CLAM homes reflect a strong commitment to environmental sustainability and high energy efficiency. As the majority of housing development in West Marin is not new construction, we strive to bring thoughtful and thorough green practices to our renovation work. Given the chance for new construction, as at the Blue and Yellow Homes, we jumped at the chance to create California’s first new-construction Passive House.
Below are some additional green features present in CLAM homes:
Hybrid Water Heaters
Among other energy-efficient upgrades included in the Inverness Home was a hybrid water heater. Traditional water heaters, either gas or electric, require lots of energy to heat and maintain a large volume of water from cold to hot. Tankless water heaters do not store heated water; they heat the water as it passes through copper coils of pipe, which is energy efficient but can result in loss of water pressure. A hybrid water heater combines the technology of both tankless and traditional water heaters by using multiple heat coils around which the water flows, staying warm. Water temperature in the storage tank then only needs to increase from warm to hot, resulting in reduced energy costs, increased water pressure, and a supply of stored hot water for high-demand times.
During high demand, high-flow situations, hybrid technology behaves more like a tankless heater, producing fuel efficiencies similar to tankless heaters, but with higher flow capacity.
An induction cooktop was installed at CLAM’s Passive House. Induction cooking heats a cooking vessel by electrical induction instead of by thermal conduction from a flame or an electrical heating element. In an induction cooker, a coil of copper wire is placed under the cooking pot and an alternating electric current is passed through it. The resulting oscillating magnetic field produces an eddy current in the ferrous pot and heats the pot. Cooking pots must contain a ferromagnetic metal such as cast iron or stainless steel. Copper, glass and aluminum cookware will not work with an induction cooktop.
Induction cooking provides significantly more energy-efficient heating than cooking by thermal conduction. The system shuts down the element if a pot is not present, which saves energy but also means that you can touch the cook surface immediately after removing the pot and not feel heat or burn your hand.
Rainwater and Gray Water Harvesting
Rainwater and gray water harvesting are sustainable ways to conserve water and make an important contribution to sustainable and affordable homes. Reusing water reduces the energy and chemicals needed to treat water and transport it far away. It also lowers water bills and can reduce strain on septic systems. In 2014 CLAM offered a workshop on rainwater and gray water harvesting with Patrick Picard of Equinox Landscaping. To learn more about water harvesting, read this excellent article by Patrick Picard: “From Water Scarcity to Water Security.”