still a good system, though.
Yes, so it really comes down to priorities. I would presume a builder using SIPs has green-ness as a higher priority than the other builders.

I'm not naive enough to think that builders are not businesses who are interested in making a profit, first and foremost, which is why I kind of take the green marketing pitches with a grain of salt. The devil is in the details.

Re: energy models and cost, how does that work when we don't really know what the future costs of energy are going to be? In 5 years, oil could be at $200/barrel, and in 20 years, who knows what it will be (or what other forms of power generation might be developed).
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Old 01-06-2009, 02:12 PM
 
Location: Asheville, NC
187 posts, read 989,516 times
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As a rater, I have to take into account people's budgets. If money was no object, I could easily recommend strategies that would result in a net-zero house (a house that makes as much energy as it uses). Unfortunately, that house would be very, very expensive.

It's true that if you predicted that electricity and gas got to be 10 times as expensive as they are now, the payback speeds up dramatically. I can't predict what will happen with these prices, though, so I have to base the calculations on current energy prices.

When I meet with clients, I give them all of the options - explaining the pros and cons of each one - so that they can tell me what is most important to them. When people have assigned part of their budget to super-green technologies knowing that the payback isn't necessarily there, I certainly explain what is available. Most people straddle the line between wanting to do what's right for the environment and needing to keep within a specific budget. That's when I start providing the list of which technologies provide the most bang for your buck in terms of energy savings. This is honestly the most responsible way to proceed for most people.
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Old 01-06-2009, 03:46 PM
 
1,378 posts, read 3,689,347 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vandemusser View Post
As a rater, I have to take into account people's budgets. If money was no object, I could easily recommend strategies that would result in a net-zero house (a house that makes as much energy as it uses). Unfortunately, that house would be very, very expensive.
Ok, but to clarify, I did not say money was no object; obviously nearly everyone has a finite budget. I'm just saying that it is perhaps short-sighted (and not necessarily "green") to *only* consider the payback without considering the environmental benefits, since that extra energy usage is a cost of another sort.

For example, right now with gas at about 1.70/gallon, driving a Prius is not as cost beneficial as it was 6 months ago -- it's going to take you a lot longer to "get your money back", so to speak. So using the logic above, that makes a Prius not cost beneficial. But assuming you can afford a Prius, it's still twice as efficient (or whatever) as it was then, and you're still polluting less than driving a Suburban, which is an important "cost savings" of its own.

So the point is that as long as you can afford the technology, as I stated in my prior post, using the cost/benefit as the determining factor in your decision does not really make sense, either from a practical perspective or an environmental perspective. "Payback", from a truly "green" perspective, can't legitimately be restrticed to financial cost only, in my opinion.

Quote:
It's true that if you predicted that electricity and gas got to be 10 times as expensive as they are now, the payback speeds up dramatically. I can't predict what will happen with these prices, though, so I have to base the calculations on current energy prices.
Understood -- I'm just pointing out that this type of model is inherently flawed in that respect, since there's no way to accurately predict. Although personally, I feel pretty confident the overall trend will continue to be UP, barring some disruptive technological innovation.

Quote:
When I meet with clients, I give them all of the options - explaining the pros and cons of each one - so that they can tell me what is most important to them. When people have assigned part of their budget to super-green technologies knowing that the payback isn't necessarily there, I certainly explain what is available. Most people straddle the line between wanting to do what's right for the environment and needing to keep within a specific budget. That's when I start providing the list of which technologies provide the most bang for your buck in terms of energy savings. This is honestly the most responsible way to proceed for most people.
Ok, but again I would argue that to look at "payback" as a strictly financial consideration is a rather limited way of looking at the issue.

I've had the same discussions about organic food. Buying organic produce or chicken or beef is not going to provide a financial ROI, but the true costs of factory farmed meat and agribusiness crops aren't factored into the actual price tag on those items, and the return in terms of environmental/ethical benefits should be considered.

Similarly, it might cost you a bit more money to get those R-30 SIPs, and you won't recognize a financial break-even point, but it's still the right thing to do from an environmental perspective, much like the grocery shopping scenario.

And if an individual can't afford the R-30 SIPs, then perhaps there are some other features of the home that really aren't necessary . . . or maybe a smaller home will suffice.

Like I said, it's a matter of priorities.
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Old 01-06-2009, 08:14 PM
 
Location: Iowa City, IA
12 posts, read 39,743 times
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"It will be nice to meet you!"

It will be nice to meet you as well. I hope you have good things to say about the house
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Old 09-07-2013, 10:00 PM
 
120 posts, read 366,903 times
Reputation: 52
Default Living in Montford 2013

Would appreciate an update on living in Montford (and also Five Points) neighborhood(s) in 2013. How safe is it today in comparison to 2-5 years ago? What's changed? What's improved? What's gotten worse? How safe is it to walk around the neighborhood, day or night, or to walk into downtown either via Montford Avenue or via the bridge over by the Basilica/Convention Center? I would like to walk to the grocery on nice days such as Greenlife or even the new Harris Teeter or Trader Joe's. Update appreciated!
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Old 09-08-2013, 05:28 AM
 
1,866 posts, read 1,668,465 times
Reputation: 3198
This is great information. I love the Gaia development. I wish there were more projects like Gaia.
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Old 09-08-2013, 09:56 AM
 
Location: West Lenoir
172 posts, read 266,270 times
Reputation: 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by gigimac View Post
I started carrying a knife with me everywhere I go, and I'm always looking around myself in parking lots, and I generally don't go out after dark anymore...
I am thinking you best carry a gun here to protect yourself as well as you can. Anyway it is open-carry state, is it not?
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