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Build Green

It is very financially possible to build green! The actual building will cost less than 5 percent more than a regular home, but the long-term energy savings are worth it. In some cases, customers even see short-term savings by going green. (view related news article)

DreamWork Builders offers you the following options for building the most energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, quiet and comfortable home available today:

Green Built Certification

Green BuiltTM Michigan certifies builders and their homes as being energy-efficient, safe, durable, and environmentally sustainable. The program incorporates environmental considerations into every phase of the homebuilding process.

Homes certified as Green BuiltTM meet standards in these areas:
  • Lot design, preparation and development
  • Resource efficiency
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Operation, maintenance and homeowner education
  • Global impact
The highest level of performance is Green Built Gold. DreamWork Builders´ Duchesse home exceeds the certification requirements for the gold award.

Did you know... over the last 20 years there has been a 45 percent increase in childhood asthma because of the type of products contained in more traditional houses—products such as paint that releases toxins into the air or fiberglass insulation that contains harmful fibers?

sources: Green BuiltTM Michigan, Rapid Growth (www.rapidgrowthmedia.com)


The ENERGY STAR program is a joint venture of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. The program promotes the design and development of homes that significantly reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions without sacrificing features, style or comfort. The ENERGY STAR program delivers the technical information and tools that builders and home buyers need to protect the environment and save money.

An Energy Star–qualified home has these features:
  • Effective Insulation
  • High-performance windows
  • Tight construction
  • Efficient heating and cooling systems
  • Efficient appliances and lighting
Our Duchesse home scores 61 on the ENERGY STAR Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index. This is among the best scores ever registered in Michigan.

View the report

Did you know... your home can be a greater source of pollution than your car? Sixteen percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are generated from the energy used in houses nationwide.

source: ENERGY STAR (www.energystar.gov)

Conservation Subdivision Design

Conservation development permanently preserves 50-70 percent or more buildable land than a conventional development, while allowing the same number of homesites. These creative developments are often more profitable and faster selling, benefiting the landowner, developer, homeowner, community and wildlife.

In subdivisions designed for conservation:
  • Homes are placed for the best views of nature and wildlife
  • Homes are placed for maximum privacy from neighbors
  • Forests, fields and trails get children outdoors and offer homeowners the chance to enjoy nature, improve health and reduce stress
  • Trees are preserved
  • Developers' costs are reduced
  • Lots may carry a premium and sell more quickly
Did you know... every year, millions of acres are developed into subdivisions?

source: (www.landchoices.org)

Insulating Concrete Forms

ICFs are hollow foam blocks that are stacked in the shape of the exterior walls of a building, reinforced with steel rebar and filled with concrete. The result is a wall system of unmatched comfort, energy efficiency, strength and noise reduction. Build Block ICF walls actually perform as high as R-50 in some areas of the country.

     Building your home with ICFs:
  • Can reduce heating and cooling costs by at least 50 percent
  • Reduces air infiltration (including airborne allergens) by 75 percent
  • Creates a more uniform and stable temperature
  • Substantially reduces noise
  • Makes it ten times stronger than a wood-framed structure
  • Makes it fire, earthquake, tornado and hurricane resistant (and may qualify for a lower insurance premium)
  • Saves trees and energy
  • Adds value to the home
View Slide Show of a whole house constructed with ICFs.
Did you know... an ICF home can withstand a Category 5 hurricane and an F2 tornado? See article. The walls can be engineered to withstand circular winds up to
250 mph with shear wall strength up to 10,000 pounds per linear foot.

sources: , Insulating Concrete Form Association (www.forms.org)

Cellulose Insulation

Made from recycled wood fiber—at least 75 percent newspaper—cellulose insulation is sprayed into walls, attics and floors, completely filling the spaces, for a seamless insulation system.

Insulating your home with spray-in cellulose insulation:
  • Can reduce heating and cooling costs by as much as 40 percent
  • Reduces air infiltration
  • Reduces noise
  • Creates a fire retardant
  • If treated, controls pests
  • Recycles a waste product and consumes less energy to manufacture (with virtually no emissions)
  • Adds value to the home
Did you know... more than 150 tons of paper are recycled each business day at Nu-Wool—the equivalent of 2,550 trees?

sources: Applegate Insulation (www.applegateinsulation.com), Nu-Wool Inc. (www.nuwool.com),
             Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association (www.cellulose.org)

Polyurethane Insulation

Spray Polyurethane Foam is an incredible material for roofing systems and thermal insulation with its excellent water resistance and ability to create an airtight seal.

Insulating with spray polyurethane foam:
  • Eliminates drafts by completely filling seams, crevices and cracks
  • Reduces energy use
  • Provides high R-values
  • Resists water, mildew and fungus
  • Adds structural strength
  • Provides stability—does not shrink or settle
  • Reduces noise

Did you know... soy-based spray foam insulations are now available?

sources:Monolithic Dome Institute (www.monolithic.com)
            Emega Biopolymers (www.soybasedfoam.com)

D.R. Nelson Sealant Package

Nelson Energy Seal is the strategic application of UL-listed sealants at two critical stages of the construction process. This eliminates sources of excessive air leakage, the single most significant impact on the performance of the home because it degrades the actual R value of the insulation, increases the load on the heating and cooling systems, and allows moisture, dust and insects a free path into the home.

The Nelson Energy Seal creates a "skin" to contain the home's conditioned air:
  • Promoting energy efficiency
  • Lowering heating and cooling costs
  • Improving indoor air quality
  • Improving homeowner comfort
To ensure proper sealing, D.R. Nelson tests all of its homes.

Blower Door Test
A blower door test determines a home's airtightness and pinpoints leaks. A blower door is a powerful fan that mounts into the frame of an exterior door. The fan pulls air out of the house lowering the air pressure inside. The higher outside air pressure then flows in through all unsealed cracks and openings. Measurements taken during the test are used to calculate the leakage rate. Identified leaks can be sealed to improve the home's tightness.

View Slide Show of blower door test.

Did you know... excessive air leakage accounts for 40-60 percent of the home's heating and cooling costs, and reduces the actual "R" value of insulation by as much as 70 percent?

sources: D.R. Nelson (www.drnelson.com)
             Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (www.eere.energy.gov)

Bonus Room Construction

Bonus rooms are designed, constructed, insulated and sealed with the same building practices as the rest of the home to ensure comfort and safe air quality.

Did you know... the temperature in a conventionally constructed bonus room can vary 10-15 degrees from the rest of the house?

source: HGTVpro.com

Low-e Glass

Low-emittance (low-e) coatings are microscopically thin metal or metallic oxide layers deposited on a window or skylight to regulate heat flow through the window.

These energy-efficient windows:
  • Reduce energy loss by as much as 30-50 percent
  • Reduce air leakage
  • Reduce condensation
  • Reduce fading of interior furnishings
  • Make a home more comfortable
  • Can save more than 30 percent on annual heating costs
Did you know... on a night with an outside temperature of 0 degrees and a 15 mph wind, the inside temperature of a single pane window would be approximately 26 degrees? Regular double pane glass might be 35 degrees. Hard-coat (tin-based) low-e glass would be near 49 degrees and soft-coat (silver-based) low-e glass at 62 degrees.

sources: Efficient Windows Collaborative (www.efficientwindows.org)

Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Geothermal, or geoexchange, technology uses the earth's natural, renewable thermal energy to provide extremely efficient heating and cooling. In winter, the earth's heat is collected through a series of pipes, called a loop, buried in the ground and carried into the home. A heat pump inside the home concentrates the energy and transfers it to air circulated through standard ductwork. In the summer, the process is reversed: excess heat is drawn from the home, expelled to the loop and absorbed by the earth. The only external energy needed is a small amount of electricity to operate the ground loop pump and fan.

Heating and cooling your home with geothermal technology:
  • Saves 30-70 percent in heating costs and 20-50 percent in cooling costs, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Has the lowest cost of operation of any heating/cooling system available
  • Produces no gaseous emissions—is completely nonpolluting
  • Is quiet, highly reliable and requires little maintenance
  • Uses less space than a furnace and air conditioner—the compact heat pump typically is installed in a basement or attic
  • Uses energy efficiently and produces fewer emissions
  • Adds value to the home
Did you know... the temperature a few feet below the earth's surface remains relatively constant throughout the year?

sources: Geoexchange Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium (www.geoexchange.us)
             Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (www.eere.energy.gov)

Variable Speed Furnaces and Air Conditioners

Variable speed appliances run at low speed most of the time and high speed only when needed. The Dave Lennox Signature Collection G61V Variable Speed Gas Furnace:
  • Can lower heating costs by hundreds of dollars each year
  • Delivers consistent heat for more comfort
  • Is quiet and reliable
  • Is ENERGY STAR qualified—up to 94.6 percent efficient

The Dave Lennox Signature Collection XC21 Air Conditioner:
  • Can lower cooling costs by up to 60 percent
  • Delivers more consistent cooling for comfort
  • Runs about 13 times quieter than a standard air conditioner
  • Is ENERGY STAR qualified—nearly twice as efficient as a standard air conditioner
  • Uses chlorine-free refrigerant to save the environment
  • Allows quick, easy access to interior for cleaning and maintenance
Did you know... if just one in ten households installed Energy Star heating and cooling products, the change would keep more than 17 billion pounds of pollution out of the air?

source: Lennox (www.lennox.com)

Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat allows you to automatically regulate the temperature in your home, an easy way to save energy and money. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save about 10 percent a year on your energy bills by turning down the thermostat 10-15 degrees for eight hours per day.

Did you know... the average home spends about $1900 annually on energy bills? Heating and cooling account for as much as half of a home’s energy usage.

sources: HAI (www.homeauto.com)
             Energy Star (www.energystar.gov)
             U.S. Department of Energy (www.energy.gov)

Hydronic Heating

Hydronic, or radiant floor, heating concentrates heat in the floor of the home. Special tubing is embedded in a concrete foundation or in a thin concrete mixture on top of a wood-framed floor. Heated water flows through this tubing, warming the thermal mass of the concrete, which radiates heat to the room.

Hydronic heating:
  • Is efficient
  • Is comfortable—heat is at your feet and gently warms the room
  • Can be easily zoned
  • Is cleaner than ducted systems (which circulate dust, dirt and impurities back into the house)
Did you know... water is the ultimate transfer medium? A given volume of water can hold almost 3,500 times as much heat as the same volume of air for the same temperature rise.

sources: Backwoods Magazine (www.backwoodshome.com)
             Hydronic Heating Association (www.comfortableheat.net)

Tankless Water Heaters

These Energy Star–certified heaters have a heating device that is activated by the flow of water, allowing you to heat water only as needed (on demand) and eliminating the need to store hot water.
Tankless water heaters offer:
  • 10-20 percent annual water heating savings
  • Less wasted water waiting for warm water to reach a faucet
  • No energy lost from warmed water sitting in a tank
  • Longer equipment life (approximately 20 years)
Did you know... for homes that use up to 41 gallons of hot water daily, tankless water heaters can be 24-34 percent more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters?

sources: ToolBase Services (www.toolbase.org)
              California Contractor (www.californiacontractor.com)

ENERGY STAR Appliances

Earning the ENERGY STAR means a product meets strict energy-efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Using 10-50 percent less energy and water than standard appliances, Energy Star–qualified appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators and dishwashers:
  • Reduce pollution
  • Protect the nation's water supplies
  • Reduce utility bills
Did you know... if one in ten homes used Energy Star–qualified appliances, the change would be like planting 1.7 million new acres of trees?

source: ENERGY STAR (www.energystar.gov)

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Switching from traditional light bulbs to CFLs is an effective, accessible change every American can make right now to reduce energy use at home and prevent greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change.

ENERGY-STAR-qualified CFLs:
  • Use up to 75 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs
  • Last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs
  • Cost little up front
  • Provide a quick return on investment
Did you know... lighting accounts for close to 20 percent of the average home's electric bill?

sources: Home Technology Alliance Update (www.nahb.org/HTA), ENERGY STAR (www.energystar.gov)

Low-flow Plumbing

In 1995 the National Energy Policy Act mandated the use of toilets that use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Since then, low-flow plumbing fixtures have helped homeowners save substantial amounts of fresh water while reducing utility bills.
  • Low-flow toilets use 1.6 gallons/flush compared to the standard toilet's 3.5 gallons/flush.
  • Low-flow showerheads use about 2.5 gallons/minute compared to 4 to 5 gallons/minute for older models.
  • Low-flow faucet aerators use 2.5 gallons/minute compared to 4 gallons/minute for older models.
Did you know... low-flow toilets alone could save up to 22,000 gallons of water per year for a family of four?

source: ToolBase Services (www.toolbase.org)

Low- or No-VOC Paints

These paints emit insignificant amounts of or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—pollutants—compared to standard paints.
  • They are virtually odor free
  • They keep the air cleaner (especially good for those with allergies or chemical sensitivities)
  • They clean up with soap and water
Did you know... indoor air is three times more polluted than outdoor air?

sources: ToolBase Services (www.toolbase.org), earth easy (www.eartheasy.com)

Solar Panels

Photovoltaic devices—solar cells—change sunlight directly into electricity. A Roof Integrated Tile photovoltaic system gives homeowners a way to add solar energy to their homes using panels that blend seamlessly with the roofline.

Solar panels:
  • Take advantage of the unlimited supply of free solar energy
  • Produce no air or water pollution
  • Can be installed quickly

Did you know... if the U.S. Department of Energy's "Million Solar Roofs Initiative" were powered by photovoltaic modules, it would result in approximately 17,000 fewer tons of sulfur dioxide emissions and approximately 4,900 fewer tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions per year?

sources: Energy Information Administration (www.eia.doe.gov)
             GE ecomagination (ge.ecomagination.com)

Rain Water Harvesting

Collect and use the abundant supply of naturally pure and soft rainwater that falls on your roof every time it rains. The water can be used for irrigation, toilets, washers, pools and more. Rain is collected from a gutter system and stored in a large barrel buried underground.

Harvesting rain water:
  • Saves drinking water
  • Reduces storm water runoff pollution

Did you know... in many communities, 30-50 percent of the total water used is for landscape irrigation?

source: Stark Environmental (www.starkenvironmental.com)