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In the News

August 25, 2020

Building a Green Home

Building a "Green Home" is no longer out of reach. At Tim O’Brien Homes, we do it every day. We work to build homes that we know are healthy, safe, and well-built. It just so happens that how we build makes us a:

  • DOE ZERH partner,
  • Member of the Wisconsin Focus on Energy New Homes Program,
  • Participant in ENERGY STAR’s Residential New Construction Program,
  • Recognized Green Built Home partner,
  • Certified RESNET SmartBuilder,
  • NHQ Gold Award winner,
  • Three-time recipient of the DOE’s Housing Innovation Award, and
  • Builder of National Green Building Standards (NGBS) certified homes.

What does all this recognition mean for the homeowner? It means you are not just buying a new home. You’re buying a High Performance Home. 

What Is a High-Performance Home?

A High Performance Home is evaluated and scored by a third-party using the Home Energy Rating Score (HERS) system, earning a HERS score of 51 or below. RESNET’s HERS Index is the industry standard for measuring energy efficiency. Basically, the lower the score, the more energy-efficient the home and the more money the homeowners will save. 

A typical new home score around 100. Resale homes built years ago typically score 100 or higher. At Tim O’Brien Homes, our houses score an average of 45. How is this incredibly low rating possible? Here are our five pillars of a green home:

Energy Efficient Construction

During construction, we ensure that your roof, walls, windows, doors, and foundation all combine to enclose your home. Your home will have the following:

  • Tyvek Home Wrap, which basically acts as a raincoat for your home
  • Neopor rigid foam insulation sheathing on exterior walls for strength and thermal performance
  • Under this sheathing, oriented-strand board (OSB), R-15 dense-packed fiberglass reduces noise transfer and thermal transfer
  • R-50 attic insulation to prevent conductive energy loss
  • Advanced air sealing methods with spray foam insulation to all penetration areas of the ceiling and walls; this reduces outside air infiltration and energy loss
  • EnergyStar rated windows (0.27 U-value) with insulated headers and smart trim for increased comfort and savings
  • Energy Heel truss for greater insulation and the prevention of ice dams in the winter

Your house is essentially sealed from external elements. In addition to protecting you from drafts and moisture, your home enclosure makes the temperature inside your home much easier (and cheaper) to regulate. You will also hear less traffic and other noise.

Advanced Leak Prevention Systems

Water damage to a home can be devastating, but it is also preventable. That’s why we build each home with an erosion control stormwater management system designed specifically for that homesite. 

We also design our plumbing systems to stand the test of time. We use Uponor PEX flexible tubing water lines to fixtures to prevent corrosion and pipe bursts. Because these lines use fewer joints, they have fewer potential leak points. On top of that, these water lines remove heavy metals from your water.

Healthier Indoor Air Quality

If you have allergies, you may already know about the importance of indoor air quality. Indoor air quality is not just something allergy-sufferers should be aware of. With the current pandemic, we have all become more aware that the air we breathe can contain dangerous particles.

At Tim O’Brien Homes, we feel that your house should not only feel safe and healthy. It should actually be safe and healthy. That’s why we install the following advanced building systems in our homes:

  • Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) for great ventilation in the home without the loss of heat or humidity
  • An innovative venting system that pulls harmful subsoil gases from beneath your home and vents it to the outdoors, preventing them from entering your indoor environment
  • Ductwork that is sized and balanced by a third-party Energy Consultant for ideal airflow to each room
  • MERV-10 air filters that catch 99% of particles greater than 1 micron (copy toner)
  • Low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) carpeting
  • Zero VOC paints
  • Quiet, EnergyStar-rated fans in every full bathroom to remove excess humidity
  • EnergyStar-rated direct vent exhaust fan in the kitchen for improved indoor air quality

Of course, the air-tight construction of your home helps maintain superior indoor air quality, as well. Together, all of these components protect your home against carbon monoxide, harmful VOCs, and combustible gases. Such threats can cause serious respiratory and nervous system issues. 

Socially Responsible Building

Not only do we build with the future performance of your home in mind. We also consider the future well-being of your family and the community at large. Our commitment to social responsibility is the primary reason we build green homes. As Wisconsin home builders, we want to preserve the state’s natural beauty by conserving resources while we build, and constructing homes that require less energy to maintain. The energy savings each homeowner experiences in their home adds up to a big impact.

Besides the energy-efficient systems and products we mentioned above, here are a few other ways we choose to build responsibly:

  • Materials are sourced locally, cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions from long-distance transit.
  • We use recyclable and repurposed materials.
  • Every home we build is solar-ready. This means your home has a built-in path to the roof for wiring, as well as the structural integrity necessary to handle solar panels.

If you would like an inside look at how we build differently, sign up for a green construction tour, and see our construction process first-hand.

Total Cost of Home Ownership

High Performance Home vs. Standard New Home

Many home buyers assume a High Performance Home is incredibly expensive. Our approach at Tim O’Brien Homes, however, is value-drive. We want as many people as possible to have healthier, well-built, more efficient homes. We work hard to balance quality and price to give you the best value, as well as a home that will appreciate in value over time.

Before you commit to working with a home builder, make sure you understand the total cost of your home. The upfront costs of building a green home might be slightly higher than standard new home construction. However, choosing an energy-efficient home will save you anywhere between 5% and 30% on energy bills. Your home’s resale value will also be 3.5% to 9% higher compared to a standard home.

High Performance Home vs. Resale Home

Considering buying a resale home? We have actually calculated the average energy costs for maintaining a new Tim O’Brien home and a similarly-sized 30-year-old home built to the average standards of its time. With a Tim O’Brien home, you save an average of $790 every year.

A new Tim O’Brien home will not just save you money in energy bills. It may not be evident just by looking at your house, but it has some nice surprises in store for you. We have actually calculated out everything that contributes to the long-term cost of owning a home in our High Performance Homeowners Guide. Take a look and find out if building a green home is the best next step for you.

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