26 Jul

Historical Context

I wanted to take a minute and talk about why we created Virginia Green Homes and Radiant Therma Vent ICF. Virginia Green Homes is a branch of Alpha Rain and is committed to research and development of affordable green home technologies. Virginia Green Homes has developed energy efficient roof systems for Alpha Rain and is dedicated to providing the home owner with new innovative energy saving options.

Alpha Rain has been in business since 1987 and is your metal roof specialist of Virginia. Alpha Rain has specialized solely in metal roofs for the last 13 years. The average age house that we work on is 150 years old. When we were working with homes from the 20th century we were not impressed with their energy standards. As we started working with homes from the 19th and then the 18th century we found some natural efficient methods used by our fore fathers.

Before air conditioning home builders and architects were known for designing homes that would vent in the summer, they accomplished this by using the theory that hot air rises. We saw some of these methods in a few of the homes we worked on, one owned by George Washington deeded to him by Lord Fairfax in 1763, another home that was 2 miles down the street was built in 1731 out of stone. In these homes we saw methods that included natural air ventilation, for summer using the law of heat rising to create a draft and move air naturally throughout the house. They would accomplish this by opening upstairs windows to draw in fresh air by allowing the hot air to rise pulling the cooler air in from the opened downstairs windows. This was known as an automatic ventilation system. Also they used the same law of heat rising for the winter by placing a stove at the bottom floor of the house and allowing the heat to rise to the upper rooms. The biggest problem with these homes was the poor insulating values and how leaky they were. However, now by taking the natural principles of builders and architects from our past along with newer components that were not available 200 years ago we have created the Naturally Efficient Home System.

We have found that most contractors and architects of the 21st century don’t understand the importance of naturally ventilating homes. The biggest problem has been that energy costs have been low enough in the 20th century that before now a bigger AC/Heat system would be installed to overcome the cooling or heating problem. Today energy costs have doubled or tripled from that of twenty to thirty years.

We have installed different venting systems on roofing retrofit projects and have had amazing results. We first started by fixing normal problems that homes have with ventilation. Most homes have a ridge vent at the top of the roof or soffit vents at the bottom of the roof, we found that most home do not have both. Ventilation only works if the air has a place to enter and escape, just like the window example in the above paragraph. Fixing these problems helped but we were very curious if venting more would help.

We started by installing a complete roof venting system for a gentleman who had a heat problem in the summer with his second story room that was converted from an attic to an office with AC installed. During the summer months he could not get this room cooler than 95 degrees even when setting his AC unit to 75 degrees. This was a house that only had soffit vents but no ridge vent. We left his old asphalt shingle roof on and installed right over it a stone coated metal roof with a counter batten system that allowed for 1 ½ inch gap and vented from the bottom and from the top with a ridge vent. We also cut into the plywood at the top allowing the soffit vents to draw in fresh air. The end result was that just by installing our roof venting system his attic office temperature was lowered from 95 degrees to 75 degrees.

We now have designed and are installing a complete roof venting systems that uses a thermal break and a radiant barrier. Please go to our “How It Works” page to read how a thermal break and radiant barrier works. We have seen amazing results even greater than the example of the attic office.

For many years we talked about energy efficient homes and wondered which type was the best. We look into the different insulated concrete forms. We kept coming back to how much material, labor and time was involved in the whole process. We evaluated the time it takes to set up all the braces and labor to complete one pour of concrete, then waiting for the concrete to set and the time involved to install the next level. All the ICF systems we looked at had three things in common, waste in material, labor and time.

We installed our first prototype house in 2008 for the owner of Virginia Green Homes with our new style of Insulated Concrete Forms. The reason we wanted to install a newly designed ICF was to see if it was possible to do it with less material, concrete, and time. Our results were that we installed it with 1/3 the concrete, about a 1/3 the labor and the cost was equal or less expensive than a traditional 2”x6” wood frame house.

The prototype ICF house has a heated floor space of 5,400 square feet, and the cost to heat the house during the winter months is around $300. The owner of Virginia Green Homes was in a rent house that was 1,200 square feet, it cost him about $300 to heat that house during the winter months.

We have now designed the new type of ICF that we have incorporated our natural efficiency system into. This is much like our complete roof ventilating system that has the thermal break and radiant barrier built in. This home vents from the bottom of the wall all the way to the ridge of the roof.

Our Radiant Therma Vent ICF is the only house system on the market that takes all three ways of heat transfer and diverts it saving you big dollars in energy savings. See our page “How It Works

This system is designed to work with most home designs, if you already have plans we can have them sent to our Architect to have them work with our system.

If you are interested in learning more about our system or have questions please go to our “Contact Us” page. You can call us or e-mail us for more information.