New & Notable

September 07, 2008
September/October 2008
A version of this article appears in the September/October 2008 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
Click here to read more articles about New and Notable

Book Review

Krigger, John, and Chris Dorsi. The Homeowner’s Handbook to Energy Efficiency: A Guide to Big and Small Improvements. Helena, Montana: Saturn Resource Management, 2008. 256 pp., paper, $24.95. Web:

“The key to a happy client is not just work that’s done well, but work that involves the client’s participation in the project”  (“Weatherization Tutoring for the Homeowner,” HE May/June ’08, p. 19).  The Homeowner’s Handbook to Energy Efficiency: A Guide to Big and Small Improvements  is an invaluable client education tool for any home performance contractor or trade specialist. It will help to ensure that clients take better care of their homes and that they keep looking for  new ways to save energy.

Krigger and Dorsi have been preaching the whole-house gospel for many years, and this book condenses their broad hands-on experience into an easy-to-use guide.  It  explains  the basic principles of building science and the currently available options for increasing a home’s energy efficiency, health, and sustainability, enabling homeowners to cut through conflicting green claims and make their homes safer, less expensive to operate, and more comfortable.  

The authors explain clearly how to analyze  residential energy consumption and show how consumption is related to comfort.  They explain, in simple steps, how to calculate baseload versus seasonal energy consumption, and how to estimate carbon emissions.  Individual chapters spell out the basics of lighting, HVAC, fenestration, insulation, air sealing, landscaping, PV, and moisture management. They describe  quick and more complex fixes for a variety of problems, illustrating each discussion with clear graphics,  and providing recommendations for  both do-it-yourselfers and professionals.

No two authors are better qualified  to translate the complexities of building science into language that is accessible to  the homeowner.  And they do it in a way that allows any homeowner to get started now. The end result of their book’s use will be a more efficient and healthy housing stock.

GreenPoint Rated Rates Existing Homes

This summer marked the launch of the country’s first comprehensive residential green building rating system for existing homes. GreenPoint Rated Existing Home is a program of Build It Green, a San Francisco Bay Area-based nonprofit whose mission is to promote healthy,  and energy and resource efficient buildings in California.

GreenPoint Rated Existing Home is modeled after GreenPoint Rated New Home, the third-party rating system in use since late 2006 that has gained wide acceptance throughout California. Both programs have been developed with input from a diverse group of industry stakeholders to create an accessible and credible rating system. GreenPoint Rated rewards building professionals and homeowners who create green homes by allowing them to brand their products with a recognizable, trustworthy seal of approval.

GreenPoint Rated Existing Home is a two-tiered system with an Elements label available for smaller remodels and a Whole House label for homes that meet more extensive requirements and have made comprehensive green improvements. Both labels are available to homes of all vintages; existing or undergoing a remodel. The rating system uses home performance testing to establish a baseline assessment of the home’s systems and show areas where gains could be made.  A new EnergyPro software package is the modeling tool used for the Whole House evaluation, and matches the draft proposals of the California Energy Commission HERS Phase II evaluation of existing homes.
See the November/December 2008 Home Energy for more on the new EnergyPro modules for existing homes.

For more information:
To find out about Build It Green or to learn how to become a Certified Green Point Rater, please visit, e-mail, or call (510)845-0472, Ext. 8.

California Adopts Green Building Codes

In July, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) issued a statement applauding California’s adoption of green building codes.

“The LEED green building certification system helped lead the way while setting the stage for states and municipalities to strengthen local building codes.” says Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC President, CEO, and Founding Chair.

“As building codes evolve, it’s also important to ensure that individual builders and communities are free to reach for even higher levels of performance,” says Fedrizzi. “By specifying that they will in no way preempt local authorities from continuing to lead by example, the new standards adopted unanimously today by California’s Building Standards Commission are an important step for moving California’s buildings to a higher level of performance.”

For more information:
For more on the California green building codes go to

Reno’s Rehabbed Railroad Hovels

Amidst recent expansions in housing in Reno, Nevada, two women are doing innovative things with what is already there: soulful, minimal, sustainable dwellings from railroad engineers’ cottages, for example, in the middle of Reno’s popular center. The project, called SoDo 4, is the brainchild of two women, Pamela Haberman and Kelly Rae, of HabeRae Investments, Inc. appointed. Utilizing existing buildings within the urban zones is HabeRae’s answer to the growing sprawl of housing everywhere. In the SoDo 4 project, they take the carpets down to the floorboards and the wall paints down to the brick to show that beauty and sustainability can be had without adding a lot of green materials, but in taking away what’s not-so green. The tiny (400 square foot) hovels appear like modern day lofts, with metal corrugated roofing over extra insulation and exposed features. Vaulted ceilings and other space saving features make the SoDo 4 feel larger than their relatively tight envelopes. Each unit has its own dog run, garden space with fruit trees, access to the lively local retail scene, as well as private backyard spaces. The SoDo 4 cottages feature reclaimed douglas fir flooring, dual pane/low e windows, extra insulation, Energy Star Rated appliances and energy efficient lighting.
For more information:
For more on HabeRae’s work go to

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