By Pamela Schipper | Photograph courtesy of Kettler Forlines Homes
In this period of challenging home sales, stories abound of
corners cut in new home construction. And really, would the average home buyer
know the difference?
One local, family-owned builder and developer is determined
to do things right, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has
vouched for that. This spring, Kettler Forlines Homes’ Brightwell Crossing
partnered with the EPA as one of a select number of communities in the nation
where all homes carry the new EPA Indoor airPLUS label and are 100 percent EPA
Energy Star for Homes certified.
It’s quite a distinction.
As homes have become more energy efficient, the downside has
been that indoor air can be unhealthy. In fact, the EPA suggests that the
pollution inside of many homes is two to five times as high as what we breathe
outdoors. This is because the most energy-efficient homes today are sealed
tight. Any moisture, humidity, radon, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or
combustion pollutants that may build up inside the home tend to stay there, trapped
Build It Tight, Ventilate It Right
That’s the EPA’s motto and answer to today’s homebuilding dilemma: Use smart
ventilation and design while building with the best low-VOC materials. In
Brightwell Crossing, homes are built to improve indoor air quality,
incorporating steps like installing a high-efficiency power vented gas furnace,
an exhaust fan in the garage, transfer HVAC grills in bedrooms to improve and
balance airflow and high-quality Merv 8 HVAC filters. Many building materials
are third-party certified to reduce emissions. These include cabinetry, carpet
and carpet padding, flooring products, shelving material and low-VOC paints.
The result of these measures lowers the impact of
environmental pollution on human health. Lowering allergens, including mold,
reduces suffering and medication use. Decreasing VOCs and radon inside the
home limits exposure to carcinogenic substances. According to the EPA, each
year approximately 20,000 lung cancer deaths are attributed not to cigarettes,
but to the invisible killer, radon.
Then Go the Distance
Kettler Forlines didn’t stop there in its commitment to building green. Outside
of some homes, a wrap porch on the front reduces solar gain. A rain barrel collects
a portion of roof rain-off. And lawns are fed with a 100 percent organic lawn
fertilization program, thereby decreasing toxic pesticide runoff into the
Whenever possible at Brightwell Crossing, Kettler Forlines
has hired local contractors and suppliers. Twelve are located in Poolesville or
nearby Dickerson, reducing carbon emissions from driving to and from the site
and giving a boost to the local economy.
For more information, visit www.brightwellcrossing.com or
www.epa.gov/indoorairplus. Brightwell Crossing is a single-family home
development in Poolesville that opened in May 2010. Kettler Forlines’
Brightwell Crossing is one of only 16 building partners in Maryland to comply
with EPA Indoor airPLUS construction specifications.
Published in the September/October 2011 issue of Montgomery Magazine