Building America Update - July 9, 2015

July 9, 2015

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Building Energy Optimization Version 2.4 Beta Offers Powerful Multifamily Modeling Capabilities

The new Building Energy Optimization (BEopt™) Version 2.4 Beta is now available! BEopt evaluates residential building designs and identifies cost-optimal efficiency packages at various levels of whole-house energy savings along the path to zero energy. BEopt provides detailed simulation analyses based on house characteristics such as size, architecture, occupancy, location, and utility rates. You can use BEopt to analyze new construction and retrofits by evaluating building designs, parametric sweeps, and cost-based optimizations.

Profile photo of a row of townhomes.
With BEopt Version 2.4 Beta, you can evaluate cost-optimal efficiency packages for multifamily buildings.

BEopt 2.4 Beta now has an enhanced capability for analyzing multifamily buildings. You can also access new options such as heat pump clothes dryers, premium electric/gas clothes dryers, condensing tank water heaters, doors, and ASHRAE 62.2-2013 mechanical ventilation rates. Updates include flexibility in sizing multi- and variable-speed heat pumps, new photovoltaic cost multipliers and monthly grid connection fees on the input screen, and improved consistency in triple-pane window costs. See details about the new features. Visit the BEopt website to download Version 2.4 Beta.

A webinar on July 13, 2015, will provide an overview of this exciting new release; register now! And see the July/August issue of Home Energy magazine for two articles on BEopt past, present, and future—Using BEopt to Optimize Home Energy Performance and Get Started Using BEopt.

Crowdsourcing Initiative Aims to Solve Buildings-Related Challenges: Submit Yours by July 15

Calling all building technology innovators! The U.S. Department of Energy Building Technologies Office is partnering with the successful SunShot Catalyst crowdsourcing initiative to identify and solve problems related to software development, data, and/or automation. In the “Ideation” phase of the initiative, those working in the area of building technologies are invited to submit problem statements describing challenges that need to be overcome in order to promote better engagement with building occupants and to improve the ability to balance energy and occupant comfort objectives in a building. Participants are also invited to vote and comment on building-related ideas that have already been submitted.

Individuals who submit a problem statement will have a chance to win at $1,000 cash prize! Submit your problem statement by July 15, 2015. Visit the SunShot Catalyst  website for more information.

Building America July 22 Webinar: Put New Tools and Content on the Building America Solution Center To Work for You!

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Building America program brings you free monthly webinars that highlight the latest advances in residential building technologies and practices, presented by Building America research team and national laboratory experts.

Date/Time: July 22, 2015; 3:00–4:30 p.m. EDT

The Building America Solution Center is known for its easy-to-follow, illustrated, step-by-step guides for installing the measures that make up high-performance homes. The July webinar will highlight several exciting new tools and content that building industry professionals can put to work immediately, including:

  • A new sales tool that will help builders and sales professionals best describe the house features that make their products unique and of higher value to consumers. This feature also allows you to customize sales brochures with your company information.
  • Expanded information about topics that are relevant to existing homes, along with a new set of navigation features that help you easily find guides on these topics.
  • A new checklist manager to help builders who want to label their homes as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Indoor airPLUS. The checklist leads to expanded content on finding and using low-polluting products and practices.

Presenters will include staff from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Register now.

Visit the Meetings page to stay current about upcoming webinars and view recordings of past webinars.

Calling All Building Science Leaders! Request for Building Science Content

As outlined in its Building Science Education Roadmap, Building America recognizes that the education of design/construction industry professionals in solid building science principles is critical to the widespread development of high-performance homes. As Building America teams and industry partners continue to reach their goals, they have found that a barrier to true market transformation is the limited knowledge base of building industry professionals. Also, recent feedback from Building America partners and educational institutions has been that consistent, easy-to-access, interactive, and accurate building science curricula are difficult to come by.

To address this issue, Building America is developing a flexible online database of peer-reviewed building science content and teaching resources; we need your help in collecting information! By evaluating available materials, we will better understand the gaps in curricula that need to be filled to develop robust building science education solutions.

Builders, contractors, and other professionals can help by providing examples about their most popular references, training, and brochures that they use internally or for clients. Professional trainers and professors could provide lesson plans, lecture notes, presentations, problem sets, exam questions, and handouts. Materials will be posted to the database only with the permission of and reference to the author of the content.

If you have content to contribute to this database, please send to Heather Stafford by July 24, 2015. Thank you for helping to expand building science education!

2015 GreenBuilder Magazine Home of the Year Awards Call for Entries: Deadline July 24

GreenBuilder magazine is seeking entries for its 2015 Home of the Year Awards, which will be bestowed on the top green homes that demonstrate sustainable features, innovative design, whole-home performance, and integration with the natural environment. Applicants may submit to one of three categories—general, mainstream, or alternative—and the homes must be completed or have first occupancy between January 2014 and July 2015. Winners will receive coverage in the December 2015 issue of Green Builder magazine and through the magazine’s social media outlets. Apply by July 24, 2015.

DOE Seeks Nominations for the Central Air Conditioner and Heat Pump Working Group

DOE has announced its intention to establish a rulemaking working group under the Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act and the Negotiated Rulemaking Act. This working group will negotiate proposed amended energy conservation standards for central air conditioners and heat pumps and provide recommendations to DOE about aspects of the proposed test procedure. The working group will consist of representatives of parties who have a defined stake in the outcome of the proposed standards and amended test procedure and will consult with a range of experts on technical issues. If you are interested, submit a cover letter and resume to asrac@ee.doe.gov. Nominations are due July 28, 2015.

Learn more about this effort and plan to attend a public webinar on August 26, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT.

EEBA Excellence in Building Conference & Expo: Attend Building America Sessions and Housing Innovation Awards

Don’t miss the 2015 Energy & Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA) Excellence in Building Conference & Expo on October 6–8, 2015, in Denver, Colorado! You can enjoy more than 50 educational sessions that will cover every facet of building science, including Building America and DOE Zero Energy Ready Home tracks. View the conference program.

While at the EEBA event, plan to attend DOE’s Housing Innovations Awards on October 6, which will recognize leading builders in the categories of custom, production, multifamily, and affordable homes. Register for the EEBA conference by July 31, 2015, to receive the discounted rate.

This Month’s Residential Successes: Technology Solutions for Space Conditioning

This month’s residential successes provide examples of Building America research projects that highlight optimal space-conditioning systems for homes.

Zero Energy Ready Home News and Trainings

At the annual Housing Innovation Awards, DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home program recognizes builders who have transformed the way high-performance homes are built today. This year’s awards will be held at the EEBA conference on October 6, 2015, in Denver, Colorado. DOE is seeking nominations for its Legacy Award, which honors builders whose homes have had an enduring impact on the high-performance housing market. Please submit nominations for this prestigious award by July 17, 2015; include “Legacy Award” in the subject line.

Mark your calendar for the July Zero Energy Ready Home event for builders on July 29, 2015, in Austin, Texas. Hosted by the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin, "About Zero Energy Ready Homes" is a full-day workshop that presents:

  • An Overview: What is it, and how do I participate?
  • Teaching Homebuilders the Roadmap to Successful Delivery.

Speaker: Sam Rashkin, Chief Architect, DOE. Register now!

Be a Citizen Scientist! Help Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Study Indoor Air Quality

You still have time to participate in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (LBNL’s) Range Hood Roundup; the data call runs through September 2015. Scientists from LBNL have spent decades exploring how everyday activities affect indoor air quality. Their recent study, described in Addressing Kitchen Contaminants for Healthy, Low-Energy Homes, found that cooking without proper kitchen ventilation often produces air pollutant levels in homes that exceed outdoor air quality standards. You can help this effort by completing a short survey about your cooking patterns and kitchen ventilation. LBNL will use the information you provide to develop recommendations for improving indoor air quality and health through better building codes and product standards.

Building America in the News

Here are recent Building America-related articles in popular national and local trade publications.

New Publications from Building America

The Building America Publications Library offers an extensive collection of technical reports, measure guidelines, case studies, and other resources to help you boost energy efficiency in new and existing homes. On the library page, you can subscribe to the RSS feed that delivers reports as they are published. Also, the Building America Solution Center links you to expert building science and energy efficiency information based on Building America research results. Here are samples of our most recent publications:

Measure Guideline: Deep Energy Enclosure Retrofit for Double-Stud Walls
This guideline describes a deep energy enclosure retrofit solution that insulates the interior of the wall assembly with a double-stud wall. The guide describes two approaches to retrofitting the walls: one involves replacing the cladding and the other leaves the cladding in place. It discusses the design principles related to the use of various insulation types and provides strategies and procedures for implementing the double- stud wall retrofit. It also evaluates important moisture-related and indoor air quality measures that need to be implemented to achieve a durable, high-performance wall.

Business Solutions Case Study: Marketing Zero Energy Ready Homes: LifeStyle Homes, Melbourne, Florida
Building America research has shown that high-performance homes may give builders an edge in the marketplace and can boost sales. But it doesn't happen automatically—it requires a tailored, easy-to-understand marketing campaign and sometimes a little flair. This case study highlights LifeStyle Homes’ successful marketing approach for their SunSmart home package, which has helped to boost sales for the company. With the introduction of SunSmart, LifeStyle began an early recovery, nearly doubling sales in 2010. SunSmart sales now exceed 300 homes, including more than 20 zero energy homes. Completed homes in 2014 far outpaced the national (19%) and southern census region (27%) recovery rates for the same period.

Analyzing Design Heating Loads in Superinsulated Buildings
Super-insulated homes offer many benefits that include improved comfort, reduced exterior noise penetration, lower energy bills, and the ability to withstand power and fuel outages under much more comfortable conditions than a typical home. Although these homes aren't necessarily constructed with excessive mass in the form of concrete floors and walls, the amount of insulation and the increase in the thickness of the building envelope can lead to a mass effect that enables the structure’s ability to store much more heat than a code-built home. This results in a very low thermal inertia, which makes the building much less sensitive to drastic temperature swings and decreases the peak heating load demand. During the winter of 2013/2014, the Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings team monitored the energy use of three homes in climate zone 6 to evaluate the accuracy of two different mechanical system sizing methods for low-load homes. Based on the results, the team recommends that internal and solar gains be included and some credit for thermal inertia used in sizing calculations for super-insulated homes.

Additional reports and case studies published recently are:

Long-Term Monitoring of Mini-Split Ductless Heat Pumps in the Northeast
Implementing a Zero Energy Ready Home Multifamily Project
Technology Solutions Case Study: Hygrothermal Performance of a Double-Stud Cellulose Wall
New Whole-House Solutions Case Study: Testing Ductless Heat Pumps in High-Performance Affordable Housing, the Woods at Golden Given, - Tacoma, Washington
DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Case Study: Amaris Custom Homes, St. Paul, Minnesota
Technology Solutions Case Study: Advanced Controls Improve Performance of Combination Space- and Water-Heating Systems, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Business Solutions Case Study: Marketing Zero Energy Homes: Tommy Williams Homes, Gainesville, Florida
Existing Whole-House Solutions Case Study: Greenbelt Homes, Inc. Pilot Retrofit Project, Greenbelt, Maryland
Validating Savings Claims of Cold Climate Zero Energy Ready Homes.

Visit the Building America Publications Library to access the entire catalog of publications that help improve the efficiency of new and existing homes.

Want to learn more about Building America or help us spread the word about the program? View the video, “What is Building America?” on DOE’s YouTube channel to learn about how Building America aims to bridge the gap between homes with high energy costs and homes that are healthy, durable, and energy efficient.

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