When we think about the qualities of a home, we often hear adjectives like “luxurious,” “cozy,” or “curb appeal.” More recently, we have been hearing about qualities like “green” and “sustainable.” However, when you hear “high-performance” you are more likely to think of a luxury sports car than a home. But we think that “high-performance” is the perfect description for a quality, well-deigned, well-built, sustainable luxury home that utilizes the technologies and systems that are available in today’s residences. High-performance homes take “green” and “sustainable” to a new level. A high-performance home is a sustainably built home that saves energy, conserves water, is healthier for the occupants, and is less impactful on the environment. It is more durable, lasts longer, and costs less to maintain as well. A high-performance home maximizes the livability of a home, while minimizing the space and resources it needs. A high-performance home is a quality home. At a basic level, a high-performance home is built with the finest craftsmanship, using the best building practices and materials available, but it is also a well-designed home that fits the owner’s needs and wants in a comfortable way, with style.
The high-performance home approach also looks at a house as a collection of integrated systems placed within the framework of a structure that can be intelligently controlled to optimize its performance. These systems include: environmental systems for temperature, ventilation, and lighting; thermal and moisture barrier systems,; water delivery and storm water management systems; waste management systems; food handling and storage systems; entertainment and security systems; communication systems, and more. These systems can tell you what is happening in the home at every moment and give you easy control over them, even remotely. Your home can provide you with up-to-date data and information and even calculate your utility bills. Simply put, high-performance homes are better designed, better quality homes that are easier to manage, control and maintain. We can look at the elements or amenities of a high-performance home as having one or more of the following characteristics: Performance, Sustainability, Luxury, Investment Enhancement, and Health. Most elements of a high-performance home span all five areas.
The nicest thing about high-performance homes is that they don’t have to cost you a lot more to build, but they will cost you less to live in. A well-designed high-performance home is optimized to provide you with just the right amount of house. You don’t have to build more than you need. Many of the elements of a sustainable, high-performance home are just good building practices. They are the difference between a poorly built home and a quality-built home. For example, caulking the framing joints can significantly increase a home’s thermal efficiency with very little cost. The more sophisticated systems of a high-performance house can often be scaled to fit your needs and budget, and there are a number of tax incentives and credits available that can reduce many of these costs. You don’t have to break the bank to have a sustainable, high-performance home.
Let’s look at a few examples:
Advanced Geothermal Heating & Cooling Systems
These systems are about luxury, performance, and more. They are sustainable because they do not rely on gas or fossil fuels to heat your home, and significantly reduce the need for electricity to cool it. They are luxury systems as they provide a more constant temperature, are quieter and provide better air quality. They can better minimize allergens, reduce dust and other contaminants from moving around your home, giving you more healthy air. They can also be a good investment by reducing your total energy costs to heat and cool your home, and by being less costly to maintain and last longer than conventional systems — And a geothermal system can qualify for a 30% tax credit, helping to make it more cost effective in its initial installation.
Home Automation Systems
Home automation helps manage many of the systems in your home. It can help control energy usage of your HVAC system, such as minimizing heating or cooling in other parts of the home when not in use. How’s this for luxury: landing at the airport after a winter vacation, and having the ability to “turn up” the house temperature from your cell phone so it’s a comfortable 72 degrees by the time you get home? Home automation can manage your lighting systems, your electronics and appliances to optimize electricity usage, and give you better control of your home. Managing usage manages your costs and makes your home a smart system that will reduce your utility bills and help you quickly realize a return on your home investment.