Cutting edge of saving energy Manufacturers join to create townhouses showcasing efficiency; 2 models in Frederick; 1 prototype framed in steel, the other in recycled wood


FREDERICK -- Enter this townhouse and you'll find a refrigerator that uses the same amount of energy as a 60-watt bulb.

You'll discover that the windows are placed to take maximum advantage of the orientation of the house.

You'll see finishes and sheathing whose primary purpose is to save energy.

This is not your ordinary townhouse.

It's a glimpse into the future -- an experiment prepared and designed by a group of manufacturers who are seeking the most energy-efficient ways to build.

Last Monday, the Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings (CARB), a housing industry team, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy, unveiled two prototype townhouses -- the first of their kind in the nation -- that use cutting-edge, energy-saving materials and techniques.

"The CARB team broke down all the pieces that go into homebuilding -- from structural and mechanical systems to building materials and appliances -- and set out to make advancements in the parts that comprise the whole," said Steve Winter, of Steven Winter Associates, a building systems consulting firm and head of the team.

"The end result is an improved housing product for the consumer."

Ryan Homes, with partial funding by the Department of Energy, built the prototypes in the Dearbought development and situated the two in one row of seven townhouses.

One of the prototype homes is framed with steel studs, joists and trusses, the other in engineered (essentially recycled) wood.

The two will be compared against each other and against a control home built with conventional wood framing.

The monitoring system in the prototypes is extensive; it includes 180 data-gathering sensors that provide 24-hour comparative energy-consumption feedback.

Winter said the systems in place "push the envelope" but aim to keep financial considerations modest and at marketable levels so that eventually they will be used in developments across the country.

The prototypes feature appliances, finishes, sheathing, fasteners, insulation and foundations that incorporate several dozen cost-saving technologies.

State-of-the-art mechanical and electrical systems are in place, and everything from the thickness of the hardwood flooring to the interior layout design was considered to create maximum energy efficiency.

Heat pumps

Heating is provided by highly efficient electric heat pump systems boosted by gas-fired, hydronic units that will supply the house with its hot water.

The duct system of short-run, circular ducts adds efficiency.

The windows feature recycled-wood-waste frames.

The Whirlpool refrigerator is the same model recently installed in the White House; it consumes the same amount of energy as a 60-watt light bulb.

Mark Ginsburg of the U.S. Department of Energy attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Said Ginsburg, "Americans spend $220 billion each year on energy, which is about $1,300 a year for each American. This new system will cut costs by over 30 percent.

"These are better, more affordable homes which are energy efficient and environmentally sound. They are profitable for both the builders and the consumers."

In addition to Steven Winter Associates and Ryan Homes, CARB core members include the Andersen Corp. (windows); ITW (fastening systems); Norwest Mortgage (energy-efficient mortgages); Owens Corning (insulation); U.S. Steel, Pittsburgh, (steel products); Westinghouse Electric Supply (electrical equipment); Weyerhaeuser Co. (wood products); and Whirlpool Corp. (home appliances).

Pub Date: 2/16/97

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