Archive for September, 2009

Green Home Under Construction – Advanced Framing Techniques

September 24, 2009 2 comments

[youtube=]Today I’m posting about the advanced framing techniques being used by Sovick Design/Builders to construct a new green home available for purchase at 404 Park Street in Old Town Fort Collins.  These green building methods will minimize the use of dimensional lumber during construction, maximize insulation in exterior walls and reduce thermal bridging as compared to conventional framing techniques.  The benefits for the future owner are improved energy efficiency and comfort year round, and knowledge that their home was built in a manner more mindful of the natural environment.

If you haven’t done so already, check out the rest of the series documenting the construction of this green home and learn from the very experienced builder doing the work.  Now, let’s take a virtual tour with that builder, Dennis Sovick, via the YouTube video above to learn about a number of advanced framing techniques.   Or check out the stills and descriptions below.  Or both!

2 x 6 Studs
This image shows 2×6 studs spaced every 24 inches. The standard is 2×4 studs spaced every 16 inches.  The larger studs allow for a greater depth of insulation (R-20 or more compared to R-13) and wider spacing means fewer studs and less thermal bridging to the exterior.

Insulated Header
Many engineers and/or framers spec/use two 2×12’s for headers to be sure they are “covered” no matter what the load.  Sovick Design/Builders size their headers for the specific sized openings as shown in the above picture and incorporate rigid insulation into the header to break the thermal bridge created by the header.

Insulation Corner
This photo shows a special exterior wall construction detail that allows the corner itself to be insulated.

No Cripples
Standard practice is to add single studs under each end of the window sill.  These are known as “cripples”. They serve no purpose. In the image above, they are eliminated and only the studs on planned spacing are included. By eliminating the cripples, insulation space is increased and thermal bridging is reduced.

Interior and Exterior Wall Connections
With advanced framing, interior walls are attached to exterior walls with a ladder frame constructed from scrap lumber. Framers typically use three full studs for this purpose. Another benefit is that insulation can be positioned between the ladder framing and exterior surface of the wall, breaking a very large thermal bridge.

Engineered I-Joist
All floor joists are engineered I-joists made from waste wood materials. In addition to being a greener material, these joists are stronger and straighter than dimensional lumber.

By now, you should be getting a sense that this unique green home will have very solid “bones” and an energy-efficient “shell”.  If you are interested in owning a home such as this in the future  get in touch with The Green Team Real Estate. We are the Northern Colorado go-to company for more sustainable homes and we are best prepared to get you connected with  a builder, or help you find an existing home that will meet your needs.

Green Home Under Construction – Insulating Concrete Forms Foundation

September 20, 2009 1 comment

Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) FoundationI recently had an opportunity to shadow the Sovick Design/Builders team as they constructed the foundation for the home at 404 Park Street using Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF’s).  This picture shows the ICF’s ready for concrete to be poured. 

For contractors, ICF’s can be a cost-effective alternative to typical cast-in-place concrete foundation walls or walls constructed of concrete masonry block.  The foam-walled forms that ultimately define the concrete’s shape stay in place after construction, providing insulation and eliminating a significant investment in reusable wood and metal forms.  They are easy to build.  Their insulating value allows concrete to be poured in colder weather without the use of special insulating blankets and the like.  And most are ready for interior finishing.  All of these contractor benefits help keep the cost differential between ICF and conventional foundations to a minimum, particularly when a finished basement that will be partially above grade is desired, as is the case at 404 Park Street.

And here’s the important part from the perspective of the future homeowner – an ICF foundation basement is quiet, solid and more energy efficient than a conventionally constructed basement.

So check out the video below to see the concrete foundation being poured and learn a little bit more about the forms themselves from Dennis Sovick.  And if you want even more information about ICF’s, go to the Insulating Concrete Forms Assocation website.


Up next…a site visit to learn from Dennis about Advanced Framing Techniques.

Green Home Under Construction – Intro

September 18, 2009 Leave a comment

sherwood houseWelcome to an opportunity to observe the construction of a unique and highly energy efficient, eco-friendly home at 404 Park Street in Old Town Fort Collins.  Grab our feed or subscribe by email to follow along in the weeks ahead as we post on what goes into creating a green home like this and what sets it apart from standard new homes. 

The Green Team Real Estate is pleased to be listing this home for local green building specialists Sovick Design/Builders.  Dennis Sovick started designing and building green homes in the 1980’s – long before doing so became a trend.  His wealth of knowledge on the topic of green building allows him to create properties that take advantage of active and passive solar, conserve energy and water, minimize resource consumption, and create healthier homes.  We’ll be delving into all of these topics as construction progresses.

This infill project got underway in early September 2009 and is scheduled to be completed in February 2010.  Dennis and his team are using a tested plan, one they recently built several blocks away.  That home is pictured above.  You can take the video tour below to hear Dennis talk about the site and plans for the home, and follow us on a bike ride through the nearby neighborhood.



Click here to see the floorplan and other details of the Park Street home.  Finishes and colors will be up to the future owner.  So follow along to get ideas for your future dream green home, and contact us if you think this one might be it!

Carpet Recycling Reclamation Center

September 17, 2009 1 comment

Used Carpet UnloadingIt took much longer than the week I mentioned in my first post on this topic, but I finally got to the carpet recycling center to drop off the carpet we recently ripped out of our home.  On the way there, I was thinking myself a fool to make a 140 mile round trip in Rambo (our tired but trusty ’95 Dodge Ram) to recycle carpet…for a fee no less.  I uttered this thought aloud to Mary Johnson, President of Colorado Reclamation Systems, upon arrival at her Denver facility.

Mary’s answer caught me by surprise.  “Well, there are a lot of fools like you then.”  She added that they routinely see folks from Ft. Collins and even further away, which is why they are working on the details of opening additional collection facilities in Ft. Collins and elsewhere around the state.  I was pleasantly surprised.

As her friendly team unloaded our used carpet from Rambo for me, Mary proceeded to give me a tour to illustrate their process that currently prevents 30,000 to 50,000 lbs. of carpet per day from clogging local landfills.  They’ve already diverted over 2-million pounds of carpet in their first summer of operation!

Used Carpet Ready for Processing

First, the carpet and foam pad is queued up near the unloading area and sorted.  All of the foam pad will get recycled into new pad.  Decent carpet gets separated from the nasty stuff.  The former will eventually go into new carpet of recycled content.  The latter will get incinerated for power generation.

Loading the Used Carpet Baler
Once sorted, the carpet and pad are delivered to a Bobcat operator who loads it into a baling machine.

Baled Used Carpet Handling

Another handling machine operator then moves the bales over to stacks at the loading dock.

Baled Used Carpet Ready for Loading

And finally, a forklift operator loads the bales onto outbound trucks. 

So where does it all go?  The pad and decent carpet is shipped to the southeast part of the country where it will be manufactured into new product.  The grungy carpet currently goes to an plant in Tulsa, where it is converted to power by incineration. 

Mary added that CRS is working with a cement manufacturer in Florence, CO to get permitted for burning waste carpet as an alternative to coal in the cement making process.  In addition to cutting down on coal consumption, fuel consumption and carbon emissions would be reduced due to the shorter haul.

Once unloaded, I paid $25 for CRS to handle 252 lbs of carpet ($0.10/lb) and was on my way (they do not charge for recycling foam pad).  And as I drove back to Ft. Collins, I pondered the good and not so good aspects of this little journey. 

It is very good that there is enough demand for recycling carpet and sufficient reward for reclamation businesses to do so that companies like CRS are able to expand and make the process more efficient.  It is also good that the economics at the household level, once carpet recycling sites are more broadly available, are not much different than those for dumping at the landfill (It cost me $25 to dispose in this responsible manner vs. what would have been a $16 tipping fee at our local landfill which is also subsidized by our property taxes).  The participation of carpet manufacturers in Carpet America Recovery Effort, whose website you can use to locate a carpet recycling center in your area, is also a good thing.

As for all of the fuel consumption, carbon emissions and soot and particulate output related to recycling, remanufacture and incineration…well, not so good. 

Which leads me to a couple of final thoughts.  First, if you have used carpet to get rid of, by all means recycle it. 

Second, when you replace that used carpet, do so with a harder, healthier alternative.  Consider cork flooring, which is beautiful, warm and comfortable underfoot, naturally hypoallergenic, easy to clean, and a pretty easy DIY project to install.  Or go with wood flooring from Forest Stewarship Council (FSC) or reclaimed sources (beetle kill pine in our region, for example).  Any of these products will outlast several carpet and pad replacements, making them gentler on the environment outside your home as they improve the environment inside of it.