Silverwood Inc
New Homes and Construction
Green Building
What is GREEN all about ?

A lot of talk and advertising has used the term "green" lately. Our primary focus in attempting to make a home green and sustainable is directed at making the structure more energy efficient. If a home uses less power, and can produce its own pollution free power, then recurrent use of resources will be reduced for everyone.  Next in line is choice in material. When we can find a natural product that has the potential of renewing itself during the lifetime of the home, we use it as much as possible. Natural woods are a wonderful resource if they come from a sensibly managed source. Recycled products and products with a substantial recycled content are high on our list of choices. Our customization options allow home owners, who may have specific requests for "green" products, an input channel to the design process.


Homes that are built over a basement or a sealed crawlspace (which is a mini basement ensures the area below the living space is dry and not conducive to mold growth. This is one way healthy indoor air is achieved for the occupants. As well, the crawlspace area quickly achieves and maintains a temperature within a few degrees of the living space. Duct work located in the crawl is not subjected to extremes in temperature which allows the heating and cooling system to operate more efficiently thus saving energy. Sealed attics increase energy efficiency too. Spray foam insulation is installed in the rafter bays. Duct work in the attic is not subjected to extremes in temperature; again allowing the heating and cooling system to operate more efficiently. No more pumping heated air through ducts in a cold attic in winter or cooled air through a 140 degree attic in the summer!

Careful attention is paid during the framing phase of our homes. Joints are made tight, seams are sealed, cracks are caulked, sill gaskets are installed, corners are taped, and areas that will not be accessible at a later time are made air-tight. High efficiency window and door units are used. Air ducts are sealed with mastic where they join living spaces. When a home is certified through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy's joint ENERGY STAR® program, third party inspection services are used to determine that the insulation techniques used in each residence are as good as can be. When a home is finished a blower door test is performed to determine that the structure is truly tight, and a duct pressure test is performed to guarantee that conditioned air only goes where it is supposed to go. 

Insulation technique is a huge part of making an efficient structure. We typically use either 2x6 exterior wall construction with a minimum of R-19 fiberglass batt insulation, or spray foam insulation installed in a 2x4 wall. By the time the interior walls are installed, you can be assured that conditioned air will stay where you want it, inside your home !! Attention to detail is the secret to success when it comes to energy conservation construction techniques.

Every site integrated home presents a design puzzle. Some of the puzzle parts are traffic flow, furniture placement, location of quiet areas, dining areas, the entertainment and video center, fireplace location and private outdoor space. The driving factor in our design philosophy is to create homes that combine energy efficiency with optimum room placement and flow for our clients. Public spaces with an open flow are concentrated on the south; more private and utilitarian areas to the north. An open floor plan allows the occupants to take advantage of natural daylighting and realize energy savings from less electricity use. But first, a house has to serve as a home for its occupants. Our homes start with attention to floor plans and finishes that work for homeowners; then efficiency techniques are applied. Sculpted ceilings to define areas, gourmet kitchens open to dining and living areas, access to outdoor living and private study places are some of the things with which we start. We finish up with solar electrical systems and solar hot water. We strive to make technology work for our homeowners in a completely automated and seamless fashion. 


The heating and cooling systems are engineered for each home. This means the proper size units are installed to service the living areas and that the ducts are baffled to deliver the proper volume of air to each space (not that much air flow is needed to a powder room for instance). High efficiency heat pumps are used for heating and air conditioning.
All duct work is installed in conditioned or semi-conditioned space. This enables the system to operate more efficiently because heated or cooled air is not being forced through ducts in unconditioned space. Should a small hole develop in the duct work, the escaping air is being utilized in living space, not in the great outdoors!
Homes are equipped with a programmable thermostat for each heating zone. These devices allow the homeowner to program shifts in heating or cooling during times the house is unoccupied and bring the house back to a comfortable level before the occupant gets up in the morning or returns from work in the evening. The homeowner can program the thermostat and then forget it. Energy is saved by keeping the home a little cooler or warmer during sleep time or when the house is unoccupied.
High tech pleated air filters are used to substantially reduce dust and allergens in the home resulting in healthier indoor air for the occupants.
Because our homes are so tightly constructed, there is very little air infiltration in the structure. A fresh air intake is engineered into the heating and cooling system to make sure there is adequate fresh air in the home.


Quality materials that have a usable life exceeding the amount of time it takes nature to replace them go a long way towards making a building sustainable. Earth based materials, requiring minimal industrial processing are both attractive and easy on the atmosphere. Whenever a new building is made, a certain degree of processing and resource destruction takes place.  To make a home as sustainable as possible, it is important to consider material choices seriously and try to create a finished product that will be lasting. Disposable and short life products are to be avoided. Part of being sustainable is giving the earth time to heal after you take something from it. The building finishes in these homes focus on high quality lumber, stone, concrete, and ceramics.  Appliances won’t last forever, but good ones will last a very long time. Serviceable appliances and components are used wherever possible.

  Some Reommended Materials:
  • Highly rot and termite resistant cement board exteriors (Hardi Plank)
  • Highly rot and termite resistant Mira tech composition trim materials made from waste wood & formaldehyde-free resins
  • Low VOC paints 
  • Formaldehyde-free custom cabinetry with water base lacquer finish
  • Formaldehyde-free Advantech sub floors
  • Hardwood floors
  • High R-value warp free fiberglass door systems
  • Low flow plumbing fixtures
  • Composite deck materials made from recycled materials
  • Stone, tile and natural materials
  • Recycled glass tiles and counter tops   

  • Low maintenance solar hot water systems are capable of providing 80-100% of a home's hot water needs. In a typical American home, water heating accounts for 15-20% of the household's energy use. A solar hot water system saves hundreds of dollars a year in energy costs.  Those savings combined with available tax credits, allow the system to pay for itself in a few short years.
  • Integrated photovoltaic electrical systems. Current Bingham Ridge residents report the PV array offsets their electricity use 26 - 32%. (Data gathered March 2009)
  • Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems
  • Centralized bath exhaust systems with timers
  • Compact fluorescent lamping as a standard
  • High efficiency appliances
  • Central vacuum systems 
  • Rain water collection and irrigation systems    
  • Occupancy sensor lighting systems
  • LED lighting fixtures in traffic locations
  • Borate termiticide         

What are the advantages of a sealed crawlspace?

What about Solar Mass?

Is geothermal heating an option, and how does it work?

What about gray water systems?

Is solar energy used for radiant floor heating?

Should I use an 18 SEER or higher AC system?

Visit the Silverwood Design Site for Plan Examples
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