Green House Plans and Eco Buildings: Menlo Passive

by Linda Lenore on June 3, 2011

Designing green house plans and constructing eco buildings have made their way into the mainstream of Menlo Park with the unveiling of Clarum Homes' Menlo Passive, a zero-energy, "live carbon-free" designed home. This is the first passive home in San Mateo County.

Eco-friendly, Green house, Menlo Park

Exterior rendition of green house plan and eco building in Menlo Park. "Menlo Passive is the first passive home in San Mateo County. It blends unsurpassed energy-efficint technology and sustainable building materials into a custom home that is gorgeously designed, healthy for occupants, and amazingly comfortable," according to the brochure provided at the event on June 2, 2011.

Open for the media and invited guests on June 2, 2011, the green house plans include many eco buildings practices and products. Several of these features can easily be incorporated into a remodel or everyday life of the savvy, eco-friendly consumer.

Engineering such a home requires thoughtful detail. This home uses "advanced wall systems" known as SIPS. SIPS walls reduce heating/cooling load. These insulated walls, as well as roof, keep indoor temperatures constant. Also, they are stronger, straighter and more durable then traditional timber construction.

Another engineering consideration is the tile roof. This type of roof is much heavier than composition roofs. And when considering the use of PV (PhotoVoltaic) Solar Systems on a tile roof, planning for the installation of these units is imperative.

Air sealing joints - energy efficient - Owens Corning

Sealing all the joints or areas where various pieces of building materials come together is a form of new construction to make the buildings "air tight". In building a passive home, this is one of the critical details. These joints have been sealed using an Owens-Cornings product. Check out my Facebook for a look at the "Pink Tiger". There is concern about "sealing the envelope", the terminology used for sealing the house membrane to reduce air leakage. When sealing the building, we are not only sealing air flow, we are sealing toxins inside. A thought to consider and one I address on my website.

The technology for building passive homes has been around a long time (It's been used in Europe for years), yet in our climate we haven't utilized this knowledge as the cost of energy was nominal. As both energy and water consumption awareness increases along with the cost of these resources, whenever we can reduce their usages it will benefit all of us.

Other "unseen" features this home possess are: Insulated exterior (outsulation) walls, which breaks the thermal bridge; A liquid applied elastometric air and moisture barrier to provide air tight construction; Insulated foundation to increase energy efficiency and keep the floor warmer; And, interior air sealing to eliminate drafts and save energy.

Designing and building an eco-friendly, sustainable, green home (there are many terms used to label this type of design/build/construction) takes thought and consideration. When I work with clients, I ask them, "What are your criteria for this project?"

The criteria ranges from health issues to saving energy costs - now and down the line - to "it's the right thing to do". If you've never had a health issue caused by your environment, you're lucky. "Sick building syndrome" has affected many of my clients.

I got into this area of my business due to my own health with "unexplained" and very serious health challenges. Researching the cause and solutions was extremely difficult as the Internet was in its infancy and the understanding of the potential harm of toxic buildings was not yet understood.

I'm delighted to have been able to view this first passive home in San Mateo County knowing it's bringing an awareness to consumers as to the future of construction in the realm of our homes. In conjunction with Sunset's Celebration Weekend, it will be open for the general public on June 4 & 5 and is located at in Menlo Park at 1206 North Lemon.

This home boasts "extremely comfortable, healthy, economical & sustainable" as features. In my next post I will share some of the many "seen" features of this home, things you can do - some at little cost, others with longterm planning - to create an eco (and human) friendly environment for you and your loved ones - including pets.

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