Archive for September, 2015

Ten Steps to Zero Energy Home

September 21st, 2015

Ten Steps to Zero Energy Home - Inside a Zero Energy Home - Connaughton ConstructionThe ten steps to zero energy home is a lifestyle change.

1. Energy Audit

After you conduct an energy audit, you are ready for an architect or engineer that can put the plans on paper. The  architect or engineer takes all of the specifications from the energy audit and integrates them into a complete design document. This helps the contractors and subcontractors in making their estimates and completing the work.

From the very beginning, and throughout the retrofitting process, the homeowner, energy consultant, the contractor and the architect or engineer work as a team to make the transition possible.

2. Super Seal the Building

Create an air tight barrier on all six sides of the home. Air tightening the shell of your home; the floors, ceilings, windows, doors, outlets and walls. A blower door test will identify air leaks during the testing. Use transparent caulking while a blower door is running to seal all air leaks. Lowering the Air Changes per Hour to near 2 ACH is a common goal for a full zero net energy remodel.

3. Super Insulate

The building envelope of a house consists of its roof, sub floor, exterior doors, windows and of course the exterior walls. A tight building is preferable in cooler climates.

Adding blown-in ceiling insulation,  floor insulation and basement wall insulation is an easy and relatively inexpensive measure. This is where the R-value matters.

How well insulation works is expressed by its R-value, which measures resistance to the flow of heat. The higher the R-value, the better it insulates per inch of thickness. How much is enough?

The Attic Insulation: The amount of insulation recommended for homes in the northeast is a minimum of R-50 in the attic, which is equivalent to approximately 16″ of fiberglass insulation. Warmer climates only require an R-38 or higher, or about 12″.

Wall Insulation: While wall insulation is limited by the width of the studs, different materials provide higher or lower R-values. Fiberglass batts for standard 2×4 walls are now available in low, medium, and high density products that range from R-11 to R-15. Sprayed foam insulation in the same wall cavity can range from an R-14 to an R-28 depending on the product that is used.

Floor Insulation: While there are additional considerations—such as venting and moisture problems—to take into account when you insulate under floors, the United States Department of Energy recommends an R-25 rating in cold climates and an R-11 in warmer parts of the country.

4. Use Highly Insulated Windows and Doors

Installing U-value storm windows can save up to 20% of the heat lost through the windows. The U-value of a window is the insulation value or measurement. The lower the u-value the better the insulation value of that window.

Low U-value windows for energy efficiency in zero energy homes - Connaughton ConstructionSelecting windows for energy efficiency is easier with the new window technologies available to homeowners, architects and builders. There are three major types of energy flow that occur through windows: (1) non solar heat losses and gains in the form of conduction, convection, and radiation; (2) solar heat gains in the form of radiation; and (3) airflow, both intentional (ventilation) and unintentional (infiltration). The U-value is a measure of the rate of non-solar heat flow through a window or skylight.  Buy lower U-factors windows for reducing heat flow.

5. Use the Sun for Electricity and Hot Water

Installing a solar hot water system or a heat pump hot water heater will reduce hot water costs. Adding low flow showerheads and faucets will help reduce hot water use.

Turning off and unplugging all electronics when not in use. Using energy strips for all electronics will make it easy to disconnect them when not in use.

6. Create an Energy Efficient, Fresh Air Supply and Manage Humidity

Plan for and manage moisture. As you seal up the holes, or insulate crawl spaces you also need to manage the moisture that goes along with insulating. Installing a highly efficient Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) or Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) system will help provide fresh filtered air.

In most homes, especially airtight homes, indoor winter humidity should be 30% or below, to avoid possible condensation problems. An HRV helps lower indoor humidity more effectively, when the outside humidity is low. The use of vapor barrier paint on the interior of the sheet rock will help prevent moisture from penetrating the wall assembly. Moving the air regularly with either type of ventilation system will help prevent mold.

7. Use an Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling System

Installing a ductless heat pump mini-split heating and air conditioning system, is very energy efficient and easy to install.

Install programmable thermostats that reduce the heat when you are away and increase heat when you return.

8. Install Energy Efficient Lighting.

For lighting, high efficiency LEDs lightbulbs in light fixtures that get the most use.

9. Select Energy Efficient Appliances and Electronics

All appliances having the Energy Star label have been deemed energy efficient by government standards.

10. Install Smart Meter

A smart meter is the communication gateway between the utility company and the home.

Request a Consultation with Connaughton Construction for your project. Call 781-899-1438, ext. 14 for John. There never was a better time to enjoy your outdoor space.

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Current Project 310 Marlborough Street

September 11th, 2015

Boston’s Back Bay

310 Marlborough St,  formerly a multi-family home with approximately 4,704 square feet, built in 1899. The average list price for Back Bay today is $2,429,400. This is one sought after neighborhood in Boston, ranking as Boston’s Luxury Properties. The panoramic views and exceptional location in the trendy and sophisticated Boston’s Back Bay make residences on Marlborough Street one of the most desirable.

What was once a 7 unit brownstone is under renovation into a single family of four. It’s getting a total overhaul. In this five story frame, we’re reframing all the walls, leveling the floors, new insulation, new lighting and new wiring throughout. We’re implementing new heating, new plumbing, new fire sprinkler system independent of the plumbing system, and new electric. A three-phase electrical is in for the new elevator and electric heat pumps; requiring a new tie-in at the street. Rock wool insulation is going into the entire place; ceiling, walls, stairs, floors. Rock wool insulation is safer, having no formaldehyde, makes it more green, eco-friendly and resistant to fires. In addition to the rock wool insulation, we are installing polyicynene closed cell spray foam at the top floor ceiling and roof and at the front mansard roof; an energy efficient rating of R38.

We are renovating 5 fireplaces with choice of stone, marble and wood, gracing the garden level, the master bedroom, the music room, second floor, and dining room.

Garden Level

Current Project 310 Marlborough - Front and Back Entrances - Connaughton Construction

Garden Level – Radiant Floor Heating Back Garden

At garden level we have a bedroom, bath, storage, 2 large closets, a wet bar, family room with a fireplace, an entrance at the front and back.

Back Entrance (left image) the outside Back Entrance Parking court will have a heated brick driveway versed with an electric radiant floor heating system automatically clearing the snow. The cinder-block dividing wall will be all brick.

Music Room Makeover Inside and Outside

Current Project 310 Marlborough Street - Music Room Main Level - Connaughton Construction

Main Floor – First Level – Music Room

Front Entrance above will take you up the brownstone steps, through mahogany french doors, pass the parlor room, the mahogany library and a music room.

For the music room (top image) makeover we are refinishing the mahogany fireplace, retrimming the bay window and reframing the walls. To bring the fireplace up to code, the chimney flue is getting a new stainless steel liner.

The Bay window is the music room overlooking the parking court.

From the outside (left image) the bay window is getting restored with a new base. The white base is weather resistant PVC trim, soon to be black to match the top.

Hyper Heat Heating and Cooling System

Current Project 310 Marlborough Street - New Sprinkler System - Connaughton Construction

Second Level – New Sprinkler System

The second level houses the gourmet kitchen, a big family room and a dining room with gas log fireplace.

Building closets left and right, installing ductwork shared by the AC and new HVAC with Hyper Heat Heating and Cooling System.

Getting up-to-code with the city requires installation of the new sprinkler system. With the new sprinkler system we’re installing 2″ fire lines from the street separate from the domestic water system.

On-Demand Tankless Hot Water Heater

Cast Iron Plumbing used Throughout - Current Project 310 Marlborough Street - Connaughton Construction

Third Level – Cast Iron Plumbing Throughout

Master suite with separate study at the front with a laundry room.

Plumbing The new plumbing is black cast iron. Water flowing through cast iron piping is quieter than water running through pvc piping.

We are installing 3 new energy efficient gas fired on demand tankless hot water heaters. No tanks means no space needed.

Tankless hot water heaters provide the comfort and convenience of having a continuous supply of hot water. Gas-fired tankless water heaters produce higher flow rates than electric ones. Sometimes, even the largest, gas-fired tankless water heater cannot supply enough hot water for simultaneous, multiple uses in large households. To overcome this problem, we are installing three tankless water heaters.

Fourth Level

Current Project 310 Marlborough Street - Hanging Blueboard on Stilts-Connaughton Construction

Fourth Level – Professionals use stilts to hang blueboard.

The fourth level has 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, and 3 large closets, 1 of which is cedar.

Professionals use stilts to hang blueboard on the ceiling and walls.

Roof Deck

Current Project 310 Marlborough Street - Roof Deck View of Prudential - Connaughton Construction

Roof Deck – View of Prudential

A new glass roof hatch (middle image) provides access to new outdoor space; the roof deck. Breath-taking view of the Prudential building and eco-friendly Green Roofs. We’re framing with pressure treated wood and high quality, no maintenance Trex composite decking for the flooring.

The large white unit (far left image) is the energy efficient hyper-heat pump(HHP) condenser for heating and cooling. An air handler units is installed on every floor, small enough to fit in the ceiling, and connected to an HHP Condenser. For cooling, the unit blows air across freon cooled pipes, sending out cool air. For heating, the unit blows air across heated coils. The white pipes on the roof top are vent pipes for the water heaters. One is a fresh air in-take, and one exhausts air.

New Elevator with 3 Phase Electrical System

Current Project 310 Marlborough Street - Elevator Shaft - Connaughton Construction

New Elevator

The new elevator shaft is under way. How’s that for making life easy carting groceries, moving furniture, and carrying belongings between levels. A new 3 phase electrical system is in place due to the addition of the elevator and to bring the electrical up to code.

Private elevators is becoming a necessity in residential suburban living where the best use of vertical space is a must.

Current Project 310 Marlborough Street

Request a Consultation with Connaughton Construction for your project. Call 781-899-1438, ext. 14 for John. There never was a better time to enjoy your outdoor space.

 Sign Up for The Builders Notebook - Connaughton Construction

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

September 1st, 2015

What is a Green Roof?

Green Roof - 7 layers of root barrier - Connaughton ConstructionA “green roof” is an extension of an existing roof on top of the concrete slab, including a high-quality waterproofing membrane, a root repellant system or root barrier, a drainage layer, filter cloth, lightweight growing medium and soil, irrigation system and plants.

How do Green Roofs Make for Healthy Cities?

Green Roofs have Economic Benefits

Green roofs and services create jobs for many people.  According to Green Roofs For Healthy Cities (GRHC)  the demand for green roof installations requires and therefore helps create a business market for manufacturers and suppliers of all the required physical components. That is, all the green roof layers, specialized garden nurseries, architects, landscapers, ecological design and engineering professionals, the labor and maintenance personnel.

Construction costs of green roofs vary from $10.00 to $25.00 per square foot. In Germany where they are more common, the costs of a green roof range from $8.00- $15.00 per square foot. The model green roof at Gund Hall at Harvard University cost $1.00 per square foot.

Green roofs can increase property values.

Green Roofs have Environmental Benefits

Green Roofs have cooling potential. Green roofs provide shade and remove heat from the air through evapotranspiration, reducing temperatures of the roof surface and the surrounding air. They help reduce the heat islands often found in urban areas.

Green roof absorb heat and act as insulators for buildings. This helps us use less energy for cooling and heating.

Green roofs are useful in achieving LEED certification for new and existing buildings.

Green roofs reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. By lowering air conditioning demand, green roofs decrease air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Vegetation remove air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions through dry deposition and carbon sequestration and storage.

Green roofs improve human health and comfort. Green roofs, by reducing heat transfer through the building roof, can improve indoor comfort and lower heat stress associated with heat waves.

Acoustic insulation properties also exist with green roofs. Many green roofs have been placed near airports with great results in noise reduction.

Green roofs enhance stormwater management and water quality. Green roofs reduce and slow stormwater runoff in the urban environment; they also filter pollutants from rainfall.

Green roofs allow us to grow food locally, eliminating the need to be transported. From herbs such as mint, Lemon balm, edible pansies, thyme, lavender, chives and different kinds of basil are just a few of the many herbs that flourish in the custom-built beds. To vegetables, such as tomatoes, herbs, greens, berries, wheat grass, even some monster cabbage. Restaurants are turning to their own green roof gardens for self-producing fresh herbs and vegetables.

Where you can find Green roofs improving the quality of life in Boston?

  • Four seasons Hotel, Boston, MA


    Green Roofs Four Seasons Hotel, Boston, MA – Connaughton Construction

  • Boston City Hall, Boston, MA
  • Graduate Residences at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  • Cambridge Center, Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA
  • Healing Garden at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
  • East Office Building at the World Trade Center in Boston, MA
  • Tufts University, Boston MA
  • Seaport World Trade Center, Boston, MA
Aside from being inconspicuous, low maintenance, and reliable storm water management systems, green roofs can add natural beauty and aesthetic relief to a wide variety of settings.


Find a Green Roof Professional in the Boston area by Contacting Connaughton Construction today! or Call 781-899-1438, ext. 14 for John. There never was a better time to enjoy your outdoor space.

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