From: Rhonda Allison [[email protected]]
Sent: Friday, April 24, 2009 9:20 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients
Subject: HBAV-Backed EarthCraft Home Update

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EarthCraft Virginia



Sensibly Built for the Environment!             Issue #1, May 2009

Stix & Brix
Chuk Bowles, Technical Director

        Three-quarters of world energy consumption comes from nonrenewable “hard energy sources”.  One-third of this total is oil, 1/4 coal, and the rest from natural gas.  The other quarter of world usage is supplied from by a mixture of nuclear power, hydropower, and biomass fuels.      
        Our reliance on non-renewable, largely fossil-fuel sources is shortsighted to say the least.  Unless we make dramatic reductions in consumption they will become scarce, expensive, and eventually depleted.  The way we consume and use energy is also environmentally dangerous and exacerbates climate change caused by green house gases. 
Since buildings consume over 60% of all the energy in the U.S., our industry needs to develop new building strategies to transition to a low energy future, reliant on benign and sustainable renewable sources.  There are low cost or no cost approaches that we can influence locally, while still retaining the appeal of our housing stock.  For example, it cost little to make the maximum use of natural energy sources—the sun, wind and water—and to site or protect your project so that it requires a minimum of supplemental energy. In our climate it is possible to incorporate basic passive solar heating at virtually no additional cost and thus reduce the size and  cost of the conventional HVAC system.  How a house is oriented to the sun has a dramatic impact on heating and cooling costs which make up the largest energy load in most buildings. 
Think about how the sun moves through the day and through the year when you design your next project.  Selective siting, shading and construction strategies can save money on lighting, heating and cooling bills.  For example, locating the kitchen and dining areas on the east wall makes the most of light potential early in the day.  Bedrooms with east facing windows are great for early risers but not so great for people who like to sleep in.  North rooms have the least natural light but also have the greatest potential for heat loss through window.  This orientation is a good place for bathrooms, utility rooms and other rooms where natural light isn’t as important.  Remember, the sun moves but a house can’t. 
The sun is a lot higher in the sky in the summer than it is the winter.  You can use overhangs and deciduous trees to block the suns heat in the summer.  In the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky and you want the benefit of the sun’s warmth, the sun’s rays shine below the overhangs and the leaves are gone from the trees.
Passive solar design is an approach every green builder should have in his design strategies to move towards a sustainable future for new generations and to remain competitive in the next decade.


From the Executive Director
KC McGurren, Executive Director

Welcome to our first EarthCraft Virginia Newsletter.  The intent of this publication is to showcase single and multifamily projects and other innovative development groups across the state. We will also keep you up to date with our Habitat for Humanity partnership, notify you of upcoming educational opportunities, provide technical support and feature new developments in building science and innovative construction materials and technologies.  We hope this to be an invaluable tool whose core mission is to enable us stay connected with one another.
Since the introduction of the EarthCraft House Program to Virginia in 2005, the program continues to grow as Virginia’s premiere green building program.  So many individuals have participated that we have successfully certified over 250 single family homes and 16 multifamily projects representing over 1100 units.  Together we have made a significant reduction in carbon emissions and environmental degradation by re-inventing the marketplace.  EarthCraft builders are building sustainable, durable, healthier housing; elevating the level of residential construction and setting the example for other Virginia Builders and other states in the Southeast as well. We commend EarthCraft members for your involvement and success.
Hopefully you will welcome our attempt with this first issue.  Feel free to offer comments or suggestions as to how we can improve on this endeavor in future issues.
We are here to encourage green building so please don’t hesitate to let us know how we can be of service to you.


Showcase Single Family Builder:
Green Valley Builders

Jason and Justin Boyle of Green Valley Builders, INC. are leading the charge in high performance, green building in the New River Valley.  Their latest home, located in the all EarthCraft Mt. Tabor Meadows development in Blacksburg, Virginia, achieved the “Gold”  EarthCraft Certification, and qualified for  $2000 EPAct Builder Tax Credit.
        Most homeowners cringe when their utility bill arrives in the mail, but this is not the case for homeowners Beth Lohman and Jerry Ford.  Their utility bills are on average 40% less than the same house built to code.  Green Valley Builders incorporated advanced framing techniques and spray-applied insulations to reduce thermal bridging and increase insulation coverage contributed to this reduction in energy usage.  High performance windows were installed with low U-values and Solar Heat Gain Coefficients (SHGC) to reduce energy loss and increase homeowner comfort.   Smart HVAC design allowed the air handler and all ductwork to be located within conditioned space – leading to a system that operated more efficiently.  Testing of the forced air distribution system demonstrated 0% duct leakage outside the building envelope.  The couple’s hot water needs are met with an efficient Rinnai instantaneous gas hot water heater. 

        Not only are Beth and Jerry enjoying reduced energy bills and increased comfort with their new home, but they are at ease knowing that they are living in a healthy environment.  Justin and Jason insist on providing fresh air through mechanical ventilation in all of their homes, as well as promoting indoor air quality through the use of low-VOC paints and urea-formaldehyde free insulations.  With construction on going in the Mt. Tabor Meadows development the Boyle brothers, and the rest of the team at Green Valley Builders, INC. will continue to “green” the New River Valley with high performance homes that are a model for energy efficient building systems, enhanced indoor air quality, and greater homeowner comfort.     

Celebrating 20 Years
Better Housing Coalition

        As a non-profit community development corporation, the Better Housing Coalition (BHC) takes a holistic approach to revitalizing Greater Richmond communities and affecting positive social change.  In commitment to its mission – to change lives and transform communities through high-quality affordable housing – BHC continually evolves its building practices to provide residents with maximum comfort and affordability, particularly by incorporating today’s most innovative green building technologies.  This includes building homes to EarthCraft™ standards.  The increased energy-efficiency of BHC’s EarthCraft™ homes, along with the use of durable building products, makes the homes more affordable to maintain and in turn adds value to the community as a whole.
        In addition to the health benefits of green building, residents also recognize substantially lower energy bills.  Homes built to EarthCraft™ standards are at least fifteen percent more energy-efficiency than code-built homes and are in compliance with guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.  “Developing areas and building homes that incorporate green building technology helps the sustainability of communities – it uses local materials in construction, provides more safe and healthy homes for families who live there and is cheaper for the residents to operate so they can have a little more spendable income,” says T.K. Somanath, President and CEO of BHC.  Although green upgrades do add to the cost of housing – about four percent to the cost of development – the savings on sustainable products that do not need to be replaced and on energy bills eventually offset the expenses.  “You get your investment back in a few years,” says Bob Newman (VP, Chief Operating Officer), “and as energy costs continue to rise the payoff continues to go up.”  Through the EarthCraft™ Virginia certification program, BHC builds housing with high energy efficiency and lasting value.
        BHC has constructed every one of its homes to EarthCraft™ standards since 2006 – the year it opened the doors to its 152-apartment senior community Carter Woods.  Carter Woods was constructed during EarthCraft™ Virginia’s pilot phase and was the first EarthCraftTM certified multi-family development in Virginia.  BHC’s green developments take the concept a step past individual housing.  “The incorporation of green is not only in the building but the way we live in the community,” says Somanath.  “We can design communities that promote public transportation.  We can focus on the orientation of buildings for solar energy gain.  We can minimize our carbon footprint and the amount of waste we are putting in our landfills.  We can also educate the people living in these communities about how to live green.”  It is a core belief of BHC that assuming environmental responsibility today and teaching ourselves how to use resources fairly and efficiently will not only improve our own lives but also those of future generations.
        More of today’s housing consumers and first-time homebuyers are looking for homes with eco-friendly features, BHC observes.  In response to the growing demand for green, BHC is planning ways to further integrate sustainable design into its new communities.  At Lincoln Mews in North Richmond, formerly Lincoln Manor apartments, BHC will construct a new community resource center as part of its revitalization initiative.  The community resource center will use solar thermal water heating for laundry facilities and a cistern to allow reuse of rainwater.  Apartment renovations will also be certified under the EarthCraftTM Multifamily Program.

Habitat for Humanity
Steve Reed, Habitat Coordinator

        Habitat for Humanity organizations have long been considering cost effective strategies for building energy efficient and higher performance houses on a tight budget.  EarthCraft has encouraged all Habitat builders in Virginia to join our program and we are now working with 26 independent affiliates, who have successfully completed over 60 EarthCraft houses to date with plans for at least 55 more this year.
        Every Habitat house we certify will be owned by a low or very low income family, so utility costs are obviously an important concern for Habitat partner families.  Since these homeowners pay their mortgage with little or no interest, investing upfront in durability and energy efficiency makes a lot of sense to many Habitat for Humanity builders when planning for the long term.
        DC Habitat is one affiliate who recently became an official EarthCraft Builder, after the dedication ceremonies for their first two EarthCraft certified homes (with several more nearing completion).  A typical DC Habitat-EarthCraft house uses a 15 SEER heat pump with the air handler and all ductwork located in conditioned space, higher insulation R-values than standard with grade 1 installation, advanced framing, an extremely tight building envelope with mechanical ventilation, among many other features which consistently rate the performance of their affordable houses as competitive with higher end green homes.


Vice President, Joe Biden, working with DC  Habitat for Humanity on an EarthCraft House.


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Best Affordable Housing Energy Conservation Effort was awarded to EarthCraft  at the 2008 Governor’s Housing Conference.  This was in recognition of the Multifamily program.

Earlier this month EarthCraft received an award for “Best Environmental Program” at the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards.


L-R: Preston Bryant, Jr. (Secretary of Nat. Resources), K.C. McGurren, Sean Shanley, David Paylor (Dir. Of Dept. of Environmental Quality), Philip Agee, Joseph Maroon (Dir. Dept. of Recreation and Conservation)

Most recently, EarthCraft was awarded the 2009 Leadership in Housing Award from Energy Star.


BHC single family houses on 26th Street inRichmond’s Church Hill. 

EarthCraft Virginia * 1431 W. Main St. * Richmond, VA 23220 * 804.225.9843 *