Training Profile: How Propane Offers Flexibility for Green Construction

A New York retrofit project relies heavily on propane for energy efficiency and a cleaner environmental profile.

Sylvan C?t?, CEO of South Salem, N.Y.–based Absolute Green Homes, is sold on using propane in the projects he designs. That's especially true of a current retrofit his "green" design/build firm is working on in Westchester County, N.Y.

Naturally, he appreciates propane's friendly environmental profile and relies on appliances and systems that use this clean energy source to fulfill the design/build firm's green mission. Propane also allows C?t?'s company to be nimble about appliance and system choices during the construction process, especially with renovations.

Take that current retrofit job, for example. Dubbed the Beach House Retrofit Project, it promises to be the first LEED Platinum home in Westchester County and is designed to receive a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index score of 0. It will be a net-zero energy home, which means it will produce as much energy as it uses.


As with many older homes, the original 1932 home had fallen into disrepair and was ready for a full facelift.

Plans include installing a propane range (cooktop and oven), a propane clothes dryer, a see-through propane fireplace in the master suite, a stub-out for a future outdoor propane grill, a propane outdoor fire feature, a whole-house propane standby generator, and a propane boiler.

The flexibility of propane applications is especially helpful when it comes to the boiler. "Our original plan was to have a combination unit that would provide both radiant heat and hot water," C?t? says. "But we have a tank already installed that stores hot water from the solar array, so we're looking into ways to accommodate that." Whatever heat and hot water systems the company eventually installs in the Beach House Retrofit, they will definitely be powered by propane. C?t? feels heartened by the many available choices when it comes to heating and hot water systems, but expresses just one complaint.

"This house, which will come in at 1,700 square feet, is insulated very well, so the heating load is low," C?t? says. "We only need 30,000 Btu, which can be hard to find in a boiler. A lot of models are just too big for these tight homes. Manufacturers need to play catch-up and start scaling down their offerings."


A rendering shows what the completed project, using the home's original footprint, will look like. It will feature an open floor plan with the kitchen, dining, and living areas on the main floor. Photos courtesy of Absolute Green Homes.

The philosophy behind the Beach House Retrofit Project closely mirrors the concept of the Propane Energy Pod, a model for construction that treats a home's five key areas of energy use — space heating, water heating, cooking, fireplaces, and clothes drying — as parts of a whole-home energy package, helping to reduce a home's HERS Index score. For more background on the Propane Energy Pod, consult our free online continuing-education course, An Energy and Environmental Analysis of Propane Energy Pod Homes, available now at the Propane Training Academy.

To learn more about how propane lets you build with efficient gas systems, anywhere, be sure to also check out the following courses.

A Comparative Analysis of Residential Heating Systems

Go Green with Propane: An Overview of Propane Gas Systems for Green Residential Construction


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