When you first approach 99 Prospect Street, Schenectady, NY you may note the size of the home or the warm color of the siding. You may comment on the attention to detail. What you won’t see is that attention to detail goes all the way to the studs – but you will feel it. In the temperature, in the conversations uninterrupted by street noises, in the warm glow of the afternoon sun, that’s because 99 Prospect Street is designed to the Saint-Gobain Multi Comfort building concept, which takes a holistic approach to the importance of comfort, health and wellbeing, as well as net zero energy standards.
The project is the latest collaboration between CertainTeed, its parent company Saint-Gobain, and YouthBuild, which helps unemployed and out-of-school young people ages 16 to 24 attain their High School Equivalency (HSE) or high school diploma. Since 2010, YouthBuild and Saint-Gobain/CertainTeed have collaborated on 11 affordable green homes, six having received LEED certification at the Gold and Platinum levels. Then, in May 2019, the YouthBuild team in Schenectady, NY decided to take the partnership just a little bit further with the first ever net-zero, Multi Comfort build.
What is Multi Comfort?
A Multi Comfort Home:
- Provides relatively stable temperatures
- Offers the right type and amount of light
- Blocks out unwanted noise and enhances the sounds we want to hear
- Keeps indoor air fresh and clean while reducing harmful pollutants
Saint-Gobain based its Multi Comfort concept on the idea that buildings can be designed for comfort and positively contribute to occupants’ health and well-being. Homes built with the Multi Comfort approach deliver the highest levels of energy efficiency and savings for homeowners by providing relatively stable temperatures, offering the right type and amount of light, blocking out unwanted noise, enhancing the sounds occupants want to hear, and keeping indoor air fresh and clean while reducing pollutants.
“Saint-Gobain was already a leader in sustainable habitat,” says Stan Gatland, CertainTeed’s Building Sciences and Comfort Manager and consultant on the project. “Multi Comfort takes that sustainability background and adds in occupant comfort.”
How do you measure success?
Specifically, a Multi Comfort home looks at four factors of comfort: thermal comfort, visual comfort, acoustical comfort, and indoor air quality. While the tools are out there to build a home to these standards, they don’t exist in a single place.
“It’s a complementary mix and match of different programs to reach Multi Comfort,” says Gatland.
There are parts taken from LEED, pieces from the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Home program, with bits from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor Air Package. Then there is the Home Energy Rating Score (HERS) index, which is calculated using measurements and as-built conditions.
The same goes with construction techniques. The concepts aren’t necessarily new. You still need walls with drywall and insulation and a roof overhead; it’s the material selection and placement that makes the difference. While you may know to insulate the exterior wall, if you also use a sustainable insulation in the interior walls, especially around bedrooms and bathrooms, you can limit noise transmission between rooms and create a more restful environment.
It’s a complex puzzle but in the end the benefits are measurable.
With the 7.8 KW CertainTeed Solstice® Solar System, the home measures at 15 on the HERS® Index, the industry standard that measures a home’s energy efficiency. That score puts it in passive house territory. That means energy usage will be minimal and in Schenectady, where an average low temperature for January is 12 degrees F, this is definitely a benefit you can feel.
Breaking Down the Components of a Multi Comfort House
Products used it this Multi Comfort construction:
ENERGY PERFORMANCE & SUSTAINABILITY
- CertainTeed’s Solstice® Solar System 7.8 kW Array
- Carrier® Infinity® System Control with Wi-Fi® Remote Access Capability
- Carrier Infinity® 20 Heat Pump with Greenspeed™ Intelligence (HSPF 13, SEER 20)
- Big Magic Thermodynamic Box 200 Solar Assisted Heat Pump Water Heater
- ENERGY STAR® Certified Appliances and LED Lighting
BEAUTY & DURABILITY
- Landmark® Shingles
- WinterGuard® Waterproofing Shingle Underlayment
- RoofRunner™ Lightweight, Synthetic Polymer-based Underlayment
- Shadow Ridge® Hip and Ridge Accessory Shingles
Decking & Railing
- EverNew® Vinyl Decking
- Kingston® Vinyl Railing System
- CertainTeed Structural Porch Posts, Columns and Finishing
ACOUSTIC & INDOOR AIR COMFORT
- Easi-Lite® Lightweight drywall
- M2Tech® Moisture & Mold Resistant drywall
- AirRenew® Essential drywall
- Green Glue® Noiseproofing Compound
- SilentFX® Noiseproofing Sealant
- FibaTape® Joint and Metal Corner Tape
THERMAL & VISUAL COMFORT
- InsulSafe® SP Premium Blowing Wool (R22)
- Sustainable Insulation® Unfaced Fiberglass Batt (R38)
- Sustainable Insulation® Kraft Faced Fiberglass Batt (R21, R13)
- MemBrain™ Continuous Air Barrier & Smart Vapor Retarder
- 10” Insulating Concrete Form (R10)
- Anderson® 400 Series Low E Window Systems