August 01, 2012

Sustainability in New Construction

Rusty Bloodworth, Executive Vice President of Boyle, serves on the Advisory Committee of the Office of Sustainability for Memphis and Shelby County.  This new entity, led by Paul Young and Christine Donhardt, met at Rhodes College on July 26 and viewed a presentation by Jon Ruch of Ruch Builders entitled Sustainability in New Construction.  Jon is a local Memphis area builder who has an engineering degree in energy systems and is dedicated to environmentally sensitive design and construction.  Jon emphasizes that using green elements, such as a good window, isn’t enough to assure better performance.  Jon either has Keith Culow, who heads the Ecobuild Division of MLG&W, test his homes when complete or if the home is located outside of Shelby County, he hires someone to test to check how “tight” the home is.  A tight home is Jon’s goal, but this is tempered by having to bring in fresh air so that air quality is maintained.  Jon controls the fresh air quantity and its source.  Energy Star requires no more than 6 percent leakage in the duct system.  Jon tests out his installations at around 3 percent.  Sealing things well is where Jon places most of his attention including:  using R3 insulation on all hot water lines; using R8 insulation on all ducts (never uses flexible pipe); places 1/2-inch blue board rigid insulation between header material (area normally uninsulated); uses Walter Nelms to design the HVAC systems; seals all penetrations; uses a radiant barrier in attics, which can block up to 97 percent of radiant heat entering the attic; uses California framing (allows insulation to be at the corner); uses proper flashing at the windows and particularly at the butt joints of Hardie lap siding, which is not flashed, voids the warranty.  He is doing a lot of geothermal installations.