8/12/2015

Kuentz Family’s Proud Green Home in St. Louis

With hot, humid summers and frigid winters, the lower Midwest is known for having four distinct seasons. Most homes are heated for several months of the year and cooled for several months, resulting in significant energy use.

When the Kuentz family prepared to move to St. Louis, they decided to build a high-performance green home. Their new house has exceptional indoor air quality and comfort, with low energy bills, making it a model of sustainability.

“The home was designed as a system featuring off-the-shelf building products and advanced construction techniques to ensure greatly reduced energy and water usage,” said Matt Belcher, principal with Verdatek Solutions and Director of the High-Performance Buildings Research Center at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The 3,700 square foot prairie-style Proud Green Home in Wildwood, MO is now complete and includes numerous advanced building science techniques.  One of the most important components for energy efficiency, comfort, and indoor air quality is its tight building envelope because it allows less outside air to infiltrate into the home, keeping conditioned air inside.

A few decades ago, some tight homes experienced indoor air quality issues due to improper ventilation and excessive humidity levels. In an older leaky home, contaminants often enter through crawl spaces, basements, or attached garage. Homes need an effective ventilation strategy, that brings clean air into the home, and exhausts stale air out.

To ensure comfort, ventilation, and energy efficiency, the Proud Green Home St. Louis has a Zehnder energy recovery ventilator. It allows both excellent ventilation and energy efficiency, with a constant stream of fresh filtered air that enters the living areas of the home, such as bedrooms and the playroom. Odors, excess humidity, fumes, and indoor air pollutants are removed from the bathrooms, kitchen, and utility rooms.

In addition to maintaining high-quality air, it also reduces the heating and cooling load of the home. The intake air from the energy recovery ventilator in the Proud Green Home St. Louis is pre-cooled in the summer and pre-heated in the winter by recycling energy from the ventilator’s exhaust air – allowing the supply air to be nearly room temperature. This feature keeps both energy bills and fossil fuel use low while maintaining exceptional indoor comfort.

The intake air is filtered, removing common asthma triggers and allergens, such as dust, mold, and pollen. Because the home envelope is tight and the ventilation system supplies air to the home, the family has greater control over the quality of the indoor air. This was an important feature for the Kuentz family, as one of their children suffers from severe allergies and asthma.

The energy recovery ventilator also controls humidity levels in the Proud Green Home, impacting indoor air quality. By maintaining ideal humidity levels, it discourages mold growth and keeps dust mite populations down, also promoting occupant health. Because humidity levels also impact comfort, energy recovery ventilators lower humidity levels when needed, typically in the summer. This saves energy by reducing the need for air conditioning.

“The temperature is only part of what leads to comfort,” adds Belcher. “The ventilation is really what makes it comfortable in here.”

With a dynamic combination of energy efficiency features, the result is an exceptional comfort and indoor air quality. The Proud Green Home St. Louis is well-suited for the all four seasons in the Midwest – including allergy season.