Gail of Green Living


GREEN Medical Center Home For Sale: The Windows

HurricaneShield® Impact-Resistant Insulating Glass

This high-end energy-efficient, Fortified-rated home in Braes Heights, a neighborhood quite near the Texas Medical Center, Rice University and the Museum District of Houston, TX, is for sale for $1,695,000.   I have written in previous posts about many of the energy-efficient features of this home, that are far beyond any I have ever read about or seen.  The Fortified Rated home designation has a lot to do with the choice of windows and doors.

The windows are from the Pella Architect Series/Hurricane Shield product line.  The Pella website describes these windows as follows: “An advanced polymer layer is sandwiched between two layers of glass, offering strong protection from flying debris — while increasing the safety, security, ultraviolet protection and energy efficiency of your home.”

The frames are reinforced aluminum clad all wood windows, which have a low maintenance exterior, and a paintable or stainable interior.  These windows offer protection from the periodic hurricane as well as any attempted break-in.  They have a great R and U value and unparalleled sound dampening.   This quality cost the owner an additional 50% on windows and doors, but windows of this quality were required for the Fortified Rating.  The increased costs should be paid back by savings on energy and having to have no replacements for many years to come.

This home also includes a Fresh Air System, low-vox paint, American made plumbing and electrical products,  and an Envirogreen Mosquito Control System.  The landscaping includes native plants watered by a drip irrigation system hooked up to the cistern where rain water is collected.

The owner shared with me that he thinks the increased costs to make this home qualify for LEED Platinum and the Fortified Ratings, were probably 20% over traditional building.  See more photos and details of this home.  Contact me and I will be happy to get answers to your questions and give you a tour!



GREEN Medical Center Home For Sale: The Roof

3703 Drummond, Side Street View

This very GREEN home in Braes Heights near the Texas Medical Center, is for sale for $1,695,000.  It has many certifications, among them, a Fortified Rated Home.  For this designation, it must be able to withstand winds 20 mph higher than the wind speed FEMA gives for this location (110 mph).  The owner wanted a roof engineered to 130+ mph.  Replacing a roof is very expensive and removing an old roof puts a large truckload of composition shingles in the landfill, and it will take centuries to decompose.  This roof is warranted for 50 years.  The cost “makes sense”, because over the life of the roof, someone would have to replace a traditional roof at least 3 times

For an additional nominal cost (pennies/sq. ft.), the shingles became the primary water barrier, rather than roofing felt normally used.  To condense my information to the simplest terms, I will give you the layers from outside to inside the roof/attic assembly:

DECRA Shingle Plus roofing panels which are screwed into the battens, 8 screws/panel.  These are stone-coated horizontal metal roofing panels.  Note how attractive these are on this home.

2×2 treated battens that are screwed into the roof deck and rafters

TCM-4RW radiant barrier/vapor barrier

Grace Ice and Water Shield applied to the entire roof deck.

5/8″ roof decking that is independently screwed into the rafters

Rafters that are hurricane strapped to each other and then anchored to the ICF (insulated concrete form) wall system.

Icynene open-cell foam sprayed under the roof deck and covering all the wood elements of the roof assembly.

Entering this attic on a 104 degree day in August, you will experience a temperature that is within 3 degrees of the conditioned living space and only a fraction more humid.  This allows for very usable storage space, and most certainly, a longer life for the mechanical systems that have to live in the attic.

This next weekend hurricane season begins along the Gulf Coast, and in case of a storm coming, I think I would feel very safe and comfortable in the attic, as well as any room in this home.

Next posting will cover the windows, which also have strict guidelines for that Fortified Rating.

Be sure to view more photos and details of this beautiful home!



Spring Garden: Final Exam

I know you must have been wondering what happened to my garden; it’s been doing pretty well, thank you!  I decided to give the Spring Garden a Final Exam, because the high temps these days are close to, if not at 90.  I’d say anything past 90 degrees constitutes summer weather and summer garden.

Green Bell Peppers

This bell pepper plant is really doing well.  You can see on the left, a red/green one, and tucked behind a leaf at about 3:00, is a nice-sized green one.  They have thin skins, few seeds, and I find them to be a great snack.  Because the leaves are not uniform in color, I’ll give this a B+.

Cucumbers: Straight 8

Cucumbers are producing well, and I have extras to give away all the time.  They grow so quickly, so you have to watch the vine daily to keep track.  The leaves toward the patio are yellow, and I’m sure that’s because of the heat it generates.  Another B+ here.

Blueberry Bushes

Blueberry bushes are doing great!  I planted them in “Blueberry Mix” potting soil, and I’ve only watered them, for fear of messing up the ph.  Last week at the Eastside Farmers’ Market, I asked a man selling gorgeous blueberries what I should do about fertilizing, because they are in containers.  He said to just treat them and feed them like azaleas.  So I need to pick up some azalea food.  The foliage is a gorgeous color and they are both growing well.  I’m giving them an A, but it’s not because of anything I did, except start them in the correct soil.

Organic Basil

The basil is beautiful with good color, large leaves.   The maintenance issue is pinching off the beginnings of flowers, because I don’t want them going to seed so quickly.  Anybody need basil for pesto?  A+

Sweet Millions

The squirrels are winning when it comes to tomatoes.  In the last two weeks, they have stripped almost all my green tomatoes off the bushes.  I have bought netting in hopes that at least it will slow them down.  The Sweet Million tomatoes are absolutely delicious, and the early ones were large, but now, they are more the size I’m used to having.  A+, despite the annoying squirrels!

Bush Tomatoes

All of the tomatoes here are Better Bush except the one in the left Dragon pot.  It is an Early Girl Bush.  The Early Girls were really producing, and then, the Better Bush started catching up.  The Better Bush have a better homegrown taste.  The smaller ones were planted about a month later than the large one.  Early Girl Bush, B+, Better Bush, A.

Onions

There are no more than half-dozen onions left after the pill bugs had their early spring feast, but these are looking really good.  I’m going to give them a B+, and it’s on quality and not quantity, for sure.

Purple Hull Peas and Yard Long Beans

The cucumber vine was working so well attached to the eave of the house, I decided to use another trellis, this one for Purple Hull Peas on the left and Yard Long Beans on the right.  These are both summer plants and I have a feeling that the beans will be more suited to the container than the peas.  I can’t remember how many plants it takes to generate a “mess” of peas, but I’m sure I will know soon!  These are both beautiful plants, planted in rose mix with expanded shale (See post from March 10), and I do need to water less. I’ll give these an A+, because they are such healthy plants at the moment.

Pumpkins

I wanted to plant pumpkins, just for fun, not expecting any great result.  I used a galvanized tub, mixed compost with rose mix, planted seeds from last year’s pumpkins, and they really came up and grew.  There is one tiny pumpkin, but I doubt it will mature, because the stem is not green anymore, so I think the nutrients are not getting to the pumpkin.  I elevated the tub, and put newspapers on the ground for the vines, because the ground in that spot is quite hard, full of weeds and tree roots (despite the tree, it gets lots of sun), and I didn’t want the vines to get mixed up with the weeds.  Newspaper makes a good mulch.  Because it does yearn for water at times, some of the leave have turned yellow.  I’m giving this plant a B.

I imagine that remaining garden posts will deal with summer heat and hopefully, not another drought like last year!  How is your garden growing?



GREEN Medical Center Home For Sale: The Building Envelope

3703 Drummond

This is the third in a series of posts regarding the above property for sale in the Medical Center neighborhood called Braes Heights, in Houston.  This owner/builder has researched and studied so many products and methods of green building, that I’m sure we can all benefit from his research.  This week I’m summarizing his research on The Building Envelope, the backbone of  The Building System.  This is where the outside environment conflicts with the inside.

Traditional builders still use the wood framing method, which falls short in regard to durability (termites, wood rot, mold), and it requires added insulation.  Steel framing is quite expensive, and it’s difficult to find people who know how to do it.  It also requires insulation.  Thermal bridging is an issue with wood, and more so with steel.

SIPS (Structural Insulated Panels) are easy to manufacture and provide good insulation and strength.  They can be made to various sizes with window openings all pre-cut.  They are easy and quick to assemble.  The roof system can also be SIPs, with modest trusses, allowing for open and attractive interior spaces.  They do not suffer from thermal bridging, which is another plus.  The downside of SIPs is the fact that they limit the design of the home to a simple gable design with relatively few corners.

ICF (Insulated concrete forms) have been around for fifty years.  There are lots of manufacturers and this construction method is widely used in Canada and some northern states.  It is extremely strong, with 5″ foam insulation sandwiching 6-1/2″ of reinforced concrete.  Convection is not an issue and no termite wants to eat it.  The R-value of the system itself is about 25.  But when you take into account the thermal mass, the lack of convection or conduction and add in the radiant barrier/moisture barrier and air spaces, plus the exterior finish (stucco, stone or brick) and the sheet rock on the inside wall, the number is probably more like R-50!  There are no seams like in the SIPs system.  And a 14″ thick wall makes for a quiet home.  OK, this ICF has massive strength, the thermal mass, resistance to heat movement, sound dampening, resistance to convection moisture, bugs, wind, fire…so this is what makes sense!  The additional cost was $3/sq.ft over the cost of wood framing…amazing difference it makes!  They found a company in Texas that makes the product, BuildBlock ICF, and their service and reputation are first-class.

The roof information in my next post will amaze you!  Meanwhile, if you would like to see more photos and details of this beautiful home, click here or contact me for a personal tour.