The Home Performance Counts: Virtual Green Home Tour series kicked off on Earth Day with a walkthrough of the stunning Robinwood in Asheville, N.C., and a lively builder/broker conversation. Brandon Bryant, founder of Red Tree Builders, and Kelly Erin-Spinney of Modern Asheville Real Estate discussed green features of the home, the importance of communicating building science strategies to clients in ways that resonate, and tips on realizing the added value of a high-performance home in the initial sale as well as stewarding the home forward.
Key takeaways included:
Balanced Ventilation/Indoor Air Quality
The mechanical room includes the energy recovery ventilator (ERV), which Bryant described as the ‘lungs of the house.’ Bryant incorporates dedicated exhaust fans in the bathroom, water closet, kitchen (range hood) and the garage. The garage fan is on a motion sensor with a 20-minute cycle to exhaust auto fumes as the owner comes and goes. Also standard in Bryant’s homes, because of Western North Carolina soils, is a passive radon mitigation system with the infrastructure to shift to an active system if testing shows radon present above the EPA action level of 4 picocuries/L.Mindful Material Choices
Durability and health were key factors in selecting materials for the project. The basement walls are stucco (precast off-site), and composite decking includes high recycled content. Drainage mats are incorporated behind the brick walls to handle water, the top concern in the building envelope construction.
"The buyer for the home questioned if the floors had been finished yet on the walkthrough, as she has a high sensitivity to chemicals and had never been in a new home without having a reaction," Bryant noted about the water-based, volatile organic compound (VOC)-free finish on the white oak floors.
Translating Building Science to Home Owners
This home has a fully controllable multi-speed HVAC system connected to a smart home thermostat, which Erin-Spinney would frame to prospective buyers as a zonal system that allows them to control different rooms via a phone app or their smart home touchscreen. An empty-nester client can keep certain rooms ‘off’ unless they have visitors, a family can tailor bedroom temperatures to individual preferences, and everyone can schedule warmer/cooler temps based on when they are home.
Meeting Clients Where They Are
Bryant incorporates these building science strategies and others into his homes as standard practice, but is also considerate of clients’ preferences on amenities and works with them on the best solutions. For example, the Robinwood project features a gas fireplace and a gas range rather than an induction cooktop, but also comes with dedicated exhaust systems to maintain high indoor air quality.
Production home builders have a different set of challenges but ultimately the same goal - to satisfy their clients. Register now to join us May 20 at 3 p.m. ET from Silverado Estates in sunny Nevada to learn how NAHB member Lennar incorporates high-performance features into its production home packages, finding the ‘sweet spot’ of cost-effective, high-performance and customer-desired strategies, including providing solar packages standard on each home.