One of the best ways to reduce the energy use of a building is in the planning, materials, and construction of the thermal envelope. With a high-performance envelope, you get fewer drafts, less outside noise, a more responsive heating and cooling system, and cleaner indoor air quality—all of which is better for the environment and for you.
New York-based New Energy Works has been at the forefront of high-performance building technology since it introduced its Matrix Wall™, a pre-panelized and energy-efficient wall system originally designed for its custom timber frame homes, over 30 years ago. Now, the company is bringing a fresh approach to its process by introducing “High Performance Made Easier,”
or HPEzTM, which uses digital design and semi- automated tooling off-site to create a building enclosure that arrives at your job site ready to set, fit, and finish.
”It dawned on us that there was a more efficient and controlled way to build high-performance enclosures than the traditional on-site way,” says Luke Nagle, construction manager with New Energy Works. “That led us to go to Europe and see their methods and bring back the things that make sense. And this off-site process makes a ton of sense; allowing for more builders to be able to bring high-performance to their clients, with better quality.”
Creating the envelope off-site allows New Energy Works to build in a climate-controlled environment, reduce material waste, and increase the accuracy and efficiency of enclosure production. “When you’re working with high-performance components like exterior insulation and WRB [water-resistive barrier] membrane and rainscreen, you can get a much higher level of efficiency in the shop, out of the wind and dust and rain and with big machines to do the heavy parts,” Nagle says. “Our goal is to partner with builders and designers so they can bring this enclosure to their clients.”
Even better for any builder or homeowner, HPEzTM cuts framing time on the jobsite roughly in half, and reduces the carbon footprint of both the overall project and the completed building. “The quality is high and there’s a real time advantage,” says New Energy Works engineer Bryan Bleier. “Everything is square and true and perfect; computer control allows for tolerances of about 1/32 and the results are a lot more airtight. Having pieces arrive onsite and ready to go makes installation far quicker.”
“It’s basically another set of tools that reduces the manpower needed onsite and lends itself to custom homes,” says Nagle. “Our engineering group can turn any set of plans into a panelized product. Our goal is to create partnerships with New York and New England builders and designers that produce high-performance, energy-efficient buildings and allow them to increase their enclosure’s performance in a way that can become widespread.”