Current industry standard building practices needlessly harm the environment and occupant health, and waste precious resources and their owners’ money. We started Emerald Builders to craft a company that provides clients with energy efficient, eco-conscious, and healthy homes that will last for generations. We do this by our diligent focus on key aspects of the building process.
Our methods of assembly and the culture on site is a mix of traditional methods and modern building science. We explore everything from traditional square rule timber framing and using obscure curved wood to assembling well-crafted stick framing and highly detailed interior and exterior finishes.
Whether we’re building our baseline Net Zero Ready house or a Passive House, we focus fastidiously on making our building airtight with a “belt and suspenders” approach that provides several layers of defense and accounts for building movement over time. We use Passive House standard (.6 ACH50) as our baseline airtightness, and many of our projects shell test at less than half that, around .25 ACH50.
We build thick walls and minimize thermal bridging so that your home is wrapped in a warm blanket of insulation to achieve much higher R-values. In most cases, we use dense-packed cellulose (wood fiber) – a recycled product made from shredded newsprint.
We take care to choose materials that protect the health of our clients, our workers, the environment, and the communities where the materials are produced and will ultimately be disposed of.
We love the sun and want all of our houses to be powered by solar or other renewable energy sources. We take this into account from the very beginning so your house can be “solar ready.”
Aside from the energy consumed by a home, the materials it is made of have the single biggest impact on the environment. We employ a “life cycle” assessment of materials when picking products for our projects. This means that we consider the impact of where these materials come from, how they are used, and where they go when they outlive their usefulness. We also work to locally source products made of natural materials to reduce the carbon footprint and support the local economy.
A high performance and eco-conscious home begins with the design. Guided by the best building science, and our Net Zero and Passive House principles, we work closely with architects, designers, and subcontractors to choose the best systems for our projects.
These systems can reduce the home’s energy needs and can also help achieve net zero status for the building. Using building modeling, we can pinpoint challenging areas in the building envelope before construction starts. This process also helps us properly size the systems being installed to maximize their efficiency.
Net Zero Homes
Net Zero homes produce as much energy as they consume. The process starts with a smart design and a well-insulated and airtight building envelope. That allows an appropriately-sized renewable energy system to cover the pre-calculated energy needs based on the heating and cooling loads, and the yearly energy consumption of the house based on the desired lighting and appliances.
We advise all of our clients to make their projects Net Zero if possible, and ideally net energy producers. At the very least, we make them Net Zero-ready
The Passive House (or, in German, “passivhaus”) Standard is a voluntary international building standard developed by the German organization Passive House Institute. It involves the same basic principles of construction as Net Zero but adds more insulation to the envelope, and focuses the engineering of the home to take greatest advantage of “passive” solar energy to maintain comfortable temperatures inside the home. This is one of the most rigorous of building standards today. A completed and certified passive house will use a incredibly small amount of energy to heat and cool. No stone is left unturned in the planning of a passive house, from foundation and insulation systems, through heat loss and solar gain through window glazing, to the appliances specified in the house. Everything is calculated to bring the homes energy use down to a minimum.