As climate change continues to wreak havoc, more and more homebuyers are asking the right questions of their builders: Is this home capable of withstanding high winds and rain? Will it keep my family safe and healthy? How will it conserve energy and contribute to sustainability? Here are four principles to guide every homebuilder in constructing 100-year homes.
These questions are a call to action for homebuilders. We must endeavor to build homes that will not only withstand increasingly severe weather, but that have net zero energy consumption and zero carbon impact. I like to think of houses that meet these criteria as 100-year homes – because they are built to last and made with the long-term health of the occupant and planet in mind.
Here are four principles to guide every homebuilder in constructing 100-year homes.
1. Design for Occupant Comfort
Occupant comfort is paramount in longevity homebuilding. For an owner to be comfortable in their house, they must have uniform heating and cooling that manages both temperature and humidity. Comfort also goes hand in hand with safety and health.
To maximize occupant comfort, we must first choose the right sized HVAC systems. Smaller is often better, as oversized mechanicals tend to produce short cycling – causing the occupant to be too cold one minute, too hot the next, then too cold again. A proper HVAC system should also aim to keep relative humidity within 40% to 60%, which is optimal for preventing the proliferation of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and harmful chemical interactions.
Designing for occupant comfort also requires managing intermittent solar gains, which occur when a house’s windows allow for excess heat by concentrating sunlight, not unlike the old schoolyard experiment where a magnifying glass creates a laser-like heat beam. Solar gains can be resolved with energy performance windows that have a low solar heat gain coefficient (or SHGC).