Here is the text version of the Zero Energy Ready Home webinar, "Making Sense of the 2015 IECC and Zero Energy Ready Home," presented in July 2017. Watch the webinar.

Alex Krowka:
Presentation cover slide:

... to the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home training webinar series. We're excited that you can join us today for our webinar on the 2015 IECC and DOE Zero Energy Ready Home. Our presenters today are Jason Winters of the Kezlo Group and Joe Nebbia of Newport Partners. Jason is a founding principal of the architectural design firm Kezlo Group located in Annapolis, Maryland. He combines professional practice with a significant connection to architectural education, serving as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Jason has worked on sustainability initiatives in conjunction with the Maryland Energy Association and the U.S. Department of Energy. His most recent efforts include the education for design professionals in the state of Maryland for the implementation of the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code.

Joe Nebbia is a building science and regulatory consultant who serves as the operations director for the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program. Joe is active in co-development and consulting and teaches energy code classes to builders, code officials, designers, and trade contractors in multiple states. Joe also manages an energy code hotline service in Maryland. Today's session is one in a continuing series of training webinars to support our partners in designing, building, and selling DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes. My name is Alex Krowka, and I provide coordination support for the program. I'm just going to take another moment here to cover some general notes on webinar housekeeping. All attendees will be in listen-only mode, however, we do invite you to ask questions throughout the session in the question section of the GoToWebinar program. We'll monitor these throughout the webinar, and after the presentation, we'll have some time to go over your questions that weren't answered during the webinar. This session is being recorded and will be placed on the resources page of the Zero Energy Ready Home website. Please allow some time for this, since it does take a few days or a week or so to go through the process of adding it online. But we will notify everyone once it's uploaded. So now I'm going to hand it over to Jason to go ahead and get us started. Take it away, Jason.

Jason Winters:
Great, Alex, thank-you so much. And good afternoon, everyone.

First presentation slide:
I'd like to start with a brief overview of the code. You know, the evolution of the code comes from the Model Energy Code, which was published in 1995. You see there off on the right. And IECC is published every three years thereafter, starting from 2000. What we want to talk about today is the 2015 IECC. The code addresses the design of energy efficient building envelopes, and installation of energy efficient mechanical, lighting, and power systems, the requirements emphasizing performance. Actually, the 2018 IECC is finalized and is soon to be published. And in the bottom left you'll note there are additional training resources on building energy codes program at the link.

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The ICC developed the IECC to encourage energy conservation through efficiency and design, building systems, and the means and methods of construction. In the example above, you'll see how far we've come in part with the help of the IECC. Note the change in R values for walls, ceilings, and floors. You also see that there was no lighting requirement in 1993, and now 75 percent of the lamps must be high in efficiency. And you can see how other elements of the building envelope and building systems have been impacted.

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The 2015 IECC is broken into two parts: one for commercial provisions, and one for residential. Our focus today is on the residential provision, so you can see here on the slide the contents of that section. Chapter 1 deals with code requirements and it also has a section for outlining the use of alternate materials, methods of construction, and design. The final part of Chapter 1 covers administration and enforcement of the code. Chapter 2, fairly self-explanatory, outlines definitions used throughout the context of the code. And Chapter 3 primarily deals with climate zone designations. Chapter 4 is the bulk of the code. It contains the content for the application, which we'll touch on here today. And then finally, there's a chapter for existing buildings and some reference documentation including appendices afterward.

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So let's start with compliance paths. This code is intended to provide flexibility to present the use of innovative approaches and techniques to achieve this objective. There are three compliance paths available: prescriptive, performance, and the ERI analysis. We'll talk about these three compliance paths briefly in the next couple slides, but I'd like to note there's additional information on the Building Energy Codes program website, at the link at the lower left.

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First, regardless of which compliance path you choose, there are mandatory items that must be met as a minimum. You see these listed on this slide, and they vary between building design, building systems, and even aspects of construction.

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The prescriptive path is considered the checklist approach to compliance. Through this path, you'd be meeting the requirements of each line item in the code. This path provides very limited flexibility. For instance, when trying to comply with the requirements for insulation, you must comply prescriptively for each component. For example, ceilings and attic spaces, access hatches and doors, walls, floors, basement walls, slab-on-grade, crawlspace, and even sunroom insulation in some cases.

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The performance path is the second option for compliance. It has some flexibility, although mandatory items must still be met. It achieves compliance through a simulated energy performance of a proposed design, and have it be shown to have annual energy costs less than or equal to the annual energy costs of a standard reference design. Table R405.5.2 specifications for the standard reference proposed design must be met. In that, you'll see compliance is made by building components, again comparing with above-grade walls, basements, crawlspaces. It even extends to building systems. For instance, mechanical ventilation, heating systems, cooling systems, and service water heating.

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The last path is the ERI compliance path. It represents an important evolutionary step toward a code based on whole-house energy consumption, rather than individual entity values. It requires meeting a target energy rating index score, a numerical score where 100 equates to the levels prescribed in the 2006 IECC, and where 0 is equivalent to a net zero energy home. RESNET's Home Energy Rating System, HERS, is one example of an ERI compliance already in use. This path allows a selection of the most efficient, cost-effective, and energy-effective measures to achieve the best performance for each home, depending on its climate zone, rather than installing a series of prescriptive measures. In addition to meeting the ERI target for a home's climate zone, under the ERI compliance path, the minimum envelope requirements not less than the 2009 IECC levels must be met.

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Let's move on to compliance as it relates to the thermal envelope of the building. The insulation requirements are dictated by the climate zone designation, and you're all probably familiar with this representation of those zones.

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Table R402.1.2 provides the required U-factors for fenestration and R-values for building envelope components. And you can see the fairly drastic difference we have in some instances between climate zones 1 and 8. It's important to verify which climate zone you're in, and if necessary, follow through the minimum requirements using IECC for each component from there.

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Why is building insulation so important? It acts as the primary thermal control air for the building. We're basically looking for a continuous enclosure both in plan and section, and now paying particular attention to trouble areas like the transition from floor to wall, from wall to ceiling, or on second floors between rim joists. There are mandatory installation details for particular components that must be followed.

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Let's look at a couple examples, starting with wall framing. The more wall framing we have, the less continuity and overall insulation we get. Some of this comes back to logistics of construction. We're looking for commonsense means and methods for framing out opening. You see in the example a window that was ultimately selected was much smaller than the original framed opening, so it's been padded out with additional 2-by wood framing members. What that forces us to do is have to come back and caulk between every one of those wood members. And obviously giving up continuity of insulation.

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Good installation of insulation is key. Regardless of the insulation type, it should be consistent and continuous both in plan and section. You see some examples of what not to do here. Note that in the lower right-hand corner, we've been looking for the insulation to be cut out around electrical boxes so the insulation is not compressed into the wall cavity.

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Here are some good examples of installation for insulation. You see at the rim joists, we can either continue the use of batt, or switch to spray. And again, on the lower right-hand corner, around the electrical boxes, note this installation of the insulation compared to the previous slide and how it's been cut out around it.

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Slab edge is also a trouble area for the continuity of insulation. You can see here some of the options that would meet the requirement for continuous insulation, and other traditional methods that are no longer acceptable. We imagine this detail has proven to be tricky, for sure.

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Here's one way we've seen the slab edge insulation detail getting resolved in the field. And that is to champer the insulation at the top, allowing the slab to pour over top and kiss the top of the foundation wall.

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Another major component of the thermal building envelope is fenestration. Here, we're concerned with the U-factors of the fenestration product, including windows, doors, and even skylights. U-factors should be determined in accordance with the National Fenestration Rating Council, and products lacking labeling would be a sign of default U-factor based on the tables you see on the slide.

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The IECC requirements are both prescriptive and performance based for fenestration. We're trying to control radiant solar heat through the glass, obviously the lower the better, unless you're utilizing a passive solar strategy. There's also mandatory air leakage control. We're trying to limit air leakage through the window and frame, and there should be no air leakage around the window. All of this is an effort to prevent condensation or worse at areas of fenestration.

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There are some other considerations for the building enclosure. Along with the thermal envelope we've discussed so far, aspects of the building enclosure to keep in mind include a continuous air barrier, which must be aligned with the thermal building envelope, and must be inspected. Sealing methods between dissimilar materials shall allow for differential expansion and contraction. Ultimately, the dwelling will be tested to prove that it does not have an air leakage rate exceeding 5 ACH per hour in climate zones 1 and 2, and 3 air changes per hour in climate zones 3 through 8. Testing is conducted in accordance with ASDF standards and reported out as at a pressure possible. There are also special considerations and details to keep in mind, as you can see on the right-hand column.

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And in this slide you can see here, an exterior building we're at, continuous (inaudible), again keeping in mind sealing methods between dissimilar materials must allow for differential expansion and contraction.

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Here are some interior details showing how continuity of enclosure is maintained for sealing. It more or less applies to all penetrations and openings. You can see in the example some of these conditions to keep in mind. We'd be looking for sealing around and between wood members, as we discussed before, and at building systems that are penetrating the framing, whether it be plumbing (inaudible), electrical, etcetera.

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There are compliance challenges with HVAC to consider in part with the IECC. As we start to button up these building envelopes, the homes no longer breathe the way that they used to. This could potentially have an adverse effect on the indoor air quality if you do not have a strategy to get air changes. There are several options available to us. Exhaust ventilation, where we're exhausting only, is an inexpensive and easy to design and install strategy that would provide fresh air through infiltration. There's also a supply ventilation option, which is supply-only, also inexpensive and easy to design. And it pushes air through the building envelope. In addition, there's a semibalanced option, where we have both supply and exhaust. It's more expensive and harder to design and install correctly, but it eliminates air being pulled or pushed across the building envelope. There's also a heat energy recovery option, which is a fully balanced system that offers the most efficient option, but unfortunately the most expensive option. Like the semibalanced system, it eliminates ventilation air being pulled or pushed across the building envelope. We also have mandatory mechanical ventilation; whole-house mechanical ventilation systems and efficacy requirements are part of the IECC.

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And so the building envelope can have a profound effect on the strategy for HVAC systems design. Here we're trying to negotiate between many competing criteria. You see in the diagram we're trying to balance between comfort, indoor air quality, durability, and moisture control. And this is all being considered while trying to minimize the amount of energy it takes to run the HVAC system. And along with these concerns, also keep an eye on the installation, especially of the ductwork.

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You see here with the ductwork insulation, the requirements for duct insulation have been revised slightly from the previous code. The new language makes such insulation requirements depend on location and the diameter of the duct, so that the prime return ducts in the attic must be at a minimum of R-8 where they're greater than 3 inches in diameter, and R-6 where they're less than 3 inches in diameter. Everywhere else, supply and return ducts must be a minimum R-6 if they're greater than 3 inches in diameter, and R-4.2 when they're less than 3 inches in diameter. These revisions allow more flexibility. There's always the exception, which allows ducts located completely inside conditioned space not to be insulated.

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So you see here on the images below, some examples of poor ductwork installation. As we discussed in the previous slide, there's mandatory ductwork sealing, and this applies to all bends, transitions. It also applies to where the boot meets the floor, as you can see in the diagram in the top middle. And with that, I'd like to turn it over to Joe.

Joe Nebbia:
OK, thanks, Jason. I'm going to get control of the presentation here, and then I will start. Alex, if you could allow that, thank-you. So I'd just like to say a couple things. First, in starting, thanks, Jason, for joining us here on this webinar. Also, if you are on this webinar and being introduced to the energy code for the first time, an hour is not a lot of time to cover the entire code. Jason gave us a nice overview, but I would encourage you also to seek out energy code training in a more comprehensive setting. Jason and I both do energy code training in different areas, and the DOE has a number of training resources in their Building Energy Codes program. And there are other trainers, as well. So I just encourage you to look more at the code if you haven't experienced it yet.

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First I'd like to set the context a little bit with how the DOE Zero Energy Home program and the code interact with each other. First, any above-code program can be approved as code-compliant in a jurisdiction according to how the IECC is written, but the language in the code says that all mandatory items in the code still have to be met. So your local jurisdiction could pick an ENERGY STAR® or a DOE Zero Ready Home program and say we'll accept this as code-compliant, but the way the code is written, that doesn't eliminate any mandatory requirements in the code. So just keep that in mind if you have a local jurisdiction that is looking at the program that way. The other thing I'd like to point out is that if there is any sort of conflict with code, code rules. So if you're trying to certify a home to Zero Energy Ready Home, and we require all ducts to be in conditioned space, and for some reason your municipality or county says we will not allow ducts to be in conditioned space -- that's sort of a strange example that I don't think you'd ever come across, but the point there is if code says no, you may not, and we say you have to, then obviously we have to defer to the jurisdiction on that. Where that doesn't apply is a situation where code requires something that makes our program expensive. So for example, if we say you have to put ducts in conditioned space and your local code says, well, you have to insulate the ducts whether they're in conditioned space or not, and that's a cost add for you, that's not a conflict that will make us change our program requirements. So that's just a little bit about how we interact with the code.

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Now I'd like to talk a little bit about how code compliance can help get you part of the way to Zero Energy Ready Home. So if you're in a state that has adopted the 2012 or 2015 code, the good news is that you're a significant way there as far as insulation goes. So when we design the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program, 2012 IECC was the most recent version of code available. And we required at least that amount of insulation. So mandatory in our specification is 2012 IECC insulation levels. And it was always our intent and written in our program that when the 2015 code was published, states that had adopted the 2012 IECC would be required to meet 2015 if they want to get DOE Zero Energy Ready Home certification. And then likewise, when the 2018 is published, our intent is that DOE Zero Energy Ready Home builders would have a mandatory minimum of 2018 IECC insulation levels.

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Now, that was all done with the best of intentions of staying ahead of code, but what actually happened was, insulation requirements didn't change at all across those three code cycles. So in fact 2012, 2015, and 2018 IECC insulation levels are all the same. And so that's our mandatory minimum, and quite frankly, we're pretty happy with that level. The code has gotten to a point where we've got a pretty robust building envelope as far as what's required in insulation, at least as far as a minimum requirement. In addition to the insulation, code requires 75 percent minimum high-efficacy lighting. That's a mandatory item. DOE Zero Ready only requires 80 percent ENERGY STAR lighting. Now, a little difference there is that we focus on ENERGY STAR lighting, and not all high-efficacy lighting is qualified as ENERGY STAR. So some adjustment may be necessary. But the point is you're already putting in most of what's required, as far as our lighting mandatory minimums. And then, if you are in a state that has a 2012 or 2015 IECC, you have a pretty aggressive airtightness target for a code minimum. There's a significant and detailed air barrier installation table that's all mandatory. And then depending on where you are in the country, climate zones 1 or 2 would have to be 5 ACH 50 or lower, and everywhere else would be 3 ACH 50 or lower. So if you're already sealing your house this well, that's going to get you close to where you need to be for our airtightness target. Now, I'll note that the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program does not have a mandatory airtightness target. Depending on what climate zone you are, the target might be anywhere from 3 ACH 50 down to 1.5 ACH 50. That's just the target. You can trade that off up to the code limit, which in most places is going to be 3 ACH 50. So keep that in mind. There are a number of things in the current code that get you significant energy credit toward meeting the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program targets and mandatory minimums. So you've already gotten part of the way just by doing code.

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Now I'd like to talk a little bit about what it means to get so efficient in code and how we need to think about comprehensive building science connected to that. So as you can see from this chart, the energy code has made significant jumps in efficiency over the last 10 to 15 years. And it's really been since the 2009 code cycle that we've seen these big jumps, or starting in the 2009 code cycle. What this means is, because we've got such efficient homes, we have entered in some ways a little bit of a building science risk zone. And I would argue that possibly we were in this risk zone long before 2009 because of how tight we built our homes, even before it was a code requirement. So we're in a building science risk zone. The reason we're there is not because the code is bad. It's because the code focuses on different issues in a compartmentalized way. So we have one code that's focused on energy efficiency. We have another code that's focused on things like structure and durability and fire safety. But code changes can happen in an isolated way that can create an environment that a home could be built very efficiently and maybe not have the protections that we'd like them to have in today's modern homes. I also would want to point out that in many ways, code enforcement -- because of the resources that are available to the average building department around this country -- code enforcement may or may not be able to actually ensure that what's written in the code is then going to happen in the field. And this isn't because the code officials don't know what they're doing or because they don't want to, at least for the most part, enforce an energy code. But when you have 100 houses to do in a week and you've got building and fire and electrical things to check, and you're a part-time code official in three counties, your ability to check things like insulation installation might not be the greatest, because you just don't have the time. So on the one hand, we have risk because of how tight and how insulated we've gotten these homes and that's only one part of a comprehensive building science approach. And then on the other hand, we have risk where we may be paying high costs for building that may not be performing as we would want it to because of the verification process.

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So I'd like to talk a little bit about how those risks are present and how the DOE Zero Ready Home program helps to mitigate some of those risks. So one major risk driver that I'd like to talk about is the increase in insulation. And you've probably seen some of these slides before in some of the other DOE Zero Ready program webinars. But as the codes have gotten more stringent, we have a much better insulated wall, and we have stopped a significant portion of the heat flow traveling across that building envelope. What that means is we now have less drying potential. We also have better windows, better air-sealed windows. Again, less heat flow across those windows. And we have a complete comprehensive air-sealing package, just according to what's required and what's written in the code. So what does that mean? We have an advanced closure that possibly may have some issues with wetting and not being able to dry. We have an advanced enclosure that definitely has sealed the house tight enough that we need to think about ventilation and pollutant source control. And that's where we hope DOE Zero Ready Home can add some value to modern building practices.

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First I'd like to talk about ventilation. So when we have a home that's 3, 5, 7 even 10 air changes per hour, ventilation is no longer optional. It's definitely a must-have. Now the code only requires ventilation when you're at 5 ACH 50 or lower, in the 2015 IECC. One of the things we've seen, as states have adopted the '12 or '15 code, is sometimes they've changed that ventilation trigger, and sometimes they've changed the airtightness target to a point where maybe we're going to have a 6 or 5 ACH 50 home qualifying for code, but the requirement for whole-house mechanical ventilation may no longer be there. So states amending the codes have perhaps created a situation where you could have a very tight home without proper ventilation. So, we don't want to have a situation where you've got a home that doesn't have adequate ventilation, or like we see in these pictures, maybe we've got a ventilation system that's not really tailored to that situation. Now this is a little bit of a joke. I don't expect any building department in this country that's paying attention in any way to pass something like this as a whole-house mechanical ventilation system, but there are a lot of systems that can go in that may not actually be well-designed. So the lesson here is that good ventilation is no longer optional. Our houses are not going to breathe by themselves. They haven't done that for 30 years. They don't breathe by themselves. We have to mechanically ventilate. And the DOE Zero Ready Home is going to help push us that way.

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So code does have a requirement for whole-house mechanical ventilation. It doesn't give a ton of guidance on what that ventilation has to be. It gives a ventilation rate. There are a number of options for how you can comply with code. And like I mentioned, some states have amended the code in a way that this may not be mandatory. So what DOE Zero Ready Home adds through its requirement for ENERGY STAR Homes certification is ASHRAE 60.2.2 compliance ventilation system. It also adds verified flow rates. So if I build a home to code and it's 3 ACH 50 or tighter, and I put in my code-required whole-house mechanical ventilation system, there's nothing in the code that requires me to actually test that that system is performing correctly. Maybe there's a kink or a leak in the duct. Maybe the fan motor is not pulling what it's supposed to. And all of a sudden, I have an under-ventilated home that's going to cause indoor air quality issues. So ENERGY STAR, which is one of our mandatory requirements, requires that the whole-house mechanical ventilation system have verified flow rates. In addition to that, another requirement of our program, the Indoor airPLUS certification through EPA, has a construction and preoccupancy ventilation set of requirements that ensure that the home is well-ventilated before the occupant takes possession of the home, to just make sure everything is working well and every time the air is nice and clean before they come in.

Code does require kitchen ventilation, however, that kitchen ventilation can still be recirculation. So it's amazing to me in 2017 that we can still put in a fan in the kitchen that essentially just moves the air around and call that kitchen ventilation. But the code does allow that. So again, ENERGY STAR Homes require that fan to be ducted to the outdoors, so no recirculation fan if you're going to do ENERGY STAR. It also requires that that fan have verified flow rates, another important item. And then finally, on local exhaust in bathrooms, again, code may or may not fall short on this. There are differences of opinions about what the code actually requires on bathroom exhaust. And there are still a fair amount of people who try to use a window tradeoff, where you're putting in operable windows instead of local exhaust. Listen, I love windows, and they provide a certain type of ventilation, but it's not the same type of ventilation as mechanical ventilation. Unlike code, which may allow that tradeoff, bathroom ventilation has to be ducted to the outdoors. It has to be present in an ENERGY STAR home. And we have to have verified flow rates, again, on those fans. So we're adding value to the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program by making sure that not only are we ventilating these tight homes, but that we're doing so in a way that's field-tested and verified and that makes sense. So this is a major item that I think is a necessary part of the DOE Zero Ready Home program. And when I hear people say, I can't afford to do an above-code program because code already costs so much, I say, how can you afford to not do an above-code program, which is going to deal properly with the ventilation needs of that new code-constructed home?

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Next, in addition to ventilation, a value-added proposition of DOE Zero Ready Home is pollution source control. We don't just want to ventilate homes; we want to make sure that the surfaces and materials in the home are not putting off pollutants that are then going to be trapped in this tight home. So again, from a code perspective, there's very little in code that deals with pollutant source control. Almost all of this is considered extra-credit, above-code type things, at least in most states. So the energy code is going to get us to a very tight building, but it's not going to necessarily deal with pollutant source control and off-gassing. So ENERGY STAR Homes starts by adding accessible filters. The filters that are going to clean the air in the home have to be accessible. That's an important step, and again, we require ENERGY STAR as part of our program. Next, the Indoor airPLUS program requires that filters be at least MERV 8, and that the filter be inspected. Again, not something that's going to necessarily happen during a code inspection. Next, Indoor airPLUS adds limits on emissions and what sort of nasty stuff can be coming out of the materials in our home. So cabinets, carpets, composite wood, paint emissions, and other pollutant controls are all found within that Indoor airPLUS certification. So we're going to control the items in the home and make sure they're not creating a toxic environment in these tight homes. Indoor airPLUS also adds requirements connected to radon and pest controls. And then finally, Indoor airPLUS doesn't allow building cavity ducts. No panned returns, no building cavity supply or return ducts of any kind. This is actually in addition to an energy efficiency item, is very important from an indoor air quality item, is these old ways of constructing ducts out of two 2-by-4s and a couple pieces of drywall -- didn't give us very good air quality. This is actually written into the code. It's also not allowed by the IECC, but several states that have adopted the code have stripped that provision out. So this Indoor air PLUS program adds that specification back in.

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Finally, I want to deal with the risk of water and moisture issues in a home that is well-insulated and well-air-sealed. And there are four main types of water that we want to be concerned about. Bulk moisture -- we've got a leak somewhere, we've got a roof that's not properly flashed, we've got water coming in windows, getting into the walls. We want to make sure that we prevent that because it's not going to have the same capability to dry. Capillary action -- again, is moisture wicking up, usually around the foundation. We want to make sure we're stopping that. Vapor control is stopping water vapor movement across the assembly. And then finally, water that's pulled or pushed across that envelope due to air leakage, when the water is actually moving with the air. Those are the types of risks that we want to control. Air leakage is somewhat controlled, just by the fact that we've got a very well-sealed house.

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But from a moisture control perspective, code sort of has a limited approach to it. Yes, there's requirements for a weather barrier. There are certainly requirements for flashing. But from a comprehensive standpoint, it doesn't come close to what you're going to get from a program like ENERGY STAR, Indoor airPLUS, and DOE Zero Ready. ENERGY STAR adds quite a number of requirements that deal with both water management on the foundation wall, roof, and also on materials approaches. It also adds some language dealing with capillary breaks, and some language on vapor control. The code does have some requirements dealing with vapor barriers, but they're very limited. In addition to that, Indoor airPLUS adds additional bulk water management requirements, including things like gutters and splash protection. Things that are common sense and low-cost but not necessarily going to be a requirement of the code. Also, we'd add more instruction on capillary breaks and vapor control. Finally, Indoor airPLUS requirements add items on humidity control that are going to help deal with moisture. In addition to a code-built home that's well-insulated and well-air-sealed, qualifying for a DOE Zero Ready Home means that you've incorporated all of these things found in our required mandatory program certifications.

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If you're interested in other ways of keeping moisture out or controlling moisture or best practices, there are quite a number of resources, both on the Building America Solution Center and also the Excellence in Building Science Education website has links to really a whole lot of resources that deal with this issue, with different control layers. And it's important that we have a comprehensive approach to moisture management in these homes.

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Next risk that I'd like to talk about that often gets skipped is the risk that builders have when they're providing their client with a new home, first of all giving them value, and second of all giving them a good experience. And it's something that gets missed too often. So if I'm a builder and I'm building a home to the 2012 or '15 IECC, my costs are going to be likely the same no matter how well I do this home. For example, if I'm in climate zone 4 and I change from a 2009 code R-13 in the wall to a 2-by-6 wall with R-21, which is now required by code, I call my insulation contractor and I get my order in. And I'm going to pay for that R-21. And then I'm going to pass that cost onto my customer, right? So the customer is paying for the R-21. Well, how many homeowners would be happy if they knew that the R-21 that they paid for ended up being installed like the picture shown here on the screen? So instead of getting an R-21 performance, they're paying for R-21 and maybe getting an R-15 or 17 or something like that in their wall. So as costs have been driven up, and they have gone up from new requirements in the code -- maybe not astronomically, but there is cost to changing insulation and adding more insulation -- we want to make sure that our customer is getting the value for that cost. And that's part of what the verification process of DOE Zero Ready Home helps to add, so that if the local code official just doesn't have time to look at every insulation batt, and they miss something like this, the added verification in an above-code program like DOE Zero Energy Ready Home will hopefully catch that and help to provide your customers with the value that they're actually paying for.

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So if I have a new home build, am I going to be happy if my windows, instead of being caulked or foamed, have fiberglass stuffed around the windows like this new window is here in this situation? Or do I want to have it actually sealed well around any penetration going through the air barrier? The code actually requires that junction to be sealed with an air-impermeable material, but whether or not that gets enforced, it's going to depend on where you are and the resources of the code official and a lot of different factors. But the added verification of DOE Zero Ready Home should help with that.

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Next, if I'm building a new home, I have a brand-new, well-sealed, insulated duct system, a high-efficiency heating and cooling system that's supposed to provide comfort, but then I have a missed rim joist, where there's no insulation, so that right where I'm providing my heating and cooling, I now have a thermal problem in the building envelope, and I've affected the performance not only of my envelope but also the cooling and heating system, the customer is not getting the value that they've paid for. They paid for a system that meets code, and yet one small detail, which an inspector may or may not be able to easily see, is going to cause a problem.

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Other ways that DOE Zero Ready Home can help with code compliance is that we require ducts in conditioned space as part of our program. Because of that, any builder building to code will have some flexibility on something like their duct insulation, as far as flexibility in complying with code. Code says you don't have to insulate them at all if they're all in conditioned space. So by complying with our program, you gain some code flexibility that you may or may not choose to take advantage of. But there is some help there. Again, we talked about no building cavity ducts. Indoor airPLUS requires that. Depending on whether your jurisdiction kept that requirement, there's a parallel there. ENERGY STAR windows are required by our program, which are going to be better than code, which means that you'll again be compliant on your windows and possibly have some flexibility using the UA tradeoff method or something like that for your code compliance. And then finally, what I've talked about a lot so far -- third-party verification on the thermal inspection, HVAC checklist commissioning, the HERS rater coming out and actually checking that these systems are functioning correctly, the ventilation is pulling what it's supposed to, the HVAC is doing what it's supposed to. And there aren't things like compressed insulation gaps or voids in the insulation and problems with the air barrier. These added verifications, and in cases where a code department is really sophisticated and has good resources, just a second set of eyes on the home are going to help give that value added to your homeowner. So you've got better assured performance for that newly constructed home.

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Just in summary of how all these things work together: 2015 IECC or '12 IECC homes -- you see the HERS indices there with ENERGY STAR and Zero Energy Ready. All of the enclosures are similar other than ENERGY STAR v.3, not 3.1, has a mandatory minimum of 2009 insulation. But we're essentially looking in most of these situations at the same building enclosure. But ENERGY STAR and Zero Energy Ready Home add that level of independent verification. We also add water management requirements so that the home isn't getting wet. We add quality control on the HVAC, and also whole-house mechanical ventilation that's tested and verified. And then DOE Zero Ready Home adds some other value-added items that will help differentiate your code-built home, or your home, against other code-built homes. We require ducts in conditioned space. We require the indoor air quality through EPA Indoor airPLUS. We require efficient hot water distribution, so you have hot water at your fingertips. And then finally, in certain areas of the country where it makes sense, we require solar-ready construction. So not only are you going to have a more efficient home with DOE Zero Energy Ready Home than code-minimum, you're also going to be able to differentiate your homes because of the things that you're adding. Not only do you have a low HERS score, but you also have the necessary comprehensive approach of building science -- the moisture management, ventilation, pollutant source control, and all the things I've talked about today.

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The last thing I want to touch on is the HERS index of a DOE Zero Ready Home, as it compares to the Energy Rating Index. I've heard a few people talk about the average HERS index, which you see in these bars of DOE Zero Energy Ready Home, which, for minimum compliance in most climate zones is somewhere in the mid-50s for an average home. And then you look at the Energy Rating Index requirement, if someone chooses that path. And in some cases it's lower. And so I've had the question, well, isn't DOE Zero Ready Home and ENERGY STAR actually less stringent than code? And the answer is, it really isn't. That's a little bit of a misleading understanding of the ENERGY STAR. First of all, because the energy code is setting a minimum and it's setting a minimum that allows multiple compliance paths. The minimum code is really somewhere up in the mid- to high-70s, as far as the HERS index. If someone chooses the Energy Rating Index path, they actually have to go significantly beyond code minimum to meet those HERS indices. So we still are well beyond code minimum, even if someone chooses a simpler, more flexible compliance path in the Energy Rating Index. The other thing I'll point out is that the Energy Rating Index doesn't have a sliding HERS scale like we do. So the very large home, which uses a whole lot of energy, doesn't have to meet a more-stringent HERS target under code in the Energy Rating Index, as it would under ENERGY STAR or DOE Zero Energy Ready Home. And then finally, like we've talked about, beyond simply a HERS index, we have quite a number of verifications of actual performances added, and we have other things like indoor air quality and pollutant source control that are adding value well beyond simply a HERS index.

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So here is the contact information for both Jason and myself. And if we have time -- we only have a moment or two left -- we're happy to answer questions. But Alex, if you want to throw out one or two questions at the end here, that would be great.

Alex Krowka:
Thanks, Joe. Thanks, Jason. At the moment, we've haven't had any questions, so it looks like you guys have done a pretty bang-up job of pre-empting anyone's questions. We'll wait here just another moment or so, in case anyone thinks of anything. Feel free to type it into the questions box on the GoToWebinar dashboard. Otherwise, we will let everyone get on with their day. So we'll just wait a couple more seconds here. ... Well, it looks like no one has any questions at the time. So we're going to go ahead and call this webinar. As I mentioned before, it is being recorded, and so we will post it to the ZERH resources page within the next week or two. And I will notify everyone once that is the case. So thank you guys again. Thank-you, Jason. Thank-you, Joe. It was a great webinar. And thank-you for everyone who attended. And have a great rest of your day. Bye.