While we excel at solar systems, geothermal, and other involved green building elements, you do not have to have those features to be green! ALL Newcastle Homes project are green, and here is how:
• INFILL: We are infill developers, not contributors to sprawl. We take existing urban lots and build new on them. The greenest thing we can do as a developer, and you can do as a homeowner, is be centrally located so you are not burning fossil fuel driving through traffic to get everywhere you need to go. There are other significant benefits in urban infill too, but being near downtown and all Austin has to offer is not only fun, it is GREEN!
• INTELLIGENT DESIGN: The next greenest thing we, as a developer, and you, as a homeowner can do is insist on intelligent design. Every Newcastle Homes project is custom designed for its site by a local architect that specializes in sustainability.
o SIZE: Our houses are right-sized, starting with our 850sf ‘urban cottages’, all the way up to our biggest homes, which are ~2500sf or less. Our typical home is 1500-1800sf, which is a sweet spot for efficient yet comfortable living. The benefits of a right-sized home are obvious and far-reaching—no wasted building materials, lower gas and electric consumption, smaller environmental footprint, etc. A smartly designed home of 1700sf, for example, often lives bigger and more efficiently than a much larger, poorly designed home.
o PASSIVE SOLAR: Perhaps not as sexy as solar panels, but far more important in terms of greenness, passive solar design is used on all our projects. This is when the house is carefully placed and oriented on its lot to maximize light while minimizing heat. Lots of light not only makes for a nice home, it keeps electric usage down. And proper window placement and shading keeps your home cool with far less air conditioning.
• ENERGY STAR 3.0: While the City of Austin actually has one of the most progressive and greenest building codes in the country, Newcastle Homes goes above and beyond and certifies all its homes via ENERGY STAR 3.0 Home Performance. All ENERGY STAR 3.0 homes are at least 15% more efficient than the average new American home, but many of ours rate at as much 30-35% more efficient! Click here for more information on ENERGY STAR 3.0. (We also certify some of our projects with the AUSTIN ENERGY GREEN BUILDING PROGRAM, and can do so upon request.)
• HVAC SYSTEM: Obviously, staying cool in Texas has to be done right in order to be green. We custom design our HVAC systems in every home. In fact, our HVAC team is involved in the design with our architects and engineers from the onset—we do not design a home and then stick an HVAC system in it. Additionally, the systems we use are mutli-zoned for maximum control and efficiency, ENERGY STAR certified, and run by Nest thermostats for even more control and efficiency.
• INSULATION: Insulation is a key component to being green in the Texas heat. We use spray foam in the attics/under the roof and blown-in/bibbed dry fiberglass in the walls for most of our projects. We never use batts (the old roll out pink stuff), and also avoid cellulose since it settles over time and leaves gaps in your envelope. This hybrid system attains about 80% of the benefits of a full foam system at a far lower cost. Of course, some homes we do are all foam and any home we build can be made to be all foam upon request.
• WINDOWS/SLIDERS: Like insulation, windows and sliding glass doors (which are prominent in Newcastle Homes designs since we excel at connecting interior spaces with outdoor living) are an absolutely key component to green building. There are several types and styles of window we use; ranging from Milgards to Rhinos, and Fleetwood to Western. We never use builder grade glass. These higher quality windows and sliders not only look and function better, they combine with the insulation to form an outstanding envelope, conserving resources and lowering your utility bills.
• ROOFING: Roofing is key in Texas, too. We use a variety of roofing systems depending on design and budget, but typically use a Galvalume U-Panel system; which performs admirably, looks great, and lasts a long time. We also use standing seam systems if the budget permits. Metal roofs are far more reflective than comp shingle roofs, and that is huge in the Texas sun- saving energy and money spent on cooling. We rarely use comp shingle since U-Panel offers so much more value for only a bit more cost, but when we do, we use high performance architectural 3-tab shingles.
• PLUMBING: We use highly efficient tankless water heaters, water-saving dual-flush toilets, ENERGY STAR dishwashers, and top quality plumbing fixtures. These elements also help make our homes green.
• ELECTRIC FIXTURES: Our homes feature ENERGY STAR lighting fixtures, while our recessed lighting has LED or CFL bulbs.
• SOLAR: All of our homes are designed and built to be solar-ready, which means the homes are designed with at least part of the roof oriented and angled optimally and free of protrusions so solar panels can be easily mounted. In some cases, we also leave space on the breaker panel and run conduit to accommodate a solar array. We also build some of homes with a solar system, not just solar-ready. Click here to learn more about solar.
• GEOTHERMAL: Some of our projects feature geothermal heating and cooling systems. This, combined with foam insulation and other green features, can make a home seriously green. Click here to learn more about geothermal.
• XERISCAPING: Native low- or no-water landscaping is featured on most Newcastle Homes projects. These landscapes look great, require far less maintenance, and use way less water, saving our most precious resources and your money.
• RAINWATER CATCHMENT: Many of our homes are designed to include or accommodate the future inclusion of rainwater harvesting systems.
• SUSTAINABLE/RENEWABLE RESOURCES: Wherever possible, we use sustainable materials like bamboo (an easy to grow grass, not a tree/contributor to deforestation). When wood materials are needed, like in our cabinetry, we use sustainably harvested/fair trade lumber.
• LOW/NO VOC PAINT: All Newcastle Homes are finished with low- or no-VOC paint and other formaldehyde-free finishes. No off-gassing for indoor air-quality.
• CONCRETE FLOORS: Unless the client specifies otherwise, we use sealed or stained concrete flooring on the first floor. This saves lots of material, not to mention cost. Plus, pooches think it’s the best in the summer heat!
• REPURPOSED/RECLAIMED MATERIALS: Whenever possible, Newcastle Homes uses repurposed or reclaimed materials. Some of our homes even include elements salvaged from original housing stock. When we demo, we repurpose and reclaim all we can; minimizing landfilling, and producing some really cool design elements that look and perform great while linking the old to the new.