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Two SIPA Builder Members Take Home EVHA Awards

SIPA Builder Members Ferrier Builders, Inc. and Fireside Home Construction accepted their Energy Value Housing Awards (EVHA) at the EVHA Dinner Ceremony held during the International Builders’ Show on February 13, 2008

The EVHA honors builders across the nation who incorporate energy efficiency into all aspects of new home construction.  Ferrier Builders was awarded the EVHA Gold award for a hot climate custom home, and Fireside Home Construction was given the Gold award for a cold climate custom home.

Ferrier Builders’ 2,990 sq. ft. winning entry was built for a Fort Worth, TX client that was interested in building an extremely energy-efficient and sustainable home.  Owner Don Ferrier did not have a problem delivering on his client’s wishes—Ferrier has been building high performance homes for 25 years.

“We build extremely energy-efficient homes and that is all we’ve ever built,” said Ferrier, whose current homes are averaging a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index between 40 and 60.

Ferrier used R-24 structural insulated panels (SIPs) for the walls of the home and R-34 SIPs for the roof, supplied by FischerSIPS, LLC, of Louisville, KY.  The building envelope was completed with efficient low-e, gas filled windows.

In the hot Texas sun, Ferrier utilized a passive solar design to minimize heat gain in the summer and topped the roof with 574 sq. ft. of solar water heating panels.  Heating and cooling needs were taken care of with a 19 SEER air source heat pump with a central fan providing whole-house ventilation, a crucial component for airtight SIP homes. 

ENERGY STAR appliances and fluorescent lighting were used throughout the home.  An energy rating gave the home a HERS Index of 47, roughly 50 percent more efficient than a code-built home.

Ferrier’s award follows on the heels of the EVHA Gold award he received in 2007 for Heather’s Home, a demonstration house he built for his daughter, Heather.  Heather’s Home was also named the Overall Competition Winner in SIPA’s 2007 Building Excellence Awards and has received significant media attention, including the NBC Nightly News and Oprah’s fall issue of O at Home magazine.  According to Ferrier, his success in these competitions has created many new business opportunities.

“The EVHA award combined with a high profile project like Heather’s Home has really put us on the map,” said Ferrier.  “It has been one of the main things that have helped separate us from the crowd.”

Fireside Home Construction was given a Gold EVHA award for their 4,010 sq. ft. Riverbend timber frame home in Dexter, MI.  The home’s energy-efficient features begin below grade with R-25 insulated concrete forms used for the basement, R-28 spray foam used to seal the rim joist, R-27 SIPs for the walls, topped with R-45 SIPs on the roof.  SIPs for the project were supplied by Insulspan, Inc. out of Blissfield, MI.

Fireside Home Construction pays special attention to air sealing as the homes are built.  The framing crew has been trained on air sealing by an energy rater and even the electrical and mechanical contractors are given air sealing equipment to seal holes after rough-in. 

“Our goal is to provide the tightest and most energy-efficient house for our customer,” said Bob Burnside, owner of Fireside Home Construction.  “My crews take sealing as a challenge, and when we get a blower door test they want to know the results to see how well they did.”

When subjected to a blower door test, the benefits of inherently airtight SIPs, ICFs and properly sealed details became apparent.  The home had an incredibly low air infiltration rate of 0.86 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals of pressure (ACH50).

Ventilation was accomplished using an 85 percent efficient heat recovery ventilator on a multizone HVAC system.  To further boost the energy efficiency of the home, a geothermal heat pump was added along with a 2 kW photovoltaic system.  The home was given an impressive HERS Index of 37.

Burnside commented that this was the lowest HERS Index of any house his energy rater had tested, but Burnside is adamant on pushing for an even higher standard.

“Building green is a whole bunch of shades of gray—there is no such thing as perfect, but if we are cognizant of more efficient materials to use then let’s try to make it better,” said Burnside.  “Let’s keep making incremental improvements and do a better job of respecting the environment and minimizing our carbon footprint.”

To see the complete list of winners from the 2008 Energy Value Housing Award visit http://www.nahbrc.org/evha/
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