Propane-Fueled Home Earns LEED Silver


Two Storey Building, a Massachusetts-based builder specializing in custom homes, additions, and renovations, was approached by a customer who had purchased a former apple orchard and wanted to begin building a home on the land. The client had a budget in mind and a personal goal: to build as sustainably and efficiently as possible. Working closely with the client, Doug Storey and his team customized a stock home plan, a Georgian-style home with a two-story, two-bedroom, 1,250 square-foot layout, that would aspire to LEED certification.

When selecting the home's heating system, Storey was mindful of the client's tight budget. He considered systems like geothermal heat pumps or photovoltaic power, which he acknowledges, "cost considerably more initially and offer a payback in energy savings over their lifetimes, but were too costly upfront and the client's initial budget would not allow for it." Instead, Storey and the client selected a cost- and energy-efficient solution for the home. A propane-fueled hydronic heating system provided Storey with an efficient, comfortable, affordable solution for the homeowner. Because radiant heating directly heats a home's floors, occupants, and furniture, homeowners can lower the thermostat and still feel comfortable. It is estimated that a radiant flooring system is 25 percent more efficient than forced-air systems.
 
To fuel the unit in the Massachusetts home, a 94 percent efficient, Energy Star-rated Buderus propane boiler was selected and installed. The unit was fueled by a 500-gallon underground propane tank that Storey installed with the help of Osterman Gas, a Massachusetts-based propane retailer. Some of the other sustainable, energy-efficient upgrades Storey made to the home include furnishing it with Energy Star-rated appliances wherever possible, installing an automatic heat recovery system and automatic timers on bathroom exhaust fans, high-efficiency fixtures, including low-flow toilets and water-restricting devices, advanced framing techniques, and the use of FSC-certified lumber and recycled resources.

After completing the home, Storey and the homeowner submitted the paperwork for LEED certification. Storey analyzed the costs associated with building the home to LEED standards after completion and estimated that the project cost 5.7 percent more than a comparable, not green home. It took his team about six months to build, similar to a traditional home, but two months longer for planning prior to building and about three months longer on the back end for ratings approvals. It was rated LEED Silver and was one of the first LEED certified residential projects in Massachusetts.

The homeowner has reported that because of the high-efficiency propane furnace, tight walls, and full- nsulation, she has seen annual heating bills of about $1,000. As for the experience of building sustainably and collaboratively with a green-minded homeowner, Storey says, "We partnered together, builder and homeowner, to do our part to build better, utilize the latest and best building technologies and practices, and create a healthy home environment that is sensitive to its impact on our community and our world. We enjoyed the process and learned to be better builders along the way."
 
To learn more about building green with propane, register for our AIA- and NAHB-approved training course, Go Green with Propane.

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Propane-Fueled Home Earns LEED Silver
 

 

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