Frequently Asked Questions about Green Building

What makes a home “green”?
What are some specific features of a green home?
How much extra will it cost to build my home as a green home?
What are the energy savings I can expect to achieve?
What incentives are available for green building?
How can I go off-grid with my Deltec?
What type of insulation works best in a Deltec home?
What are the R-values for a Deltec Home?
How can I certify my home as a green home?
Can I incorporate renewable energy into by Deltec home?
Does a round home use less energy than the same size rectangular home?
What are the first things to consider when building a green home?

What makes a home "green"?

Simply put, we think that a green home is one that is built the right way, the first time. 

According to the US EPA, "A green building is a structure that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout its life-cycle. These objectives expand and complement the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort.

Green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment by:

  • Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources
  • Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity
  • Reducing waste, pollution and environment degradation."

Many of the standard features of a Deltec promote efficient resource use, occupant health, and reduced waste by virtue of the energy efficient Deltec shell and our sustainable manufacturing processes. However, when building a custom-built home you have the design freedom to incorporate sustainability at whatever level you desire.

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What are some specific features of a green home?

The major categories of green building are listed below with examples of individual sustainable strategies. These examples are not exhaustive, but show the wide variety of elements that can enhance a home’s environmental performance.

The real benefit of a well-designed green home is that it integrates each of these elements into one cohesive, high-performance structure. Click here to view an interactive map on our website that shares a small sampling of what our homeowners have done with their green homes.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

  • Building envelope
    Examples:
    • insulation that well exceeds building code requirements
    • attics and floors that have been made air-tight
    • passive solar design
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems
    Examples:
    • extremely efficient heat pump
    • solar powered radiant floors
    • ground source (geothermal) heat pump
  • Lighting and appliances
    Examples:
    • Energy Star certified lighting and appliances

MATERIALS AND RESOURCES

  • Waste management, environmentally preferable materials, products that enhance durability
    Examples:
    • prefabricated building systems
    • sustainably harvested lumber
  • Paints, caulks, and finishes
    Examples:
    • low-VOC construction adhesive
    • low-VOC paints
    • formaldehyde-free cabinetry

WATER EFFICIENCY

  • Reducing water use inside and outside the home
    Examples:
    • low-flow shower heads and sink aerators
    • dual flush toilets
    • catching and storing rainwater for irrigation use

INTELLIGENT SITE DESIGN

  • Preserving a site’s natural resources, building near infrastructure and open spaces, sustainable landscaping
    Examples:
    • building in between existing development
    • building near public transportation
    • using native plants to reduce irrigation needs

INDOOR AIR QUALITY

  • Fresh air ventilation, choosing products that promote occupant health
    Examples:
    • energy recovery ventilation systems
    • low VOC finishes
    • construction details that properly manage water and water vapor

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How much extra will it cost to build my home as a green home?

This depends entirely on your project. While building a large home with a full array of solar panels and battery storage will cost more than building a home without those features, it is possible to build a very green home at a comparable price to conventional construction with smart planning and trade-offs. For instance, re-considering size needs by creating livable outdoor space and incorporating rooms that can serve multiple functions can allow for square footage savings that can be put toward green features such as high-performance insulation.

Don’t forget that green almost always saves money in the long run, as reduced resource use and higher quality translate to lower operating cost. The additional cost of many green features can provide yearly energy savings that equal or exceed the higher mortgage payment associated with the added up-front cost. The green department is happy to help you research your options, look at your trade-offs, and make the most cost-effective decisions. Click here to read more.

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What are the energy savings I can expect to achieve?

Energy savings depend on climate and the design of the home. A round Deltec home has 15% to 20% less wall and roof area in contact with the outside environment than a conventional home. Additionally, the aerodynamic shape lowers the wind pressure on the home, which in turn lowers the air leakage into the home. These two factors help make Deltec an excellent choice for an energy efficient home. A third party study by Vandemusser Design LLC compared the efficiency performance of Deltec homes with climate-specific green features to a conventional home in three distinct US climates, and found that yearly operating cost savings of 40% or more are possible. See the full study here.

For more information on cost, savings, and green building, visit the US Green Building Council Research and Publications.

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What incentives are available for green building?

State or county incentives vary greatly, although many states offer tax incentives for renewable energy or have established rebate programs for energy efficiency measures through local utility companies. There are currently very good US federal tax credits for installing renewable energy systems such as solar electric panels or wind turbines.

The North Carolina Solar Center keeps a national database of energy efficiency and renewable energy tax credits and incentives, organized by state.

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How can I go off-grid with my Deltec?

Quite a few of our Deltec customers have achieved their dream of living "off-grid," with the ability to supply most or all of their power needs from personal renewable energy. To do so generally requires careful planning of energy consumption. It is best to start by focusing on energy efficiency, to reduce the size and thus cost of the renewable energy system needed to supply power. The next step is to find a contractor in your area familiar with the type of renewable energy you would like to use who can help guide you through precise cost, equipment and site considerations. The Deltec Green department has a wealth of knowledge about renewable energy technologies available and are here to help you research your options and tailor your Deltec design toward the goal of living off-grid.

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What type of insulation works best in a Deltec home?

Deltec wall options allow you to choose from quite a few insulation strategies, from a deeper wall cavity for thicker fiberglass batts to the opportunity to use high performing spray polyurethane foam. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to use an installer who really knows the product and installs it correctly – whether that is spray foam, fiberglass, cellulose, or another product.  Choosing insulation and understanding how to install it properly is a decision best made based on your climate, your design goals, and budget—something the green department is happy to help with.

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What are the R-values for a Deltec Home?

The Deltec shell package is prefabricated as an open panel system, meaning that once the Deltec package is assembled, the wood framing on the inside of the home is exposed. This allows for the home to be inspected by the local building inspector in the same way as a site-built home. After your builder has installed the plumbing, HVAC and electrical systems, you can choose the type of insulation that best fits your budget and performance goals. In the walls, the total R-value may vary from R-13 to R-40, depending on the type of insulation used. In the roof and floors, the R-value may vary from R-19 to R-60 or higher. Deltec offers the Energy Wall system to provide additional insulation and reduced thermal bridging. Click here to learn more.

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How can I certify my home as a green home?

If you intend to seek a green certification for your home such as LEED for Homes or ENERGY STAR, it is best to start early in the design process, as these certifications typically take into consideration all aspects of a building project, from the land you build it on to the type of fixtures installed in the bathroom sink. Generally a third-party design professional that is trained in the appropriate certification will be required during the design phase and to complete various performance tests in the field. We have worked extensively with these certification programs and can help you understand the process and requirements for each program. Additionally, we can work directly with you to achieve ENERGY STAR certification for your Deltec home. Click here to learn more.

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Can I incorporate renewable energy into my Deltec home?

Renewable energy systems such as solar water heating, solar electricity, and wind power have always been a very popular choice with Deltec homeowners. Deltec has a special solar water heating system made to fit on our radial roof system that is rated at wind speeds up to 150 mph. We also have a tool on our website that shares a small sampling of what our homeowners have done with their homes. You can explore this interactive map here.

The general philosophy we practice to incorporate renewable energy into your home is to consider all aspects of the home design, beginning with exceptional energy efficiency and passive solar design. Once the consumption of the home has been reduced, the renewable energy systems can be designed to be more effective and cost efficient. Deltec’s green building department is available to guide you through the key decisions in this process, and to help you explore the wide variety of available renewable energy sources.

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Does a round home use less energy than the same size rectangular home?

From an energy efficiency standpoint, there are two great advantages of a round structure. First, it takes less surface area to enclose a circular home than a standard home: the less area on the exterior of the home, the less heat that can be lost. This provides you with a higher level of comfort and a energy savings month after month.

Second, the same attributes that make Deltec Homes perform extremely well in high wind also contribute to superior energy efficiency: there is not enough surface area on any part of the house to allow pressure to build up. This translates into fewer drafts, higher levels of comfort, and lower energy bills. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that 25-40% of energy used to heat and cool buildings goes to offset air leakage. In light of this statistic, it is critically important to properly air seal your new home. With a properly air- sealed Deltec, you can achieve exceptional home performance.

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What are the first things to consider when building a green home?

The underlying philosophy of green building at Deltec Homes is to build the home the right way, the first time. From there, we turn our attention to making the home as energy efficient and durable as possible. Finally, green design will integrate the various disciplines of green building into a cohesive and comprehensive unit that all work synergistically. This entire process is much easier and most effective when done early on, before ground is broken.

The Deltec green design process is composed of 8 basic steps:

  • Right Sizing the Home
  • Understand Your Priorities
  • Make Energy a Priority
  • Make Durability a Priority
  • Design the Home to Work with Nature, Not Against It
  • Use Your Priorities to Make Decisions and Manage Costs
  • Finding Synergies
  • Explore Green Certification Programs

To read more about each of these steps, visit our blog. Here are links to the 2-part blog on these 8 steps:
What does it cost to build green? (Part 1)
What does it cost to build green? (Part 2)

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