1. WATER CONSERVATION AND WATER RECLAMATION
Our team is taking a four pronged approach to demonstrate wise stewardship of one of our most precious environmental resources....WATER. First tactic is to install cistern tanks providing 7,000 gallons of rain water storage capacity underground to be used for irrigation. Second tactic is to install a Hoot closed aerobic wastewater treatment system to capture and store used shower water, washing machine water, sink water, etc. The Hoot system treats the wastewater and re-uses it for irrigation. Every year, between the cistern tanks and the Hoot, for one house alone, VISION House will capture for re-use over 300,000 gallons of rainwater and wastewater for irrigation, therefore virtually completely eliminating the need to draw water from the Florida aquifer for irrigation. Our third tactic is to implement Florida friendly landscaping principles as outlined by the University of Florida's Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program. The VISION House landscape will require minimal irrigation to thrive as compared to conventional landscapes. Finally, we will install low-flow water fixtures (sinks, toilets, shower heads, etc.) within the home along with using the most water efficient appliances (washing machine, dishwasher, etc) all of which will significantly reduce the amount of water used within the home.
2. SIPs (STRUCTURAL INSULATED PANELS)
The exterior building envelope of VISION House is constructed using SIPs which are 6.5" thick foam panels sandwiched between OSB. These composite panels are extremely energy efficient (R-value greater than 20), extremely strong which is a big plus to safeguard against hurricane force winds, and they dramatically reduce the time to construct the home's exterior envelope. Because SIPs are prefabricated at an off-site factory, the window and door rough openings are already cut into the panels, and the panels themselves are sized by the factory per the architectural plans, so when the SIPs arrive to the job site, the framers simply raise the SIP panels into place and fasten them together to complete the home's exterior envelope, therefore reducing the amount of time it takes to build a home. Also keep in mind that the time and expense associated with installing conventional insulation is significantly reduced because SIPs already have insulation built into them.
3. NON-VENTED, SEMI-CONDITIONED ATTIC SPACE
By creating a non-vented, semi-conditioned attic space, lined with closed-cell spray foam insulation, we'll eliminate the potential of water intrusion damage caused by hurricane wind driven rains entering through soffits and ridge vents. When rain water gets into a home, the home owner must contend with mold and the dangerous health issues associated with it, which was the case for many homes in Central Florida after the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005. For Central Florida's hot-humid climate, the non-vented attic space also allows us to place the HVAC ductwork in the attic and not have to concern ourselves with subjecting the ductwork to an extremely hot and humid attic space, otherwise, the air within the ducts would constantly be heated by the hot surrounding air, which in turn causes the HVAC system to work harder and consume more energy to keep the house cool. The less energy we consume globally, the less green house gases we emit, which are the primary cause of global warming.
4. CAREFUL PLANNING OF ROOF DESIGN AND MINIMAL USE OF EAST AND WEST FACING WINDOWS.
Rather than build a typical gable roof, we opted for a hip roof design for VISION House which, due to its aerodynamic design, makes the house much less susceptible to damage from hurricane force winds. Secondly, since the vast majority of solar heat gain into a home is the result of east and west facing windows, we've dramatically reduced the use of these windows in VISION House, therefore lessening the energy load on the HVAC system. And for the minimal windows we do have on the east and west elevations, we constructed large roof overhangs which provide ample shading for these windows from the sun's hot solar rays.
5. PROPER HVAC PLANNING
As already mentioned, we've taken measures to avoid subjecting our HVAC ductwork to the harsh temperatures and humidity found in vented attic spaces, especially in hot-humid climates like Central Florida's. In addition, we've made a conscious effort to ensure proper ventilation within the home to exhaust contaminated stale air that accumulates within the home, and replace this air with fresh air from outside the home which is healthier to breath. And with the use of dehumidifiers, we will remove any unwanted humidity in the home that results from introducing fresh air from outside the home.
6. PROPER MANAGEMENT OF STORMWATER RUNOFF
The VISION House landscape will incorporate various design principles geared towards the proper management of stormwater runoff. During heavy rains, stormwater runoff collects and carries pollutants (motor oils, fertilizers, etc) that have accumulated on impervious surfaces (streets, driveways, walkways, etc) and lawns. Unfortunately, the stormwater runoff carries these pollutants into our public sewer systems which eventually get carried into our lakes and streams, therefore contaminating our precious surface water bodies. With the VISION House landscape, we will incorporate pervious surfaces which allow rain water to seep through the pervious surface and directly into the ground, therefore avoiding the formation of stormwater runoff. We will also utilize swales and rain gardens in the landscape to capture stormwater runoff which may develop during extremely heavy rainfall events. And since VISION House is located on the shores of Lake Apopka, it's very important to us that we properly manage and control any stormwater runoff from reaching the lake, therefore supporting the St. Johns River Water Management District's efforts to restore the health of Lake Apopka. The stormwater management principles being implemented for VISION House are a component of the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program.
7. LOW E, DOUBLE PANE WINDOWS
All windows within VISION House are low-e, double pane windows. The low-e minimizes the introduction of heat into the home from the sun's hot solar rays. The double pane feature creates a barrier of air insulation within the window panes, thereby minimizing the introduction of solar heat gain into the home. The double pane feature also acts as a sound suppression barrier which helps to prevent noise pollution from entering the home.
8. RECYCLING PROGRAM
Recycling is an important priority for the VISION House team. Many of the construction materials we're using are made of recycled materials, such as, composite wood decking manufactured using recycled woods and plastics, concrete containing 30% fly ash as an environmentally friendly substitute for cement, I-Joist recycled wood framing studs, etc. We've also implemented a job site recycling program. Paper, plastic, metal, and steel waste are separated into their respective bins and hauled away to be recycled. Wood scraps are also separated at the job site and will later be run through a chipping machine. The resulting wood mulch will be used for landscaping.
9. ADVANCED FOUNDATION AND HOUSE WRAP MATERIALS
VISION House incorporates an advanced foundation water proofing membrane. This membrane provides a thick layer of plastic impermeable protection to prevent water from touching the outer surfaces of the basement's walls. In the event water manages to somehow find its way past the first layer of defense, the membrane's dimpled structure allows the water to freely drain via gravity down to a drainage pipe installed around the exterior base of the basement. For the exterior walls on the 1st and 2nd levels, we've installed an advanced house wrap product that operates using the same principles implemented for the basement walls. These advanced products play a key role in keeping rain water out of the house, therefore avoiding water intrusion damage, mold, health issues, etc.
10. HEALTH CONSCIOUS INTERIOR DESIGN
The VISION House interior design will be conducive to a healthy environment within the home. For example, low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints will be used to eliminate the harmful affects of off-gassing, we will use natural woods which do not contain harmful formaldehydes, no use of non-toxic adhesives, natural fibers for draperies and floor rugs, floorings and cabinets made from wood obtained from a certified forestry, use of indoor plants for natural air purification, no products which contain PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) as a fire retardant, etc. Many of the interior design principles we will implement are those outlined by the American Lung Association's Health House Program.
In closing, it's important to mention VISION House will be certified per the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines, the Florida Green Building Coalition Standards, the Institute for Business and Home Safety "Fortified For Safer Living" Guidelines, and the Florida Water Star Program.