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Another Amazing New Construction Testimonial - Record low temps - turned the heat on only once so far!

Greetings Eco-Panels friends;

Below is a nice testimonial from a client ‘Jan’ living “…high on a mountaintop in the Asheville / Black Mountain area of NC”.  They moved into their home late summer and we have already been seeing record low temperatures and record high snow-falls for this time of year and so I dropped her a note to see how they were doing.  They fully bought into our philosophy of when you have a super-insulated building envelope you do not need fancy and expensive sources of heat (or cooling).  In fact for their upstairs (it is a 1,600 sqft two story home) they have simple inexpensive baseboard heat.  Please take a look at the e:mail thread below.  I have not edited her comments one bit.  She used our standard 4.5” thick wall panels (rated at R26 at 52degF) and built and insulated her roof traditionally (contrary to popular belief, most of a home's energy loss is NOT through the roof).

Unfortunately we still see some home energy "experts" trying to get people to spend money on very expensive geothermal heat-pumps or other high end systems for heating and cooling (just because there are tax credits doesn't mean you come out ahead) when really just a downsized high-efficiency HVAC system or even a mini-split or simple baseboard heater is more than enough.  When you have an almost perfectly insulated building envelope, you'd be amazed at the ready sources of heat (and cooling) energy already in your home!  People just have to change the way that they approach this (of course we understand that almost 200 years of stick-frame construction is a hard habit to break).

Regards,
Charles Leahy

Eco-Panels

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From: Jan
Sent: Friday, November 14, 2014 8:49 AM
To: Charles Leahy
Subject: Re: How is the house?

Hi Charles,

We are incredibly happy with our house. It is warm and cozy and we have not yet needed to turn on the baseboard heaters! We have had a couple of small fires in our wood stove, and the heat easily warms up the bedrooms upstairs. This morning, although the outside temp is 19 degrees and the wind is strong, it is toasty inside and we haven't needed to start a fire or turn on any heat.

Thanks for checking in. Hooray for Eco-Panels!

All the best,

Jan

Good morning Jan,

That is an amazing story!  I love it. Do you have any other sources of heat for the home beside the wood stove or the baseboard heat?  I do know that refrigerators actually put out a fair bit of heat (which will be retained for your benefit!), and other appliances or lighting may put out heat as well.

Regards,

Charles Leahy

Eco-Panels

(we have just started a facebook page, so if you use facebook and would like to stay up on the latest news from Eco-Panels, please "Like" or "Share" us at www.facebook.com/ecopanelsllc)

From: Jan  
Sent: Friday, November 14, 2014 9:46 AM
To: Charles Leahy
Subject: Re: How is the house?

Hi, Charles,

We do have a mini-split unit sitting on the open stair wall in the living room. We used it a month or so ago for a couple of days in the morning when it was chilly. A half hour would do the trick. But it's been off since then, as we have't been the least big cold. It seems if we have a fire towards evening it keeps things warm for 24 hours, even in this kind of weather.

And of course the kitchen puts off heat as I cook. Also the clothes dryer, on the days it gets used. But all in all, it's a much warmer space than we've ever had. The workers commented in the summer how they'd just step into the house if it got too hot outside, since it was so nice and cool. No need to go to the basement for relief.

We're very content--you make a good product.

Jan

 
More Research Finds Styrene Exposure May Lead to Autism

It is well known that Eco-Panels does not use styrenes - or polystyrene - in the manufacture of our structural insulated panels.  But we estimate that over 90% of the panel manufacturers in the United States (and many parts of the world) do use styrenes as a major component of their foam (like EPS or expanded polystyrene or XPS or extruded polystyrene).  In fact, many well known building scientists advocate if stick building a structure then you should "wrap" the finished building in styrene insulation prior to applying the siding.  When you are trying to build a super-energy tight structure, I'm not sure that enclosing your home in an envelope of styrene is the way to go.

Last week it was reported that exposure to styrenes may double the risk of young children developing Autism.  This exposure could occur either while in the womb or even after birth.  See a full article here, and this same study was published by a number of sources.

Styrenes have long been a common component of cheap insulation, and it has become very popular.  But even back in 2011 the National Institute's of Health (NIH) National Toxicology Review, styrenes were added to their 12th Report on Carcinogens, and they note in their FAQs that two of the largest sources of exposure to the average person were from building materials and cigarette smoke.

When considering insulation for your home, please consider the safety of the materials you are using.  And please consider Eco-Panels - our inert closed cell foam does not off-gas and there are no similar health warnings against our urethane foam.

 
Eco-Panels in New Zealand!

For many years Eco-Panels has been helping to build the most energy efficient homes in America.  Eco-Panels is now providing panels for multiple homes in New Zealand, many in the beautiful Jacks Point development.

"Very little is actually manufactured in New Zealand, and so we quite literally searched all over the world for the best panel systems on the market.  In the end, our choice was clear - Eco-Panels quite simply has the best system in the world - the strongest, most insulated and the most easy to erect.  By patent they have the most continuously insulated building envelope, as well as the strongest connection system, and the pure simplicity of the system really left no doubts on the jobsite" says Michael Sly, partner with the ClimateHouse team.  "Further, with their unique single piece corner panels we hope to introduce this very seismically resistant building system in the reconstruction of Christchurch, whose major earthquake a few years past destroyed thousands of homes."

With no on-site technical support from Eco-Panels (just wasn't in the budget!), the first floor wall panels of a beautiful yet fairly complicated home in the Jacks Point development was erected in just six hours.  Some selected pictures are below.

setting the first corner panel.jpg

staging the panels for erection.jpg

setting a header panel - first floor.jpg

setting first floor wall panels took six hours.jpg

eight weeks - almost done.jpg

home with snow in the mountains - less than 8 weeks.jpg

roof is now covered with membrane.jpg

roof is complete.jpg

roof panels spanning ridge to eave.jpg

start setting of roof panels.jpg

second floor done - ready for roof panels.jpg

 
Stick Frame Construction is the Weakest and Least Energy Efficient Method of Construction Allowed by Law

I'll say it again.  Stick frame construction - the way more than 98% of the homes built in the United States are built - is the LEAST energy efficient and weakest method of construction allowable by law - i.e. "building code".  And due to the massive long term energy losses I would argue that it is certainly NOT "green building" no matter how much bamboo flooring you install (ok that's a reference to some previous posts about bamboo also not being a "green" building material).

As we have noted countless other times, BY LAW (building code) a stick frame home is almost 25% wood on the exterior of the building.  This if course is the framing required to support the structure - walls, roof, floor, etc.  And windows and doors account for another 20-25% of the surface area of the building envelope for many new homes.  With the very low R values for wood and glass - this means that about 50% of many home's building envelope is about R4 or R5.  It almost DOESN'T MATTER what kind of insulation you are using if you have a stick frame home because you are pulling from such a low baseline (50% at about R4 or R5).

If you want to start a movement that will have a SERIOUS impact, consider this.  According to the US Census, a whopping 30% of the homes in the US were built in the last 20 years or so - and almost all of those were stick-frame construction.  The SINGLE GREATEST sorce of energy consumption in America is the energy consumed by buildings - accounting for FORTY PERCENT of our country's total energy consumption (transportation is a distant second at approx 30%).  And these buildings' single largest use of energy is that associated with heating and cooling.  Eco-Panels has been shown to reduce total energy consumption in buildings by OVER 50% time and time again (over 70% in some cases).  What if just 10% of the homes in the next 20 years were able to reduce their energy consumption by 50-70%?  That alone could make a larger impact to our country's energy consumption for less money than most forms of renewable energy.

As our world frets over increasing carbon pollution, rising temperatures and crazy weather, the SINGLE GREATEST thing we can do to assist in reducing carbon emissions is to eliminate the thermal bridging associated with this very antiquated - almost 200 year old - technology of stick frame construction that we continue to use to this day.  And this isn't Eco-Panels saying this - the US Dept of Energy noted it years ago.  And don't even talk to me about "wrapping" insulation around stick-frame construction to eliminate or reduce thermal bridging.  That's "lipstick on a pig" for a variety of reasons - and can potentially give you a WEAKER home than you would otherwise have.  Trees are just about the single most efficient user of carbon dioxide and producer of oxygen in the world - and arguments promoting wood framing as a carbon sink have been proven innacurate and disingenuous and based on accounting gimmicks.  The wooden studs in a stick framed home will waste FAR MORE energy (hence carbon, often from coal fired power plants) over the years than you can gain with a single effort of "sequestering" carbon in the wood itself.

When building a new home, and BEFORE you look at renewable energy sources - solar panels, solar thermal water heating, geothermal heating, etc, you MUST start with the building envelope.  Otherwise you've got - for example - expensive PV panels on your roof generating electricity (on sunny days only of course) and HALF of that energy is potentially leaking out of your building envelope.  That's just crazy.  We've shown previously how investing in the building envelope - building it right the first time - can offer a 10x ROI when compared to investing in renewable energy solutions for your home.  The perfect building envelope can be "heated with a matchstick and cooled with an ice cube", and many of our clients see a positive return on investment in the very first month.  This is what we at Eco-Panels try to bring to the table in the simplest most elegant solution on the market today.

 
DIY Tiny House or Any House - Build them Yourself!

It can be intimidating and difficult to build your own stick framed structure - and amazingly difficult if you are trying to build it super-energy efficient or wind or seismic resistant.  It is VERY SIMPLE to do this with Eco-Panels.  With quick cam-locking panels, pre-framed windows and doors and our unique single piece corner panels offering significantly improved insulation and strength for a structure, it is easy, and you can do it yourself - now more then ever before.

Eco-Panels will soon be offering our panels on our website that will allow you to select from a standard menu and purchase with a credit card.  We are excited about this, and it will allow you to configure a structure just the way you want it - allowing you alter or even enlarge a structure over time.  Build your own shed, garage workshop, cabin or tiny house or big house.  The prices will be LESS than going through our design group because these will be "standard" panels of standard dimensions - not custom, and they will allow you to build an almost infinite number of structures simply by arranging the panels differently.

Don't build a stick-framed structure - you'll be cold (or hot), and consume a whole lot more energy than you would living in a home made with our panels.  A stick framed home is weaker and less safe than a home built from our DIY panel solutions.  Please read through our website, our blog, and take a look at the videos on our website homepage to learn more!

Stay tuned!!!

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