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    Denver Area New Homes: Featuring Thermal Envelope Technology
    Denver area new homes are part of some of the most progressive, green-oriented buildings being built, nationwide

    contents
    1. What is a "Thermal Envelope?"
    2. Superinsulation
    3. Windows and Doors
    4. Outer Coatings
    5. The Results

    Colorado legislation has approved several laws which force construction companies to comply with various environmentally sound building techniques. Although the builders might not be thrilled, home buyers should be. Denver area new homes are part of some of the most progressive, green-oriented homes currently being built anywhere in the United States.

    One of the multiple green, energy saving features currently being found in Denver area new homes is called the thermal envelope.

    What is a "Thermal Envelope?"

    The term "thermal envelope" describes the way that the structure of building itself shields the interior of the home, keeping the elements from affecting the interior temperature or humidity. It also prevents the heated or cooled air in the home's interior from seeping out of the building. But the new thermal envelopes do much more than just plain old drywall, wood, or plaster walls can do. "The building envelope envelope - along with the outdoor weather - is the primary determinant of the amount of energy used to heat, cool and ventilate. A more energy-efficient envelope means lower energy use in a building and lower greenhouse emissions." (www. climatetechnology.gov)

    The effectiveness of the thermal envelope has to do with the types of insulation the builder uses in the residence's walls, ceilings and floors. Insulation can make a huge difference to your energy bills. Properly installed and insulated windows and doors make a difference as well.

    Denver new homes are also dependent on other factors - " the rate of exchange of inside and outside air, which in turn depends on the air-tightness of the envelope and driving forces such as wind, inside-outside temperature differences and air pressure differences due to mechanical ventilation systems or warm/cool air distribution." (www.ipcc.ch)

    Superinsulation

    To create an effective thermal envelope effect, the type of insulation used in new homes in Denver areas is the most important factor in play. Where and how that insulation is places is also vital, so the new home builder needs to be experienced with creating a thermal envelope.

    Formula foams and vacuum panels are just two of the innovative new materials used to form this thermal envelope. They are so much more effective than older types of insulation, they have been given the name, "superinsulation." "Vacuum powder-filled, gas-filled and vacuum fiber-filled panels; structurally reinforced beaded vacuum panels; and switchable evacuated panels with insulating values more than four times those of the best currently available materials should soon be available for niche markets." (www.climatetechnology.gov)

    Windows and Doors

    We've all lived with drafty windows and doors that didn't have a good seal and barely kept the wind and moisture out. Fortunately, the technology involved in the manufacture of windows and doors has also improved tremendously.

    Along with our "super insulation" theme, you won't be surprised to hear that new homes in the Denver area feature energy efficient window technology includes something known as, "Krypton-filled, triple glazed, low-E windows; electrochromic glazing; and hybrid electrochromic/photovoltaic film." (www.climatetechnology.com)

    Outer Coatings

    Currently, Denver new homes are following the trend of using white roofs to reduce summer heat gain. The premise is that the white roof will not absorb the heat but will reflect it back, keeping the roof and the house cooler. Did you know that a roof garden can also offset some of the Denver summer's heat, via the shade the garden creates? "White roofs can also cool temperatures inside buildings, which could change the amount of energy used for space heating and air conditioning. This in turn could affect the consumption of fossil fuels, which generate many of the greenhouse gases potentially responsible for the Earth's warming. Depending on whether air conditioning or heating is affected more (as you might have to turn up the thermostat due to cooling temperatures), this effect could either magnify or partially offset the impact of the roof." (www.msnbc.msn.com)

    There are also special coatings builders are using in Denver new home areas including a product called "Ceramic Insulcoat". As its name suggests, Insulcoat is a coating placed on the outer surface of a building, with the express purpose of keeping it cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, and lowering the energy bills. It lasts much longer than a coat of paint and is a "green" product. "Ceramic Insulcoat is a high-build, high-performance architectural coating that goes on any substrate whether it's wood, stucco, cement, concrete, brick or metal. It's used on condo towers, schools, residential homes - any building at all." (www.entechcoatings.com)

    The company that makes "Ceramic Insulcoat," has another unique and green product, a special paint that acts like a skin: a breathable, waterproof, invisible acrylic seal for the exterior of your home. "Entech Coatings claims that their water -based paint flexes with a homes natural expansions and contractions, so the existing finish lasts longer. It also resists fungus, corrosion, weathering and fading.It reflects solar energy away from the home, so a smaller amount is able to penetrate the insulation to raise temperatures inside the home." (www.entechcoatings.com)

    The Results

    new homes in Denver area with superior thermal envelope capabilities have significantly lower heating and cooling bills, making a thermal envelope definitely something to inquire about when shopping for a new home.

    • Since your new Denver area home must have insulation, why not use the kind that creates a total thermal envelope? "Improvements in the thermal envelope can reduce heating requirements by a factor of two to four compared to standard practice, at a few percent of the total cost of residential buildings, and at little to no net incremental cost in commercial buildings when downsizing of heating and cooling systems is accounted for (Demirbilek et al., 2000; Hamada et al., 2003; Hastings, 2004).
    • There are already many advanced technology houses built in various cold-climates around the world, that, because of their insulation and cutting edge coatings, are able to keep their inhabitants warm and comfortable using only 10% of the heating energy of houses built according to the local national building code (Badescu and Sicre, 2003; Hamada et al., 2003; Hastings, 2004).
    • Reducing the envelope and air exchange heat loss by a factor of two reduces the heating requirement by more than a factor of two because of solar gains and internal heat gains from equipment, occupants and lighting.
    • In countries with mild winters but still requiring heating (including many developing countries), modest (and therefore less costly) amounts of insulation can readily reduce heating requirements by a factor of two or more, as well as substantially reducing indoor summer temperatures, thereby improving comfort (in the absence of air conditioning) or reducing summer cooling energy use (Taylor et al., 2000; Florides et al., 2002; Safarzadeh and Bahadori, 2005)." (www.ipcc.ch)
     

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