Trend Home Benefits From High-End

Completed in August 2008, the Wisconsin Trend Home was built to specifications expected in the year 2020, which include different types of energy-efficient technologies. (©2008 Billy Seidel Photography.)

WAUKESHA, Wis. - In the year 2020, more homes will probably be built with sustainable technologies, including solar electrical generation and hot-water heating, high-efficiency appliances, computer-operated mechanical systems, and gray water reuse systems. The theory is that as utility costs rise, consumers will demand homes with mechanical infrastructures that use less energy and are more environmentally friendly.

Completed in August 2008, the Wisconsin Trend Home was built to these 2020 “specs,” and features many different energy-efficient technologies that are readily available in the marketplace. The home was constructed by the Wisconsin Builders Association (WBA) Foundation, with assistance from members of the Metropolitan Builders Association (MBA) of Greater Milwaukee, and illustrates to both the construction industry and the public that environmentally sensitive technologies can be incorporated into new and existing homes today.

Not only did this one-of-a-kind home achieve Green Built Home certification and Energy Star Home certification, it was also a charitable endeavor. The project involved more than 120 sponsors and donors, and once sold to a private homeowner, the proceeds of the sale will go to Waukesha’s La Casa De Esperanza, which helps train low-income workers in the construction industry.


One of those sponsors was the Unitary Products division of Johnson Controls, which donated an Affinity™ furnace and heat pump for the Trend Home. The HVAC contracting firm, Dave Jones Heating and Plumbing, Madison, Wis., was pleased to donate the time and labor necessary to install the high-end dual-fuel York® system.

“Tim O’Brien Homes [which coordinated the construction of the Trend Home] approached us and asked if we’d be willing to work with the Metropolitan Builders Association on this project,” said Kevin Hineline, HVAC manager, Dave Jones Plumbing and Heating. “We thought it would be interesting, because we’ve never worked on such a green home before, so we stepped up to the plate and installed the plumbing and HVAC systems.”

That’s not to say Dave Jones Plumbing and Heating doesn’t work with green technologies on a daily basis; the company regularly installs geothermal systems, as well as many dual-fuel HVAC systems. Hineline stated that interest in energy-efficient systems has definitely increased over the last few years, thanks to rising energy costs.

The Unitary Products division of Johnson Controls donated an Affinity™ furnace and heat pump for the Trend Home, which was installed by Dave Jones Heating and Plumbing.

“More people are asking about dual-fuel systems,” said Hineline. “We work mainly in new construction, and it used to be that people wanted to talk about high-end plumbing fixtures. Now people want to talk about the HVAC system first and how they can reduce their energy costs. Some homebuilders don’t let us talk to their clients, but if you can sit down with the homeowners and explain it to them, over 50 percent will usually choose the dual-fuel system.”

Once the 2,000-square-foot Trend Home opened to the public in August, Hineline received even more requests for information from customers who wanted to know about the super-quiet furnace that was located in the basement. Dave Jones Plumbing and Heating installed an 80,000-Btu, fully modulating, York Affinity gas furnace, which was matched with a 3-ton, 15 SEER, two-stage heat pump. The 95 percent efficient gas furnace and the heat pump will help reduce the homeowner’s energy costs by as much as 40 percent. (The MBA plans to document energy usage and other aspects of the building to use in the association’s educational programming.)

Hineline likes that the furnace modulates in 1 percent increments, which keeps comfort levels in the home constant. He also likes that the ECM blower motor allows the fan speed to gradually change in order to circulate air for longer periods of time. Most of all, he likes the fact that the furnace is very quiet. “When we did the open house, we got a lot of feedback from people who couldn’t believe the furnace was actually running, and they were standing next to it.”

In order to increase energy efficiency, the ductwork was taped and sealed, and the entire system was balanced by an independent agency. Controls from Digitek Digital will provide full home automation capabilities.

Solar power is part of the Trend Home and will be used for the electric panels, as well as for hot water. (©2008 Billy Seidel Photography.)


Dave Jones Plumbing and Heating did more than install a high-end HVAC system, it also designed the first gray water reuse system for a residential application in Wisconsin. “We’re taking waste water from the showers, running it through filters and UV lights, and pumping it back into the toilets,” said Hineline.

The high price of the system, along with the lengthy approval process required by local officials, could mean that the routine installation of gray water reuse systems may be a few years off. However, the lucky homeowners of the Trend Home are expected to save 12,000 gallons of water each year, thanks to the gray water system. In addition, a rainwater catchment system will collect and store an estimated 43,000 gallons of water a year from the home’s roof and reuse it for landscape irrigation.

Permeable pavement was installed, which allows rain and melting snow to seep through and replenish ground water; faux-slate shingles made from recycled baby diapers, tires and plastic bottles; structured insulated panels; and bamboo floors. (©2008 Billy Seidel Photography.)

There were many other innovative technologies incorporated into the Trend Home, including permeable pavement that allows rain and melting snow to seep through and replenish ground water; faux-slate shingles made from recycled baby diapers, tires and plastic bottles; structured insulated panels; and bamboo floors. Solar power is also part of the Trend Home and will be used for the electric panels, as well as for hot water. It is estimated that the passive solar thermal hot-water system will be able to heat 100 gallons of water on a daily basis.

Hineline is happy that Dave Jones Plumbing and Heating was able to participate in the Wisconsin Trend Home project. “It’s been good for us, because our involvement has brought in new leads, and more people want to know about dual-fuel systems. But it’s more than that. We wanted to be part of this green home and also help out a local charity. It’s been a win-win.”

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Publication date: 111/17/2008

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