Energy & Sustainability Services

Recently more jurisdictions have adopted the 2015 IECC or the IgCC and we have been helping several architects & designers with energy and sustainability code compliance.

Go custom! You don’t have to follow the recipe. Make the energy code work for your project.

Farm out the energy work to Confluence. We will be responsible for any or all of these, bring value to the performance of the building, and take the load off of your hands:

  • Energy code compliance
    • Infiltration (blower door) testing
    • Assembly UA trade-off (calculation software)
    • Total UA trade-off (REScheck or HERS Rating)
    • Performance path compliance (REScheck or HERS Rating)
    • ERI path compliance (HERS Rating)
  • Code compliance/optimization and Construction Documents
    • Ventilation calculations
    • Sealed crawlspace & ventilation details
    • Continuous Insulation details
    • Back-ventilating siding and attachment details
    • Efficient framing details
    • Fenestration flashing details
    • Radon mitigation details
    • Thermal and pressure envelope delineation
    • Vapor retarder specifications
    • Air-sealing details
  • Local/municipal Green/Efficient Building Checklists
    • Carbondale, Basalt, Town of Snowmass Village, Telluride, Mountain Village
  • Above-code/Net Zero design and certification
    • LEED, Passive House, HERS Rating, etc.

Recent work…

We have recently gotten the chance to photograph some recently completed work.

The Basler Residence at Elk Springs, Garfield County, Colorado…

 

And this storage banquette…

Here’s a house going up in Oak Meadows…

 

 

Confluence Architecture’s Design Process

Predesign

Typically, the process begins with walking the site and talking about the vision for the structure. If it is an undeveloped lot, we often identify the ”power spot”, a point on the site that relates the conceptual center to the design. The program is developed, that is the recipe of spaces and requirements for the house.

 

Schematic Design

The first schematic sketches are based on; site forces like the sun, views, trees. Civil issues like vehicular access, topography, and drainage. Tangible issues like program, size, and scale. Local vernacular. Confluence typically develops several schematic designs for residential projects.  The diagrams take the form of two dimensional plans and three-dimensional massing models.

Example of schematic site plan

Examples of schematic massing model

Design Development

During design development, the multiple design directions studied in schematic design coalesce into one design direction.  The 2-D plans and 3-D model are developed with more detail showing fenestration and exposed structure.

Example of design development plan

Examples of design development models

Construction Documents

During the Construction Documents phase, the details and materiality of the design are created.  These documents are used for building department, HOA approval, and ultimately to build the home.

Construction Documents

Beyond Construction Documents

On occasion, a project needs more description beyond construction documents.  Confluence can do fully rendered models for sales and advertising, interior drawings and details and more.

Marble Distillery Inn – rendering of hotel room

Photo of hotel room

 

Marble Distillery Inn – rendering of tasting room

Photo of tasting room

Sustainability

We are committed to keeping up with the state of the art in energy efficient and sustainable construction. Our construction documents will include details for building in an air-tight and durable manner.

Pitkin County and Eagle County adopt the 2015 Energy Code

Denver, Boulder and Vail have already done it. Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Basalt and Aspen will do it soon. But starting today, September 6th 2016, all building permit applications submitted in Pitkin County must demonstrate compliance with the 2015 IECC (International Energy Conservation Code). Eagle County has postponed implementation of the codes until the start of the new year. This will give them time to train staff and educate local architects and builders on upcoming changes. That sounds smart to me, because the changes are not insignificant.

What’s new in the 2015 Energy Code?

Building Department reviews will be looking for new kinds of information on Construction Documents. Drawings will need to tell the story of how a building will be built to conserve energy; insulation, lighting, heating, cooling, moisture management and indoor air quality. Some jurisdictions are requiring that all IECC information be put on it’s own “energy” sheet.

The maximum allowed infiltration rate has decreased to 3 ACH50 and testing is mandatory. The 2009 limit of 7 ACH50 was easy; 3 ACH50 can be a challenge.

Mechanical ventilation is now mandatory. Plan on a HRV (or ERV if you have air conditioning) or some kind of exhaust-only ventilation.

Mechanical systems must be sized with ACCA Manuals J, S & D.

Prescriptive insulation values have crept up a bit in some categories. Chart shows new 2015 values in red.

IECC Prescriptive Insulation Table Headings

IECC Prescriptive Insulation Table

For designer and builders using the prescriptive method of compliance, this means no more 12″ vented roofs. And in zones 6 & 7, no more walls without exterior continuous insulation.

If you want or need to break any of these rules, then you need to choose another compliance path. Using one of the performance path methods (REScheck, COMcheck, HERS Ratings, etc) will make the code easier and more flexible.

Confluence Architecture & Sustainability can help you with all of these facets; from submittal documents to blower door testing. We can help you find the least expensive way to satisfy the building department and inspector, or we can help you design a high-performing net-zero building. Give us a call…

 

Pass the blower door test the first time

If you haven’t been through a blower door test yet, chances are you will soon. As Pitkin County, Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale gear up to adopt the latest round of building and energy efficiency codes. The 2015 IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) have houses going for a maximum of 3 ACH50 (Air Changes per Hour at -50 Pascal) and commercial buildings going for a maximum of .40 CFM/square foot of envelope area at -75 Pascal. Most builders I work with could get to 7 ACH50 without doing anything extra. Getting to 3 ACH50 will take some extra care. If you are unfamiliar with the techniques of air sealing, then read up or get an expert on the team. A great place to start reading is the ENERGY STAR Thermal Bypass Checklist . Awesome document- do this stuff and you will pass the blower door test the first time.

Test day

I’m often asked, “what do I need to have done before we test?” Completely done, done, done is ideal; but in reality…  below is my checklist of this that should be done before testing so test results are not significantly degraded:

  1. doors and windows installed
  2. door and window hardware and weatherstripping installed
  3. door thresholds installed
  4. hatches to unconditioned attics and crawlspaces installed and gasketed
  5. dampers in place
  6. fireplace doors installed
  7. plumbing traps filled
  8. conduits leading outside sealed
  9. air handlers and ductwork complete
  10. light fixtures installed
  11. plate covers installed
  12. any other gap, crack or hole between inside and outside that you can find

Setting up the Building

When we test a building for air infiltration the building must be setup in a prescribed fashion. The IECC has it’s section (2009 IECC R402.4.2.1 or 2009 IRC N1102.4.2.1)  that describes how to setup a house. RESNET has their official protocol as well, the document ANSI/RESNET/ICC 380-2016.

  1. Exterior windows and doors, fireplace and stove doors shall be closed, but not sealed with tape;
  2. Dampers shall be closed, but not sealed; including exhaust, intake, makeup air, back draft, and flue dampers;
  3. Interior doors shall be open;
  4. Exterior openings for continuous ventilation systems and heat recovery ventilators shall be closed and sealed;
  5. Heating and cooling system(s) shall be turned off;
  6. HVAC supply and return registers shall not be sealed.

Running the test

I usually takes me 20-30 minutes to set up the blower door equipment and check that the house is prepared. I need an exterior door that is not too small or too big to set up in, power nearby and a space to work in. If the house is more than 5000 square feet or so, I will set up double fan equipment.  Then I will need to shut down the air handler and exhaust fans. At this point, anyone opening a door would void the test. But typically I only need the doors closed for five minutes to get an accurate reading. If it hasn’t been done yet, I will need the drawings to calculate the volume of air inside the house. Then do the math; flow (the results of the test) X 60 divided by the volume of the house = the number of air changes per hour. In the end, I create a certificate, that need to go to the building official.

If you want/need someone else’s eyes on the job, then give us a call. Confluence Architecture has a lot of experience with construction detailing, building testing, improving test results and also does HERS ratings, RESchecks, COMchecks, blower door tests, duct blast tests, IR camera inspections, etc.

Marble Distilling Company Design Wins Award

Marble Distilling Company

 

 

 

 

 

 

USGBC Colorado honored the Marble Distilling Company design for its exceptional implementation of sustainable technologies with a 2015 Commercial Real Estate Award.  The distillery’s integrated systems approach utilizes the heat from the distilling process to heat the distillery, tasting room and Inn as well as recaptures that heat and water for utilization in the distilling process and for domestic use.  With these measures, the building is 85 percent more efficient than local code requires.  Confluence Architecture is honored to be part of a great team that made this possible.  Congratulations to Marble Distilling Company, Energy and Sustainable Design and the whole team! Read more here.

Colorado Projects Under Construction

July 2015 has been the busiest summer ever for Confluence Architecture in our fifteen years of operation. We have two additions and four new homes presently under construction- plus three more homes to break ground soon. Not to mention a healthy dose of inspections, commissioning, HERS ratings and blower door tests. The projects below are; crane in Arrowhead Village Edwards, concrete pumper truck between Redstone & Carbondale, near Sunlight Ski Resort Glenwood Springs, Elk Springs near Glenwood Springs, Marble Colorado and one for an old friend in Arkansas.

Arrowhead Village signArrowhead ~ Edwards, Coloradopumper-truck
Near Sunlight Ski Resort ~ Glenwood Springs, ColoradoElk Springs ~ Near Glenwood Springs, ColoradoMarble, ColoradoFor a friend in Arkansas

Thanks to everyone involved for the hard work and fine craftsmanship!

Presentation of Research Project

Please join Confluence Architecture, Habitat for Humanity and the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE)

5:30pm – 7:00pm Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 at the Third Street Center, Carbondale, Colorado for a presentation of a research project titled

“Dollars and Carbon: Effectiveness of Sustainable Construction Methods in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado.”

 

Confluence Architecture and Habitat for Humanity received a “Design Assistance Grant” from CORE to research the life-cycle and return on investment of energy efficiency construction upgrades to single-family homes in the Roaring Fork Valley climate.

Discover the most effective strategies for constructing affordable homes in the Roaring Fork Valley to minimize lifetime utility costs and carbon emissions.

Download paper here: (warning it is about 7 MB)   The Effectiveness of Sustainable Construction Methods