GREENWICH, Conn. Like most people, Peter J. Fusaro had heard the catchphrase building green hundreds of times. But Fusaro decided to find out what it truly meant, and more importantly, put the philosophy into practice.
As owner of Preferred Builders Inc., Fusaro had been putting up homes in lower Fairfield County for more than a quarter century. But four years ago, his son told him he should start incorporating environmentally responsible practices into his work.
So Fusaro went to school to learn about green building, taking courses offered by the National Homebuilders Association. He proved to be such a good student that the group made him an instructor, and he now teaches courses on green construction techniques and building science.
"We teach how to build more efficiently, using bigger framing lumber than the traditional 2x4s and 2x6s so more insulation can be put in the walls," he said. "And for windows, we've learned that each side of a house should have a different type of glazing, rather than the same on all four sides."
Fusaro also learned that insulating the attic roof can improve the efficiency of a home's heating and cooling system. "If the attic is uninsulated, there's a lot of thermal transfer from the ductwork to the hot or cold air," he said.
A blower door test can measure how leaky a house is. "We look to see if there are a lot of holes or leaky windows, or if the ductwork is leaking," he said. "We'll spray foam to plug the holes and use gasket tape on the ducts."
Fusaro's current focus is on what he calls the Performance House , a 2,800-square-foot rebuild in Old Greenwich, which will earn five environmental certifications when it's finished. That design philosophy runs from the top, where roof overhangs reduce the sun's solar heating in the summer sun but allow it to warm the house in the winter, to the bottom, where the concrete foundation uses recycled glass rather than fly ash for a stronger and less toxic base.
In between, closed cell insulation is on the exterior walls, making the house so airtight it requires only a 30,000 BTU boiler to heat.
"We hired an engineer to calculate the heating needs, because the current charts didn't account for how efficient we built it," Fusaro said. Add in water sense energy efficient water fixtures throughout, motion-sensor lighting controls and synthetic trim ("really bulletproof stuff," Fusaro says) and this dream house might be the model for most future homes.
Said Fusaro, "I really believe that home buyers want energy-efficient homes."
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