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Composite Wall R-Values

Thermal break wall construction, Netzero construction, energy efficient wall construction, ZIP Panels, off grid new homes, Courtesy of Penn State

Part of the allure with tiny and small homes is finding ways to live as economically as possible, as well as providing a zero, tiny or small carbon footprint. As a luxury home builder since 1977, my other company, Bryan Smith Homes helped pioneer energy efficient construction by trying out new products as they were introduced to the home building industry. Over the decades, I tried out a lot new energy saving products, but energy efficiency wasn’t a top priority of mine back then compared with the finish out details and the quality of construction I focused on the most Thermal break wall construction, Netzero construction, energy efficient wall construction, ZIP Panels, off grid new homes, Courtesy of Ecological Building Systems

As I began designing my first Netzero type of home for myself that will also serve as a model for a community in Granbury, Texas that we have purchased multiple lots in, I realized I needed to get up to speed with the latest products and construction methods now available. In my research, I discovered there so many more energy saving products available today than when I first start building homes, as well as new construction methods that provide some amazing results, including dual (double studs) wall systems like this example below.  Thermal break wall construction, Netzero construction, energy efficient wall construction, ZIP Panels, off grid new homes, Courtesy of Fine Home Building

Double wall construction has been around for a while in the colder climate zones, but it’s not been something home builders typically offer in the south. I now realize that not only does the dual wall approach provide more space for multiple insulation options that provide a much higher R value, that approach also provides a thermal break. I had heard “thermal break” mention over the years, mainly with windows, but didn’t fully understand what that meant until I began researching Netzero construction methods. I now understand and am implementing thermal break technology with some plans I’m currently designing and planning to build in Granbury. This article provides an excellent explanation for what “thermal break” means, and this article describes what “thermal bridging” is, why it’s important to avoid thermal bridging when building a Netzero type of home.

The first image above provides a “R value” break down with items typically used to construction new single family homes. I’m surprised “stone” doesn’t provide much R value, and is considerably less than brick. One of the exterior sheathing products I found that provides really high R value, as well as creates a thermal break, and it eliminates the need for a house wrap is called ZIP Panels.

Thermal break wall construction, Netzero construction, energy efficient wall construction, ZIP Panels, off grid new homes, This amazing product is available in different 4 thicknesses and R values. I’m planning to use the R 12 Zip Panels on my personal home, and the exterior walls of the home will be framed with 2″ X 6″ wall studs, and insulated with R23 Rock Wool wall batts. Between the Zip Panels and the Rock Wool batts, and the 5 1/2″ inch thick stone on the lower portion of the home, and the 1/2 thick siding on 2nd story, the exterior walls of my home will have an R value of a little over R35, which is almost three times the required amount for Granbury’s climate zone. Thermal break wall construction, Netzero construction, energy efficient wall construction, ZIP Panels, off grid new homes,

Traditionally, windows and exterior doors have been the weakest energy efficiency link in a building envelope, providing very little R value, but there are some companies now offering R10 and R12 windows, which is quite a bit higher than most Energy Star rated windows.

If you would be interested in Texas Tiny Homes designing you a super energy efficient home this link provides information on that and what is included in a set of plans.

Plan 731 – Sneak Peek

Tiny Houses, Tiny Homes, Tiny House Plans, Small House Plans, Micro Home Plans, Micro House Plans, Tiny Home Plans, Tiny House Builder, Tiny Houses Dallas, Tiny Houses Austin, Tiny Homes Builder, Small houses, Small Homes Builder, Small Luxury Homes, Little House Plans, Little Homes

This is a Sneak-Peek of Plan 731, an off-grid, super efficient, small luxury home that is ideal for arctic, sub-zero temperature climate locations. With its 10″ thick, dual exterior wall system, it will be very easy to maintain warm or cold temperatures inside the home depending on the season and your location. Tiny Houses, Tiny Homes, Tiny House Plans, Small House Plans, Micro Home Plans, Micro House Plans, Tiny Home Plans, Tiny House Builder, Tiny Houses Dallas, Tiny Houses Austin, Tiny Homes Builder, Small houses, Small Homes Builder, Small Luxury Homes, Little House Plans, Little Homes

This small luxury home is ideal for single persons or young couple just getting started or active senior couples wanting to downsize, or looking to build an affordable get-a-way home that is off grid and super energy efficient. The construction plans will be available in our online store in the next couple of weeks.Tiny Houses, Tiny Homes, Tiny House Plans, Small House Plans, Micro Home Plans, Micro House Plans, Tiny Home Plans, Tiny House Builder, Tiny Houses Dallas, Tiny Houses Austin, Tiny Homes Builder, Small houses, Small Homes Builder, Small Luxury Homes, Little House Plans, Little Homes

 

Let us custom design one for you! 

 

Plan 630 – Exterior Wall Thickness Options

off grid homes, off grid house plans, off grid construction, subzero temperature houses, subzero temperature house plans, Canada house plans, Canada tiny homesThese are 3 different exterior wall stud options that will soon be available for Plan 630. The current version of the plan in our online store features 2″ X 4″ exterior wall studs, but we’ll also offer a 2″ X 6″ exterior wall studs version, and a double 2″ X 4″ exterior wall studs version. The two new version will have a higher cost to construct than the current version because of the larger footprint, and additional material cost, but your savings on your utility bills or off grid batteries will be significant. off grid homes, off grid house plans, off grid construction, subzero temperature houses, subzero temperature house plans, Canada house plans, Canada tiny homesWith the double wall version below, which will have insulation in each wall section, and drywall in between the two walls, will make it so much easier to heat and cool the home, which can be a real challenge with off grid living. off grid homes, off grid house plans, off grid construction, subzero temperature houses, subzero temperature house plans, Canada house plans, Canada tiny homes

We can do wider wall versions for any of our plans, just send us an email from the contact tab and let us know what you have in mind.




Amazon Has Launched 18 Wind and Solar Projects Across the U.S.

Amazon’s newest, largest wind farm – Amazon Wind Farm Texas – is up and running, adding more than 1,000,000 MWh of clean energy to the grid each year. To date, we’ve launched 18 wind and solar projects across the U.S., with more than 35 additional projects to come.

Together, these projects will generate enough clean energy to power over 330,000 homes and will support hundreds of jobs, while providing tens of millions of dollars of investment in local communities across the U.S.Amazon Wind Farm

Amazon Wind Farm Texas includes more than 100 turbines – each over 300 feet tall with a rotor diameter more than twice the wingspan of a Boeing 787. Amazon Wind Farm Texas is built, owned, and operated by Lincoln Clean Energy (LCE), a leading developer of wind and solar projects across the U.S.

To thank and support the local community, Amazon is donating $50,000 to the Snyder Education Foundation to provide students and teachers with STEM learning opportunities.

Amazon Wind Farm

“Investing in renewable energy is a win-win-win-win – it’s right for our customers, our communities, our business, and our planet,” said Kara Hurst, Amazon’s Worldwide Director of Sustainability. “We now have 18 wind and solar projects across the U.S. with more than 35 projects to come. These are important steps toward reaching our long-term goal to power our global infrastructure using 100% renewable energy. We’d like to thank the leaders at LCE, the Scurry County community, and our partners across the country who are helping us continue to bring new renewable energy online.”

“We’ve made a lot of progress on this commitment. AWS (Amazon Web Services) exceeded its goal of 40% renewable energy by the end of 2016, and set a new goal to be powered by 50% renewable energy by the end of 2017.”

In 2015, AWS announced the construction of Amazon Solar Farm US East, Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge, Amazon Wind Farm US Central and Amazon Wind Farm US East, located in Virginia, Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina respectively. Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge became operational January 1, 2016, and Amazon Solar Farm US East went into operation in October, 2016.

In 2016, AWS announced the construction of Amazon Wind Farm US Central 2, a 189 megawatt wind farm in Hardin County, Ohio. We also announced five additional solar farms: Amazon Solar Farm US East 2, Amazon Solar Farm US East 3, Amazon Solar Farm US East 4, Amazon Solar Farm US East 5 each have a capacity of 20 megawatts and are located in New Kent, Buckingham, Sussex, and Powhatan counties in Virginia. Amazon Solar Farm US East 6 is a 100 megawatt facility in Southampton County, Virginia.

These ten renewable energy projects will deliver a total of 2.6 million MWh of energy annually onto the electric grid powering AWS data centers located in the AWS US East (Ohio) and AWS US East (N. Virginia) Regions. The electricity produced from these projects is enough to power the equivalent of over 240,000 U.S. homes annually, which is approximately the size of the city of Portland, Oregon.

 

Transparent Solar Technology Represents Wave of The Future | Solar Windows

Energy Harvesting Windows, Solar Panel Windows, Solar Glass Windows, Professor Richard Lunt, Green Technology Professors, Solar Systems Future, Energy Creating Windows

See-through solar materials that can be applied to windows represent a massive source of untapped energy and could harvest as much power as bigger, bulkier rooftop solar units, scientists report today in Nature Energy.

Led by engineering researchers at Michigan State University, the authors argue that widespread use of such highly transparent solar applications, together with the rooftop units, could nearly meet U.S. electricity demand and drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels.

“Highly transparent solar cells represent the wave of the future for new solar applications,” said Richard Lunt, the Johansen Crosby Endowed Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at MSU. “We analyzed their potential and show that by harvesting only invisible light, these devices can provide a similar electricity-generation potential as rooftop solar while providing additional functionality to enhance the efficiency of buildings, automobiles and mobile electronics.”

Energy Harvesting Windows, Solar Panel Windows, Solar Glass Windows, Professor Richard Lunt, Green Technology Professors, Solar Systems Future, Energy Creating WindowsLunt and colleagues at MSU pioneered the development of a transparent luminescent solar concentrator that when placed on a window creates solar energy without disrupting the view. The thin, plastic-like material can be used on buildings, car windows, cell phones or other devices with a clear surface.

The solar-harvesting system uses organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb invisible wavelengths of sunlight. The researchers can “tune” these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near-infrared wavelengths that then convert this energy into electricity (watch a demonstration of the process here).

Moving global energy consumption away from fossil fuels will require such innovative and cost-effective renewable energy technologies. Only about 1.5 percent of electricity demand in the United States and globally is produced by solar power.

But in terms of overall electricity potential, the authors note that there is an estimated 5 billion to 7 billion square meters of glass surface in the United States. And with that much glass to cover, transparent solar technologies have the potential of supplying some 40 percent of energy demand in the U.S. – about the same potential as rooftop solar units. “The complimentary deployment of both technologies,” Lunt said, “could get us close to 100 percent of our demand if we also improve energy storage.”

Lunt said highly transparent solar applications are recording efficiencies above 5 percent, while traditional solar panels typically are about 15 percent to 18 percent efficient. Although transparent solar technologies will never be more efficient at converting solar energy to electricity than their opaque counterparts, they can get close and offer the potential to be applied to a lot more additional surface area, he said.

Right now, transparent solar technologies are only at about a third of their realistic overall potential, Lunt added.

“That is what we are working towards,” he said. “Traditional solar applications have been actively researched for over five decades, yet we have only been working on these highly transparent solar cells for about five years. Ultimately, this technology offers a promising route to inexpensive, widespread solar adoption on small and large surfaces that were previously inaccessible.”

The work is funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.

Lunt’s coauthors are Christopher Traverse, a doctoral student in engineering at MSU, and Richa Pandey and Miles Barr with Ubiquitous Energy Inc., a company Lunt cofounded with Barr to commercialize transparent solar technologies.

More about Richard Lunt and MSU