Building Homes for a Sustainable Future
Conventionally built homes consume unwarranted amounts of energy compared to sustainable ones. Air leaks and heat transfers between internal and external environments are two of the largest drains, requiring conventional homes to use considerable energy to maintain comfortable living temperatures. Changing the way we build homes can significantly reduce our energy consumption and environmental impact. Simply put, homes need not consume resources to the extent they do.
The two leading standards in sustainable construction are Zero Net Energy and Passive. Passive homes are built to combine unparalleled comfort with very low energy consumption, while Zero Net Energy homes must produce enough on-site renewable energy to meet or surpass the energy consumption of the home. At least one company, SIDCO, combines both standards to build energy efficient homes that are healthy for the environment and healthy for the inhabitants.
To achieve these standards, SIDCO homes include air-tight envelopes that prevent leakage of conditioned air, high grade insulation to limit thermal bridging, thermally efficient windows, photovoltaics, LED lighting, energy efficient appliances, and passive heat recovery ventilation. The heat recovery ventilator is the heart of the home. It works by continuously cycling filtered air throughout the house while passively exchanging heat between inbound and outbound air flow. The result is fresh comfortable air with minimal contaminants.
SIDCO’s mission to build healthy homes is inspired from the heart of Mohan Mahal, founder and CEO. Mahal received a heart transplant 22-years ago. “My motivation and mission is bigger than myself. I owe it to my donor to do something good for the world,” said Mahal.
He expands on the “healthy home” concept by incorporating smart home technology, low-flow fixtures, gray water systems, and drip irrigation. The gray water system is crucial in California, where residents are threatened by a severe drought. The system filters and recycles wastewater from showers, dishwashers, washing machines, and sinks for use in toilets, and landscaping. Heat from gray water is then concentrated back into the hot water tank for added energy savings.
This past summer, Mahal’s daughters, Subina Mahal and Simran Mahal, joined SIDCO as Director of Sustainability and Director of Operations, respectively. While SIDCO already has a strong environmental mission, Mahal’s daughters are finding ways to incorporate an equally strong social mission. “Healthy housing should be accessible to all. We want to build a business model where we are able to invest back into our community by either expanding the business into the low-income and multi-unit housing markets, establishing community housing trusts, or using an adaptation of the one-for-one model,” Simran Mahal said.
SIDCO’s long term goal is getting more people to invest in and purchase healthy homes. For Mahal, it isn’t about maximizing profits but rather making innovative homes with a positive impact. Staying at the forefront of sustainable technology, SIDCO’s next project in Palo Alto, CA will include a Tesla home battery, adding the ability to store excess energy produced during sunlight hours for use in the evenings.
A SIDCO kitchen remodel goes beyond the surface. This kitchen was completely gutted and upgraded from the inside out, including new copper pipes, energy efficient appliances, low-flow fixtures, and LED lighting.
by Lee Bell