Going Green

Green is a term now widely used to describe buildings designed and constructed with minimal negative impact on the environment and with an emphasis on the conservation of resources, energy efficiency, and healthful interior spaces.

Sustainability refers to the concept that new development must meet the needs of the present without compromising those of the future. Sustainability is measured in three interdependent dimensions: the environment, economics, and society — often referred to as the triple bottom line.

A Lexa Dome is green and sustainable:

  • Lexa domes are made from recycled, by-product, and renewable materials
  • Lexa domes reduce job site waste as the panels are shipped pre-cut 
  • The Lexa dome environmental footprint is less than a rectangular house
  • The Lexa dome uses less material than comparable size conventional or stick-frame housing
  • Lexa dome homes increase energy efficiency. Air circulates by natural convection to the upper floors
  • Lexa domes pre-fabrication truly minimizes site disturbance
  • Lexa domes are environmentally friendly. The domes produce substantially less construction waste and use wood, a renewable and biodegradable resource, in manufacturing
  • Lexa domes have low-embodied energy in their structure
  • Lexa domes pre-fabricated sections are engineered to maximize structural integrity and provide consistent quality and superior durability
  • Lexa domes' strength allows for  little-to-no movement due to shifting and settling and therefore require little rework
  • Pre-fabrication and on-site construction mean less need for trucking to the site, which in turns means fewer emissions and the production of greenhouse gases associated with the construction.

 

 Often considered cost-prohibitive, “going-green” is a big part of what Lexa is and an ideology we intend to continually promote.  We promote going green to all going greencustomers and where they are not automatically supplied by Lexa in its products, we recommend green and sustainable technologies (some listed below) such as radiant heat, solar energy, water collection systems, compost toilets, renewable resources, and more.

A domed structure can easily be pre-fitted with the piping required for solar panels. The dome shape is an excellent platform for these panels and, when built on a slab, it can be fitted with radiant heat to allow the curved walls and their natural convection to use less energy in heating the structure. Because of this natural convection and less air space, the winter evening heat can be turned down on the main floor and the temperature will still be very comfortable on upper floors.

The current materials used for the production of the curved panels are OSB (oriented strand board) made from recycled wood chips and formed into four-foot by eight-foot panels similar to plywood. Ribs for the curved panels are typically made from 2 x 6 inch standard lumber. In some cases trim ends are available from mills that consider them waste. Often, these trim ends are long enough to be used for our panels. This can save money and recycles what otherwise would likely be discarded. 

The homeowner is actively reminded and prodded to use sustainably harvested wood products, low VOC paints, natural paints, natural floor coverings and recycled materials. Anything in a home that can be green and sustainable. They are told about green hi-efficiency wood stoves, EPA approved, with low particulates.

Living in a dome is very space efficient. The space appears compact, but there is a surprising amount of it, and even more so with an elliptical shape dome.

The Lexa Going Green Advantages 

  • The dome shape is a good platform for complimentary “going green” technologies, such as electric and water solar panels.
  • Its energy-efficiency due to shape alone will save on heating and cooling costs. The natural convection of the curved walls allows the air to circulate without accumulating in corners.
  • The dome costs less to build than traditional stick-frame buildings based on floor area comparisons. Compared with a similar-sized rectangular-shaped house, a dome home has 30% less surface area and uses about 30% less lumber.
  • Domes use less energy to heat and cool - based on the 30 % less wall surface area related above.
  • The strength of the dome makes them an ideal candidate for a living roof.   
  • There are often grants and loans available to customers for energy efficiency in building materials and designs.

 

Lexa is using the following green initiatives from the glossary below:

  • Active Solar: for heating, cooling and making electricity. Recommended in Lexa designs
  • Building envelope: detailed materials are designed into Lexa plans for sustainability
  • Day lighting: light tubes and center-dome skylights are used
  • Displacement Ventilation: are designed and applied when size of building can benefit
  • Fritted glass: when possible are recommended in designs
  • Green Power: wind and solar are strongly recommended to customers, partnerships are being developed
  • Indoor Air Quality: Lexa is becoming an expert in air exchange
  • Light Shelf: above-eye windows with light directed at the dome ceilings are always offered in Lexa home plans
  • Low E Glass: when possible
  • Orientation of House: Lexa domes have a circular footprint, so there is nowhere near the same impact on surroundings
  • Hi R Value Products: always in plans, blow-in foam insulation is recommended
  • Rain water Harvesting: recommended in Lexa design plans
  • Recycling Building Materials: already designed into the Lexa dome and required in sub-trades
  • Renewable Energy Sources: hydro, geothermal, wind power, wood for heating fuel (pellet stoves) are always designed and recommended
  • Spectral Selective Glazing and Super windows: designed into Lexa plans
  • Thermal Mass: radiant heat and cooling recommended where possible
  • Ventilated Facades: when possible in design
  • Triple Bottom line for Sustainability:
    • Economic – Lexa is continually pursuing cost and price reduction policies while using better materials 
    • Social – Lexa is attempting to bring all the benefits of a Lexa home to a global market
    • Environmental – Lexa is in continuous search for better products to use, ones that promote better air quality, have less impact on building sites and contain less pollutants of all types

 

This glossary defines the often-daunting terminology associated with green building. Revised by its original author, engineer Ashok Raiji, P.E., a principal at ARUP, the glossary has been recycled from the book Big & Green: Toward Sustainable Architecture in the 21st Century, published in 2002 by Princeton Architectural Press in connection with a pioneering exhibition of the same name at the National Building Museum in Washington, D. C.

Active Solar - A solar application, which uses electrical or mechanical equipment (typically pumps and/or fans) to assist in the collection and storage of solar energy for the purpose of heating, cooling (buildings, liquids, or gases), or making electricity.

BREEAM - Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is a comprehensive tool for analyzing and improving the environmental performance of buildings through design and operations. This methodology has been developed by the UK based Building Research Establishment.

Building Envelope - Elements (walls, windows, roofs, skylights, etc.) and materials (insulation, vapor barriers, siding, etc.) that enclose a building. The building envelope is a thermal barrier between the indoor and outdoor environment and is a key factor in the "sustainability" of a building. A well-designed building envelope will minimize energy consumption for cooling and heating as well as promote the influx of natural light.

Daylighting - The use of natural light to supplement or replace artificial lighting.

Displacement Ventilation - A method of space conditioning where conditioned air is supplied at or near the floor. Since the air is supplied at very low velocities, a cool layer of air collects in the occupied zone resulting in comfortable conditions for the occupants. Buoyant forces remove heat generated by occupants and equipment, as well as odors and pollutants, all of which stratify under the ceiling and are extracted from the space by return or exhaust fans. Displacement ventilation systems were originally used in industrial facilities and subsequently in office buildings, auditoria, performing arts centers and spaces with large interior volumes. These systems are effective in improving indoor air quality as well as providing energy savings when compared to a conventional fully mixed system.

Eco-Friendly - Little or no impact on the native eco-system.

Energy Efficiency - Ratio of energy output of a conversion process or of a system to its energy input.

Fritted Glass - A special type of glass that utilizes ceramic-enamel coatings in a visible pattern (dots, lines, etc.) to control solar heat gain. The pattern is created by opaque or transparent glass fused to the substrate glass material under high temperatures. The substrate is heat strengthened
or tempered to prevent breakage due to thermal stresses.

Green - A term that is widely used to describe a building and site that is designed in an environmentally sensitive manner, i.e. with minimal impact to the environment.

Green Building - A building that minimizes impact on the environment through resource (energy, water, etc.) conservation and contributes to the health of its occupants. Comfortable, aesthetically pleasing and healthful environments characterize green buildings.

Green Power - Electricity generated from renewable energy sources (solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and hydroelectric).

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) - Indoor air that contains no known contaminants at harmful concentrations and with which a substantial majority of the people exposed to the air do not express dissatisfaction. Good indoor air quality inside a building results from:

  • Introducing an appropriate amount of outside air into the building through the HVAC systems
  • locating outside air intakes so that the outside air introduced into the HVAC systems is of the best possible quality
  • proper filtration
  • proper air distribution
  • proper removal of indoor pollutants
  • proper commissioning of the building and its building systems.

 

LEED - An acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is a point-based rating system developed by the US Green Building Council that evaluates the environmental performance from a "whole building" perspective over its life cycle, providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a green building according to six categories:

Sustainable Sites                                              Water Efficiency

Energy and Atmosphere                                   Material Resources

Indoor Environmental Quality                           Innovation and Design Process

Buildings evaluated by LEED are rated as certified, silver, gold, or platinum. There are a total of 69 LEED credits available in the six categories: 26 credits are required to attain the most basic level of LEED certification; 33 to 38 credits are needed for Silver; 39 to 51 credits for Gold; 52 to 69 credits for the Platinum rating.

Life Cycle Cost (LCC) - The total cost of acquiring, owning, operating and disposing of a building or building system over its entire useful life. LCC includes the cost of land acquisition, construction costs, energy costs, the cost to maintain, service and repair the building and its systems, costs of system replacement, financing costs, and residual or salvage value at the end of the building's useful life.

Light Shelf - A horizontal device positioned (usually above eye level) to reflect daylight onto the ceiling and beyond. The light shelf may project into the room, beyond the exterior wall plane, or both. The upper surface of the shelf is highly reflective, i.e. having 80 percent or greater reflectance. Light shelves are also effective shading devices for windows located below them.

Low-e Glass - Low-e (Low emissivity) glass has an invisible thin-film metallic or oxide coating which allows the passage of short-wave solar energy into a building but prevents long-wave energy produced by heating systems and lighting from escaping outside.

Orientation - The position of a building relative to the points of a compass. Energy consumption in a building can be reduced by proper orientation of the building's window areas.

Passive Solar - The use of natural heat transfer processes to collect, distribute, and store useable  heat without the help of mechanical devices (pumps or fans). Passive solar systems have few moving parts. Trombe Walls and the use of the thermal mass of building structure to store energy are examples of passive solar systems.

R – Value - A unit of thermal resistance. A material's R-value is a measure of the effectiveness of the material in stopping the flow of heat through it. The higher a material's R-value, the greater its insulating properties and the slower the heat flow through it.

Rainwater Harvesting - The collection, storage, and reuse of rainwater.

Recycling - A series of processes that include collection, separation, and processing by which products and raw materials are recovered and reused in lieu of disposal as solid or liquid wastes. Commonly recycled items include cans and bottles, paper and industrial solvents. Recycling can also apply to construction materials, and even to buildings themselves.

Renewable Energy Sources - Energy sources that replenish themselves naturally within a short period of time. Sources of renewable energy include solar energy, hydroelectric power, geothermal energy, wind power, ocean thermal energy, wave power, wind power and fuel wood.

Shading Coefficient - The ratio of solar heat gain through a glazing system to the solar heat gain through a single layer of clear glass.

Solar Collector - A device used to absorb heat from the sun. In the context of buildings, the absorbed energy typically heats water, which is then used for space heating and/or domestic hot water.

Spectrally Selective Glazing - Glazing that has a high transmittance of visible light but low transmittance of solar heat gain.

Super window - A window with a very low U-value achieved through the use of multiple glazing, low-e coatings, and gas fills. A gas fill is the use of an inert gas, usually Argon or Krypton, placed between sealed panes of glazing in order to provide resistance to heat flow.

Sustainability - The concept of sustainability can be traced back to President Theodore Roosevelt who stated in 1910, " I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. " In 1987 the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (The Brundtland Commission) defined a sustainable development as one that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". Sustainability has three interdependent dimensions relating to the environment, economics and society—often referred to as the triple bottom line.

Thermal Mass - A material used to store heat, thereby slowing the temperature variation within a space. Typical thermal mass materials include concrete, brick, masonry, tile and mortar, water and rock.

Triple Bottom Line - According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, "Sustainable development involves the simultaneous pursuit of economic prosperity, environmental quality and social equity. Companies aiming for sustainability need to perform not against a single, financial bottom line, but against [this] triple bottom line."

Value Engineering - An organized activity in which building systems, equipment, design features and materials are analyzed in order to attain the lowest building life cycle cost while maintaining the stated functional and performance goals including quality, reliability, and safety.

Ventilated Façade - A special type of curtain wall consisting of two glazed facades separated by gap through which ambient air is allowed to flow. The flow of air removes a large amount of solar heat gain that would ordinarily enter the building, resulting in a reduction in space cooling needs and energy consumption. These facades are also known as double facades, double-skin facades and ventilated cavity curtain walls.

Wind Turbine - A device that converts the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy that can be used to drive equipment such as pumps. The addition of a generator allows the wind's kinetic energy to be converted into electricity. There are two types of wind turbines, namely: horizontal axis turbines - blades rotate about a horizontal axis; and vertical axis turbines - blades rotate about a vertical axis.

 

A New Green Product 

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canadian Invention Improves Window Energy Efficiency 70 Per cent, Winter and Summer                

In today’s green conscious world, a Canadian invention called the Solar In’Flector is gaining the attention of home and business owners. The In’Flector insulates windows against heat gain in summer, heat loss in winter and is a passive solar collector in direct winter sunlight. It is also semi transparent allowing light to pass through while filtering over 90 percent of harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation and reducing glare with polarizing filters.

The In’Flector is comprised of 4 layers of polyester and other materials in a patented process that creates its unique properties. The heat collector side is black while the heat reflector side is polished aluminum and it has thousands of tiny perforations to allow light to pass through making it semi-transparent.  Typically, it is made into either a roller blind and installed behind curtains or into metal framed panels that can be clipped or magnetically attached into window frames. They can stand alone as vertical blinds and Eurotracs for sliding doors and they can be made to fit almost any shape of window.

In summer, the In’Flector reflects over 70 per cent of the incoming heat back out the window and reduces solar gain by 65 per cent. The immediate effect when installed is a noticeable lowering of discomfort from window heat and glare. Over a period of a few hours,  room temperatures will stabilize and air conditioning units begin powering down. Controlled tests have shown In’Flectors to reduce energy use by up to 30 per cent depending on window size and orientation.

In winter, the In’Flector is reversed with the reflective side facing indoors. Facing this direction they act as indoor window insulators, preventing heat from radiating out the glass. According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) windows typically lose 65 per cent or more of their energy efficiency due to radiant heat loss. The other 35 per cent is made up of loss by conduction, convection and air leakage. In’Flectors can dramatically improve any window’s efficiency as they reduce radiant and convective heat loss. Rooms with windows become more comfortable as cold spots and drafts are eliminated and the temperatures become equalized.

Not reliant on the sun to save energy the In’Flector will make use of solar energy, if it is available. The black side, when facing the sun, effectively collects heat and radiates it back into the room.  In a sunny 4 foot square window the In’Flector can generate 2096 btu’s per hour, the equivalent of a 600 watt electric heater.

In’Flectors are custom manufactured in Calgary and easily installed locally.

More information on Solar In’Flectors: George Duffy  250 260 6657.

Active Sites and products Lexa is investigating:

  • Green roofs
  • T8 fluorescent lights
  • Passive Refrigeration
  • Deco-Heat Generator
  • Micro-wind Micro Turbines
  • Eloo evaporating toilets
  • Thin film solar panels
  • High end windows
  • Triple glass, argon filled, vinyl with foam filling windows
  • Shotcrete
  • Gigacrete
  • Radiant Heat
  • LED lights replacing standard bulbs

 www.ecoleds.com

www.laminaceramics.com

www.lumileds.com

www.enluxed.com

www.motherearthliving.com

Lexa Dome Homes is actively seeking LEED and other certifications. 

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