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New and Notable

January 05, 2011
January/February 2011
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2011 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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Home Energy Score Label Sample - Pittsburgh, PA

Figure 1. Homeowners will get a score along with recommendations for upgrades

How to Score Points by Simplifying Complexity

On November 9, 2010, Vice President Biden launched the Home Energy Score program and announced the release of new workforce guidelines for home energy upgrades. To expand green job opportunities in the United States, and to boost energy savings by improving home energy efficiency—especially for the middle class—Home Energy Score addresses some of the hurdles the country faces in increasing energy efficiency. One hurdle, identified by the current low-income weatherization programs, is that people aren't getting straightforward information about their home's energy use. Homeowners don't know what retrofit possibilities are available to them that can lower their energy bills and increase their comfort. Another hurdle is that there aren’t enough trained and certified auditors to meet the needs to retrofit 100,000,000 middle-class homes. A third hurdle is that homeowners are reluctant to invest in the work in this economy.

The Takeaway for the Homeowner

In addition to receiving the simple scorecard, homeowners will receive recommendations on how to save energy by changing their behavior—by turning off lights when not in use, line drying their clothing, and closing curtains at night, for example. The Home Energy Score Tool is also linked to two other software tools created by LBNL: the Home Energy Saver and Home Energy Saver Pro (HES and HES Pro) interactive web sites. If homeowners want additional recommendations that reflect their particular behavior, these web sites offer the means necessary to provide them. The inputs from the scoring tool assessment can be automatically uploaded into HES or HES Pro by entering the ID number for the scoring session.

To address homeowners’ reluctance to invest in the retrofit, the program introduces several types of loan. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) PowerSaver loan program, which will begin early this year will enable homeowners to make energy-saving upgrades through affordable, federally insured loans at rates as low as, or lower than, the rates charged for comparable loans by private lenders. Under this two-year pilot program, homeowners will be able to borrow money for terms as long as 20 years to make the energy improvements of their choice, based on a list of proven, cost-effective measures developed by the FHA and DOE. Revolving loan funds, which are now available in more that 30 states, and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program loans will also be available to participants.

What This Means for the Retrofit Workforce

This nationwide program establishes the protocols for trained retrofit workers. These protocols, which are designed to tell workers how to perform the work correctly, are outlined in a 632-page document entitled Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades. The goal is to give consumers confidence that the work will be done right and that they will actually realize the promised savings. A companion document, EPA's Healthy Indoor Environment Protocols for Home Energy Upgrades, addresses the potential dangerous effects of weatherization and other energy upgrades on indoor air quality and public health. It specifies the protocols that workers, auditors, and technicians should follow in areas such as combustion appliance testing and air sealing.

Pilot Places

In November 2010, the Home Energy Score program was launched in several pilot counties, representing a sampling of different climate zones and housing types. The pilot will conclude in late spring 2011. Stakeholders will then assess homeowners' response to the program, and learn whether it encourages them to invest in any of the recommended improvements. DOE will launch Home Energy Score to the rest of the nation based on the findings of the pilot program.

A Simple Report Card-Type Label

The Home Energy Score program will train workers who are already certified in BPI and RESNET to use a software home analysis tool developed by DOE and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). This Home Energy Score tool will help homeowners to understand their home’s current efficiency level and will provide them with a personalized list of recommended improvements, with estimated annual savings and an estimated payback period for each upgrade. In an hour-long walk-through of the home, the trained technician enters about 40 inputs into a web survey-type software program. These inputs include floor area of conditioned space, heating and cooling systems, foundation type, amount of glazing, and insulation levels. Once the data are input, the software will generate a very simple report card-type label (Figure 1). This system of simple impersonal inputs about the house—not the dweller—lets homeowners see how their home's systems score, regardless of whether they take long or short showers, or keep their thermostat set high or low.

Pilot Places

In November 2010, the Home Energy Score program was launched in several pilot counties, representing a sampling of different climate zones and housing types. The pilot will conclude in late spring 2011. Stakeholders will then assess homeowners' response to the program, and learn whether it encourages them to invest in any of the recommended improvements. DOE will launch Home Energy Score to the rest of the nation based on the findings of the pilot program.

For more information:

To find a BPI- or RESNET-certified trainer near you, go to www.homeenergy.org/HETG.

For more information on the new Home Energy Score program, go to www.resnet.us/main/recovery_through_retrofit.

For information on the RESNET Home Energy Survey Professional classification, go to www.resnet.us/home-energy-audit.

For more information about the developers of the Home Energy Score survey tool, go to http://homeenergyscore.lbl.gov/.

For more information about Power Saver loans, go to www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/title/ti_home.cfm.

For more information about Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades, go to www.weatherization.energy.gov/retrofit_guidelines.



Project Porchlight says, “Improve your skills. Build your resume. Get required school volunteer hours. Meet new people. Give back to your community. You'll feel good!” (One Change)

This Little Light of Mine

One Change's motto is Simple actions matter. Based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, One Change makes big change by keeping it light and simple. Its purpose is to encourage individuals to make small changes that can add up to big differences. The organization was founded in 2005 with Project Porchlight—a campaign to encourage people to switch over to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) to save energy and money. The campaign has run in communities across North America and has engaged more than 12,000 volunteers.

In New Jersey, One Change partnered with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities on Project Porchlight to distribute a total of 1,360,042 CFL bulbs to more than 360 New Jersey communities. In total, the CFL bulbs distributed by Project Porchlight staff and volunteers will help remove 295,000,000 lb. of CO2 emissions from the air, which is equivalent to removing more than 55,000 cars from state roads.

Thanks to One Change and its Project Porchlight efforts, New Jersey residents will save more than $78 million on their electricity bills. Through their other successes in using simple methods of outreach, such as door-to-door campaigns, community building, and having fun, they show just how powerful a simple message of change could be when embraced by a community.

For more information:

For more information on Project Porchlight, go to www.projectporchlight.com.

Social Networking Community for HP Professionals Launches

Berkeley, California, November 1, 2010: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Home Energy Saver and Home Energy magazine are pleased to announce the launch of Home Energy Pros, an open social network for home performance and weatherization professionals.

Home Energy Pros connects building professionals and others interested in home energy efficiency by offering an online community for sharing tools, resources, and knowledge among experts and peers.

Members can create profiles, read blogs by industry experts (and start their own), and participate in discussions of home performance topics. They can also join a variety of special-interest groups, learn about upcoming industry-related events, and post photos and videos. Membership in the Home Energy Pros social networking site is free.

“Social networking enables professionals with common interests and challenges—but who might not find one another without the Internet—to build collaborative communities,” says Evan Mills, who leads the Home Energy Saver project at LBNL. “Home Energy Pros is the first social networking site of its kind. We encourage home energy and weatherization professionals, contractors, inspectors, homeowners, real estate professionals, and anyone with an interest in home performance and energy efficiency to join us. Our goal is to offer a vibrant destination for sharing ideas and forming meaningful connections that will benefit and enrich the entire home performance community as this industry ramps up steeply in the coming months and years.”

“The future for home performance and weatherization professionals is wide open, and new players are entering the field every day. Everyone’s voice is important,” says Jim Gunshinan, editor of Home Energy magazine. “We’re excited about this community being a place for professionals to come to talk and share practical information that individuals and businesses need in order to be successful.”

Home Energy Saver is the web's first do-it-yourself home energy audit tool. Millions of people have used it to save energy at home, while trimming energy bills and reducing greenhouse gases. Home Energy Saver was created by LBNL for DOE; the project was sponsored by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

For more information:

To learn more about Home Energy Pros, and to join the community, go to http://HomeEnergyPros.lbl.gov.

For more information about Home Energy Saver, go to http://hes.lbl.gov.

IECC Steps up to the 2030 Challenge

Architecture 2030 was begun in 2003 and formally established as a nonprofit, non-partisan, solution-oriented research organization by architect Edward Mazria in 2006 in response to the climate change crisis. Architecture 2030’s goal is to transform the global building sector from the largest contributor to the climate change crisis to the major part of the solution by changing the way buildings and developments are planned, designed, constructed, and operated. Mazria developed and issued the 2030 Challenge, a measured and achievable strategy to dramatically reduce global energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030.

Early in November, Architecture 2030 announced that code and government officials meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, voted to improve the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) standard by 30% beyond the 2006 IECC as called for by Architecture 2030 and by a large coalition including the United States Department of Energy, the United States Conference of Mayors, the National Association of State Energy Officials, and the broad-based Energy Efficient Codes Coalition (EECC), of which Architecture 2030 is a member.

The 2030 Challenge calls for the global architecture and building community to subscribe to an ambitious set of standards (met over time benchmark-by-benchmark) with the goal of designing buildings that by 2030 will be carbon neutral. For example, the fossil-fuel reduction standard for all new buildings and major renovations shall be increased to 70% in 2015; 80% in 2020; 90% in 2025; and 100%, or carbon-neutral, in 2030.

The 30% improvement will meet the next energy reduction target called for by the 2030 Challenge and by legislation passed in the House of Representatives (HR.2454) and in Senate Bills S.1462 and S.3464.

For more information:

To learn more about Architecture 2030, go to http://architecture2030.org.

To learn more about the EECC, go to www.thirtypercentsolution.org/modules/news/article.php?storyid=34.

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