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Judging a Book by its Cover…Or Not

May 20, 2014Green Building

by Marsie Klug

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover!”  We’ve all heard it, and we’ve all experienced it: a dull cover camouflaging a thrilling adventure, a flashy one masking a story that could put even the most avid reader to sleep. black-cat-hug The same is true in homebuilding. The exterior of a house tells one story and the interior tells another. Beyond aesthetics, like paint colors or flooring selection, the interior spatial experience is influenced by factors unseen from without or within. How a house feels to its occupants is largely dependent upon its construction – what’s hidden behind the drywall. Homeyness is not about having the latest gadgets; it is beyond aesthetics. It is about creating a healthy, safe, resource-efficient, sustainable place to live. Unseen but perceptible characteristics like indoor air quality, perceived temperature, and energy efficiency all influence the overall experience of a home. A house can have curb appeal, a large atrium, and wood floors, yet fail to offer fundamental comfort through being too chilly in winter and too hot in summer due to poor (or no) insulation. The same house probably has high and variable energy bills for the same reason. There is a long list of potential solutions for improving the functionality of a house, like cellulose or spray foam insulation, Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) and geothermal systems. However, what makes these products shine is when they are installed into a well-designed home. A geothermal system is still inefficient if air is leaking through the cracks or around poorly-installed windows and doors. There is so much to know about building construction, and while independent research is feasible, it’s also pretty tedious. An easier way to become better informed is to go to the experts; which is why I like how Meadowlark strives to educate the public with various events and tours. Recently, Meadowlark co-hosted a Behind the Drywall Tour® with Hopkins Burns Design Studio. During these tours, the participants are guided through a home that is partway through the construction process with an emphasis on some of the latest green technologies being implemented in building construction. These tours are both fascinating and eye opening for the public, but even those of us “in the industry” have more to learn and benefit from exposure to new products. Hopkins Burns BTD Home Besides Behind the Drywall® tours, Meadowlark hosts other events like Smarter Home Seminars, finished home tours, and the ‘I Hate My Kitchen!’ Seminar. If you would like to have the chance to learn more about what makes a house function more efficiently, check out our upcoming events page. As I step off of my soap box, I hope you get the chance to learn more about what makes a house efficient – for a house is a place for refuge, to relax, and to come together with loved ones. Being more informed helps us to make better decisions about things that matter. So when you get the chance – take the time to discover what’s on the inside, whether with a house, a book or even another person.

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