Learn About Sustainability

It’s always good to learn the terminology when you’re planning to build a home, especially if you’re interested in a custom solution. Our experience with smart design, energy efficient systems and recycled materials can help you get in the know about sustainable building practices and materials by becoming familiar with common products and terms.

Blower Door Test

The blower test takes place after insulation, when a large fan is set in the front door opening. This fan is connected to a computer and exhausts air from the house until the interior pressure is -50pa. This measures total air changes per hour (ACH), which speaks to the home’s air tightness.

Double Wall Frame

The framing of two exterior walls together, one inside the other. This allows for increased insulation and minimizes thermal bridging.


Insulated concrete forms made of 100% recycled wood chips and Portland cement. The blocks are stacked like Legos and poured full of concrete. The block’s mineral wool insulation is on the exterior side of the wall so the concrete acts as a huge thermal mass inside the building.

Hardie Plank

A very durable and stable cement based siding.

Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)

It brings fresh air from outside to living areas and bedrooms, while exhausting air from kitchens and baths. Heat recovery units are capable of preheating incoming air from the outgoing exhaust, enabling whole-house ventilation.

Net Metering

An agreement with a utility supplier that any surplus electricity generated on site can be sent to the grid. Accounts will be credited for any electricity that is generated beyond usage.

Oriented Strand Board (OSB)

An engineered wood product formed by orienting strands of wood for strength and durability. A panel is similar to plywood.

Photovoltaic (PV)

Solar panels that generate electricity. Electricity can then be stored in batteries or net metered.

Structural Insulated Panel (SIP)

An engineered panel of rigid foam sandwiched between two structural OSB panels. These highly insulated panels are fabricated off-site and assembled on-site.

Solar Hot Water

Solar panels that heat domestic hot water for home use.

Staggered Studs

Used in double wall framing. The inside studs are offset from the exterior, allowing insulation to be placed completely over the exterior stud to eliminate thermal bridging.

Thermal Bridge

Non-insulated material that transfers energy through conduction. For example, in a 2×6 framed wall, the studs and plates go from inside the building to outside. In winter, this stud will be colder than the insulated cavity directly next to it.

Thermal Mass

A dense material (concrete, stone) that stores thermal energy and releases it over time. Think of a sidewalk in the summer that is heated all day by the sun and is still warm in the evening. In homes, concrete floors or walls can be used to store warmth, generating very minimal temperature swings in the home.


An extremely efficient soapstone masonry heater from Finland. When in use, a fire is burned hot and fast, causing flue gases to circulate through the heater and warm the soapstone. The soapstone releases that heat during a 12-24 hour period.


Unilux windows offer state of the art performance in energy efficiency, operability, security and sound insulation. With state of the art German engineering techniques and manufacturing technology Unilux is the market leader for wood windows.