High-Performance Building. It’s the big buzz word in the building world right now, but what does it mean? We hear these words all the time; green, sustainable, passive, eco-friendly…and they conjure up visions of solar roof panels, composting toilets, straw bails, geothermal systems, and other expensive technologies. But high-performance building is really a different…and something Old Montana is doing very well but don’t often focus on promoting (which, as you might guess, is the basis of this blog!).
High-performance buildings are energy efficient, and because of this they are easier and more affordable to operate and maintain. A couple years ago we decided to commit to changing the way we looked at building homes. This meant we started talking about energy use and cost before we even began drawing plans, and a big part of this was communicating with the draftsman and truss designers, with the subcontractors and vendors about our needs and goals up front. Together we took a hard look at what it takes to not just build energy efficient but cost efficient houses. It is something we have translated not only to the homes we build, but the way we run our company. We like to make smart choices. We like to cut waste. We like to recycle. We like to do it right the first time. We like to make choices that make sense. And we really like walking away from a project knowing we built something high-performing and we have really happy clients.
There are a lot of pieces involved, including the actual house design and site selection, but the way we have broken it down is with several energy driven key components including windows, insulation, HVAC systems and HRVs. This means a careful selection of products from the moment we start planning and then into construction, and a commitment to sealing up a home from start to finish. Talk to any energy nerd and they will tell you the most important piece you put in your house to combat energy loss is your windows. With new technology on the market, we have many awesome energy efficient windows and great sources for a variety of options; Valley Glass, Kalispell Sash and Door, and Energetech out of Missoula to name a few. Partnering with Lilienthal Insulation is one of the reason in 2014 we spray foamed every single home we built along with a completely updated home insulation package (a processed called flash and bat), and in 2015 we will do the same thing. With Hallstrom Heating and Plumbing we have put time and thought into our HVAC systems and how each building can work most efficiently; along with this we encouraged every homeowner with the option to put in a geothermal heating system (we have done nearly a dozen in the last 2 years).
High-Performance means building a home that will not only exceed energy standards now, but decades into the future. A good example of all these pieces coming together is our Lookout project. We put a year of planning into building a high efficient/cost efficient structure…starting with some of the very best windows on the market (http://www.alpinewindowsystems.com), 4 inches of spray foam on all the exterior walls, 4 mini-split ductless heating/cooling units, an HRV system, and countless other smaller smart choices (like a super energy efficient wood burning fireplace, 98% LED can lights throughout the home, and energy superior appliances). It means that long after the paint colors have been change and someone has come along remodeled, the structure will still be performing beyond efficiently…saving resources and money…and the people living there will be happy and comfortable. Pretty simple.