While upgrading our new Asheville office, we took additional steps beyond air sealing and insulation measures to improve our building’s environmental impact and durability with several “advanced” upgrades.
To address long-standing moisture in our basement, we invested in an encapsulation which uses a heavy-duty liner to seal out moisture and soil gasses that wreak havoc on indoor air quality and building systems. The first step in this process was to improve drainage to keep bulk moisture from entering and pooling up in the basement. New gutter downspouts now carry rainwater at least 10 feet away from the foundation and the basement door threshold was rebuilt keeping water from pouring flowing in. A series of trenches cut into the basement floor carry any water that enters the basement to central spot where its pumped outside. Once drainage was improved, a double-layered fiberglass reinforced membrane was installed to cover the basement floor, walls, and structural supports. All edges and openings for plumbing and wiring were sealed with mastic, ensuring a moisture proof seal. We now have a dry, clean basement and the encapsulation has greatly improved air quality throughout the entire building. Additionally, the encapsulated basement is now a functional storage space.
We also went beyond basic energy efficiency measures by replacing all windows in the building with new, double pane, Energy Star-rated windows from the local company Window World. Several features of these windows minimize unwanted air leaks year round, and their low-E coating blocks solar heat gain from the sun in summer, so our office can stay cooler with less air conditioning or blocking outside views and natural daylight with blinds or curtains. After installation, each window frame was insulated and air sealed. Removed windows were either repurposed onsite or given away to be used in building projects, keeping them out of the landfill.
Materials and Operations
Wherever we could, we made greener choices in building materials; like as using low-VOC paints throughout the building and refinishing the existing hardwood floors instead of installing new flooring. Building operation is another place we reduce our office’s energy consumption, by turning down thermostats during nights and weekends and making sure HVAC system air filters are changed regularly. When warmer months roll around, we will use natural ventilation (aka opening windows) and ceiling fans to cool when we can instead of turning on the air conditioning.
Now that our new office is up to snuff where efficiency is concerned, we are looking at possibilities of installing solar to offset our electricity use, so stay tuned for more updates! We hope this series has inspired you to look for ways to save energy at your own home or office.