An energy-saving heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system helped reduce heating and cooling costs in the newly completed National Homebuilder Mainstream GreenHome by 70 percent, according to a report from Mainstream GreenHome.

The report says that the Mainstream GreenHome, a Cherokee project, is intended to show that sustainable construction is compatible with conventional building and design practices. The HVAC system integrated into the project provided both the home comfort expected from a typical American family and a level of efficiency that significantly reduces the home’s impact on the environment.

“It takes a great deal of energy to heat and cool a house, but our green research team found innovative ways to reduce that energy expense as much as possible,” said Jonathan Philips, senior director of Cherokee. “By combining innovating design techniques and with the expertise of several project partners, we succeeded in creating a green HVAC system and offering solutions for builders looking to construct a home that is efficient without sacrificing comfort.”

The system incorporates several energy-efficient, sustainable and healthy products and ideas:

Geothermal system.Installed by TRC, a ground source heat pump utilizes the earth’s relatively consistent year-round temperature as a heat source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer. The heat pump connects to two Florida Heat Pump units that act as heat exchangers and condensers and tie into a duct ventilation system. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ground source heat pumps can save homeowners up to 70 percent on heating costs and 50 percent on cooling costs when compared to conventional systems.

“The Mainstream GreenHome is a great opportunity for TRC to be involved in raising awareness of green building practices that illustrate the benefits of utilizing technologies that are environmentally friendly and sustainable,” said David Wagner, director of geothermal operations for TRC.

Radiant flooring.Warmboard’s radiant heating system utilizes a solution, made from a vegetable byproduct safe to drink, that transports heat through aluminum coated tubing, which quickly disperses through the aluminum coated flooring throughout the kitchen and bathrooms. Manifolds by Viega were used for the radiant heating system. Viega piping, which allowed for sustainable and efficient design, was used throughout the home.

“It has been a pleasure and honor to be included in the Mainstream GreenHome,” said Tony Gasparich, president and COO of Warmboard Inc. “Radiant heat not only provides comfort, but contributes to healthy and clean indoor air quality and greater energy efficiency. Warmboard is proud to be part of the green building movement and involved with a project as educational and inspiring as the GreenHome project.”

Fireplace heating.Heat & Glo 6000 series fireplaces heat the home efficiently by pulling excess heat away from the fireplace, out of the hearth room and into the HVAC system’s cold air return ducting.

“Nothing says ‘home’ more than a cozy, warm fireplace,” said Timothy Rethlake of Hearth & Home. “The Heat & Glo fireplaces chosen by the Mainstream GreenHome project not only provide that warmth very efficiently, but do so while maintaining positive indoor air quality. These fireplaces are the perfect fit with the goal of this project to communicate that green building practices don’t have to cost more or require the homeowner to compromise on design choices.”

Flexible air ducts.Atco flexible ducts used in the Mainstream GreenHome’s HVAC system are energy efficient and healthy for the indoor air quality, according to the company. They were recently awarded Greenguard Environmental Institute’s Indoor Air Quality Certification®.

“We are extremely proud to be part of the GreenHome project,” said Nick Lane of Atco. “We are happy to include our high quality, Greenguard certified duct in an HVAC system that promotes healthy indoor air quality.”

Air conditioning.Allen Kelly & Co. installed the air conditioning unit at the Mainstream GreenHome.

“Our team is proud to be associated with this remarkable project,” said C. Brett Chappell, vice president of Allen Kelly & Co. “Allen Kelly & Co. has served the Triangle area for more than 20 years. In that time we have not experienced the level of forward thinking that the Mainstream GreenHome has displayed. We feel that these types of energy savings efforts will be the future of the building industry.”

Interaction with design.Mechanical Equipment Sales drafted the mechanical systems to interact with the architectural design and achieve a high level of performance.

“It has been a knowledgeable and exciting experience to be part of the GreenHome project,” said Charlie Elks, CEO of Mechanical Equipment Sales. “To learn how mechanical systems integrate with one another to produce an efficient and sustainable design was the most rewarding.”

Temperature controls.The GreenSwitch system in the home will help to eliminate wasted energy by controlling thermostats. With the flip of a single switch, all thermostats are set to a predetermined away mode.

“GreenSwitch is excited to participate in the GreenHome project,” said Greg Hood of GreenSwitch. “A lot of energy is wasted in a home in several areas. GreenSwitch turns off designated wall plugs to eliminate vampire power, light switches people leave on, and control the heating and a/c systems by setting them to an economy setting when people leave the home or go to bed at night.”

It was reported that the Mainstream GreenHome was recently certified as the first LEED-Platinum home in the Southeast. It also received one of the best scores ever in Energy Star’s Home Efficiency Rating System and is certified as the highest rated green residence in the history of the state of North Carolina’s green building program, NC Healthy Built Homes. Additionally, the home received the first ever Gold certificate through the Green Building Initiative, which is led by the Home Builders Associations representing North Carolina’s Triangle region. Finally, the home is the first in the nation known to be built in a typical subdivision under the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Model Green Home Building Guidelines.

For more information about the Mainstream GreenHome, go to

Publication date:09/08/2008