Platinum Homes, a Denver area Custom Home Builder, understands many homeowners today desire highly energy efficient homes. Some of our clients want to become energy independent, or to get “off the grid” entirely. Wherever you fall along this spectrum is dependent upon your objectives and budget. There is no one right answer — every home owner, along with their home is different.
There are many ways to approach energy efficient objectives. However, considering today’s technologies, there really are only a few methodology paths that prove economically practical — both in terms of upfront construction cost, operating savings ROI and payback period. Our philosophy in building ultra energy efficient homes is to do so within these constraints and within our Customer’s energy goals.
Platinum Homes pursues a two-pronged approach toward achieving “Near Net Zero Energy” or “Net Zero Energy” objectives.
First, we reduce the overall energy needed to operate your home. The Department of Energy estimates that 40-45% of our total U.S. energy consumption is directly from all of our buildings — residential, commercial and industrial – with nearly 90% of this total being used for interior heating and cooling.
Our philosophy is to design and carefully construct a very tight and well insulated building shell (envelope). Beginning with a tight envelope is essential, and involves critical attention to detail of the complete structure — from foundation footings all the way through exterior walls and attic space. Minimizing outside air infiltration and thermal bridging is critical to dramatically improving both efficiency and performance of the various insulation systems we utilize.
Advanced Building Science Technologies for the envelope / frame shell include: Structural Insulated Panel Systems (SIPS), Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs), Advanced wood frame engineering (AF), various hybrid core wall systems, and closed cell foam / cellulose insulation systems. Our experience has shown that each of these systems carry significant cost comparison variables, but result in very minimal field performance differences among them.
Considerations of window glazing as a percentage of floor space, door and window quality (U and R factors), site orientation, cost budget and other Owner requirements generally determine which framing / envelope system is best.
Second, once the building envelope is correctly designed to essentially perform on its own to create an indoor environment, the heating / cooling (HVAC equipment) sizing and type is determined. A well designed, tight and efficient building envelope paves the way to significantly downsize mechanical equipment. This results in significantly lower up front equipment cost while ensuring significantly lower long term operating costs.
Platinum Homes installs only the most efficiently operating HVAC equipment. Our very basic base line consists of 96% efficient 2 stage furnaces and 14 SEER A/C units. However, most of our homes being built today utilize ground source geothermal systems. Geothermal is a proven, decades old technology used throughout Europe and more recently in the US. Operating efficiencies of up to 400% for geothermal systems is common.
Because of the extraordinary heat pump technology advances over recent years, increased indoor air comfort and significant federal tax credits, geothermal heating and cooling systems have become Platinum Homes’ preferred mechanical system of choice. We strongly encourage all of our customers to consider including geothermal systems in their new home builds.
Obtaining the goal of “going off grid” or hitting “net zero energy” CAN ONLY be achieved by utilizing a geothermal mechanical system. No other renewable technology on the market today – be it Wind, Solar PV or Solar Thermal – has the capability to achieve these goals, that only geothermal energy alone has the ability to do.
Platinum Homes has been in the custom home building business in the Denver area for more than 20 years. You can be assured that we have systematically evaluated (and continue to do so) all of the latest technologies to efficiently and economically build the next generation home.
Ultra-energy efficient homes DO NOT NEED TO HAVE BORING ARCHITECTURE! Platinum Homes is designing and building new custom homes that incorporate beautiful architectural design over a wide range of square footage options that today’s home owner demands
Advanced framing techniques, state of the art building science, use of sustainable building materials, as well as alternative construction methods are helping to achieve the highest energy efficiency, indoor air quality and comfort possible in all of Platinum Home’s new homes. A comprehensive and integrated approach is required to minimize up front construction costs and ensure long term maximum energy efficiency. No one system works by itself … however, Platinum Homes and its specialty partners have a simple and straightforward approach to put it all together……. economically.