Utilizing Insulated Concrete Block to Building Green, Energy-Efficient Homes in Austin

The Bautex Wall System is a superior product for building an energy-efficient home in hot and muggy Austin. The Bautex Wall System provides for an energy-efficient home with continuous insulation, thermal mass, and a tight building envelope. An energy-efficient home in Austin built with Bautex Block is comfortable, durable, healthy and saves both energy and money.

Hot and Humid Austin Needs Energy-Efficient Homes

The hot and humid climate of Austin makes energy-efficient construction a key priority for new homes. Much of the year, the relative humidity in Austin is above 84 percent. The average annual temperature in Austin is 80°F. However, between June and September, the daily average temperature ranges well into the 90s°F, and it is quite muggy.

The design of an energy-efficient home in Austin must include a tight building envelope and moisture resistance. These components ensure an Austin home is durable, healthy, comfortable. A tight building envelope that is moisture resistant also saves energy and money and is critical to protecting the environment.

Impact of Global Warming1 on Austin

Constructing energy-efficient homes in Austin is essential due to rising temperatures, presumably due to global climate change. A study by the ATMOS Research & Consulting reported on how global climate change might affect Austin’s climate. The study concluded the following changes to Austin climate by the year 2040.

  • Summer average high temperatures will increase from 93.8 to 96.9
  • The days with temperatures above 100 will increase from 11.7 to 31.4
  • Annual precipitation (inches) will decrease from 33.7 to 31.8
  • Maximum 5-day rainfall will increase from 5.8 to 7.2

Energy-Efficient Home Construction Supports Austin’s Climate Program

Building energy-efficient homes in Austin is in line with the goals and strategies of the City’s climate program. As an ecologically resilient community, Austin has three goals for addressing the challenges of climate change.

  1. By 2020, Austin’s operations will achieve carbon neutrality
  2. By 2050, Austin will produce net-zero community-wide greenhouse gases
  3. Austin will develop effective strategies for resilience against climate-related threats

Builders and architects of homes in Austin can contribute towards the City’s climate program by building energy-efficient homes. Energy-efficient homes use less carbon-based energy and fuel, therefore produce fewer greenhouse gases, which are believed to contribute to global warming1.

Building an Energy-Efficient Home in Austin

An energy-efficient house in hot and muggy Austin is essential to controlling energy bills and preventing moisture accumulation within the wall systems. Furthermore, energy-efficient homes in Austin coincide with the City’s climate program to slow global warming. Vital elements of an energy-efficient home in hot and humid Austin include a tight building envelope, site orientation, and the location of the windows, rooms, and ductwork.

Energy-Efficient Homes in Austin Need Tight Building Envelopes

A tight building envelope minimizes air intrusion and heat gain and is essential to creating a cool and dry home in Austin. Crucial design components for a tight building envelope include a high performance air and moisture barrier and attention to construction details.

An air and moisture barrier prevents moisture intrusion and air leakage. Moisture resistance is crucial to preventing wood rot and the growth of mold and mildew, which can damage the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) of a home. The envelope must consider all the exterior components of the house: the walls, foundation, roofing, and doors and windows.

The Walls of an Energy-Efficient Home in Austin

energy efficient homes austin

The walls of an energy-efficient home in Austin are a critical element for stopping heat gains and creating a tight envelope. The walls of an energy-efficient house should have a reasonably high effective R-value. Energy-efficient walls are a vital component of a tight building envelope of an Austin home.

The Bautex Wall System will create a well insulated and tight building envelope for an energy-efficient home in Austin. The Bautex Wall System meets the thermal performance set by the IRC and IBC and gives a high-level of continuous insulation (R-14 ) that stops the transfer of heat.

Also, essential in humid Austin, is the application of the Bautex AMB 20 air and moisture barrier. The Bautex AMB 20 air and moisture barrier stops moisture intrusion and ensures an airtight house in Austin.

The Bautex Wall System is the superb choice for an energy-efficient, durable and healthy wall system in Austin.

The Roofing of an Energy-Efficient Home in Austin

A cool roof of an energy-efficient house in Austin protects against solar heat gain and keeps the home and attic spaces cool. Common asphalt shingles can absorb the sun’s heat, which will transfer to the interior of a house. Roofing products that are reflective or that have light colored pigments that reflect the sunlight are better products for energy-efficient, cool roof. Cool roofs improve indoor comfort and lessen energy use and expense.

Glazing System of an Energy-Efficient Home in Austin

The glazing systems (doors, windows, and skylights) of an energy-efficient house in Austin are important to achieving energy savings. Design of an energy-efficient house should include energy-efficient windows, skylights, and doors fitting to Austin’s climate zone.

Room and Site Orientation of an Energy-Efficient Home in Austin

Room orientation is also a relevant design consideration of an energy-efficient home in Austin.

  • East facing rooms have substantial sun in the morning and are cool in the late afternoon, which is suitable for kitchens and bedrooms.
  • North facing rooms have day long sun. They are excellent for the living spaces like living, family, and dining rooms.
  • West facing rooms get late afternoon sun, which is not good for bedrooms and kitchens.
  • South-facing rooms have low levels of sunlight, which is suitable for garages, laundries, and bathrooms.

Proper site orientation (passive solar design) of an Austin home is essential for taking advantage of the sun’s energy. In Austin, north-south orientation of houses lessens direct sunlight in the summer (which minimizes cooling demands) while increasing sunlight during the winter (which reduces heating demands).

Ductwork Location of an Energy-Efficient Home in Austin

For an energy-efficient home in Austin, locate the ductwork within the home’s envelope. Ducts placed in unconditioned areas can increase cooling costs by 15 percent. Furthermore, in hot and muggy Austin, moisture will collect on the overheated ductwork.

The Dixon Residence - An Energy-Efficient Home in The Austin Area

green home austin

The Dixon Residence, just west of Austin in Dripping Springs, is an energy-efficient and moisture-resistant Bautex Block home with temperature and humidity controls. The home focuses being resource-efficient and sustainable. These features were vital to the Dixon Residence homeowners who wanted to build a green home that would allow them to live comfortably with minimal effort.

The homeowner needed a house with a simple design, that was energy-efficient, moisture-resistant, built to last, and most importantly, required minimal effort to maintain. This home relies on rainwater as a source of clean, fresh water as well as a thermal mass heat sink. The solid single wall design gives the homeowner reassurance that their home with last "forever" without needing extensive care.

The Bautex Wall System simplified the design and construction of the Dixon Residence house in one integrated wall assembly, which saved the homeowner money and time. The design of the Dixon Residence protects the occupants and allows them their own self-sustaining sanctuary in Austin.

Building an energy-efficient home in Austin creates a healthy and durable home that reduces energy use and lessen utility bills. Energy-efficient homes also combat global warming. A superior, high thermal mass, moisture-resistant product for producing an energy-efficient home in Austin is the Bautex Wall Assembly.

An energy-efficient design must also consider the home’s orientation, room and window placement, and the location of ductwork in the house. An energy-efficient home in Austin saves the homeowner money and energy and creates a healthy, comfortable home. It also benefits the environment and supports Austin’s climate program.

Increasing levels of greenhouse gases are blamed for warming earth’s temperatures because greenhouse gases trap and hold heat at the Earth’s surface. Unfortunately, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) reports that greenhouse gases have increased by 41 percent from 1990 to 2017. Coinciding with this, two separate studies by both NASA and NOAA found that the five warmest years all have taken place since 2010. Other impacts of global warming include sea levels, more acidic oceans, and more frequent and severe weather events.