Shelter Alternatives Recipient of Multiple Awards at the 2017 Sustainable Leadership Awards

April 25, 2017

RICHMOND, VA — [April, 2017] — On Thursday, April 20th, just two days before Earth Day, Shelter Alternatives, Inc. of Blacksburg, Virginia was honored at Viridiant’s Sustainable Leadership Awards, receiving four awards for homes built last year in the New River Valley. The awards received were Single Family New Construction Project of the Year as well as honors for having designed and
built the top three High Performance EarthCraft Homes in Virginia.

The annual awards recognize the region’s premiere developers, builders, architects, government officials and other industry professionals for their work in advancing the benefits of sustainable building through the EarthCraft family of green building programs. Shelter Alternatives was honored on Thursday evening at a ceremony in downtown Richmond which
brought together close to 200 individuals representing home builders, non-profit and for-profit housing providers and developers, affordable housing advocates and those interested in creating green housing opportunities in Virginia. Awards were presented in a variety of categories to cover new construction, renovation, single family homes, multifamily housing and more.

“Building effient and practical homes has always been a priority for our team” says owner Ed Tuchler “so learning that we had been recognized by Viridiant as having built the three most energy efficient homes they have certified in Virginia is exciting and inspiring.” Two of the homes are rated as net zero homes, meaning that they produces as much energy as they uses, through design features, building features and the installation of solar panels.

The home that was recognized as Single Family New Construction Project of the Year is located in Craig County. With a modern farmhouse look, it gives up nothing in style and livability to achieve its net zero status. The owners lost their previous home to fire on this site, and they paid close attention to styling, livability, and efficiency throughout the planning and construction of the replacement home. Through strong detailing of the building enclosure and careful selection of mechanical systems, the power loads were reduced to where the photovoltaic system could make up the difference.

“It’s an honor to recognize the dedicated individuals who continue to amaze us with their passion for high performance home building,” said KC Bleile, Executive Director of Viridiant. “This year’s nominees and winners exceed building expectations with their cutting edge projects that are transforming today’s housing market and serve as proof that the science of sustainability can deliver a housing future that is more affordable, more durable and more livable.”

For more information about the 8th Annual Sustainable Leadership Awards, visit

Building to net zero

February 03, 2017

Net zero home image

Building to net zero means creating a home that produces as much energy as it uses. The concept begins by making the building envelope (the outside perimeter of the home) as energy efficient as possible. We work to make the walls and ceilings as air tight as possible with a high level of insulation. As the wall assembly gets more efficient the next weak point is often the windows. Working with an energy engineer we can identify what improvements will make the most impact and be most cost effective.

Once we have the envelope the way we like it we work through the mechanical systems, lighting, appliances and other energy consuming devices to make selections that are appropriate for the home and it’s energy goals. Once we have minimized the energy consumption of the home we can add enough renewable energy to offset the consumption of the home. This is usually solar panels.

This home in Craig County gives up nothing in style and livability to achieve its net zero status. Built on a site where the owners lost their previous home to fire they paid close attention to style and details throughout the planning and construction of the home. The walls are 2x6 with blown cellulose cavity insulation. The exterior of the walls is wrapped with 1 ½” of rigid foam board to bring the R-value of the wall to R-30+. The ceilings are insulated to R-70. Most of the windows are triple paned which increases their efficiency by ~50%.

This 2,917 sf home uses only one 2.5 ton heat pump to condition the space. The system is split into 3 zones to provide maximum comfort. An Energy Recovery Ventilator is a mechanical system bringing fresh air into the home. Running continuously this system pre-conditions the incoming air providing a constant source of fresh air and diluting any pollutants brought into the home. The solar array consists of 33 ground mounted solar panels. Ground mounting a system can maximize efficiency through proper orientation and angles.

A second home completed this year achieved near zero status, being just two points off of net zero. This Blacksburg home uses much of the same construction techniques as the Craig county home. This home, in a subdivision setting uses a roof mount solar array.

The HERS rating chart has been adopted by the DOE for their Energy Star program. Energy raters input a variety of data about the air tightness, insulation, mechanical systems, etc. to establish this rating. The annual average score for Shelter Alternatives homes has dropped from 56 (44% more efficient than a code built home) in 2011 to 23 (77% more efficient) in 2016.

New River Valley Home Builders Association recognizes award winners at gala

January 30, 2017

NRVHBA award winners image

The New River Valley Home Builders Association presented their 2016 Building in Excellence winners at their annual gala on Jan. 28. More than 30 peer-nominated businesses and individuals were selected as contenders for five different award categories: Builder of the Year, Associate of the Year, Design Excellence, Association Service and Community Service.

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Construction Company Builds Showcase Headquarters

January 31, 2016

Shelter Alternatives is putting its wares on display in the ongoing renovation of its offices. The almost 100-year-old house at the corner of Blacksburg’s Progress Street and Giles Road has housed the design-build company for nearly a decade. In a project that is doubling the company’s office space and restoring residential use to the property…

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Shelter Alternatives Recognized as NRV Green Company of the Year

December 16, 2015

Ed Tuchler receiving NRV Green Company Award image

At their 2014 Annual Meeting and Awards, the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce awarded Shelter Alternatives of Blacksburg with the New River Valley Green Company of the Year Award.

Shelter Alternatives, Inc., a design-build firm in Blacksburg was nominated by their Chamber peers for this award, given to recognize a business that values and practices sustainability in their office, business operations and outreach.

According to offfice manager, Gregg Moneyhun, sustainability governs all decisions made in the daily operations of the company, “product choice, energy management and reuse/recycling protocols are just some of the ways we make it a priority.” That same philosophy is echoed as part of the core values of the company, directing employees to take responsibility for their actions and impacts on the environment.

Home efficiency is a large factor in the identity of the company as a green business as well. Two of Shelter Alternatives, Inc. homes were among top 10 most efficient homes certified by EarthCraft Virginialast year. The company also includes a home performance business, Energy Check, which is devoted to addressing the need in the community for improving the energy efficiency of the existing and aging housing stock. Within the NRV, 1-in-2 homes were built before 1974, nearly 1-in-4 were built prior to 1960.

Owner Ed Tuchler accepted the award on behalf of the company and reiterated its value to him, “we are grateful to the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce for recognizing our commitment to promoting sustainable business practices in the New River Valley.”