Builder touts green-building

  • Monday, July 28, 2014

Josh Cavanagh’s home before renovation.


The term “high performance home” may conjure images of high-tech computerized houses, but high performance homes aren’t futuristic at all.

They are specialized homes, in everyday neighborhoods, that help to conserve energy and money.

There’s more to these homes than simply adding solar panels to the roof.

High performance homes not only cut operating cost and conserve energy, but also improve comfort and durability.

If a high performance home is being built from the ground up, several factors should be considered with the help of a professional, such as air sealing, insulation, crawlspaces, windows and doors, the siding of the house, roofing, heating, ventilating and air conditioning, water heating, conservation, lighting, appliances, and solar energy.

Depending on the house, the integrity of a home can be compromised if it isn’t built properly.

A house that isn’t properly insulated is a common example. Insulation problems can mean cool air is leaking from the house or there are several drafts within the space. These leaks can cause the homeowner to increase the thermostat unnecessarily, spiking in the electricity bill.

In order to renovate or build a high performance home, specific steps are required in lieu of a few simple renovations.

EarthCraft is a point-based green building program that rewards energy efficient, healthy, sustainable, and durable steps throughout the building process of a high performance home.

According to the EarthCraft website, in order for a home to be certified it must meet a number of criteria to ensure sustainability, efficient design and function of a high performance home.

Josh Cavanagh, a local master builder, is a resident of Summerville who flipped his house to a high performance home with the help of his own company, High Performance Homes of South Carolina.

Cavanagh bought his current home in 2012, a pre-foreclosure, when he and his family moved back to South Carolina from Kentucky.

Cavanagh said the home presented too many opportunities for him not to buy the house and start fresh.

“I literally put my money where my mouth is,” he said.

In order to transform his rundown house to a high performance home, and meet the requirements of EarthCraft, Cavanagh had to start with the bones of the structure.

Once he gutted his home, Cavanagh reinsulated every square inch of the house to the best of his ability, corrected ventilation mishaps, installed high energy efficient windows and doors, and a heat pump water heater with over 60 percent more efficiency to name just a few improvements.

Through the restoration of his house, EarthCraft awarded Cavanagh a total of 140 points and its highest level, platinum.

Cavanagh said his electricity bill has been less than a $100 a month while his neighbors tell him theirs range from $200 to $250.

“My home is so tight and well insulated, that during the ice storm earlier this year, I was able to run a generator and one space-heater to warm the entire house,” he said.

The total renovation of Cavanagh’s home took a little over four months to complete. Cavanaugh said high performance homes are the best things people can do for their families and lifestyles.

“I did this completely because I know without a doubt this is the only house I want to live in,” he said.

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