Think of 275,000 one-gallon milk jugs. (Now there’s a recycling chore for next Saturday morning.)
Now, think of that many one-gallon jugs filled with greenhouse gases, like CO2.
That’s how much each Energy Star home keeps out of the air each year, through the avoidance of burning fuel to heat, cool, and power the average home.
That’s 4,500 pounds of greenhouse gases. Each year.
On the Energy Star website, guess what’s the first recommended step to creating an energy efficient home.
It’s not the insulation.
It’s not the HVAC system.
Or the light bulbs, or the dishwasher….
(Those all come later down the list.)
The #1 Energy Star recommendation is for “Efficient Walls and Windows.”
That’s right, the structural framing and the windows.
The windows you probably could have guessed were important. After all, if you frame a wall and cut out huge rough openings, you’d better have something with high energy efficiency to pop into place.
But efficient walls and roofs are now widely acknowledged to be a foundational aspect of any well-built energy efficient home with a good thermal envelope.
Makes sense. After all, in addition to standing the house up against wind, weather, and seismic shifts, the framing creates the appropriate spaces for the insulation levels to meet energy codes, like Energy Star or IECC. Raised heel trusses allow more insulation at the eaves, to prevent ice damming and energy loss. Correctly designed load bearing walls and floors allow for headers whose R-values match the walls. Framing also provides for the correct sheathing to support weather resistive barriers (including housewrap), and proper sheathing is the first step toward defeating wind-washing, which can rob insulation of valuable R-value. The list goes on and on.
Question: How do you get the right framing to provide a high-integrity thermal envelope? Answer: An optimized structural frame.
Not something that’s drawn on graph paper.
Not something that’s field-framed by a fellow who goes by the old-school rules of thumb.
But a structural frame correctly designed with the latest structural BIM software, like SAPPHIRE. Software that’s designed to optimize the frame – to eliminate clashes, reconcile load paths, and enable the factory-controlled, automated fabrication of the components for the code-compliant home – from the floor trusses and wall panels, to the precision-built roof trusses.
So, get your insulated ducts chases. Check.
Get your super-efficient HVAC systems. Check.