Tierra Concepts was an early adopter of passive solar design principals, and has long embraced many green building materials, strategies for healthy indoor air quality, and technologies for energy and water efficiency. Our team is extremely knowledgeable about various green building programs like LEED for Homes and Build Green New Mexico, as well as systems like solar photovoltaics (PV), solar thermal water heating (for domestic and space heating), geothermal heat pumps, radiant cooling, rain water harvesting, and many others. We can also help with understanding HERS (Home Energy Rating System), WERS (Water Efficiency Rating Score) and the many federal and state tax incentives still available.
Tierra Concepts currently has two projects completing in 2016 that are registered for LEED certification:
- 15 Luz del Dia is targeting LEED Platinum, and is pursuing many building strategies that maximize the indoor air quality as well as limit hazardous materials both for the occupants and for the planet
- 904 Don Gaspar is targeting LEED Gold and is a gut rehab with significant historic preservation elements, in the heart of South Capital
Both projects will have solar photovoltaics for offsetting the electrical usage of the home, as well as rain water harvesting for re-use through the irrigation system. (LEED EA 1.2 Exceptional Energy Performance; WE 1.1 Rainwater Harvesting)
See the LEED Green Home Guide for more information on LEED for Homes
BUILDING GREEN IN SANTA FE
Many people are now choosing home designers in New Mexico that incorporate green building guidelines when remodeling and building custom homes. Further, in July 2009, the City of Santa Fe adopted a Green Building Code for General Contractors that applies to all new residential buildings. In 2012 this was expanded to include remodels and additions. Most Green Building programs in the US are voluntary, and use a points-based system to allow choices of which strategies or technologies to implement while achieving certain point totals in various categories.
For 2016, the City of Santa Fe Residential Green Building Code is breaking new ground by requiring performance-based measurements for both energy and water efficiency (HERS and WERS scores). The use of these tools allows the greatest flexibility in design and construction, while still mandating higher performance homes to be built within the city limits. Rather than specifying particular products or practices be used, these trade-off matrix tools and third-party verified rating systems measure the predicted energy or water efficiency for that home, relative to an industry baseline, to determine a numeric score for the home from 0-100 with lower being better. Think of it as a miles-per-gallon rating for your home. And just like your driving your car, how you operate and maintain your home will affect just how much fuel (and water) your home uses.
By reducing a home’s environmental footprint a homeowner can lower operating costs. The owner will enjoy increased comfort due to fewer drafts, better humidity control and better indoor air quality, and will benefit from enhanced durability and less maintenance based on the longer-lived components and systems utilized.
As building codes are revised, they often incorporate some of the established “Best Practices” in the industry, making them requirements for all new homes. Yet these are still just the starting points for many of the strategies, systems, and technologies available to the homeowner. So while you may count on the building envelope being tighter and the appliances more efficient than they used to be, there are still many things a homeowner can choose to include in the project to make a more efficient, healthier, and more comfortable home. Some examples include:
- Opt for solar panels to generate power on your roof, and allow any excess power to flow back into the electrical grid and be credited on your bill by the utility company! (EA 1.2 Exceptional Energy Performance)
- Catch the rain from your roof, collect it in a buried cistern, and use that rain water to irrigate your landscape. Properly designed and installed, rain water can provide 100% of a home’s seasonal landscaping water requirement, even in Santa Fe where the average rainfall is less than 15”; per year. (WE 1.1 Rainwater Harvesting)
- Or better yet, bring some of that rain water back into the house to flush your low-flow toilets! Current building codes provide for the safe and reliable installation of this and other innovative water saving practices such as outdoor greywater re-use.
- Product manufacturers continue to push the envelope with new innovations in energy and water efficiency, as well as recycled materials, low embodied energy manufacturing processes, and more. Ask our vendor partners what new and exciting innovations are available in plumbing fixtures, appliances, cabinets, or counter tops. (MR 2.2 Environmentally Preferable Products)
- Include a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) to continually exhaust stale indoor air and replace it with fresh outside air without a penalty on the conditioned indoor temperature. (EA 4.2 Enhanced Outdoor Air Ventilation)
- Choose finish materials with lower Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions for healthier indoor air quality. (MR 2.2 Environmentally Preferable Products)
- LED lighting has become very affordable and extremely attractive and will consume far less electricity than incandescent or halogen lighting. (EA 8.3 Advanced Lighting Package)
Let us know what your goals are when it comes to building green, and we”ll make sure to include the right strategies for you in your new home.