Is My House a Pretty Good House (PGH)?

Green-BuildingThe Pretty Good House (PGH) concept is an idea developed by the green building adviser gurus in Maine.  It really addresses the question, how green is green enough?  Those familiar with energy-efficient and eco-friendly construction understand the whole wide spectrum, which ranges from homes built to current code all the way to net-positive houses that actually generate more energy than they use.  An entire house could be constructed and furnished with recycled, salvaged, and  vintage materials if one puts their mind to it.  But as living “off the grid”, “Passivhaus” standards and “LEED” certifications are generating all the buzz in green building, the average person asks oneself — geez, is all this really necessary in order to be good for the environment?  If you agree with the PGH concept, the answer is NO.


I talked about this concept in a previous post ( ).  To recap, A PGH has the following:

-Use of local labor and locally produced/available materials

– minimal and reasonable annual energy cost of $500-700 per year

– prescribed insulation levels of R 10-20-40-60 (R-10 under the foundation slab, R-20 on foundation walls, R-40 in exterior walls, and R-60 in the roof)

– reasonably sized home (1000 sqft for an individual, 1500 sqft for two, 1750 sqft for 3 and 1875 sqft for 4 and greater)

– pre-construction energy modeling to ensure all mechanical systems are sized efficiently

– air leakage rate of no greater than 2 ACH50

– mechanical ventilation since the house is so air tight

– good design (preferably universal design)

– comfort (no drafts)

– and an owner’s manual.

I added my own list to the PGH concept:

– Non-toxic materials (e.g. low VOC paint)

– some element of recycled or salvaged materials

– at least one renewable resource (e.g. solar power)

– and efficient space planning.

HERSNow that my house is complete, the energy ratings are in!  So here’s how it did:  Insulation levels are R-12-30-27.5-80 (R-12 under slab, R-30 foundation walls, R-27.5 above grade walls, and R-80 for the ceilings).  The estimated annual energy cost is $960/yr (avg $80/month), air leakage rate of 108 CFM 25 ( I never did look up how to interpret this ;), about 1600 sq ft for 4 people, and it has mechanical ventilation.  It received a HERS score of 36, which means it is 64% more energy-efficient than a house build to current code.  I did use all local labor and materials, low VOC paint, sustainable flooring, water conserving fixtures, solar power, large built-in storage, and vintage/re-purposed elements.

Is my house a Pretty Good House?