Building America Update - October 9, 2014

October 9, 2014

You are here

This photo shows the ArtiZEN plan home design from New Town Builders of Denver, Colorado.
New Town Builders was the Grand Winner in the Production Category of the 2014 Housing Innovation Awards.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) proudly announces the 2014 Housing Innovation Award winners: 28 builders and contractors honored for demonstrating energy-saving solutions that radically improve the energy performance of our nation’s homes. Recognized by two DOE residential programs—DOE Zero Energy Ready Home and Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®—these industry leaders were celebrated at the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance’s Excellence in Building Conference and Expo on September 23, 2014.

“The Housing Innovation Awards recognize forward-thinking contractors and builders for delivering extraordinary energy efficiency while ensuring superior comfort, health, and durability in new and existing homes,” said Dr. David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

Builders in DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home program were recognized in Affordable, Custom, and Production builder categories. Zero Energy Ready Homes signify a new level of home performance, with rigorous requirements that ensure outstanding levels of energy savings, comfort, health and durability. Also receiving awards were Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractors who excel in the categories of Customer Relations, Industry Leadership, High Energy Savings, and Sales and Marketing. These contractors apply a whole-house approach to deliver significant home energy savings. Read project profiles of the winners.

Registration and Webinar for the 2015 Race to Zero Student Design Competition: Deadline is December 15, 2014

This photo shows one of the Grand Winner teams at the 2014 Student Design Competition, holding their trophy.
Montage Builders Northern Forest team was one of two Grand Winners in the 2014 Student Design Competition.

Become a leader in the sustainable home industry! The DOE Race to Zero Student Design Competition is once again engaging college students across the United States and Canada to vie for the best market-ready zero energy ready home designs. Register your team by December 15, 2015, to participate in the second annual competition, which will be held on April 18-20, 2015, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. And, view the 2014 results.

Thinking about joining the 2015 Race to Zero to showcase your university team’s skills? Attend the introductory webinar on October 21, 2014, at 1 p.m. EDT to learn about the market for zero energy ready homes, along with competition guidelines, rules, and suggestions for organizing a successful team and submission.

Notice of Intent: Building America Industry Partnership for High-Performance Housing Innovation

EERE intends to issue, on behalf of the Building Technologies Office, a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) entitled, "Building America Industry Partnerships for High-Performance Housing Innovation.” This FOA is expected to be posted to EERE Exchange in late 2014.

Selected teams will conduct applied R&D in real-world houses to demonstrate market-relevant strategies that will lead to 40% energy savings in existing homes by 2030 and 50% savings in new homes (over International Energy Conservation Code 2009) by 2025. Learn more about the FOA.

New Building America Code Compliance Brief—Floor Insulation

The Building America Solution Center has added a new Code Compliance Brief to its collection of resources that address barriers to building innovations from codes and standards. This new brief addresses floor insulation and offers another option for insulating floors that is now defined in the 2015 IECC/IRC. See information for floors above unconditioned basement, vented crawlspace, cantilevered floors; and floors above a garage.

Building America Code Compliance Briefs aim to facilitate the conversation between builders, installers, and code officials when an innovative product or technique is used in the field. This process will help to expedite code compliance for innovations at the time of plan review and field inspection, avoiding compliance issues and costly delays. Code Compliance Briefs are also available for double wall framing and bathroom fans.

Building America Webinar—October 23: High-Performance Space Conditioning Systems: Part I

Building America brings you free monthly webinars highlighting the latest advances in residential building technologies and practices, presented by Building America research team experts. Please join us for the October webinar:

Date/Time: October 23, 2014; 3 - 4:30 p.m. EDT
Description: The webinar will focus on strategies to improve the performance of HVAC systems for low-load homes and home performance retrofits. Presenters and specific topics for this webinar:

  • Andrew Poerschke, IBACOS, presenting HVAC for Low-load Homes and Thermal Comfort. The presentation will focus on what is “simple” when it comes to space conditioning, and will also discuss how different options maintain comfort, what will and won’t work, and what you should discuss with clients looking for simple and potentially lower cost solutions to a single furnace and ducts to each room.
  • Kohta Ueno, Building Science Corporation (BSC), presenting Long-Term Performance of Mini-Splits in Cold Climate Housing. Kohta will discuss BSC’s research on ductless heat pumps versus mini-splits being used in high-performance (high-R value enclosure/low air leakage) houses, often configured as a simplified distribution system (one heat source per floor).
  • Larry Brand, Partnership for Advanced Residential Retrofit, presenting Natural Gas Furnace Improvements. This presentation will provide information from manufacturers and other industry experts on how to get the best performance from natural gas furnaces, results of lab testing under several conditions representative of challenging installations, and a comparison between efficiency levels in the field and in the lab for a nine furnaces that were removed from the field and replaced at end of life.

Reserve your seat now! Keep current about upcoming webinars by visiting the Meetings page.

Zero Energy Ready Home Webinars and Trainings

DOE offers three Zero Energy Ready Home technical training webinars in October:

ZERH Training Session: San Diego, CA
Date/Time: October 14, 2014; 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (PST)
Location: SDG&E Energy Innovation Center, 4760 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA  92117
Description: This 3.5-hour training provides builders with a comprehensive review of ZERH construction, including the business case, detailed specifications, and opportunities to be recognized as an industry leader.
Presenter: Sam Rashkin, DOE

ZERH Webinar: Quality Management Economics and Applications for ZERH
Date/Time: October 16, 2014; noon – 1:15 p.m. EST
Description: The session will provide background and guidance for how ZERH builders can integrate a quality management program in their business. The session will focus on facilitating builder transition to high-performance homes, minimizing builder risk during that transition, and ensuring consistent delivery on the high-performance home value proposition.
Presenter: Vladimir Kochkin, Partnership for Home Innovation

ENERGY STAR Webinar: ZERH Program
Date/Time: October 29, 2014; 2 - 3 p.m. EST
Description: In this session, Sam Rashkin, DOE, will discuss the market trends, business case, and technical strategies that are making the DOE ZERH program a powerful tool for builders and their teams.

October 2014 Residential Successes: 2014 Housing Innovation Awards

This month’s residential successes showcase two examples of 2014 Housing Innovation Awards winners:

New Construction: Affordable Grand Winner: TC Legend Homes, Bellingham, Washington
This house features 6-inch structural insulated panel (SIP) walls, a 10-inch SIP roof, and insulated concrete form foundation walls with R-20 high-density rigid expanded polystyrene foam under the slab. A single ductless heat pump heats and cools the home, which also gets passive solar heating from south-facing triple-pane windows that heat a concrete slab floor plus a connected greenhouse.

Retrofit: Green Extreme Homes and Carl Franklin Homes
This is the first retrofit home certified to the DOE Zero Energy Ready home requirements. The 60-year-old, three-bedroom ranch home is expected to save its homeowner more than $1,000 per year in utility bills compared to a home built to the current 2009 International Energy Conservation Code.

Building America in the News

Here are recent Building America-related articles in popular 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: Guide to Attic Air-Sealing
This guide by Building Science Corporation provides information and recommendations for the preparation work necessary for adding attic insulation, and is intended for home remodelers, builders, insulation contractors, mechanical contractors, and general contractors. Even though the purpose of this guide is to save energy, health, safety, and durability should not be compromised by energy efficiency. Accordingly, combustion safety and ventilation for indoor air quality are addressed first; durability and attic ventilation follow. Finally, to maximize energy savings, air sealing is completed before installation is installed.

Technology Solutions Case Study: Excavationless: Exterior-Side Foundation Insulation for Existing Homes
In this project, NorthernSTAR Building America Partnership describes an innovative, minimally invasive foundation insulation upgrade technique on an existing home that uses hydrovac excavation technology combined with a liquid insulating foam. Cost savings over the traditional excavation process ranged from 23% to 50%. The excavationless process could result in even greater savings since replacement of building structures, exterior features, utility meters, and landscaping would be minimal or non-existent in an excavationless process.

Hydronic Heating Retrofits for Low-Rise Multifamily Buildings
Building America team Advanced Residential Integrated Energy Solutions Collaborative partnered with NeighborWorks America affiliate Homeowners' Rehab Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to study improvements to the central hydronic heating system in one of the nonprofit's housing developments. The heating controls in the three-building, 42-unit Columbia Cambridge Alliance for Spanish Tenants housing development were upgraded. Utility bill analysis shows that post-retrofit weather-normalized heating energy use was reduced by 10%-31% (average of 19%). Indoor temperature cutoff reduced boiler runtime (and therefore heating fuel consumption) by 28% in the one building in which it was implemented.

Additional reports published recently:

Visit the Building America Publications Library to access the entire catalog of publications to 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.

Please forward this announcement to colleagues who may be interested in subscribing to future updates about Building America.