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Builders Challenge Case Study—113 Woodland Ave, Syracuse NY

Photo: 113 Woodland Ave., Syracuse NY

Description of House:

113 Woodland Ave., Syracuse was completed in Spring 2010 by Home HeadQuarters (HHQ). The design for this energy efficient house—known as the “Energy Efficient Sherwood”—was originally developed for a location on Syracuse's Newell Street in 2008. The design was ultimately built on Woodland Avenue.

House Features:

  • 4 bedrooms
  • 1.5 baths
  • Attached garage
  • Formal dining room
  • Open floor plan
  • Cost: Approx. $80K

Project Team:

Photo: Thoroughly insulated windows at 113 Woodland Ave. In most places, four inches of insulation was used to achieve a rating of R-20 and better.

Project Notes:

HHQ staff decided to use an ICF foundation instead of the cinder block wall with exterior insulation originally suggested. They found that cost premium for ICF was smaller because they had moderately-skilled workers available to assemble and place the concrete forms.

Similarly, they used their lower-cost labor to cut scrap foam pieces left over from the exterior foam installation in order to fill in between the rim and band joints. Then they used cans of spray foam to seal in the pieces. This resulted in a cost-effective means of achieving four inches of foam in the rim and band joints while also using up the scrap material and providing good utilization of their lower-skilled staff.

The budget for the HVAC contractor was originally based on a standard condensing furnace. The Project Team worked with the HVAC contractor to minimize the supply and return ductwork so that the furnace could be upgraded to a 95% efficient, two-stage 60 Btu/h unit while retaining the same budget.

The Project Team worked to move many supply grills toward the middle of the house, and minimized the return ductwork by having central return grills in the center of the house. The reduced sheet metal and ductwork took advantage of the reduced thermal losses and stratification that results from the highly efficient building envelope.

Ventilation for the house is provided by a fresh air intake on the return side of the furnace. A gravity damper shuts off the intake when the furnace fan is off. The fresh air vent was moved toward the front of the house. The system has Aircycler controls to cycle on the furnace fan to periodically provide ventilation.

Water heating is provided by a conventional 40-gallon gas-fired water heater.

Thermal Envelope Design:

  • Walls—2x6 wall with BIBS, 2 inch exterior XPS foam board (DOW Wallmate) = R29
  • Attic—18 inch blown fiberglass = R45
  • Basement Walls—Nudura insulated concrete form = R22
  • Rim/Band Joists—4 inch XPS foam board/froth pack = R20
  • Garage Ceiling—Open cell foam with one inch polystyrene = R5
  • Shed Area Roofs—3 inch closed cell spray foam = R21
  • Garage Walls—2 inch exterior XPS foam board (Dow Wallmate) = R10
  • Garage-to-House Walls—2x6 wall with blown fiberglass, 2 inch exterior XPS foam board (Dow Wallmate) = R29
  • Air Tightness—1.7 ACH50 (with basement)
  • Ventilation—Fresh air scuttle with Air Cycler, 70 cfm continuous
  • Heating—95% efficiency two-stage gas furnace
  • Water Heating—0.65 EF, 40 gallon gas heater

Energy Savings:

The energy use predicted by RemRate for the final house is shown in the table below. The design heating load for the house decreased by about one third compared to the base house. The house was rated according to the EnergyStar requirements. Savings are primarily due to air tightness and added insulation.

The Project Team also completed a co-heating test at the house. Electric heaters were controlled to maintain the temperature. A data logger controlled the resistance heaters in three separate zones to maintain the space temperature.

In addition to reviewing 12 months of utility bills, the Project Team plans to install data loggers to monitor heating system and total house performance. It also will install data loggers to measure the parameters such as hot water use, total house power, and the furnace. Data will be recorded at hourly intervals.

Annual Load (MMBtu)
Design Load (MMBtu)
Total Fuel (MMBtu)
Relative Heating Load
Annual Cost
Cost Savings
Base House (5 ACH50)      
113 Woodland (1.7 ACH50)

To read the full report, click here.