Habitat for Humanity Builds One of the Most Energy Efficient Homes in Westford

Greene Westford column reposted.

Habitat For Humanity built one of the most energy efficient houses in Westford saving over 40% on energy bills
Wouldn’t you love to cut your energy bills by 40%?  Think of the savings over the years!  Think you need solar panels, geothermal, or a wind turbine to get there?  Think again.
Did you know that in 2008, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell in conjunction withBuilding Science Corporation, built a super-efficient home in Westford?  The estimated savings were roughly 40% over a similar more traditional home.  These savings equate to $1295 per year.  OK, but how much would this cost up front?  The additional initial investment for this 1400 sq foot home was $10,000.
Want to know how they did it?
In the words of Joseph Lstiburek, principal at Building Science Corporation,
 “The Westford House is not weird looking. It is super insulated. It is ultra-tight. It has controlled ventilation with heat recovery. It does not have lots of glass. It has real good glass. It has real good appliances. It has real good lighting. And it has real good equipment—that is small. Everything is off-the-shelf and can be built by anyone.”
  • Insulation: The foundation is insulated at a rating of R-26, walls at R-44 and the roof is R-66.   This is 50% more insulation than is required by current building codes. 
  • Ductwork was placed inside conditioned (heated/cooled) space saving more energy. 
  • Advanced framing techniques: 2×6 construction was used with studs placed 24 inches on center instead of the typical 16 inches.  This reduced the lumber needed by 40%.  In comparison, the lumber needed for this 2×6 construction was approximately 5% less than if traditional 2×4 framing had been used.
  • Windows were limited to reduce heat loss.  Where there are windows, glass with good insulation properties was used.
  • The appliances used were in the top 10% of energy star ratings.  The gas furnace operates at 95% efficiency and an instant gas water heater is used.
  • Compact florescent lighting was used throughout to reduce energy use as well. 
This house is so efficient that it achieved internationally recognized green building certification at the highest level. 
There are 4 levels within LEED certification – Certified, Silver, Gold, and, the highest, Platinum.  The Westford House achieved platinum certification.
The house achieved this certification without the use of renewable energy features such as solar panels or wind turbines.  Because of the work done here by the designers, Building Science Corporation, the Westford House serves as a prototype for high performance, highly insulated homes in cold climates.
Habitat For Humanity built several more houses in Bedford which met LEED Gold certification.  This project included 7 new homes and a renovated farm house that is 150 years old.  Habitat now builds houses to LEED standards which greatly reduces the operating costs for the new owners.
If you would like to learn more about increasing the insulation in your home, start with the Mass Save program.  If you are planning a large remodel, check into the National Grid Deep Energy Retrofit Program.
[Photo Credit Habitat For Humanity]

2 Responses to Habitat for Humanity Builds One of the Most Energy Efficient Homes in Westford

  1. Small Footprints May 8, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    Wow … this is fabulous! I’ve always believed that homes could be built to be efficient and Eco-friendly. Most designers, however, don’t take the time to think about solar orientation, venting or even efficient materials. When they do … great things happen! And we, as consumers & home owners, can help that along by changing our perceptions … many of the aesthetics we enjoy aren’t at all Eco-friendly. Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

    • Kristina (The Greening Of Westford) May 8, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

      I loved learning about this house! I wish more builders would catch on – who wouldn’t want a more efficient house! Their business would boom!
      We added on a few years ago and really wanted to use some more eco-friendly options. Unfortunately, my builder was not familiar with them and I am NO builder, so I didn’t push. Wish I knew about Building Science Corp then.

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