Sustainable & LEED, James Whittaker
James spent years working in finance before following his passion for sustainability. He is now the Owner of GreenTech Group, the Caribbean's only LEED Certification provider.
Q: What updates can I make to ensure my home is energy-efficient and as 'green' as possible?
JW: There are numerous updates and fixes a person can do to attain more energy efficiency from an existing home; from improving insulation to replacing mechanical systems and many things in between.
Over the last several years we have found that one of the most common factors of inefficiency for homes here in Cayman is the air-tightness of the building envelope. This often undiagnosed problem results in the A/C systems trying to cool the home while leaking as much as 50% of the air outside or into attic spaces via windows, doors, wall connections, ductwork, etc.
The key to ensuring improvements is energy efficiency for your home is understand exactly where the problems, what the fixes are, what the costs are and what the expected savings as a result will be. The right answer therefore is to get an energy audit of your home conducted by a trained HERS (Home Energy Rater) and/or an Energy Engineers from local companies like SMART Energy.
Using proven building science and advanced testing measures, the home energy audit will provide you with a full road map that shows you exactly how to get your home to the efficiency level you desire and allow you to make decisions on what to fix based on your budget.
Q: I am building a home - what steps can I take to keep my energy bills low?
JW: When building a new home there are two key things every person should do.
First, its essential to start with a sustainable design, ensure you have an architect who understands green building and energy efficiency. If you have a truly sustainable design then you have already won 80% of the battle in keeping your energy bills low. A key part of that sustainable design will be for the design team to carry out energy modelling on the home so they can ascertain exactly how the home will perform before it is ever built and allow the client to make value judgments regarding their budgets and goals.
Secondly, have your home LEED certified. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is the world’s most acclaimed green building standard. It’s a third party verification program that ensures the team who is designing and building your home adheres to very specific energy and environmental goals resulting and conducts testing throughout the entire build process. Resulting in a home that will perform the way it was design to while ensuring the home owner is getting a quality home and value for money.
For example, if your sustainable architect designed a very energy efficient home and it called for six inches of open cell spray foam insulation; the LEED provider is going to come out and measure exactly how many inches of insulation the contractor installed. This way you don’t end up with a home that performs poorly because of a lapse in construction quality or capability despite the fact that it may have been designed correctly.
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