Blog

Heat Pumps: Your Cool Summer Companion

When we think about summer, images of beach days, barbecues, and perhaps a cooling dip in the pool come to mind. But let's face it, the reality often involves sweltering days when the air feels downright oppressive. Keeping cool becomes the top priority, and this is where a heat pump can be a game-changer.

June 14, 2024

Focused on High Performance: An Interview with Tom Greenleaf of T.A. Greenleaf Fine Woodworking & Home Building

At BrightBuilt, we're fortunate to collaborate with a diverse array of builders from New England and beyond. We relish building these relationships, diving deep enough to discover who boasts the most impressive tool collection, who has the cutest shop dogs, and who would undoubtedly win a local potato sack race. And of course, we also focus on the practical aspects, such as finding the best fit for each client’s unique needs.

May 30, 2024

Focused on High Performance: An Interview with Jeff St Pierre of Energy Efficient Homes

At BrightBuilt, we are lucky to get a chance to work with many different builders based across New England and beyond. We love building these relationships, and getting to know each outfit well enough to determine who might have the most impressive tool collection, who might have the cutest shop dogs, or who would be most likely to win in a local potato sack race (and of course practical things, like who would be the best fit for a given client).

May 16, 2024

Powering Up: Understanding Net-Zero Energy Homes

In recent years, sustainability has evolved from a niche concern to a global imperative. As we confront the challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, the need for innovative solutions becomes increasingly urgent. BrightBuilt Home has long championed what we believe to be the superheroes of the housing realm: net-zero energy (NZE) homes. These cutting-edge residences blend tech smarts with environmental savvy to create homes that are as eco-friendly as they are stylish. But what exactly does "net-zero energy" mean, and why are net-zero ready homes so crucial in our quest for a more sustainable future?

April 19, 2024

The Ventilation Showdown: ERV, HRV, and CERV - Decoded

In today's modern world, the significance of healthy air quality and energy efficiency cannot be overstated. Beyond mere comfort, they are pivotal elements for maintaining both physical well-being and environmental sustainability. Healthy air quality ensures that indoor environments are free from pollutants and allergens, safeguarding respiratory health and overall vitality. Moreover, prioritizing energy efficiency not only reduces utility costs but also minimizes carbon emissions, contributing to a cleaner, greener planet. By fostering clean air and energy-efficient practices within homes, individuals experience a profound enhancement in their health and happiness. Breathing clean air promotes better sleep, boosts cognitive function, and reduces the risk of respiratory illnesses, ultimately fostering a sense of well-being.

April 5, 2024

Farm to Table(saw) : Those who build BrightBuilts have many talents - from farming to framing, they do it all!

With the Common Ground Fair going full digital force this weekend, we wanted to introduce you to one of BrightBuilt Home's builders who also just so happens to be an organic farmer! Meet John Roscoe, of Roscoe Builders, who is based in Sullivan, Maine, where he splits his time between construction zones on MDI and the farmstead on the mainland. I mean.... can we have baby goats on ALL of our job sites, please? Check out what John has to say…

September 25, 2020

The Crew that Sets us up for Success

Meet the owner of Maker Construction, Ryan MacEachern (top photo), and his crew. They're the team of individuals that take a module off of it's flatbed and set it securely on to a foundation. More than that, they are a bit nerdy and they pay attention to the details; they know how important that air barrier is and ensure that the house is fully "buttoned up" at the end of a set day. Their work is a key component in making modular happen; they work swiftly and with ease, but their job of securing 30,000 lbs while it hangs in the air (among many other things) is anything but easy. It takes talent, planning, and attention to detail. They have recently set a BrightBuilt Drisko, Perkins, Cushing, and 2 Frenchboros. We thought we'd throw a few questions Ryan's way, so that you can get a taste for the team behind this part of the process.

August 14, 2020

Building a BrightBuilt Home

Meet Colin Lindberg, builder of our most recent Jewell. He is owner of Shelterwood Construction, a general contractor out of Moretown, Vermont. He and his team completed this Jewell in 2018. Colin was gracious enough to answer our burning questions, and show off his fun-loving and hard working ethos, for all to enjoy.

July 2, 2020

Ask the Expert | A Q&A on air exchange with a local expert

The air exchange system: The system in our homes that perhaps remains the biggest mystery to new homeowners. We throw the acronyms ERV and HRV around as though they're as universally understood as PB&J or LOL, but to many, the notion of active, pre-filtered fresh air exchange in your home is at odds with most homeowners' experience with the drafty New England farmhouse (which our homes, of course, are not). To help shed some light on what these systems are and what they do, we tapped local expert, Kurt Johnson, of Fresh Air Ventilation in Lewiston, Maine. He offers some great insights, tips, and clear explanations on these critical systems.

April 24, 2020

Breathe In | Breathe Out

High-performance homes are not only energy efficient, they also allow for "rooms to breathe" When someone says “air pollution,” is the picture that comes to mind cars spewing exhaust? Maybe smoke billowing out of a factory? Or is it smog hanging above a city? In all of these scenarios, the air pollution is outside, but recently more research has been done to understand what air pollution looks like inside. And it doesn’t look good.

May 17, 2019

Pump Pump It Up : How do Air Source Heat Pumps stack up against other systems?

Imagine a world where you can heat (and cool) your home without a “furnace”. Seems too good to be true, right? It’s not! There is a huge list of systems to choose from when it comes to heating your home. When you start to consider the various factors such as heating requirements, cost, and energy efficiency, we understand why you may feel overwhelmed by these decisions. To make any educated decision about something as important as your home, it should be well researched. Getting it wrong can cost a lot of money and cause headaches. We are here to share our knowledge and help inform your decisions towards heating your home furnace- and fossil fuel-free with an air source heat pump.

Cooking Up Indoor Air Pollution?

A few weeks ago, we discussed indoor air quality in high performance homes in our blog post, Breathe In, Breathe Out. We identified many of the indoor air pollutants that are prevalent in our homes, and now we want to address one of the most common (but very preventable) pollutants of them all: Cooking!

Materials Matter: Having a Light Bulb Moment

The humble light bulb has come a long way since its invention. Modern bulbs are designed to consume considerably less energy while producing the same amount of light and lasting substantially longer. Recent improvements in light quality and the ability to dim have made non-incandescent bulbs a viable option in virtually any setting. Energy efficient alternatives to traditional incandescent bulbs include compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs. They might come with a slightly higher price tag in the immediate future, but they can last for years and will help you save significantly on utility costs.

Materials Matter: Don't Let your Appliances Take You to the Cleaners.

Looking to find a replacement fridge, or outfitting an entirely new Kitchen? Make sure you take a closer look at the energy consumption of any appliances you're aiming to purchase. It will save you on your bottom line, and will keep those treasured plug loads low to keep your solar array cranking into net-positivity.

Materials Matter: Chilling Out When the Heat is "On"

If you're currently suffering from the heat and humidity outside, like us, then you'll understand just how important the systems are in your home. We often focus on how warm our homes can be during a frigid New England winter, but did you know that they function just as well in summer? A BrightBuilt Home keeps you cool and free from the oppressive humidity!

Materials Matter: Going with the (low-) Flow

Good design and construction will help you improve efficiency by limiting the amount of heat that can transfer through the exterior, but a good green home also takes usage into consideration. Your home has a long life span. Start it off right with sustainable systems and materials that enable you to keep your environmental footprint small while still living comfortably in the modern world.

Materials Matter: Use the Right Stuff in your High Performance Home

Good design and construction will help you improve efficiency by limiting the amount of heat that can transfer through the exterior, but a good green home also takes usage into consideration. Your home has a long life span. Start it off right with sustainable systems and materials that enable you to keep your environmental footprint small while still living comfortably in the modern world.

The Breakdown on Thermal Breaks

A thermal break is a building element that limits the flow of heat between materials. Think about your morning cup of coffee. If the paper cup is too hot, you put a sleeve on it so you don’t burn your hand. That sleeve is a thermal break. However, the base of the cup and the open top are still allowing heat to escape.

Insulation: The Puffy Coat of the Built Environment

Increasingly, wall and roof thickness to accommodate additional insulation plays a major role in limiting heat transfer. A green home with a roof and walls that are thicker than a conventional home has better thermal comfort because less heat is allowed to escape in winter. You also get the bonus of having a much quieter home since thick, insulation-filled walls and roof filter out more sound from the outside.

Creating a Draft-Free Home

You already know that one of the major challenges when building a green home in New England is heat loss in winter, but there is less concern about heat gain in summer. One of the reasons for this is the difference between standard comfort levels and the outside air temperature. When you consider that 65° to 72° is comfortable for most people, a hot summer day is only a 20° to 25° difference. On the other hand, a cold winter day might range from a 35° to 80°+ difference in temperature. That’s quite a leap to get from the outside air temperature to your indoor comfort level, and any lost heat will require more energy to maintain the desired temperature.

Opening the Door (or Window) to Performance Possibilities

While paying close attention to the shape and volume of your new high-performance home, it's also important to pay attention to the holes you punch through its shell. The openings in a home are yet another chance for air to escape or enter. On a clear spring day you want your open windows to bring in fresh air, but on a cold winter day you want as little heat as possible to escape your cozy home. Even the best window is not as energy efficient as the minimum standard wall. Windows and doors are the primary source of both heat loss and gain in a home.

What's Your Ratio? Your home's surface to volume ratio counts for more than just math!

Last week we took a look at the how the number of surfaces (different planes, an abundance of corners, etc.) can impact a home's performance. In addition to the number of surfaces, the surface area-to-volume ratio is also an important consideration when building a green home. The more surface area a home has (the total area of the exterior walls, roof, and floors), the more opportunity there is for heat to escape or enter. Likewise, the higher the ratio, the greater the risk of loss.

Designing an Energy Efficient Home: Simple is Good

If you are building a custom home, you have the freedom to implement the design features that suit your aesthetic and optimize the natural characteristics of the site in order to develop a structure that meets your needs while respecting the environment at the same time.

Site, Undisturbed: How to lessen your impact on a building site.

Building a green home requires considering more than just the structure itself. Even the greenest home couldn’t be reasonably considered sustainable if you had to cut down an entire forest to build it and then covered half the site in an impervious parking area. This is an extreme example, but how much you need to disturb the site is a factor that must be weighed if your goal is to minimize your environmental impact.

Making the Grade: A couple quick considerations around site drainage & durability.

Ensuring proper rainwater drainage on the site is critical for the longterm durability of your home. If water is allowed to flow into the house, you might face problems like damage to surfaces, hidden moisture in your walls, and eventually, mold growth. Of course, quality construction also plays a role in durability, but good drainage is the first step in avoiding these problems. Some of the factors that will play a role in drainage on a building site include:

Throwing Some Shade - Strategies for Striking a Healthy Balance of Sun and Shade

Most homes do not sit on top of a barren hill without any surrounding landscape features. In reality, most sites are surrounded by buildings, mountains, trees, or other features that create shade. Where your home is positioned on the site and how it is oriented will impact how much sun reaches the house at different times throughout the year.

Setting Your Sights on the Right Site: The Importance of House Orientation

You’re building a new home. You don’t want to just plop it down anywhere on your property. You want to put it in the place that provides the best scenic view, looks the most appealing as you approach, and hopefully has the smallest environmental impact. Deciding on the orientation of the building requires taking all of these factors, and more, into consideration.

Use the Right Stuff: Material and Mechanical Considerations for an Eco-friendly Home

Good design and construction will help you improve efficiency by limiting the amount of heat that can transfer through the exterior, but a good green home also takes usage into consideration. Your home has a long life span. Start it off right with sustainable systems and materials that enable you to keep your environmental footprint small while still living comfortably in the modern world.

How A Green Home Reduces Monthly Costs

Many people depend on having predictable monthly expenses as part of a household budget. The more you can decrease those expenses, the more money you’ll have to save, invest, and enjoy. Many people also make the assumption that a green home costs more, but the truth is, building a new green home can actually help you reduce your monthly expenses.

How A Green Home Keeps You Warm In Winter

No matter how charming or attractive a home is, if it doesn’t feel warm in winter, it’s not doing its job. If you have to wear extra layers inside or can’t read a book in the window seat because the draft is too cold, you’re not receiving the full benefits of your home.

Healthy | Filtered Fresh Air, 24 Hours A Day

The term “air quality” often conjures up images of smog-filled cities, but it is actually the air in your home that presents the greatest risk to your health. Let’s explore some of the most common obstacles to breathing clean air when indoors and how building a green home can help you overcome them.

Solar Roof Is Less Expensive Than We Thought, Thanks Tesla!

A solar powered trifecta, Tesla Roof Panels, a BrightBuilt Home and an electric car!

Ask the Expert: Dana Fischer from Mitsubishi Electric weighs in on common ASHP questions

Your first question may well be, "Well, what are ASHPs?!?" For that, we've got you covered. ASHP is short-hand for Air Source Heat Pump. It's the technology we use and love, because it's such an efficient way to heat and cool a home (particularly those great homes that have well-built exterior shells and thoughtful, pre-filtered air exchange!).