Arab Construction World – November 2009
The Optimum Performance Home
Although the green movement planted its roots decades ago, the desire to make eco-friendly choices has begun to take off in the last few years, impacting consumer choices as well as building construction and design plans in a growing list of countries. A shining example of this global change is the world’s first Optimum Performance Home®.
The Optimum Performance Home is the latest eco-achievement for The Sea Ranch, a 43-year old residential development located in Sonoma County, California, USA. Spanning 5,000 acres, the Sea Ranch has received international recognition for placing environmental awareness and preservation at the forefront of design and construction.
The Optimum Performance Home is a single-family, three-building, 303.9square-meter home (412.5-squaremeter total building footprint, including garages, covered walkways, a courtyard and decks) that reduces its environmental impact by using responsible and sustainable building materials and processes. The house exceeds California’s building code requirements and is the first of only two custom homes in California to qualify for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The house is being constructed with stronger materials and higher quality building techniques to withstand natural disasters. It is also being designed without physical barriers, allowing its residents to age-in-place.
Building at the Sea Ranch is a challenge due to the development’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Naturally-occurring subgrade water causes the region’s clay soil to become overly saturated. As a result, builders not only need to abide to the strictest environmental standards but they also have to take steps to ensure water remains outside the building envelope. The Optimum Performance Home construction team turned to Kryton International for assistance.
Kryton’s concrete waterproofing admixture, Krystol Internal Membrane (KIM), was selected for its waterproofing effectiveness and environmental benefits. KIM is a chemical admixture in dry powdered form. When combined with water and concrete, it reacts with unhydrated cement particles to form millions of needle-like crystals. The crystals grow and fill the naturally occurring pores and voids in concrete, providing permanent waterproof protection. Using KIM eliminates the needs to use conventional waterproofing membranes by protecting the concrete from the inside out. KIM is non-toxic, non-flammable and odorless; this allows KIM-treated concrete to be recycled later on.
Three concrete mixes have been created to date for the Optimum Performance Home: a specifically engineered Controlled Density Fill (CDF), a standard foundation footing and mix for the Amciv ICF’s and a suspended slab-on-grade. KIM has been used in every mix except for the engineered CDF. The KIM-treated mixes combined Portland cement, KIM admixture, Euclid Eucon A+ admixture, and 40% fly ash. In both mixes, 11 pounds (approx. 5 kilograms) per yard of KIM was used.
While KIM is only one part of a thorough waterproofing system, it helped solve a design challenge that may have otherwise prevented the site from being developed to a LEED platinum standard. The Optimum Performance Home is a legendary development destined to change the face of green building practices around the globe.