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by Tracy Will
Tue, Jul 13th 2010 08:15 am
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10 Winter St. - PUSH Buffalo's Net-Zero House
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Back in February we told you about CIR's involvement with PUSH Buffalo's Net-Zero House at 10 Winter Street, and now it's time for an update.  As we mentioned, 10 Winter Street is a vacant property that PUSH is rehabilitating as a demonstration project to showcase the potential vacant housing stock has to take advantage of cutting edge green building technologies.  When it's complete, the property will feature advanced insulation technologies, rooftop photovoltaic (PV) and solar hot water systems, gray water management and a geothermal heating system installed in the adjacent vacant lot. 

Since part of PUSH's mission is to bring living wage jobs to the neighborhood, they've teamed up with WNY AmeriCorps to have local unemployed youth work on the project through their ServiceCorps program.  The YouthBuild crew works alongside the various building trades, gaining valuable on-the-job training and job skills within the growing green economy, along with contacts and connections that can assist them with their future employment goals.

To date, all of the framing is complete, CIR has completed the electrical rough-in, Apprentices from the U.A. Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 22 have completed the plumbing rough-in, some of which is connected to the solar hot water system being installed by Ingersoll Painting & Construction, and Roofmasters has completed the installation of the new cool metal roof.

Currently, the front porch is being rebuilt, and although all of the supply and return piping and mechanical equipment for the solar hot water system are installed, Ingersoll is still working on the evacuated tube solar collectors on the roof.  The solar hot water system will be backed-up by a high-efficiency on-demand hot water heater, which Ingersoll has already installed.

According to PUSH's property manager, Clarke Gocker, the next big item that will be completed in the house is the hardwood flooring.  The house will be heated by a closed loop geothermal and radiant floor heating system designed by Watts Architecture & Engineering.  To avoid any accidental damage to the underfloor piping during the installation of the hardwood floors, the piping and mechanical equipment for the radiant floor heating will be installed after the floors are finished.  Other additions coming soon to the property are new windows and doors being donated by Pella.

The closed loop geothermal system that will supply the radiant floor heating is something that will be completed a little further down the road.  The system, consisting of flexible slinky pipes to conserve space, will be installed in a 6-foot by 100-foot by 6-foot deep trench in the lot adjacent to the house.  When complete, the system will utilize the constant temperature of the earth, 50 degrees at this depth, to provide heat to the home.  To do this, a liquid mixture is circulated through the slinky piping by a pump in the basement.  As the liquid passes through the piping it is heated by the earth before returning to the basement where a heat exchanger extracts the heat for use in the radiant floor heating system.

Because one of the most important factors in determining the efficiency of a heating system, aside from the system itself, is the building envelope, careful attention is being paid to ensure that the house is well-insulated and all thermal bridges and air leaks are minimized.  When CIR installed junction boxes for any switches, receptacles or fixtures on exterior walls, they had to be spaced 4 ¼ inches from the exterior wall to leave room for blow-in cellulose insulation and eliminate thermal bridging.

In addition to the blow-in cellulose insulation on the interior, three inches of rigid foam insulation will be added to the interior of the rough framing on all exterior walls.  New Buffalo Impact will be providing training and guidance to the YouthBuild crew to ensure that the insulation is installed properly to maximize its effectiveness.  Buffalo Energy, the project's energy consultant, will also be monitoring the installation of the building insulation and air sealing.  As the energy consultant, Buffalo Energy is in charge of building commissioning to ensure that all energy systems are working properly, assisting with Energy Star products, and providing tenant education to ensure that building systems are used properly to provide their maximum energy-saving benefits.

Let's not forget the solar electricity!  CIR will be installing a 4.5 kilowatt PV array on the southwest facing portion of the roof on the back of the house.  The array will provide electricity for the house, including power for the mechanical equipment.  Prominently displayed on the roof of the house, the PV array and solar collectors for the solar hot water system will be the primary indicators that the house uses green technologies.

Be sure to look for future updates on the progress of PUSH Buffalo's Net-Zero House from CIR, and visit for more information on this and other projects that they have in the works.

***Special thanks to Clarke Gocker of PUSH - Thank you for your help!

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