Welcome to the Cape Cod Builder blog

Achieving Energy Savings through Building Green Design with a High Performance Envelope

Posted by REEF Builders on Wed, Apr 17, 2024


Understanding the Importance of Building Green Design

Building green design is an approach to construction that focuses on creating environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient buildings. It takes into consideration the entire lifecycle of a building, from design and construction to operation and maintenance. By prioritizing sustainability and energy efficiency, building green design aims to minimize the environmental impact of buildings and reduce energy consumption.

There are several reasons why building green design is important. First, it helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. Buildings are responsible for a significant portion of global energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. By implementing green design principles, such as using renewable energy sources and optimizing energy usage, buildings can become more energy-efficient and contribute less to climate change.

Second, building green design promotes resource conservation. It emphasizes the use of sustainable materials and construction practices that minimize waste and reduce the depletion of natural resources. For example, incorporating recycled materials, using water-saving fixtures, and implementing efficient waste management systems can all contribute to resource conservation.

Lastly, building green design prioritizes the health and well-being of occupants. Green buildings often have better indoor air quality, natural lighting, and thermal comfort, which can lead to improved occupant satisfaction, productivity, and overall well-being. Additionally, green design strategies, such as incorporating green spaces and promoting active transportation, can enhance the overall livability of a building and its surrounding community.

Overall, understanding the importance of building green design is crucial in creating sustainable and energy-efficient buildings that benefit both the environment and the people who inhabit them.


Benefits of a High Performance Building Envelope

A high performance building envelope refers to the exterior components of a building that provide thermal insulation, air sealing, moisture management, and protection from the elements. Investing in a high performance building envelope offers several benefits:

1. Improved Energy Efficiency: The primary benefit of a high performance building envelope is improved energy efficiency. By minimizing heat transfer and air leakage, a high performance envelope helps to reduce the need for heating and cooling, resulting in lower energy consumption and cost savings.

2. Enhanced Comfort: A high performance building envelope helps to maintain a consistent indoor temperature, reducing drafts, cold spots, and heat loss. This leads to increased occupant comfort and satisfaction.

3. Reduced Environmental Impact: By reducing energy consumption, a high performance building envelope helps to lower greenhouse gas emissions and decrease the building's overall environmental impact. This is particularly important in the context of climate change mitigation.

4. Long-Term Durability: A high performance building envelope is designed to withstand the elements and resist moisture intrusion. This helps to prevent structural damage, mold growth, and other issues that can compromise the integrity of the building over time.

5. Improved Indoor Air Quality: A high performance building envelope helps to minimize air leakage, reducing the infiltration of outdoor pollutants and allergens. This contributes to a healthier indoor environment and better indoor air quality for occupants.

In summary, a high performance building envelope offers numerous benefits, including improved energy efficiency, enhanced comfort, reduced environmental impact, long-term durability, and improved indoor air quality.


Key Elements of a High Performance Envelope

A high performance building envelope is composed of several key elements that work together to provide thermal insulation, air sealing, moisture management, and protection from the elements. These elements include:

1. Insulation: Insulation is a critical component of a high performance building envelope. It helps to reduce heat transfer through the walls, roof, and floors, keeping the indoor temperature stable and reducing the need for heating and cooling.

2. Air Barrier: An effective air barrier is essential for preventing air leakage and reducing drafts. It helps to maintain a tight building envelope and improve energy efficiency.

3. Vapor Barrier: A vapor barrier is used to control moisture diffusion and prevent condensation within the building envelope. It helps to protect the structural integrity of the building and prevent mold growth.

4. Windows and Doors: High performance windows and doors are designed to minimize heat transfer and air leakage. They often have multiple glazing layers, low-emissivity coatings, and insulated frames to improve energy efficiency.

5. Roofing: A high performance roof is designed to reflect solar heat, provide insulation, and resist moisture intrusion. It helps to reduce heat gain in the summer and heat loss in the winter.


These key elements work together to create a high performance building envelope that maximizes energy efficiency, minimizes air leakage, manages moisture effectively, and protects the building from the elements.

Energy Efficiency Strategies for Building Green Design

Building green design incorporates various energy efficiency strategies to minimize energy consumption and reduce environmental impact. Some common energy efficiency strategies for building green design include:

1. Passive Design: Passive design principles aim to maximize natural heating, cooling, and lighting in a building, reducing the need for mechanical systems. This can include orienting the building to take advantage of solar heat, incorporating shading devices to prevent direct sunlight, and optimizing natural ventilation and daylighting.

2. Energy-Efficient HVAC Systems: High-performance HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems are designed to minimize energy use while maintaining occupant comfort. This can include using energy-efficient equipment, implementing zoning systems, and optimizing HVAC controls.

3. Efficient Lighting: Energy-efficient lighting systems, such as LED (light-emitting diode) lights, can significantly reduce energy consumption. Incorporating natural lighting strategies, such as skylights and light shelves, can also help to minimize the need for artificial lighting.

4. Renewable Energy Sources: Integrating renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines, can further reduce a building's reliance on fossil fuels and lower its carbon footprint.

5. Building Automation Systems: Building automation systems help to optimize energy usage by automatically controlling and monitoring various building systems, such as lighting, HVAC, and occupancy sensors.

By implementing these energy efficiency strategies, buildings can achieve significant energy savings and contribute to a more sustainable future.


Case Studies Highlighting Energy Savings with High Performance Envelopes

Numerous case studies have demonstrated the energy savings and environmental benefits of implementing a high performance building envelope. Here are a few examples:

1. The Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington: The Bullitt Center is a commercial office building that achieved net-zero energy status by incorporating a high performance envelope, solar panels, and energy-efficient systems. It produces as much energy as it consumes, resulting in significant energy savings and carbon emissions reduction.

2. The Empire State Building Retrofit in New York City: The Empire State Building underwent a major retrofit, which included upgrading the building envelope to improve energy efficiency. As a result, the building achieved a 38% reduction in energy use and saved millions of dollars in energy costs.

3. The Rocky Mountain Institute Innovation Center in Colorado: The Rocky Mountain Institute Innovation Center is a high-performance building that showcases advanced energy efficiency and sustainable design. Its high performance envelope contributes to substantial energy savings and a comfortable indoor environment.

These case studies highlight the real-world benefits of investing in a high performance building envelope, including significant energy savings, cost savings, and reduced environmental impact.

REEF Builders provides complete real estate and design / build services for finely built, high efficiency new homes, renovations and additions. If you are interested in building or renovating a home on Cape Cod, consider a team that has successfully completed over 1500 projects in the area.  Click below to find current per square foot costs to build here on Cape Cod

Cape Cod Construction Cost Guide



Tags: energy efficiency, Green building, HVAC

How the Massachusetts Municipal Opt-in Code Affects the Cost to Build a House

Posted by REEF Builders on Thu, Mar 14, 2024

Explore the influence of the Massachusetts Municipal Opt-in Code on the expenses related to constructing a house.

Understanding the Massachusetts Municipal Opt-in Code

The Massachusetts Municipal Opt-in Code refers to a policy that allows municipalities in Massachusetts to adopt and enforce their own building regulations and requirements. It gives local governments the authority to establish rules and standards that align with their specific needs and priorities. This code provides flexibility for municipalities to address unique challenges and promote sustainable development. Currently, as of March 2024, the towns of Wellfleet and Truro of adopted this optional code, however, several other towns such as Orleans, Eastham, Chatham, and Barnstable are considering adoption.


By understanding the Massachusetts Municipal Opt-in Code, homebuyers and builders can gain insights into the specific regulations and requirements they need to adhere to when constructing a house in a particular municipality. It is crucial to familiarize oneself with the code to ensure compliance and avoid any unexpected costs or delays.

Impact on Building Permits and Regulations

One of the significant impacts of the Massachusetts Municipal Opt-in Code on the cost to build a house is related to building permits and regulations. With this code, municipalities have the authority to establish their own permitting processes and requirements, which may differ from those at the state level.

While this can provide more tailored regulations for local needs, it can also introduce additional costs. Builders and homebuyers may need to navigate through a potentially more complex permitting process, which might involve additional documentation, inspections, or fees.

Furthermore, the code may introduce stricter regulations in certain areas, such as zoning restrictions or design guidelines, which can impact the overall cost of construction. It is essential to consider these factors when estimating the expenses associated with building a house.


Effect on Material and Labor Costs

The Massachusetts Municipal Opt-in Code can also have an effect on material and labor costs. As municipalities have the ability to establish their own building regulations, they may require the use of specific materials or construction techniques that differ from the statewide standards.

These variations can impact the availability and cost of materials. Builders may need to source materials that comply with the municipality's regulations, which could be more expensive or harder to find. Additionally, the code may require the use of labor-intensive techniques or specialized contractors, which can contribute to increased labor costs.

It is important for builders and home buyers to consider these potential impacts on material and labor costs when budgeting for the construction of a house.

097-161213-Existing Electric Meter

Consideration of Energy Efficiency Standards

Another important aspect to consider when assessing the cost to build a house under the Massachusetts Municipal Opt-in Code is the consideration of energy efficiency standards. Municipalities may have the authority to establish their own requirements for energy-efficient construction and design.

While these standards aim to promote sustainability and reduce energy consumption, they may also add to the overall expenses of building a house. Energy-efficient materials and technologies can sometimes be more costly upfront, although they may lead to long-term savings in energy bills.

Builders and homebuyers should carefully evaluate the energy efficiency standards set by the municipality and consider the potential impact on the cost of construction and the long-term benefits of reduced energy consumption. Currently the consensus is that the payback period for these changes is more than 50 years, especially when you factor in the increased cost of renewable energy production, soon to hit consumers.



Overall Implications for Homebuyers and Builders

In conclusion, the Massachusetts Municipal Opt-in Code can have various implications for homebuyers and builders in terms of the cost to build a house. It provides municipalities with the flexibility to establish their own building regulations and requirements, which can result in both advantages and challenges.

While the code allows for tailored regulations that address local needs, it can introduce additional costs related to building permits, materials, labor, and energy efficiency standards. Homebuyers and builders should thoroughly understand the code and its potential impact on expenses to make informed decisions and ensure compliance with the regulations set by the municipality.

By considering these factors and carefully planning the construction process, individuals can navigate the Massachusetts Municipal Opt-in Code effectively and successfully build their desired houses.

If you would like more information about the Municipal Opt-in code and how it may impact your renovation, remodeling or new construction project here on Cape Cod, Click Here to download the latest version of our Construction Cost Guide

Tags: energy efficiency, massachusetts building code, energy code

Understanding Operating Costs of Fully Electric Homes

Posted by REEF Builders on Tue, Feb 27, 2024

Discover the true cost of building and operating fully electric homes

The Benefits of Fully Electric Homes

Fully electric homes offer numerous benefits that make them a compelling choice for homeowners. One of the main advantages is their environmental friendliness. By relying solely on electricity for power, these homes produce zero carbon emissions, helping to reduce the impact on the environment. Additionally, fully electric homes are often more energy-efficient, which can lead to lower energy bills in the long run. They also offer greater control over energy usage, allowing homeowners to monitor and optimize their energy consumption.


Another benefit of fully electric homes is their independence from traditional energy sources. With a fully electric home, homeowners are not reliant on fossil fuels or other non-renewable energy sources. This can provide a sense of security and reduce the risk of energy price fluctuations. Furthermore, fully electric homes are often equipped with advanced technologies, such as smart thermostats and solar panels, which can further enhance their energy efficiency and convenience.


Factors Affecting Operating Costs

Several factors can influence the operating costs of fully electric homes. One of the main factors is the cost of electricity. The price of electricity can vary depending on location and utility rates. It's important to research and compare electricity providers to ensure you are getting the best rates for your fully electric home.

Another factor that can affect operating costs is the size and layout of the home. Larger homes generally require more electricity to power all the appliances, heating, and cooling systems. Additionally, the number of occupants and their energy consumption habits can also impact operating costs.

The energy efficiency of the home's appliances and systems is another important factor. Energy-efficient appliances and HVAC systems can significantly reduce electricity consumption and lower operating costs. It's worth investing in high-quality, energy-efficient appliances when building a fully electric home.

Lastly, the climate and weather conditions of the area can affect operating costs. Homes located in regions with extreme temperatures may require more energy for heating or cooling, leading to higher operating costs.


Comparing Building Costs of Fully Electric Homes

When comparing the building costs of fully electric homes to traditional homes, it's important to consider both the upfront costs and the long-term savings. While the initial construction costs of fully electric homes will be  higher due to the installation of specialized electrical systems and energy-efficient features, such as spray foam insulation and high performance windows, the long-term savings can outweigh the initial investment, long term being 20+ years.

Fully electric homes often have lower operating costs, thanks to their energy efficiency and reduced reliance on fossil fuels. However, with the lack of capacity in the current Massachusetts power grid, and the requirements for renewable energy supply, electricity rates will increase dramatically over the next 5-10 years.  Over time, homeowners can save money on energy bills and potentially recoup the higher upfront costs, but this is unlikely due to the increased demand for electricity imposed by the State of Massachusetts Decarbonization goals. It's also worth noting that there may be government incentives or tax credits available for building fully electric homes, which can further offset the initial expenses.

Additionally, the resale value of fully electric homes can be higher compared to traditional homes, as more homebuyers are becoming interested in energy-efficient and sustainable properties. This can provide an additional financial benefit for homeowners.


Calculating the Long-Term Savings

Calculating the long-term savings of operating a fully electric home involves considering various factors. First, it's important to estimate the average monthly energy consumption and cost of electricity. This can be done by analyzing past energy bills or consulting with an energy expert.

Next, compare the estimated operating costs of a fully electric home with that of a traditional home. Take into account the expected lifespan of the appliances and systems in both types of homes to accurately calculate the long-term savings. It's also important to factor in any potential future increases in electricity rates and the potential savings from government incentives or tax credits.

By carefully analyzing and comparing these factors, homeowners can get a clearer understanding of the long-term savings and financial benefits of operating a fully electric home.

Tips for Reducing Operating Costs

There are several strategies homeowners can implement to reduce the operating costs of fully electric homes. One of the most effective ways is to improve the energy efficiency of the home. This can be achieved by investing in energy-efficient appliances, properly insulating the home, and sealing any air leaks. Using smart thermostats and programmable timers can also help optimize energy usage.

Another tip is to take advantage of renewable energy sources. Installing solar panels or wind turbines can generate clean and free electricity, reducing reliance on the grid and lowering operating costs. Additionally, homeowners can consider participating in net metering programs, which allow them to sell excess electricity back to the grid and earn credits on their energy bills. Unfortunately, however, with the current lack of smart grid technology in Massachusetts, the ability to connect solar production to the grid is limited, and interconnection may take years as the grid is improved to accept power production from on-site renewables.

Regular maintenance of appliances and systems is crucial for maximizing energy efficiency and reducing operating costs. Cleaning or replacing air filters, checking insulation, and scheduling annual HVAC system inspections can help identify and address any issues that may be affecting energy efficiency.

Lastly, homeowners should actively monitor their energy consumption and make conscious efforts to reduce waste. Simple habits like turning off lights when not in use, using natural lighting whenever possible, and adjusting thermostat settings can all contribute to significant energy savings.

REEF Builders provides complete design / build services for finely built, high efficiency new homes, renovations and additions. If you are interested in building or renovating a home on Cape Cod, consider a team that has successfully completed over 1500 projects in the area.  Click below to find current per square foot costs to build here on Cape Cod

Cape Cod Construction Cost Guide



Tags: new home on cape cod, energy efficiency, Heating and Cooling, custom homes cape cod

Net Zero Homes by 2030?

Posted by REEF Builders on Thu, Mar 18, 2021

  Legislation is currently being proposed in Congress to require net zero energy homes by 2030 in an effort to reduce the the impacts of climate change.  This all sounds good, but the cost of construction will increase exponentially to achieve this goal, making building cost prohibitive for current and future generations.  According to Freddie Mac  in 2020 the US already had a housing shortfall of 2.5 million units, and much of that is due to regulatory requirements which drive the cost of housing  development above affordable levels.  As you may also know, lumber prices have skyrocketed to unprecedented levels in 2021, with lumber indices increasing nearly 300% in the span of a short few months!  If sensible, safe, and code compliant housing is already too expensive for many Americans, how will the market react to the astronomical expense of producing net zero energy housing over the next 9 years.  America needs to find a happy medium that makes positive progress towards energy efficiency, while still keeping affordability at the forefront.  

Here's a recent article that summarizes the latest legislative proposal in Congress:

Climate Change Proposal with Residential Energy Efficiency Provisions in Congress


If you are thinking of building a new Custom Home on Cape Cod - Click here to download our Construction Cost Guide

Tags: energy efficiency

Energy Code Changes - Again? Really?

Posted by REEF Custom Homes on Tue, Feb 07, 2017

Here's some very important information that you should know if you ever plan or building, remodeling or even owning a home here on Cape Cod! The State of Massachusetts has been working to adopt the International Code Council Building and Energy Codes since 2008/2009, moving away from our old "Version 6" of the building code, which had been in place for several years and was unique to the state. Since 2008, the state has moved quickly to not only adopt the International Code Council regulations, but to continue to update those regulations so we can be on par with many other states allowing us to use the latest and greatest versions of the code.

You may also have noticed that the cost of construction has also increased dramatically during that time, and a fair amount of that cost of building or remodeling a home can be attributed to the energy code compliance requirements of the IECC. Well as of this year, 2017, the state is planning to finalize the code versions using the 2015 codes, with Massachusetts amendments.

So what does this all mean? Under the 2015 Codes, we will now be held to the an extremely high standards of energy efficient construction in all new homes and renovations. If you are lucky enough to live in a "Stretch" energy code town (Such as Truro, Mashpee, Wellfleet and Provincetown) your project will have to meet the highest standards of construction in the state. Furthermore the 2015 codes provides energy rating credits for "green" power generation, i.e. solar panels or windmills, and may mandate design requirements such as a "solar ready" roof areas, which means roofs will have to have designed for future solar installations and provisions for electric vehicle chargers in every new home.

State of MA Energy Code Update and Summary

Overall, it's a great step towards energy efficiency and promotes renewable resources and green technology for new homes. Although these sorts of provisions will have a cost, visual and aesthetic impact, there will be net long term benefits from these new regulations.

If you are considering designing and building a new custom home, vacation home, major renovation or addition, you'll want to know how these regulations will impact your project. Feel free to reach out to the team at REEF today for your initial consultation. Click here to Contact us!




Tags: energy efficiency, Insulation, energy code

15 Point checklist for your new Cape Cod bathroom

Posted by REEF Cape Cod's Home Builder on Thu, Feb 07, 2013

Creating special spaces for our customers is one of the real joys here at REEF Builders. Lots of time and attention is paid to bathrooms. A Master or Guest Suite, or Cape Cod Cottage is not complete without comfortable, pleasant bathrooms. A bathroom renovation is an exciting task. But before jumping to choosing the latest tile or bathtub design, there are some less exciting things to consider so your project turns out just the way you dream it. Because renovating a bathroom can be overwhelming, time-consuming and costly, here is a simple 15-point checklist to make sure that your project stays on track and the renovation runs smoothly.

bathroom renovation 8 resized 600

15 Point Checklist for your new Cape Cod Bathroom

Tags: energy efficiency, Cape Cod Builder, Bathroom Remodeling, cape cod custom builders

5 Simple Steps to Improve the Energy Efficiency of your Cape Cod Home

Posted by REEF Cape Cod's Home Builder on Thu, Jan 24, 2013

Cold winter days turn our attention to energy efficiency. How can you make your Cape Cod Home energy efficient? It's surprising how much energy (and money!) can be saved by taking a few simple steps. Here's a great list of 5 simple projects that will increase the energy efficiency, comfort, and value of your home.

Cape Cod Home

5 Simple Projects to Improve Your Home's Energy Efficiency

Tags: Cape Cod Home, home improvements, energy efficiency

Choosing Windows for your Cape Cod home

Posted by REEF Cape Cod's Home Builder on Fri, Jan 18, 2013

Windows are bigger than ever today. They play an increasingly important role in helping our customers maximize the value of their home by welcoming light, opening vistas, and creating interesting, inviting spaces. There are myriad options, from decorative to functional. Some of the energy efficient models may even qualify for energy rebates. Many of our customers build or re-buld their homes around views of Cape Cod Bay, Vineyard or Nantucket Sound, marshes and bogs. Here are some great ideas for using windows to create truly special spaces.

Factors to Consider when Choosing Windows

A tub with a Cape Cod view...

Tags: cape cod waterfront homes, energy efficiency, building on cape cod, Cape Cod Design Build

Net-Zero Engery Use for Your Cape Cod Custom Home

Posted by Matthew Teague on Mon, Dec 03, 2012

   Green construction is still a big trend in home building, and we here at REEF have continued to monitor trends so see when it might be economcally feasible to build a "net-zero" home.  The "Net-Zero" concept is quickly becoming a reality, when you consider a high performance building envelope, coupled with high efficiency HVAC and some form of energy production.

  Many of our New Home customers here on Cape Cod have decided to make an investment in these types of technologies, now that building codes have increased the minimum energy-efficiency guidelines to very high levels.  Here are some of the factors your might consider when planning your Net-Zero new home on Cape Cod. 

  1. Building orientation
  2. Efficient Insulation / Building Envelope
  3. High Efficiency HVAC and Control Systems
  4. Energy Production
  5. Use Monitoring

If you are considering Net-Zero for your New Home, Remodeling, or Renovation Project on Cape Cod, please CONTACT US  today to see how REEF can help!

Here is an article from Housingzone.com discussing Net-Zero concept: Net Zero Homes


Cape Cod Custom Homes

Tags: energy efficiency, Net-Zero

Best Insulation for your Cape Cod Home

Posted by Matthew Teague on Wed, Oct 31, 2012

    The building code in Massachusetts has changed several times over the last few years.  One of the biggest changes has been in the area of energy efficiency.  The new building code requires barriers against both heat loss and air infiltration, which can be very hard to acheive with traditional fiberglass insulation. One of the best solutions we have found has been Closed Cell Foam insulation.  Closed Cell Foam has a very high R-value, and creates an almost impenetrable barrier against water, moisture, and air infiltration.  We began using closed cell foam about 4 years ago and the performance has been exceptional. 

    One of the drawbacks of this type of insulation is that it creates such a tight building envelope, that it can prevent fresh air exchange in a home.  To eliminate this problem, we always recommend a heat recovery ventilator, also known as an air exchange system, that mechanically removes stale air and replaces it with fresh air from outside. 

Here are some of the other benefits of Closed Cell Foam:

  1. Stiffens the structual frame of the home
  2. Only insulation approved by FEMA for flood-resistant construction
  3. Insect resistant
  4. Low permeability and moisture absorption rates.

So if you are thinking of Building, Remodeling, or Renovating on Cape Cod, you should definitely look into Closed Cell Foam Insulation for your next project. 

Here is a brief article  from coastalcontractor.net on the subject that talks further about the benefits:  Closed Cell Foam

Closed Cell Foam

Tags: green homes, energy efficiency, Insulation

Subscribe to Email Updates

Latest Posts