What is a 100-Year Home?
In a recent Chattanooga Times Free Press Article, Ethan Collier explains that green building is an effective balance between energy efficiency and durability. Through a whole systems approach to construction we can build structures that have a significantly reduced impact on the environment. Because green building is about methods, not just products.
So what does that mean?
A central part of the green building repertoire is durability. Durability methods include long lasting products – but more so, durability involves a process of selecting, integrating and implementing a broad range of construction materials to ensure the longevity of a structure. It not only means that roofing, siding, flooring and wall systems work together to optimize energy efficiency; it means guaranteeing that the entire building's lifespan is doubled.
Consider this: a home’s systems operate interdependently. For instance, a wall system’s longevity is directly impacted by the quality of the roofing system and a flooring system is only as good as the wall system. Unfortunately, most homes' systems fail too quickly, and one by one, need replacement and updating within a 50-year period.
50 v. 100 years
When you think about it, most homes will be completely rebuilt two or three times. While yes, a conventional home remains standing over the course of 100 years, most – if not all – of its major components have been replaced entirely within the first 25 to 50 years – siding, 25 years; roof, 25 years; HVAC, 20 years; floors, 50 years.
Of course, the problem is when systems fail. They are hauled off to the landfill and replaced by new materials whose manufacturing process involves an immense amount of energy and waste. When you multiply that over the number of homes built every year, we have a real environmental-sustainability problem on our hands.
sustainable resource management
For Collier, the solution is to think critically about how we help select and manage construction materials (2-page PDF download). Advanced framing allows us to use 50% less lumber in walls; fiber-cement cladding is long lasting and comprised of recycled materials; metal roofs are extremely durable, made of recycled materials and are also recyclable; hard wood oak floors are sustainably forested and extremely durable; the list goes on. The point is that there is another way - a better way - to build new homes.
So when we think about durability and green construction, we consider how we can manage resources to ensure the entire home lasts 100 years. We call it the 100-year home. And while we know it’s in the customer’s best interest to live in a highly energy efficient and extremely durable home, we also know that it’s our responsibility to the environment. Simply put, it’s a win-win.