Below is the text version of the webinar Tour of Zero: Helping Customers Find Better Homes at Lower Costs, presented in October 2015. Watch the presentation.

Lindsay Parker:
Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home technical training webinar series. We're really excited that you could join us today. This session today is on the Tour of Zero, and the big aim is that you can learn what the Tour of Zero is all about and also learn how you can help to increase homebuyer awareness and interest in Zero Energy Ready Homes. Our presenter today is Sam Rashkin. He's the chief architect in the Building Technologies Office at DOE, and he's the director of the Zero Energy Ready Home program. My name is Lindsay Parker. I'm the coordination support for the program, and I'm joined today by Sam Bowles, who serves as our communication specialist. Now we're going to cover some general notes on webinar housekeeping. Today all attendees will be in listen-only mode, however, we do invite you to ask questions throughout the webinar in the questions section of the GoToWebinar program. We'll monitor these throughout the webinar, and at the end of each section -- or at the end of the webinar, we'll go over some of the questions that came up. Feel free to send those in to us, and we'll capture those at the end. This session is being recorded, and the recording will be placed on the resources page of the Zero Energy Ready Home website. So please allow some time for this. The recording does need to be transcribed and go through captioning and placed online, so this does take a couple weeks. But after the webinar, we will be sending out an email to everyone registered, with a PDF of the presentation, so you can have it available to you. So now I'm going to hand it over to Sam Rashkin to dive into the presentation on the Tour of Zero.

Sam Rashkin:
Hey, thank-you so much, Lindsay, and hopefully you get the screen switched over to me. While we're doing that, I wanted to just mention to you that I appreciate everyone coming to this webinar. It's a really important one, because it's not just about trying to get you to help us message about the Zero Energy Ready Homes to consumers. Where consumers purchase Zero Energy Ready Homes, they're purchasing the housing industry's best products, more of the best products, and those products and services installed so they work and deliver the best experience. It's in everyone's interest if consumers choose Zero Energy Ready Home performance, because your industry, your product, your service, will deliver to your customer the most satisfaction. So we believe this is a common interest for us to engage the public to learn to act in their own interest and actually purchase Zero Energy Ready Homes. And our vehicle for doing it right now is the Tour of Zero and a national campaign to rally all of us around a common message to engage consumers to visit the home of the future today.

So with that, I'm going to first start with a background about what is a Zero Energy Ready Home, so we all have the same context for the product itself. And I do this knowing many of you have seen some presentations, have been introduced to this in the past. But I do it quickly just again to make sure we have a common platform for what we mean when we say it's Zero Energy Ready Home. And it all begins first with understanding that codes have done an excellent job improving homes, particularly in the last three rounds of code improvements. We've seen the rigor of the code in terms of its energy efficient requirements go up substantially, particularly from 2006 to 2009 and 2009 to 2012. So with the energy code, we have even the lowest level of a fairly high-performance home. And that means that as you move to a higher and higher goal for home performance, homes are just going to continue to get more and more insulated, more and more tight, and everything changes. We've hit, effectively, a building science wall that has to be addressed if we're going to manage the technical challenges we face building these much higher-performance homes.

So let's look at this and what's driving the risk and why there's such significant challenges for the housing industry. And it begins with understanding that the homes that were built when codes were much less rigorous were much less insulated, much weaker windows, much less air-sealing techniques. And then the codes did get rigorous, and the HERS scores dropped substantially. There were 170, 180,000 HERS index ratings last year. Average HERS index: 63. And you start to see that the market is moving, transforming, right in front of our eyes. And where it's going to, effectively, is to an advanced enclosure. And what we mean by an advanced enclosure is first that we have an insulation system. It's more insulation. It's also installed to higher quality, so it's better. And it's also complete. Air barriers, thermal bridging, that have been maybe not fully addressed in the past are now addressed. Windows are much higher-performing windows. And the air-sealing is getting freezingly better done in new homes, even built to code. So this is our advanced enclosure, that's associated with even a minimum-code home.

And what changes right now is that we have three key risks. The first is, can we ensure comfort with this advanced enclosure? The reason for that is now we have very ultra-low heating and cooling loads, so much so that where we used to need maybe 100,000 KBtu heating in many markets, we're down to 10,000 or 15,000 heating Btu heating amazingly lower loads. And with those lower loads, much lower airflow in air systems, and much longer swing seasons when latent loads can be a key issue that needs to be addressed, because the accidental dehumidification that comes from cooling is not happening during those swing seasons. So we need an optimized low- load comfort system. And it begins with right-sizing equipment and/or using variable speed equipment that can address the different load requirements, having proper installation so the equipment ensures airflows that meet requirements, and also so the airflow as it's introduced into the rooms through the grills is dispersed with full mixing in each room. And complete systems, including effective filtration systems and complete air balancing. And also testing to make sure all these requirements are done correctly. So this is an ensured comfort system that protects against the risk that we have very much reduced heating and cooling loads.

The second risk deals with how do we manage moisture when we're creating much colder surfaces inside our assemblies. That's because with much greater insulation and airtightness, there's much less ability for drying. In fact, it's very, very substantially reduced drying potential. At the same time, the wetting potential is so much greater with the colder surfaces. So we have more wetting risk. And we manage that with a comprehensive water protection system, where we're now providing a complete and diligent whole system for water management, at the roofs, walls, and openings, at the site and away from the foundation, and materials and assemblies that are exposed to the moisture inside our homes. And the third and final risk is, what do we do at the enclosure that's so much more airtight to ensure indoor air quality? And so in fact, if we don't do something today in homes, we have greater risk. And we achieve that with a comprehensive indoor air quality system. Not points, not pieces of indoor air quality, but a system. And it's three parts of a complete system. The first is source control -- are we selecting materials that keep dangerous chemical contaminants out of our home? Are we blocking biological contaminants from having the ability to enter our homes? And blocking radon from getting to our homes, or venting it with a radon-resistant construction? Are we keeping the key contaminants out of our homes, and (inaudible) byproducts and so forth, is number one. Second, do we have a fresh air system which is a whole house ventilation system that can dilute any residential contaminants that maybe entered in the home? And here again, the key is not just that we have the system, but also that it's installed properly, and also that we help the owners persist in getting that quality ventilation by maintaining that system effectively. The third part is a high-capture filtration. We now need filtration abilities that are much greater than the old ineffective filters we used to put into the heating and cooling systems, one that actually can pull out particulates from the airstream. So this is a complete system that now is part and parcel of an advanced enclosure home.

Now with these risks managed, we should also look at the opportunities that we have as a housing industry to differentiate our product. And the first opportunity to differentiate is that if we push our homes just a little bit more, we can actually move the enclosure to the next-generation code, not to the current code. And that's exciting, because now we're building a home of the future. And the optimized enclosure, all it takes is more insulation so you meet or exceed the next level of code, and next level window requirements, and next level air-sealing requirements. And as a result the differentiation will be the house of the future today. You're actually building to meet or exceed future codes. Even an ENERGY STAR® certified home built to the minimum requirements of the program in most parts of the country will be illegal to build in three or four years, when that state adopts the next-generation code. And making the largest purchase of a lifetime, it's probably a good bet that most homeowners would love the option to buy the house that would not be obsolete in three or four years.

The other differentiation opportunity is to at that level now add a few more pieces that get you to Zero Energy Ready. Zero being an increasingly attractive attribute to have in new housing. And the way you start that is with the optimized enclosure. You have the ultra-low HVAC loads that you now balance with very efficient equipment. You put energy-efficient components throughout the house, at least meeting or exceeding ENERGY STAR. Putting in a few details that our low-cost details for making the house adaptable to solar in the future, and you have a Zero Energy Ready Home. So our spec kind of looks like this. It's one that basically captures the risk management solutions and the differentiation opportunities. We started with the advanced enclosure and then we optimized it. And from there, we added the optimized comfort system that helped us manage the low-load risk. And I should mention, with the optimized enclosure system, we've got the differentiation opportunity for the future-ready home. Then we put in water protection to manage the less drying potential risk in high-performance homes. Then we put in a complete air quality system with differentiation of a health- ready home, plus to manage our risk that there's less fresh air in these much, much more high-performance homes. And then we put efficient components throughout the house, so that we have advanced technology throughout the home. And then with the solar-ready system, we are now able to differentiate as a zero-ready home. In fact, we have a house to the power of zero, and we have a label to help consumers find all of these benefits just at a glance, looking for a label.

So with that, we've come to a common definition that we're advocating that's very simple and easy to understand for what is a Zero Energy Ready Home. It's a high-performance home that's so energy efficient, all or most annual consumption can be offset with renewable energy. And what's so profound about this definition is that every word and every order of how we present these words is critical. We start with performance and efficiency first. You capture the 200-year opportunity costs, then you set expectations that you are going to offset most or all energy consumption so that you help consumers understand the many factors that can lead to less than a zero outcome, but you have the potential for zero. And then you explain lastly that at the end you can do this offsetting with renewable energy now or in the future. So this definition is so, so important. Now that we've done this simple walk-through, I'd like to do a little quick survey before we move on to the next part about the Tour of Zero. Maybe I'll first start with the first of two questions. So Lindsay, I'm going to let you kind of tee up the poll. And the first question is going to be asking about who is in our audience. So Lindsay, you want to take it away and do the first question?

Lindsay Parker:
Sure thing. Thanks, Sam. Alright, I've launched the first poll. The question is, are you a _______. Either a builder, architect/designer, are you a HERS rater, manufacturer, part of an association, or other? ... Alright, great. Thank-you, everyone who engaged in the poll. I'm going to close it and share the results. It looks like 13 percent of the audience -- it's pretty even -- 13 percent of the audience are builders, 15 percent are architects/designers, 8 percent are HERS raters, 21 percent are manufacturers, and 42 percent are other.

Sam Rashkin:
So Lindsay, let's shoot out the second poll question. And let me tee it up first before you ask it, OK? So everyone in the audience, hypothetically, it winds up every one of you is buying a home today. Who knew? OK, so you're all buying a house today, and you have three choices, all the exact same architecture, the exact same floor plan. Three homes side by side. You have to choose one by today. One is a minimum-code home. The second home for a $5,000 premium is an ENERGY STAR certified home. So for another $20 or so per month, you move up to the ENERGY STAR certified home. And the third choice you have is for a $12,000 premium or about $45, $50 after tax, monthly additional cost, you can move up to a Zero Energy Ready Home. Of course, you also know as experts that we can offset those monthly costs with the ENERGY STAR and Zero Ready with the utility savings. So you're all buying a home, and Lindsay, give them their three choices.

Lindsay Parker:
Sure thing. Alright, I've launched the poll. Would you buy a minimum-code, ENERGY STAR certified, or Zero Energy Ready Home? OK. ... Alright. Thank-you, everyone who voted. I'm going to go ahead and close the poll and share our results. Zero Energy Ready Home is pulled in a good 89 percent. ENERGY STAR certified, 7 percent of our audience would buy one of those. And 3 percent would buy a minimum-code home.

Sam Rashkin:
Excellent. So now we can move up to the next section of our webinar today, about what is the Tour of Zero. And basically what the Tour of Zero is, is a vehicle to help us warm the American home-buying public how to buy a home in their best interests. When I look at this audience today in the webinar or I look at and assess the experts that are on the line, I don't see you as building industry professionals. I see you as probably one of the best group of home-buying experts that could be assembled in an audience. And almost 90 percent of you would choose a Zero Energy Ready Home. And so our challenge that we see, that we have in the marketplace, is how would we get homebuyers to choose the home the best expert homebuyers would choose, so they can get the best value for the largest purchase of a lifetime. And for me, I just wouldn't buy anything less than a Zero Energy Ready Home. To me, it's absurd not to get that much value and to have that much health benefits and investment benefits, and comfort benefits. It's an obvious choice to spend less for all that superior performance.

So we need a way to educate the American homebuyer, and the Tour of Zero is our common vehicle for hopefully many of us to start doing that. So teeing this up, I first, before I go into the Tour of Zero, want to look at the supply chain that is our way of getting the Zero Energy Ready Home to the marketplace, and it begins with the product itself, which is the Zero Energy Ready Home label. And that is the product that will help the consumer make a choice at this level of performance. And the distribution network for that is the manufacturers, associations, and utilities who have a common interest with us to engage homebuyers and HERS raters and builders about the value of building, buying, and designing to Zero Energy Ready Home performance. The sales force is the HERS raters that engage builders directly, and Building America teams that work with Department of Energy that could also engage builders to build to this level of performance. For our customers, there's actually the builder, the developers, the affordable housing players, and military housing organizations that actually put homes in the ground. They are the core customer that would actually apply the label to the home. But the end customer is actually the consumer, the homebuyer that would purchase the home, and the transaction process then involves a series of other players -- the realtors, the appraisers, the lenders, the insurers. This is a supply chain that we have to deal with. And what we're trying to do today is to get to you, our distribution network, to help us engage the end customer to be aware and know that this is such an important option for them, when they're transacting a new home.

Now, effectively, this is a market pull versus a market push strategy, on this slide. So we want to go to pull versus push. When you do market push, you're kind of going to the builder and telling them to push the technology to the market. That's push. In pull, you're trying to get the market to ask for the technology, and pull the manufacturers to provide it. And so while we're pushing with the label and education and training, today we're talking about the market pull opportunity. And it's because of the number of the challenges with market push that we need a strong market pull. The first challenge with market push strategies is that the HERS industry, which has been the core vehicle for connecting innovation to the housing industry, is much, much more difficult to engage them today. And much, much more diversified. They not only do ENERGY STAR certified home program verification, they do HERS score index scores, they do green programs, with more and more roles in existing home programs. And substantially significant, they're getting involved in code compliance verification, in an increasing number of states across the country. So the ability to engage industry to push the housing industry further is much more difficult today than it was, for instance, when ENERGY STAR certified homes came out and the HERS industry needed a vehicle for achieving growth and establishing itself in the marketplace. So the market pull opportunity is we can leverage the DOE voice of authority, in partnership with industry, to get consumers to understand this amazing opportunity that they have at point of purchase.

The second market push issue is that builders are reluctant to incur the extra cost for Zero Energy Ready Home. It's a new concept, and it's very much an industry that's still trying to recover from a lot of the stress during the nation's slowdown period. So the opportunity now is to leverage recognition for Zero Energy Ready builders to stir the competitive juices, if you will, and engage more builders to be interested in building to this level of excellence. And the third push issue is that there's a lack of consumer awareness of the Zero Energy Ready Home label. In ENERGY STAR, for instance, there's billions and billions of dollars invested across all the players and partners with EPA on ENERGY STAR to develop a very impressive awareness by the consumer around the ENERGY STAR label. Zero Energy Ready Home, of course, is a very, very new label. DOE is understood as a very reputable voice of authority, but we need to pull the consumer to understand what the Zero Energy Ready Home label means. So we need a national campaign, and it's built around the Tour of Zero.

So it all begins as a system for us. We start with the Housing Innovation Awards. And in fact, it's not just a recognition program for the Zero Energy Ready Home program. The Housing Innovation Award is kind of a breeder operation for developing the best cutting-edge examples of Zero Energy Ready Home construction in the country. And so we use these awards to identify the best Zero Energy Ready Homes, and also we also design our application process so we get the best content for producing the Tour of Zero itself. Now we get the content that people would like to see if they were looking at a home of interest. And so the Housing Innovation Awards recognizes every year individual homes that achieve the best results earning the Zero Energy Ready Home label. And every year, we recognize roughly about 25 to 28 different homes that are used to populate the Tour of Zero. And the Tour of Zero, of course, is a website that creates a virtual tour capability for consumers to look at homes all over the country in every climate zone that meet this level of performance. And of course, as I just mentioned, that are award-winning homes.

So what you would do is click on a region of interest. Let's say by example we're looking at the Denver market. We'd click on the cold climate and up would pop a list of homes in the tour that were certified Zero Energy Ready Home, award-winning homes in that market. And we could select any of these homes. And let's say we pick New Town Homes, the ArtiZEN Plan. We click on that. We would go to the tour website, and it'd take us to that specific home. Now, a web page geometry is not this long and narrow, so really you'd see first the photo images. As most people would want to see it first, on the outside, then the inside, and then some technical pictures if there's further interest on the what's-behind-the-wall content. And like any tour, again, you get to see the architectural design, the aesthetics, inside, outside, things people like to see when they take a tour of the home. After you take the tour, then you can go and look at the key information about the home that's easy to read. You'll note there's not a lot of text-heavy information here. And it starts most significantly with a testimonial. You'll have to excuse me, I hit a wrong button, but we'll be good ... So it starts with a testimonial statement, and this is also used as a headline across the top of this content. And we highlight the key information. "We couldn't imagine living anywhere else. It's so quiet and comfortable. We love our new home." What we feel is really powerful and important in the tour for our visitors is they see the consumer experience as much as possible. In cases where the testimonials are still under development, often you have a quote from the builder him- or herself about the different construction experience building to this level of excellence. But home and after home, seeing a different consumer experience is a really important goal for us as we developed this Tour of Zero. So that is the first and foremost important element on the content piece. And don't forget, again, it's the headline across the top of this information, as well.

Then you can go and look at the key stats. And it's just basic numbers most consumers would like to know: the square footage, the number of bedrooms, floors, and the climate's repeated. Then the HERS index score, in this case, a -3. A house can go below 0, as a really exciting level of performance. And then the actual dollar numbers about the house. We think the dollar is the most significant metric for consumers; even more than a HERS score, it really tells the story. This is a zero energy bill every month in this home. Zero is a very big number. And what it adds to every year is about $2,000 in utility savings, and over a mortgage that's about $100,000 in reduced costs. We need quick and easy numbers for our visitors just to see this is a different experience that they have in their homes.

The next key piece is that we explain very simply that most significant innovations that went into the home, and we use our consumer-based terminology. We call it the Building Science Translator. Our Building America Solution Center -- which has webinars on that by itself, and I advise people to take a look at that, as well -- provides a great translation of each technical measure into an experience-based terminology. And so that's the terminology we list under "Key Features." And it's easy to read and very simple. But if you click on "Read more" essentially you'll get to a much more detailed fact sheet about the home, for those that do want to dive deeper. And these are actually four-sided profiles of each home, lots of interesting graphics and information, for those that want to dive deeper. But at the very least, the Key Features provides the Building Science Translator terminology about amazing improvements in the home. Instead of airtight construction: comprehensive draft protection. Instead of a whole house ventilation system, it's a fresh air system. And you kind of get the idea that this is a different way of presenting innovations in each home. And then if you want to look at the floor plans, which is a very common area of interest for consumers, they click on "More," and the detailed floor plans are provided. And if you want one, you click on that and it takes you to the profile of that builder who built that home. We have a Zero Energy Ready Home locator; it lists all the builder partners and provides key information, links to that builder's web page, and it's a very easy way to make the connection to the builders who are building homes that are this high performance. OK, so that's the Tour of Zero.

And home by home by home, again, consumers can see other homeowners having an amazing experience living in this next home- of-the-future product that's available today. So the key final segment of our content today is why should stakeholders be interested in zero? What can you do to help be part of this campaign? So why zero? Let's look at the four key groups, the builders, homebuyers, community, and our nation.

Builders, like we showed at the front end of the webinar today, have a very, very great business solution for reducing risk -- less risk and greater differentiation. And more and more as builders are competing to gain attention of much, much more educated homebuyers, what a great way to just stand out with a product that costs less to own and has so much more value to provide to the consumer. For the homebuyers, it's just a superior experience in every way. These homes live better in terms of comfort and health. They work better in terms of ultra-low or no utility bills and advanced technology everywhere. They last better with better quality and durability. And they just feel better, because again, they're built to such a high level of energy savings, you can offset all or most of your incremental mortgage, so you can have a better home for lower cost. You'll have a home that is built by an exclusive builder in the top 1 or 2 percent of his or her field, and you have a home that's so sustainable, you can feel great. It is a less significant burden on our environment and it's better for our country. So all this experience, and it's an amazing experience difference for buyers.

And for the communities that are invested in homes that have higher tax revenue because they're worth more and have more value, and they're more sustainable because they are homes that will meet expectations for the future. And from a national perspective, when we look at what happens when we simply get to a 30 percent market penetration over the next 20 years, we start to accrue almost a quarter trillion dollars in utility bill savings, creating over 2 million job years of work, 2,000 metric tons of carbon savings, all of which is equivalent of about 80 million barrels of oil saved per year that don't have to be imported. So the numbers are huge in terms of what happens when you aggregate over a nation with meaningful market penetration. And these are numbers that are just easy to understand in terms of their impact to our nation.

So why partner with the Tour of Zero? For manufacturers, you get more exposure to your highest-performing products, products that reflect your company's best performance. Your products are properly installed because they are part of a verification system, and also the higher quality specification system that ensures a much, much better installed infrastructure. And then the products are installed as part of a complete system to further ensure that they work better and deliver a better experience with the homeowners, and then you have public recognition as a leader. For utilities, you get maximum peak demand reduction in Zero Energy Ready Homes. It will take you down the furthest at the peak time of day. And it's a lead-in for a whole array of other services and new businesses, revolving around solar, storage, advanced controls, and diagnostics. So there's a whole gateway of other business opportunities once these homes are constructed.

And lastly, for lenders, their homeowners who have very substantial financial connection to their companies in terms of loans have much better satisfaction with their homes. And the lenders themselves are invested in a much lower financial risk product. The cost of ownership is lower. The moisture/durability management capabilities are much greater. And the future value is much better protected. OK, so that's the background. That's the Tour. That's why.

So the last piece is how do we participate. And what we've done in fact is create an innovation partnership just for industry, to step in and help us form a collective impact process around this common message that this is a home of the future available today. This is the consumer experience that homeowners should definitely want to aspire to for their next new home. And the way it tees up, is that industry leaders partner with DOE to reach out to America, and they do it through promoting the Tour of Zero. And the major commitment is to place what we call a promotion button on at least three major consumer-facing communications each year. Websites, advertising, signage, in-store displays, whatever it may be. The choice is up to the partner. But the key is to get a common message and a frequency of messaging so consumers are asking and hopefully learning about the home of the future. And the way the button looks is like this. Essentially, there's a template, which allows a partner to indicate they're partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy to bring the homes of the future to families today. The action message is to take the energy ready home tour, with a link to the tour, and what the partner does is when they become a partner, they can place their logo right in there and effectively become associated with this leadership. Key organizations that we're targeting are manufacturers, industry associations, NGOs, and financial institutions. And again, the manufacturers and associations would be anyone involved in high-performance products and services. It could be anything from insulation to appliances, air-sealing to ventilation to lighting. The list goes on and on. But if you make any of those products, and they go in a Zero Energy Ready Home, a customer gets a better experience. And financial institutions we'd love to see come on board, because again, they're invested in a product with much lower risk, and they sell more of their product, money, because the loans are a higher amount. NGOs, of course, are trying to promote a much, much more carbon-friendly future; these homes are substantially effective achieving that goal.

So how do we get there? Well, we promote the tour, again, on the options I mentioned: websites, advertising, signage, displays. Partners may have other ideas. The only option where a tour button can't be used is on product packaging itself. We don't want to create any consumer confusion about the logo and the product, and the product may be meeting some performance that's not really connected. But it's all about engaging consumers to know to look for a home that features this substantially improved experience. And just as a mockup of how that might work, if you look at the website for the New Jersey Clean Energy program, hypothetically they can go here, put in the button, and have their logo as partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy to bring homes of the future today, take the tour, and effectively that would qualify as a great way to meet one of the commitments for a consumer-facing message.

So the next steps are really to become an innovation partner. There's an online agreement; take just a minute to fill out. The next step is to then, once you're a partner, go in and customize your button. We have a website tool where you can insert your logo and make the button customized for your company. The third part is to develop a plan to get a contact from our program, and then figure out which public-facing communication options are most suitable and are most preferred by your company or organization. And then enact the plan. Place the button, promote the tour. And lastly, report back to your contact where it's placed, help us track where consumers are seeing the message. Let us help evaluate how the campaign is working, and so forth. So that's the steps. And the key thing right now is we need your support to help us engage consumers. It's such a better future for the country, such a better future for housing. Every part that goes into a Zero Energy Ready Home will be something that every consumer would want if they could have it. And they can have it; they just don't realize the savings per month in mortgage to pay for it. So what's great would be working with you all. And Lindsay, I recommend let's open it up to any questions that may have come in.

Lindsay Parker:
Alright. That sounds great. Thanks, Sam, for a very informative presentation. We did have some questions come in. I know Sam Bowles has been flagging them. Sam, do you want to go ahead and ask some questions?

Sam Bowles:
Sure. We had a question come in: Do you see existing real estate homes dropping in value as new zero-ready become available locally?

Sam Rashkin:
What a great question. You know, I think everyone worries that as technology keeps moving the bar, old technology kind of loses its value. And the answer is, I believe in real estate that land kind of trumps, location trumps, so location always protects the value of real estate. But I think what increasing market penetration of Zero Energy Ready Homes does is create a market awareness that they can invest in their existing homes and bring them to levels approximating or achieving the same performance as this program's advocating, and feel much more confident they get their value additive. Because the market's always recognizing the value of Zero Energy Ready Homes. So what I believe, often, is that we're misunderstood that we're simply a new home program. What I believe, in fact, is once we achieve meaningful market penetration, we become -- we're just hundreds of thousands of existing home projects that will want to have many if not most or all of the innovations that go into a Zero Energy Ready Home. So I think the existing homes will hold their value because in many cases, most cases, they should be in preferred locations as builders have to move further and further away to find land to develop new construction. But I think that they now will have a vehicle to improve the existing homes and get more value in a way that they couldn't because it was hard to explain that value to consumers without a program like this laying it all out. So that's an excellent question.

Sam Bowles:
OK. Another question that we got was, how could a state or local government participate or help as partners?

Sam Rashkin:
Boy, that's also a great question. I think state and local governments are really at the front and center in terms of benefiting from their regions of the country investing in Zero Energy Ready Homes through home transactions, again, for both reasons I mentioned. Your new homes will be better, and then they influence the existing homes to do it right and also do it at a higher level. And that means that their tax structure will be invested in much, much more rigorous and high-value home product, and I believe they'll have much, much more disposable income for residents to spend locally and help the economy. In every way, this is where states and locals want to go. Plus, their residents will be living in much healthier homes, less money spent on health issues and health care. And so there's so many ways that this serves the needs of the stakeholders and the needs of the state and local government. So I would believe, one, they could do the innovation partnerships just like a manufacturer, an association, or an NGO. And secondly, there are amazing opportunities to provide what I believe are no-cost incentives for the housing market to construct Zero Energy Ready Home performance. There's things like, you can expedite permits for Zero Energy Ready Home level of performance, or you can expedite the plan approval. You can increase density for Zero Energy Ready Home projects, which is also more revenue. There are lots and lots of ways you can creatively develop policy and planning systems that are revenue-neutral and get you the goal that you're after, which is a much, much higher quality infrastructure of homes. So yes, start by being an innovation partner. Also, if you want to contact us and start having discussions about revenue-neutral planning policies, we'd love to help.

Sam Bowles:
OK. Go ahead, Lindsay.

Lindsay Parker:
Ah, let's see. One question came in that asked, how do we get one of our homes included in the tour?

Sam Rashkin:
The way homes get included in the tour is through the Housing Innovation Award process. So mostly, what you need to do is first get your home certified to Zero Energy Ready Home, and also report it to us. And then every year, right about April, we put out applications for the Housing Innovation Awards. Very simple applications. Fill one out, submit it us, and then the process goes on from there, to select the winners and populate the tour with the winners.

Sam Bowles:
Another question: Is there any educational materials geared toward realtors?

Sam Rashkin:
Good question. We have a Zero Energy Ready Home training program that's a four- and eight-hour program for training realtors. The challenge will be for us to deliver to all requests. There is resource constraints that we have. But we have a program. We also have two webinars posted on our website. Volume 1 and 2 on sales training for realtors that can be taken is also extremely useful. And it provides five different tools that can be used and resources that are extremely powerful for being effective communicating the value. Our sales training for realtors is about specific tools that communicate and contrast the difference between buying a Zero Energy Ready Home with other choices. And to be more effective at helping a consumer understand the consequence of buying less performance. And so it just helps the realtor understand how to use those tools and apply them. It also gives them tools for how they can become the experts. What I mentioned earlier is very significant for the housing industry, we're at the tip of what's about to burst in terms of homeowner education and homeowner information. And they're going to be so much more educated before they come to you, the realtor. You have to find the way to become the expert. And we have the resources to do just that. So look at our list of webinars posted under the resources section of our website. Also contact us directly through Lindsay for interest in real estate training programs. We'll see where we can find resources to accommodate interest, and sometimes first come, first served is the way that goes.

Sam Bowles:
We've had a couple questions about existing homes. One of them: Is there a solution for Zero Energy Ready Home to be retrofitted for existing homes with a gut rehab?

Sam Rashkin:
We've done a number of Zero Energy Ready Home certifications for existing homes, just as suggested by the question, with gut rehabs. Anything less would be probably not possible. You need a gut rehab to make it happen. There will still be some details and requirements of the program that are not possible, that are accommodated by certain verification processes that will verify that the measure itself is not -- if it's not there, is not causing an issue by its absence. But we have solutions for gut rehab homes. It's admittedly easier in the more mild and warm climates than it is in cold climates.

Sam Bowles:
One more question -- we have a couple more. If the Zero Energy Ready Home logo was put on our customer website, could it link only to case study homes that use our company's product?

Sam Rashkin:
That would be something I'd think would not be possible. I think what you could do is yourself find your homes of interest that you think you'd like to promote and provide links to those specific precise website locations just by normal copying of web address. But what I would submit is a rising tide raises all boats. I think what we need right now is consumers to know they want homes with more insulation, more air-sealing, more high-performance windows, with higher-performance heating/cooling, with more efficient appliances, lighting, fans. They want homes that are built to higher quality control requirements, and homes that just are ready for solar if they're in an area with a lot of solar resources. Homes that feature instant hot water, because it just is designed with advanced plumbing solutions for how we get hot water. All these things are beneficial. I think if we try to be so precise that a consumer only sees a house with our products, we're missing a bigger opportunity here, which is to just raise expectations that consumers should have, again, in their self-interest right now. A home is locked in often for hundreds of years, in terms of its core capabilities. And I think to worry about whether it's your product or a competitor's right now in the home might miss the opportunity to just engage consumers that we can do so much more. And it all -- like I said, a rising tide will raise all boats.

Lindsay Parker:
Alright. Thank-you, Sam, for that. There is one that was sent in for someone who's interested in helping out. How do you want them to track usage or views of buttons for association sites? How would you like them to track usage or views of the button on the sites that they have or add? Do they need to send us websites that report at some frequency?

Sam Rashkin:
All we're asking for right now is for our innovation partners to just inform us of the options they're using to engage consumers. And that would be a website address. It would be their store address or store display option listed for X number of stores. It would be signage located in a certain city. Not terribly specific. We're trying to just track the effectiveness of reaching out this way, so we can either keep doing it, build upon it, add some enhancements. So I don't know that we need excessive level of specificities, so that we can dig down to the exact time and place that a message appears. But what mostly we're asking for is which option. If there's an address, we can go and get examples of how it's being done. It helps us out. But the rigor is fairly minimal. Good question.

Lindsay Parker:
OK, another question came in. How different or similar is a Zero Energy Ready Home from a Passive House? Is there an advantage to Zero Energy Ready Home?

Sam Rashkin:
The biggest difference between a Zero Energy Ready Home and a Passive House falls in a few main areas. One is, your HERS index will probably drop from the low 50s to the low 40s. The other would be that the ventilation will absolutely be an HRV or ERV, where in a Zero Energy Ready house, it could be a supply-only or exhaust- only system. The third will be that the airtightness will be down to 0.6 air changes per hour, at 50 pascals, and in a Zero Energy Ready Home, it would normally be about 1.5 to ... -- be depending on which climate zone you're in. The warmer you are, the higher the ACH50 could be. And on top of that, I think there's also some issues with how I think the kitchen exhaust spot ventilation is done. And those are the primary differences. I think where we wind up setting our level is tied to the Building America recommendations based on cost-effectiveness right now. But we think Passive House, of course, is a great level to go in terms of really seeing a home for a product that will last for hundreds of years, and investing in it that way. But I think for our mainstream public and for the cost-effective constraints that we see in the marketplace, we think a Zero Energy Ready Home might be a fair bit more flexible. So if you're ready to push to those much, much more aggressive levels, and have an infrastructure that can deliver it in terms of air-sealing contractors, insulation contractors, it truly is an aspirational and a special achievement to get a home to that level. For most mainstream builders, we think we have a gateway to start building to a level that may eventually get there. But that's roughly the difference about how to kind of characterize it, really quickly.

Lindsay Parker:
OK. Thank-you. Go ahead, Sam.

Sam Bowles:
We had a question come in: Is there a consumer-facing PowerPoint available?

Sam Rashkin:
What a great question. I haven't got that yet. And the answer is no, we don't have one, and I think we should. So I think that will do for us, following this webinar. Thank-you for that suggestion.

Lindsay Parker:
OK. Another question is, can we market this on our architecture website?

Sam Rashkin:
Absolutely. There's no constraints, really, who could be an innovation partner. So we're so appreciative of any support we can get, and in a community, architects are such, again, voices of authorities themselves. So we'd love to have you help us and join us.

Lindsay Parker:
OK, there was one question that came in. It says, as a developer we are trying to build a development that is Zero Energy Ready Home only. Does DOE have any information to help us educate larger builders, make this change to Zero Energy Ready Home? (Larger builders not jumping on this yet.)

Sam Rashkin:
We're developers; we're happy to jump in with lots of support. First, I'll let you know that our website resource section is loaded with very I think impressive array to help developers and builders themselves alike. There's the brochure that can be customized for the development and/or the builder. There's point- of-sale fact sheets that can be customized for the developer or builder. And both those resources are packed with contrast / comparison bars that are so effective at showing with clarity the contrast between a choice between Zero Energy Ready Home, an ENERGY STAR home, and minimum-code home. So those are a great starting set of resources. On top of that, we have the Building Science Translator that can be used to -- a tool on the Building America Solution Center that can develop point-of-sale information customized for each builder or development, that feature long lists of innovations for key attributes like health, comfort, technology, quality, durability, ultra-efficiency. So if you want to show what's being part and parcel in every home in your development, here's a list of 50 innovations that help you and your family breathe better with a comprehensive health solution recommended by the leading authority on health in our nation, the U.S. EPA. Or to quality or technology. On top of that, we have homeowner manual that can be completely customized that tell the whole narrative, probably when most consumers are ready for the narrative, after purchase. And it's a simple walk-through brochure that gives the six complete systems in every home, one-sentence descriptions of each key innovation that made their house a completely different living experience. It's such an easy-to-read and graphic brochure, and it has key tips for how to maintain the home, as well. So it's a great homeowner piece, customized for each builder and/or development.

On top of that, there's drop-in messaging for DOE that often a builder or developer might not feel they can say, their legal counsel may suggest not, making certain claims. So they can simply use our quotations directly that state to the amazing values, improvement in health, comfort, durability, energy, and so forth. And sometimes they're just generic quotes from DOE or from myself. But you just drop them in, and all of a sudden you have the ability to create a very significant differentiation between your development and others. So the drop-in messaging is also very powerful. And then there's the logos themselves that you have that now are associated with your product, making a very amazing bundle of value propositions. You have the Zero Energy Ready Home. You have the ENERGY STAR certified home logo, because that's a prerequisite. You have the Indoor airPLUS logo, because that's a prerequisite. And often there may be a green program or WaterSense on top of that. So you start creating an iconic list of labels that are speaking to values more and more consumers want, and they can be plugged into the development and each home, as well. So there's amazing resources, plus, again, for developments we may have the resources to come in and do the realtor training, teach them the five tools and resources and ways of being more effective, conveying value to each buyer. And there's lots of technical resources and guidance that our team provides. We have a great staff that help everyone work through the technical specifications in a way that takes the complexity out of the process. So again, lots of resources to offer. Again, I would go to our website to see those. And with developments, we're extremely motivated to want to help you directly to solve any challenges that you uncover.

Lindsay Parker:
Alright. Thank-you, Sam. We might have time for one more, just to be cognizant of everyone's time. Sam Bowles, do you see any one in particular that you wanted to highlight?

Sam Bowles:
Yea, there's a bunch here. We have a lot of questions ... (multiple voices) ... We will try and get all of your questions answered offline and get you those answers. One, this deals with how to partner with builders: We make an energy- efficient block but have not been able to find willing partners among builders. Any suggestions on how to partner with one?

Sam Rashkin:
Energy-efficient what?

Sam Bowles:
Energy-efficient block. It's just an energy-efficient product, how to partner with a builder -- find builders to partner with.

Sam Rashkin:
My recommendations for most manufacturers almost regardless of the product they make is to actually be a much more proactive in partnering with builders. Builders rely on manufacturers to be the source of innovation. Builders themselves often don't have the resources and the capabilities to do technical innovations for their products. So they often come to the manufacturers themselves. And so I think seeking out partnerships with builders is a great business solution for almost any product manufactured. And I think often that entails giving them complete solutions. And it's not incrementally enough to say, here's my block, or here's my window, and say, use that. I think if you show how your product is a means toward a larger very dramatic jump-shift, again, in ...

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