Below is the text version of the webinar Updates to the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Specs -- Revision 05, presented in May 2015. Watch the presentation.

Lindsay Parker:
Presentation cover slide:

Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home Technical Training Webinar Series. We're really excited that you can join us today for this session covering the fifth revision of the Zero Energy Ready Home technical specifications. Today's session is one in a continuing series of technical training webinars to support our partners in designing and building Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Homes. My name is Lindsay Parker. I'm the coordination support for this program, and I'll be covering some general notes on webinar housekeeping. All attendees will be in listen-only mode during the webinar, however, we do invite you to ask questions throughout the session in the questions application of the GoToWebinar program. We'll be monitoring your questions throughout the webinar, and near the end of it, we'll try to cover as many of your questions as possible. This session is being recorded and will be placed on the resources page of the Zero Energy Ready website. So please allow some time for this. It does take a few days for the webinars to be edited and captioned and put onto the YouTube site. But in the meantime, right after the webinar we will be sending out a PDF of the presentation for you to view and then have as a resource. So now I'm going to hand it over to Sam Rashkin, director of the Zero Energy Ready program.

Sam Rashkin:
Hey, thank-you, Lindsay. Welcome, thank-you all for attending this webinar. I just want to say a few comments just before I give Jamie the microphone. Essentially, one of the things that we always try to convey to our stakeholders, our partners working with the Zero Energy Ready Home program, is how important it is to touch base with us anytime issues come up and concerns about the specifications. So often you'll find that we're able to accommodate really good concerns about cost or technical issues, and it's really important to just get our feedback before you get too frustrated or maybe even think of putting the program aside. We have often really, really great solutions to lots of questions. So Jamie and his partner Joe Nebbia are just great technical resources, and I want to just get people to really get accustomed to contacting us any time those issues do come up. And in response to that, we now have Revision 5 that does address a lot of comments that have come in. You'll find that the program will be even easier to implement. And so with that, I'm going to hand it off to Jamie Lyons, our technical director.

Jamie Lyons:
First slide:

OK, thanks, Sam, and thank-you, everybody, for joining us. Lindsay, I've got control and I assume you started the recording, so we'll just jump right in. So as Sam mentioned, what we want to cover today, in the next hour or so for this training, is what we've learned over the past year. It's been about a year since Revision 4 of the Zero Energy Ready Home specs were released. And all through that time, we have an ongoing dialogue with industry and our partners. We also track other things that are going on in the industry, like maybe there's a change to the Energy Star window specifications, which are referenced in our specs, for example. So we're going to look at those things today, starting off with a little bit of background about the specs. We're not really doing a deep dive into the specs. If you're interested in that kind of information, we've done those sorts of webinars in the past; they're available on our website, under "Resources." Or just ping us with an email or a phone call, and we can direct you to whatever answers that you might need. Secondly, then, we'll dive into the significant changes that are coming out with the release of Revision 5 of the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home specs.

Next slide:
Then we'll take a quick look at the timeframes for implementing these changes. And then lastly, we'll just showcase a few resources which are worth looking at for more information. So just a few quick thoughts about the background for the specifications.

Next slide:
It's where I spend a lot of my time, sorting through the details and trying to work with our builder and rater and architect partners as Sam said, to find solutions to questions and issues that come up. But really, sort of to start at square one, I just like to remind groups of how we even go about defining this thing that we call a Zero Energy Ready Home. And we do it in very basic terms that you could communicate to somebody outside the industry and they should get it.

Next slide:
It's a high-performance home that's so energy-efficient that all or most of the annual energy consumption can be offset by renewables. So that's really our starting place, and it leads us really throughout the program. Here we see the logo for DOE Zero Energy Ready Home on the left, and off to the right is one piece of the marketing collateral that we make available to partners to try to tell the story of what's different, what's special, what's the unique experience of living and having a Zero Energy Ready Home. And we want our builders to be able to convey what's the incredible experience of living in these homes to their potential buyers. So in this case we see the bars showing a DOE Zero Ready Home in green, an ENERGY STAR® home in blue, and a typical existing home in gray. And you can see in areas like the healthy environment that this home offers really an incredible experience with comprehensive indoor air quality for the people who live there.

Next slide:
Just one quick example of how we translate the values of this thing we call a Zero Energy Ready Home. Another quick example of this is here. This is a builder brochure intended for them to, again, tell the story of what's special about Zero Energy Ready Homes that they build, help them tell that story to potential buyers. So again, there's a lot of value propositions layered in here. These homes live better. They work better. They last better. And we also point out some things that the builder would have a hard time saying about themselves, or saying it with credibility, that these homes represent the future of housing today.

Next slide:
Only a very select group of the top builders in the country meet the extraordinary levels of excellence and quality specified by U.S. DOE guidelines. So I point these things out just as a reminder that DOE wants to equip and arm our partners with these value propositions and let them translate that to the market. And all that, the ability for DOE to do that, is really built upon a sound set of specifications for the rules of the road for DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes. So, it lets builders have an independent voice of authority, like the U.S. Department of Energy, make these assertions about how these homes can be expected to perform versus them just saying things on their own.

Next slide:
So it's very, very powerful, and I always like to remind ourselves that the backbone for all this infrastructure really is the specs themselves. It's very important that we understand what's in them and then maintain them to be current and reflect current issues in the marketplace.

Next slide:
So our technical specs are built really on three main components. Up top here we have the mandatory requirements. So if we're trying to make good on that definition of a Zero Energy Ready Home that's very high-performance and has very high efficiency, as well, there are certain sort of must-haves in a home like this. We'll talk about them more in a little bit. But they represent the mandatory requirements. Things that we have to comply with. The second main component of the specs is this thing we call the target home. For those of you familiar with the program, or the ENERGY STAR program, this target home really just sets the bar for the efficiency of a qualifying home. The target home is a twin of the real home, the designed home, but it's dialed in to a set of specs that are laid out in that table we see, that are probably different from the actual home. But at the end of the day the rating software simply looks at the HERS index of the target home, compares that to the HERS index of the designed home, and as long as the designed home is equal to or better than the target home HERS index, then the home will qualify in terms of the energy efficiency for the program. All kinds of tradeoff flexibility in the target home. Really, it's just a default set of specs. The real home can be designed in a million different ways that differ from the target home, as long as we can meet or exceed the HERS index at the end of the day. And then the last component of the Zero Energy Ready Home specs is the size adjustment factor. That's the identical size adjustment factor calculation as found in the ENERGY STAR program. And sort of in a nutshell, what it does: If a home is significantly larger than the benchmark home that you can see in this table, it starts ratcheting down the HERS index target somewhat based on how much larger that home is than the benchmark home. So if I'm building a 10,000-square-foot, two-bedroom home, I'm going to have a much more aggressive HERS target to qualify for the program than if I'm building a 1,600-square-foot, two-bedroom home.

Next slide:
So that may or may not come into play as homes grow larger relative to the benchmark size. So on this next slide here, we see that first table. These are the mandatory requirements. And I want to just spend a few minutes walking through these as a refresher and also because most of the changes that we're going to see in the Rev 5 specs, they end up tracking back to many of these mandatory items in the specifications. So first off here, number 1, we have ENERGY STAR Homes as a baseline for each DOE Zero Energy Ready Home. So ENERGY STAR Homes is a prerequisite, essentially. And DOE has chosen to do that primarily because high-performance homes, Zero Energy Ready Homes, they're going to be very airtight, they're going to be very well-air-sealed, they're going to have more insulation, possibly in different places, less air flow for combustion appliances, all kinds of things that really affect how a home works and operates, in terms of building science. So with that in mind, we don't want to have homes with performance issues. Rather, we want to have homes with outstanding performance. The way to deal with that is just good, sound, comprehensive building science. And that's what we get from the ENERGY STAR Homes being a prerequisite. ENERGY STAR Homes is layered in with very good building science, so it makes sense to layer that in and also to align these federal programs in that fashion. So that's our first mandatory item for DOE Zero Ready. In the second row there, we look at the envelope. And again, if we're thinking, OK, we're trying to minimize the load to get this home into that territory where it's Zero Energy Ready, it makes sense that the envelope should be very good, so we can help minimize heating and cooling loads. In order to get there, there's a couple sub-items here. That the fenestration will meet or exceed ENERGY STAR requirements. So file that one away. We're going to look at that one in a little more detail, because that's where one of our changes exist in the Rev 5 spec. And then secondly, down here, the ceiling, wall, floor, and slab insulation should meet or exceed 2012 IECC levels, or in some states, we're going to meet or exceed 2015 IECC levels. Again, file that one away. We'll come back to that again, as that's one of the things that's clarified in this latest revision of the specs. Third item, mandatory item: the duct system. Duct distribution systems will be located within the home's thermal and air barrier boundary, or will be optimized to achieve comparable performance. As many of you probably know, the program is looking for ducts to be located in conditioned space, or there's a menu of alternatives, which give a nod to all kinds of different building conditions and challenges found throughout the country. And there really are quite a number of alternates that achieve almost equivalent performance to ducts in conditioned space. Many of these have been vetted, tested, and researched through the Building America program out of DOE. So that's the third mandatory item. We have a small change in the specs we'll look at regarding that item. The fourth one, kind of similar. Just like the duct system is going to live in that home probably for the entire life cycle without significant changes, the same is true on hot water distribution. If we get that system efficient during initial design and construction, that home will be far better off managing hot water loads and distribution for its life cycle. The reverse is also true, that if we don't get it right, we probably won't have a second chance. So the DOE Zero Ready program looks to have an efficient hot water delivery system. This specification is actually brought in from the WaterSense program on exactly what's being called for. Rev 5 has a small clarification on that part of the spec, which we'll talk about in a few more minutes. Item number 5, lighting and appliances. Again, trying to minimize loads, get the home toward that zero ready launching point. So it makes sense that appliances that are builder-supplied should be ENERGY STAR-qualified, things like the dishwasher. Also makes sense that lighting fixtures should be high-efficiency, ENERGY STAR-qualified, as well -- 80 percent of those. And then, same is true on ceiling fans and ventilation fans. We want them to be reasonably efficient, so we're looking for an ENERGY STAR qualification on those products. Nothing new in the spec regarding lighting and appliances. Number 6, indoor air quality. As we mentioned a minute ago, these homes are just so efficient, so well-air-sealed, so well-insulated, they work differently than homes of generations past. And we need to recognize that indoor air quality is really no longer an extra-credit kind of thing. We want to make sure we're doing it well from A to Z, so Zero Energy Ready Homes are also certified under the EPA Indoor airPLUS program, which deals with all facets of indoor air quality in a home. No major changes on that in this latest release of the specs. And then finally, number 7 on this list, is the renewable ready provisions. So the provisions of the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home PV-ready checklist are completed. And this is a significant change to note.

Next slide:
The solar hot water ready provisions are now encouraged but are no longer required.

Next slide:
And I think that's our first area to drill into with a little more detail. So over the next set of slides we'll provide a little more background on the major changes, and we highlight six of them here in Revision 5 of the spec.

Next slide:
We'll talk a little bit about what the change is, what the rationale for the change is, and in some cases we'll look at the implications if they're not necessarily obvious for that change. So we'll sort of flip-flop. We'll start with the one, that last item that we just looked at in the mandatory specs. So here it's fairly straightforward. DOE at this point is encouraging but not requiring solar hot water ready provisions. PV-ready provisions are certainly still required in the spec, subject to the allowances that are noted in the checklist itself. It is important to note: There's a new PV-ready checklist available on the website as of today, and it only includes a PV-ready provision. There's a separate checklist on solar hot water that's also there, but the two are no longer integrated into one checklist. PV-ready stands on its own. That set of provisions still is required, however, please note -- we get a lot of confusion on this point -- PV-ready provisions aren't required in all cases. And there are several exceptions, such as, if the home doesn't get an adequate amount of solar insulation on an annual basis, and there's a little check on how to figure that out. Or if there's significant shading, or if there's not enough south-facing roof area. In those cases, the PV-ready provisions are exempted. Doesn't mean the house can't qualify for the DOE Zero Ready program. By all means, it still can, if it's complying with the other parts of the spec. DOE simply wants to recognize that PV-ready provisions make a lot of sense in some cases. In other cases, they may not be as justifiable, so there are some exceptions allowed. Jumping back to the solar hot water ready provisions, they're now encouraged, no longer mandatory in any sense. The reasoning behind that change -- and we thank a lot of our partners for having an ongoing dialogue on this -- is sort of twofold. The cost-effectiveness of solar hot water, given the size of the hot water energy load in the high-performance homes, the cost-effectiveness of it on a national basis for a program like the DOE Zero Ready program, is very difficult to justify requiring builders and their partners to implement solar hot water ready provisions. Given that sort of background and that feedback and DOE's independent checking into this, it's still an encouraged provision. Maybe it makes sense to some projects and some locations. Overall for a national spec, it no longer -- it's really not justifiable for DOE to require solar hot water ready provisions to go into these homes.

Next slide:
So the second change, which we'll drill into a little bit more here, is what's going on with the insulation levels for Zero Ready homes, as well as the HERS levels in the subset of states that now have 2012 IECC on their books. So the change that we'll look at here is really a clarification that the specs have called out, that Zero Ready homes are going to look and work a little differently in states with advanced energy codes. What we've done in Rev 5 is really clarified the timeline. We've actually extended the timeline for what happens in states with this 2012 code on its books at a certain period of time. And the next several slides drill into exactly what this looks like, what it means, but in a nutshell, the rationale for doing this is that, as we saw in the builder brochure a few slides ago, one of the value messages for the Zero Energy Ready program is that it's visionary. Our builders are leaders in the industry who are providing the future of housing today. So if you drill into that a little bit, part of the background for that is that the program links to upcoming energy codes. We're not building homes to an energy code that will be off the books and illegal to use within a few months. Rather, we're looking ahead and connecting the program to upcoming advanced energy codes coming down the pipeline in the future.

Next slide:
So as states are implementing 2012, the insulation levels doesn't really make a lot of sense to connect the Zero Energy Ready Home to the current code in that state. So therefore we're looking at this overlay on what to do in those states with 2012 IECC on its books. So here's a little flowchart of how to sort through this issue and figure out what's going on in a given state. So the first question to ask is whether the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code, IECC, whether that's been in effect in a state for at least a year. If the answer to that question is yes, then a couple things happen. The ENERGY STAR version 3.1 spec is now required for qualifying DOE Zero Ready homes, Zero Energy Ready Homes. Secondly, and then version 3.1 only affects the HERS index. We'll look at that detail here in a second. Secondly, if we're in one of these states where this is happening, the DOE Zero Energy Ready program now links its insulation requirements for the envelope no longer to 2012 but to the 2015 IECC. So it maintains that value proposition being forward-looking, visionary. If a state is not in this category of having 2012 on its books for at least a year, then it's sort of business as usual. DOE Zero Energy Ready Home normal program requirements still apply, which means that ENERGY STAR version 3.0 is a prerequisite, and along with that, the envelope is going to meet the insulation levels found in the 2012 IECC.

[End of recording]