Jay suggest that you don't accept a builders declaration of "Green Certified" at face value. Greenwashing is everywhere, in our food stores, our drug stores, or shopping malls and now in construction. Our recommended R-Value insulation for roofs in Ontario is R-50, very close to the certification range Jay quotes.
If you are looking at new homes in Alliston, Angus, Innisfil or Orangeville, call me, Chris Smith @ 1.866.936.3500 for information and assistance in finding the right home for you.
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One thing people tell me when I do one-year and two-year warranty inspections is that the builder said the house was "green certified," or whatever phrase is used.
Be careful when the builder says your insulation is "green certified."
First of all, who knows what criteria is being claimed.
Second of all, unless you are provided some written example of such "certification," you got nothin'!!
THEY CAN SAY ANYTHING THEY WANT. WITHOUT SOME RECOGNIZED CERT, YOU HAVE JUST ANOTHER HOUSE.
When I ask clients if there is paper work on the window quality, insulation R-values for floors, walls and unfinished attic, not just Energy Star, but really efficient appliances, and the like, they cannot.
It was never provided them.
Depending on what qualification used, the unfinished attic spaces in Virginia, in order to be solidly energy efficient, should have an R-value of between 38 and 60. "Green" certifications range from R-48 and up.
Without getting too technical and formulaic, R-value stands for Resistance Value, and refers to thermal conductivity. It is represented by the thickness of a material divided by the conductivity. The higher the number, the better the R-value.
That means that the thicker the insulation, the more air it traps and therefore provides a better thermal value.
Different materials have different R-values. Blown-in fiberglass, for example, has an R-value of 2.2/inch to 2.7/inch. This is how the insulation stacked up in a recent two-year warranty inspection.
Since you might not be able to see, this home's attic insulation ranged from 12" to 15". I don't know if this stuff is 2.2 or 2.7/inch in R-value, but if we take the average of 2.45/inch the range would be R-29.4 to R-36.75. Even if this attic had a consistent 15" of insulation, and the R-value was 2.7/inch, it would barely meet the minimum energy-efficient standards for insulation.
THESE PEOPLE WERE TOLD THE INSULATION MET SOME KIND OF "GREEN" STANDARDS, AND THEREFORE THEIR HOUSE "QUALIFIED."
I don't think that's true. This insulation was erratically blown in, inconsistently undulating all over the place. I tried to find a high and a low spot. And I was fair. I think my measurements speak for themselves.
They did have Energy Star appliances. That doesn't mean much. For example, Energy Star, when applied to water-using appliances, gets much of its qualification by saving water. To qualify it would have to save 20% of water use on at least one of its many cycles. This saves money, of course. Energy Star says this about dishwashers:
"A dishwasher built before 1994 wastes more than 10 gallons of water per cycle. A new, ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher will save, on average, 1,300 gallons of water over its lifetime."
OK, that is a savings. How much does my water cost per gallon as provided by my public utility? And how long will my dishwasher last? On average 12-15 years. Let's say it lasts 13 years. How much $ am I saving per year?
There are super-saver appliances, but the premium paid for their efficiency is not likely to be made up for in savings. Should we use efficient appliances? Sure, but don't think that much of it.
My point is that builders can say things that sound really, really great. But you have to break it down. And without a certification what they say holds not much weight.
My recommendation: when your builder says things like your house will meet this or that energy criteria, find out what criteria they mean, and what they do to obtain certification toward that standard. And make sure you will receive that certification! Without it, you go nothin'!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia