The Herkimer Townhomes have been designed to achieve a new level of green design with features that enhance the health of its occupants, reduce energy costs and CO2 emissions, and conserve resources throughout the construction process. Below is a description of the buildings green features.
Double Roof: Much of the heat lost and gained in buildings occurs through the roof. Top floor rooms are often cold in the winter and hot in the summer. The Herkimer houses utilize a double roof with a ventilated space between them. This feature allows heat gained from the sun to dissipate before it reaches the occupied spaces below. In the winter, it provides an insulating air mass that reduces heat loss.
Rainscreen Wall: The exterior walls of the Herkimer houses utilize a rain-screen that creates a still air layer between the exterior finish and interior sheathing. Similar to the roof, this creates a double wall that allows heat to be vented away. It also protects the building against water penetration by eliminating the usual path for wind driven water to enter a structure. Used in combination with a contemporary building wrap, this feature allows the houses to breathe – releasing moisture to the atmosphere before it can create mold and mildew.
Living Wall: The entry facade of the Herkimer houses is a living wall supporting flowering vines. The vines grow from planters placed on small balconies outside of the living room and upstairs bedrooms. This feature provides privacy, reduces street noise, filters the air, and creates a wonderful view. At the same time, it absorbs carbon dioxide, one of the principal contributors of global warming. The living wall is watered by rain water collected and stored in a cistern and pumped to each level.
Solar Generated Ventilation: The Herkimer houses have been designed to maintain comfort through natural ventilation rather than air-conditioning. Whole house ventilation is achieved without fans through the principle of buoyant air movement. This principle relies on sunlight heating the air above the houses’ stairwells which is allowed to escape through an operable skylight. Fully operable windows draw fresh air through the entire house. When the sun is not shining or more air movement is desired, a whole house fan can be used to augment the natural ventilation. The resulting air movement dramatically increases comfort and eliminates the need for air conditioning in any but the most oppressive weather.
Energy Star Appliances: All of the appliances used in the house are Energy Star rated appliances. Energy Star appliances typically achieve a twenty-percent energy savings.
Low VOC Materials: All paints, finishes, and materials used in the Herkimer homes are chosen to minimize the presence of volatile organic compounds, which have been shown to have adverse health effects.
Water Conservation: Water is conserved by a variety of means. Rainwater capture and storage is used for plant irrigation and non-potable use. Water efficient fixtures and appliances reduce domestic water use.
EcoSmart Fireplace: Herkimer houses use an ethanol fuel fireplace which burns cleanly and emits only carbon dioxide and steam, similar to human respiration. This provides a warm and beautiful fire that is economical and trouble free.
Condensing Boiler: The Herkimer houses are heated by gas-fired condensing boilers with a 95% fuel use efficiency. In comparison, conventional boilers achieve 70%-80%. The boilers reclaim heat that is normally lost at the flue or released through the water condensation. These boilers can yield $1000 in annual energy savings over conventional boilers.
High Efficiency Air Conditioning: The Herkimer houses utilize fully zoned Mitsubishi “Mr. Thin” air conditioning systems with a SEER rating of 16. These units are quiet, unobtrusive, and are zoned to deliver conditioned air to only the areas of the house where it is needed.
Enhanced Insulation: The Herkimer houses are constructed with R18 wall insulation and R 36 roof insulation. Below-grade perimeter walls are also fully insulated. Taken together, this is a thirty-percent increase over standard insulated construction and dramatically reduces energy consumption.
Comprehensive Energy Reduction Profile: The combination of features utilized in these houses will reduce energy costs by up to 90% over homes constructed without similar features and technologies. Here is a short compilation of the homes energy saving features
YEARLY ENERGY SAVINGS PER COMPONENT
Condensing Boiler $1389*
Enhanced Insulation $1000 (including infiltration and low e glass coatings approx.)
High Efficiency AC $711*
Water Conservation $200*
Compact Florescent $324*
Energy Star Appliances $100
Solar Generated Ventilation $350 (assume 2 months operation savings)
Total approx yearly savings $4074
* Based upon US DOE Energy Star Life Cycle Calculators adjusted for energy and water rates in Brooklyn, NY.