Understanding the fundamentals of green home design in Maine
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Sustanainable Home Performance

Fundamentals of a Unity Home Design

Eco-BulbA high performance, energy efficient home may include features like geothermal heating, wind power and solar panels, but these are not the defining features of green living. Some you can even do without!  A sustainable green home starts with being well-designed, well-insulated and if possible, has glazing oriented to the south for passive heat gain.

The principals below should be considered when you first begin your green home design.

Siting the Home

To the extent possible, homes are sited to take advantage of natural heating and cooling, most importantly from the sun and prevailing winds. It is also important to calculate the appropriate number and location of windows and evaluate the necessary shading. Considering these factors early in the design process is common sense and good building science.


Green Homes ComparisonUnity homes use a combination of renewable materials for insulating the wall and roof assemblies, and we engineered to a thickness that optimizes cost and performance. While the actual insulation amounts will depend on the house location and style, typically R-33 insulation is incorporated into walls and R-38 to R-49 in ceilings. To complement the wall insulation, triple-glazed windows and well-insulated doors are included in all designs.

Minimizing Thermal Bridging

Unity wall assemblies includes a layer of continuous insulation that helps to minimize “thermal bridging”, which is the transfer of heat via conduction from the warm side of the wall to the cold side.  Walls are engineered to allow for drying to both the inside and out, essentially eliminating the possibility of damaging moisture within the walls.

Air Tightness

A tightly built home is designed to maintain indoor air quality through a continuous supply of fresh air.  In a typical home more heat is lost through air movement (convection) than by other means. The energy and cost savings resulting from air tightness are essentially “free,” because building a tight home is more about careful workmanship than adding additional materials.

By carefully taping every seam and putting gaskets at each joint, Unity homes achieve air tightness levels below one air change per hour (less than 1.0 ACH50). By comparison, the typical Energy Star rated house has about 3 air changes per hour.

Conventional HVAC

With a Unity home it will not be necessary to install a conventional HVAC system. And with a moderately-sized renewable energy system, the home can produce as much energy as it uses, making it a Net Zero Energy Home.


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