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New homebuilding method cuts energy bills

(BPT) - For people building new homes in the coming months, the ever-increasing pain of monthly utility bills for cooling and heating their homes has them looking for more energy-efficient construction methods. In 2014, homeowners have been burdened with electricity costs that rose 5 percent, heating oil 7 percent and natural gas 10 percent, as reported in USA Today. At the same time, homebuilders are challenged to meet increasingly stringent energy codes imposed by cities and counties.

County exceeds recycling goals

Prince William County’s official recycling rate for 2013 was 40.5 percent only slightly behind the 41.3 percent rate for 2012. The county received confirmation of last years recycling rate from the Virginia Department of Environment Quality (DEQ) in June. Virginia requires each city, county, town or region to maintain a minimum recycling rate. Prince William County is required to maintain a rate of 25 percent.

COLUMN:Let’s Talk Golf - How to defeat the front nine, back nine blues

In my line of work I get to hear about a lot of rounds of golf by my students and fellow pros. It’s not at all unusual for someone to come to the course and play the best round of their life on their front nine and suddenly crash and burn on the back nine with not only a bad score but one of the worst scores of the season. They step onto the first tee and the story of their round has yet to be developed. No expectations, just hit the fairway, now hit the green, now make the putt.

There’s an app for that; Manassas releases app

Working to better coordinate citizen access to information about upcoming events, city dining and shopping options as well as improving access to City Hall, Manassas Councilman Ian Lovejoy has announced the release of the “Your Manassas” community resource app. The app, which is currently available for download from the iPhone app store, features the ability to report concerns directly to the city, has access to the city news feed and Facebook page and also hosts a directory of commonly used numbers and city contacts.

Student is first at school to earn certification

Rising sophomore Grant Holbert recently became the first student from Christ Chapel Academy’s four-year Cyber Security Program to pass a certification exam. Holbert passed TestOut’s PC Pro certification, which measures the ability to do the hands-on portion of CompTIA A+ coursework.

World famous conductor Lorin Maazel dead at 84

Maestro Lorin Maazel, one of the most prominent of American conductors, died on July 13 from complications following pneumonia. Maazel was at his home, Castleton Farms, rehearsing and preparing for his annual Castleton Festival, when he was taken ill. He was 84.

World famous conductor Lorin Maazel dead at 84

Maestro Lorin Maazel, one of the most prominent of American conductors, died on July 13 from complications following pneumonia. Maazel was at his home, Castleton Farms, rehearsing and preparing for his annual Castleton Festival, when he was taken ill. He was 84.

EDITORIAL:Leave the kids out of it

Gangs. Drugs. Violence. Abandonment. Trafficking. Broken homes. Being away from home at such a young age, holed up at Youth for Tomorrow, one of the only local institutions with the resources and design to give them special attention.

COLUMN:Age Well - Seniors need to keep cool as temperatures rise

Images of the beach, lazy days and cool drinks swirl in my head when I think about summer. Indeed summer can be fun and may allow for more time to spend with our families and older loves ones. You may notice if you visit your older loved one that even during summer months, they may wear sweaters or have their air conditioner off. As we age, our bodies become less able to regulate internal temperature.

Manassas to unveil Gillum sign

Gillum was born in Manassas and graduated from Osbourn High School in 1940. He served as mayor of the city from 1996 to 2004. Prior to that he served as a school board member for more than 15 years.

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New homebuilding method cuts energy bills

Courtesy Photo/BPT
More builders and homeowners are using an advanced building product called structural insulated panels, which is a more energy efficient way of building homes.
(BPT) - For people building new homes in the coming months, the ever-increasing pain of monthly utility bills for cooling and heating their homes has them looking for more energy-efficient construction methods.

In 2014, homeowners have been burdened with electricity costs that rose 5 percent, heating oil 7 percent and natural gas 10 percent, as reported in USA Today.

At the same time, homebuilders are challenged to meet increasingly stringent energy codes imposed by cities and counties.

Most homes in North America are built using a technique that has remained essentially unchanged for more than a century.

So-called "stick construction" using hundreds of pieces of lumber is notoriously difficult to make energy efficient.

The problem is, numerous gaps in the structure provide paths for heated air to leak out and insulation in such homes tends to be spotty, rather than continuous across walls and ceilings.

To overcome these limitations, more builders and homeowners are using an advanced building product called structural insulated panels (SIPs). The panels are made of a rigid insulating foam core that has stiff wood panels laminated to it. SIPs are engineered to be stronger than stick construction, and are much more energy efficient.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reports that SIP buildings are about 15 times more air tight than stick construction.

"A SIP house has fewer joints, less complicated interfaces between conditioned and unconditioned spaces, and it is dramatically easier to make it tight," says Sam Rashkin, the former national director of DOE's Energy Star for Homes program.

A key reason SIP-built homes have far fewer gaps is that the panels come in large sections - up to 8 feet by 24 feet.

They also have continuous insulation across the height, width and depth of each panel.

As a result, SIP homeowners enjoy up to 60 percent energy cost savings from both heating and cooling their homes.

"Everyone is so amazed by the energy efficiency SIPs provide," says Scott Bergford, a DOE Energy Value Housing Award Builder of the Year, based in Olympia, Wash. "It only costs an average of $200 to $300 a year to heat one of my homes.

That's anywhere from one-fifth to one-sixth the typical costs for this region, so the savings are pretty significant, and the homeowners love that."

In addition to energy savings, SIPs create a comfortable indoor environment and help support healthy indoor air by sealing out common pollutants.

Green-minded homeowners also appreciate that building with the panels reduces construction waste by up to two-thirds.

Despite the wide range of benefits, SIPs generally cost about the same as stick construction, considering that they enable faster home construction and reduce disposal costs from building scraps.

"This is the future of homebuilding," says licensed engineer Joe Pasma, technical director for Premier SIPs. "SIPs provide homebuilders a simple and affordable way to meet evolving energy code requirements, while building better homes that people enjoy living in."

Some homeowners might worry that choosing SIPs will mean a cookie-cutter looking home. Yet, builders can easily adapt the panels to virtually any architectural style for single-family homes or apartments.

Builders have used SIPs for designs ranging from ultra-modern contemporary homes, to bungalows - even for Pueblo-style homes in New Mexico and high-end cabins in the Pacific Northwest.
More Local News

New homebuilding method cuts energy bills

County exceeds recycling goals

COLUMN:Let’s Talk Golf - How to defeat the front nine, back nine blues

There’s an app for that; Manassas releases app

Student is first at school to earn certification

World famous conductor Lorin Maazel dead at 84

World famous conductor Lorin Maazel dead at 84

EDITORIAL:Leave the kids out of it

COLUMN:Age Well - Seniors need to keep cool as temperatures rise

Manassas to unveil Gillum sign

ACTS director resigns

Local teams claim four District 8 baseball titles


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