6 Trends in Sustainable Construction for 2019

6 Trends in Sustainable Construction for 2019

Building a new home comes with a myriad of decisions: How many bedrooms? Do you need a big garage? What about your landscaping? One of the easiest decisions to make is to build sustainably.

Sustainable homes are beneficial for both homeowners and the environment. This is due to the energy efficient design process and green building practices. Read on to see six of the most popular sustainable home trends. Learn how they can improve your quality of life.

Passive Building Design

The word “passive” in this instance means that Mother Nature is doing all the work to maximize natural resources. This allows you to minimize energy consumption.

Instead of a design that uses technology like boilers and electric lighting, the internal environment in a passive home is powered by external elements. These include solar radiation, air pressure variations and outdoor temperatures. Passive homes will help restrict heat loss in the winter and reduce heat increases in the summer.

One of the most common features of a passive home is a large overhang as part of the roof. This helps shade windows in hot weather and prevent water from entering.

Use Sustainable Building Materials

Quality, reusable materials are sent to landfills every day. Sustainable building companies reclaim and repurpose them for use in homes.

Homes often incorporate recycled barnboard to create an accent wall.Recycled materials typically include tile, flooring, reclaimed wood, roofing materials, light fixtures, steel and many others. Homes often incorporate these items for décor purposes too, like recycled barnboard to create an accent wall.

Sourcing for sustainable and recycled products can take longer than new materials. There may also be added costs. But by preserving these materials, you’re making what was once old new again and helping to limit waste. There are many salvage companies that collect spectacular items from homes that are being renovated or demolished. It can be an exciting challenge to hunt for a treasured vintage item.

Prefabricated Homes

A prefabricated home is another great way to limit waste. These houses are built at an off-site location. Building off-site makes the production process more efficient than building right on your lot.

Your site can be prepared at the same time your home is being built.

There are also hybrid processes. This is where parts of your home are prefabricated, while the rest is constructed on site. One of the most popular techniques is a panelized wall system. The walls are constructed off-site. Upon completion, they are delivered to the lot and assembled like a puzzle.

Green-Certified Homes

You can design and build a home with sustainability in mind. But, receiving a certification will really legitimize all of your hard work.

ENERGY STAR certifications are one of the highest a building can receive. To become certified, a home must meet the strict energy performance standards put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ENERGY STAR homes not only help protect the environment by emitting less greenhouse gas. They also help homeowners save energy and costs while creating an incredibly comfortable home, with fewer temperature fluctuations and greater sound control. In just 2017, ENERGY STAR buildings helped families and businesses save $30 billion in energy costs!

There are also LEED certifications, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. These set a standard for the design, construction and operation of high-performance homes and buildings. LEED has various rating levels, depending on how many points a home scores in terms of efficiency. These homes use less water and energy, reduce waste and enhance indoor air quality.

Use Non-Toxic Materials

Many materials found in homes contain hazardous chemicals and toxins that can be harmful to both homeowners and the planet.

Many glues, paint, adhesives, coatings and other materials contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These can enter the atmosphere of your home and travel outside. Formaldehyde is one chemical that’s commonly found in paints and solvents. It can cause allergic reactions, irritations and even trigger an asthma attack when it off-gases.

For a non-toxic, healthy home, opt for PVC alternatives, non-toxic wood and natural insulation materials. There are formaldehyde-free products available, along with zero or low VOC paints, and cellulose, for an eco-friendly insulation material.

Net-Zero Homes

In a net-zero home, you produce the same amount of energy that you consume. These homes are built to very high standards in order to produce the most comfortable temperatures and cleaner air with reduced allergens and toxins.

Net-zero homes require sophisticated design and build practices to ensure that the structure is airtight and well insulated. They also need solar panels to generate enough energy to power to your home.

The initial construction will likely run higher than the average cost to build a new home. However. you will be able to save by not having to pay monthly energy bills well into the future.

Once you’ve moved into your sustainable, eco-friendly home, don’t forget to incorporate green décor! Certain indoor plants, like Dracaenas, snake plants and Boston ferns, help purify the air and reduce VOCs. You can also continue to explore salvage options for your furnishings. The items that you select will come with their own historical relevance. The environment will appreciate it.

Article courtesy of Paul Kerrigan, Chinburg Properties Chief Operating Officer.

Home Builders Sacrifice Energy Efficiency by Using Cheap Insulation

CSIRO ScienceImage 2175 Installing Insulation Batts

This is a great article about why over half the new homes in the USA are insulated with fiberglass batts.

“The big problem with fiberglass is that nobody understands how to properly install it to minimize air leakage. And if they do understand how to install it, they don’t want to spend the time and money doing it.

“So builders will happily keep building crappy walls that the wind can blow through because people can’t see it. They would rather sell visible performance, like windows and mechanical systems, because they can get real money for that.”

Read entire article from Treehugger.com, and then call us!

Can’t sleep? Adjust the temperature.

If insomnia is a problem, maybe your bedroom is too hot or too cold. Both can affect sleep in surprising ways.  Are you keeping your room too cool for comfort because your home costs a fortune to heat? Don’t lose sleep to save money! Contact us to find out how you can make your home more energy and cost-efficient.

sleeping-baby

How Air Temperature Affects Your Sleep

Experts agree the temperature of your sleeping area and how comfortable you feel in it affect how well and how long you snooze. Why? “When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature — the temperature your brain is trying to achieve — goes down.” “Think of it as the internal thermostat.” If it’s too cold or too hot, the body struggles to achieve this set point. That mild drop in body temperature induces sleep. Generally, Heller says,“if you are in a cooler [rather than too-warm] room, it is easier for that to happen.” But if the room becomes uncomfortably hot or cold, you are more likely to wake up. He explains that the comfort level of your bedroom temperature also especially affects the quality of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the stage in which you dream.

What’s the Best Temperature for Sleeping?

Recommending a specific range is difficult because what is comfortable for one person isn’t for another. While a typical recommendation is to keep the room between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, Heller advises setting the temperature at a comfortable level, whatever that means to the sleeper. There are other strategies for creating ideal sleeping conditions, too. Experts from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, for instance, advise thinking of a bedroom as a cave: It should cool, quiet, and dark. (Bats follow this logic and are champion sleepers, getting in 16 hours a day.) Be wary of memory foam pillows, which feel good because they conform closely to your body shape — but may make you too hot. And put socks on your feet, as cold feet, in particular, can be very disruptive to sleep.

Summer Safety Tip: Be “Fireworks Smart”

Summer Safety Tip: Be “Fireworks Smart”

Fourth of July weekend is here! And that means sun, fun, and fireworks! Follow these guidelines from the National Council on Fireworks Safety and the National Safety Council to ensure a safe fireworks display.

Stats to Consider:
In 2006, an estimated 9,200 people were treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, 36 percent of whom were under 15 years old. Children between the ages of 10 and 14 were at three times the risk of fireworks injuries than the general population. About a third of the injuries were from small firecrackers, 21 percent from bottle rockets and 20 percent from sparklers. In 2004, fireworks caused $21 million in direct property damage.

The National Safety Council advises the best way to safely enjoy this 4th of July is to watch a public fireworks display conducted by professionals. However, if fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to use them, be sure to follow these safety tips.

General Fireworks Safety Tips:

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks.
  • Older children should use fireworks only under close adult supervision.
  • Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from onlookers, houses and flammable materials.
  • Light one device at a time; maintain a safe distance after lighting.
  • Do not allow any running or horseplay while fireworks are being used.
  • Never ignite devices in a container.
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks; douse and soak them with water and discard them safely.
  • Keep a bucket of water and hose nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire.

Sparkler“Fireworks Smart” Before, During, and After:

The National Council on Fireworks Safety urges consumers to be “fireworks smart” – before, during, and after their fireworks display.

  • Before: Choose an open area away from spectators, homes, buildings, and dry vegetation. Use a garden hose to wet down the area before firing.
  • During: As each device burns out, soak it using a hose or bucket of water.
  • After: Place all used items in a covered, fireproof container and leave it outside and away from homes and buildings.

Special Safety Tips for Sparklers:

  • Children under the age of 12 should not use sparklers without very close adult supervision.
  • Always remain standing while using sparklers.
  • Never hold a child in your arms while using sparklers.
  • Never hold or light more than one sparkler at a time.
  • Sparklers and bare feet can be a painful combination. Always wear closed-toe shoes when using sparklers.
  • Sparkler wire and stick remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to drop the spent sparklers directly into a bucket of water.
  • Never hand a lighted sparkler to another person. Give them the unlit sparkler and then light it.
  • Always stand at least 6 feet from another person while using sparklers.
  • Never throw sparklers.
  • Show children how to hold sparklers away from their body and at arm’s length.
  • Teach children not to wave sparklers, especially wooden stick sparklers, or run while holding sparklers.

Green Cocoon in the News, Thanks to Green Alliance

Looking for Green Insulation? – Get Wrapped up in the Green Cocoon

Candace and Jim from the Green Cocoon

Candace Lord and Jim Materkowski run The Green Cocoon.

By GREEN ALLIANCE | Published: JUNE 6, 2019
The Green Cocoon is an award-winning environmental comfort specialist that delivers energy-efficient, eco-friendly insulation solutions to residences and businesses throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Husband and wife team Jim Materkowski and Candace Lord founded the Green Cocoon in 2007, with a goal of bringing an environmental solution to insulation.

Read story.

Restoration project for Weston antique

Restoration Project, Weston, MA

Restoration Project, Weston, MA

Weston, Mass. – Last month, The Green Cocoon (TGC) finished the remodel of an energy-efficient, antique home in Weston, Massachusetts. Built in 1897, this completely remodeled farmhouse is on the market for just under $5 million. The home combines the architectural integrity and character of the original farmhouse with advanced, high-performance and smart home features, such as being certified as EPA Indoor airPLUS; DOE Zero Energy Ready Home; and an ENERGY STAR® Home. Read entire story.

“We are very excited to have been a part of this restoration,” said Candace Lord, Green Cocoon General Manager. “The results of our Mineral Wool are incredible. It is 100% recyclable, VOC-free, and formaldehyde-free. Mineral Wool is made from volcanic rock and slag (a glass-like by-product left over after a desired metal has been separated, i.e., smelted, from its raw ore). It is extremely fire retardant and has no harmful chemicals.”

Having such efficiency is one reason the home was registered as LEED Platinum®. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is one of the most popular green building certification programs used worldwide. Developed by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), it includes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes, and neighborhoods that aim to help building owners and operators be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently.

About The Green Cocoon
The Green Cocoon, Inc. is an award-winning environmental comfort specialist delivering seamless energy efficient, eco-friendly insulation solutions to residences and businesses throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Comfort is at the core of their inherent operative mission. Their business is hinged on honesty, transparency, and trust. www.thegreencocoon.com.

Earth Day 2019

Earth Day 2019 Did you know that today, April 22nd, is Earth Day 2019? What does that mean and what is it meant to accomplish? Here’s a little history: On April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development. In the U.S. and around the world, smog was becoming deadly and evidence was growing that pollution led to developmental delays in children. Biodiversity was in decline as a result of the heavy use of pesticides and other pollutants. The global ecological awareness was growing, and the US Congress and President Nixon responded quickly. In July of the same year, they created the Environmental Protection Agency, and robust environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, among many. Earth Day is now a global event each year, and we believe that more than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world. Learn more about Earth Day at https://www.earthday.org/earthday/.

New England Gem in Gloucester, MA

A Matt Diana Housewright Project.

The original house is from 1690 and it has additions dating to the Early to late 1700s! The walls have layer upon layer of History. It was wallpapered hundreds of years ago and then new walls were built over those. Hand etched drawings of sailboats with a British flag can be found on the exposed first-floor ceilings. To make sure this house maintained its historical preservation we blew in Mineral wool with an adhesive into the exterior walls. The roof is insulated from the exterior with rigid foam board so as to not damage any of the beautiful interior. 

Invest in insulation!

Invest in insulation!

One question that we always get asked here at The Green Cocoon is, “What is the R.O.I. on insulation?”  Consumers want to know if the upfront cost is worth it and more importantly, how long the payback will take. Let’s break this down and find out! Although energy costs vary per state, the average winter heating bill for oil and propane users is about $3,600.00 per year in New England (www.mass.gov/eea/energy-utilities…/household-heating-costs.html).  The average monthly electric bill is around $94.00 (http://www.electricitylocal.com/states/massachusetts/), and much higher in the summer months due to the use of air conditioners.  That comes to a moderate total of $4,720.00 annually.  Some of our customers have seen reductions in their heating and cooling bills of upwards of 75%, but for the sake of this example, let’s just say that by insulating your home you save 25%.  That is a savings of $1,182.00 per year!  If the average insulation job for medium sized homes is around $6,000 (give or take a few thousand depending on size and material), it would take about 5 years to get the return on your investment.  After that, you are pocketing an extra $1,182.00 per year.  Think of all of the things you could do with that money! What does that money equal?  Here’s what you can do with $1,182.00:

1) You can buy 2 months worth of groceries for a family of 4.

2) You could take a one week cruise to the Bahamas every year.

3) Fill the gas tank in your car for 6 months!

4) Invest it every year and after 30 years you would have over $84,000!

As you can see, insulation is well worth the investment. The question should not be “Can I afford it?”  The question is, “How can you not?”

Don’t have the money upfront for insulation? Don’t wait to start saving. Ask us about our interest free financing options!