Here is the text version of the Zero Energy Ready Home webinar, "Updates to the Building America Solution Center" presented in April 2018. Watch the webinar.

Alex Krowka:
Presentation cover slide:

Hi, everyone. Welcome to DOE's Zero Energy Ready Home training webinar series. We're excited that you can join us today for updates to the Building America Solution Center. Our presenter today is Chrissi Antonopolous, senior energy analyst at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and operations manager for the Building America Solution Center. 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 account management support for the program. I'll take a moment to cover some general notes on webinar housekeeping. All attendees will be listen-only mode, however, we do invite you to ask questions throughout the session in the questions 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 submitted questions that weren't answered during the webinar. This session is being recorded, and it 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 to go through the process to be added online. We will notify everyone who's registered, once everything is uploaded. So without further adieu, I'm going to hand it over to Chrissi to go ahead and get us started. The proverbial floor is yours, Chrissi.

Chrissi Antonopolous:
Great. Thank-you very much, Alex. Thank-you, everyone, for attending, taking the time to join us for hearing the updates to the Building America Solution Center. Again, my name is Chrissi Antonopolous. I'm with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. And I'm happy to be here with you today.

First presentation slide:
So just a quick run-through of what we're going to be talking about today. I'm going to give you an introduction to the Solution Center, an overview of who uses the Solution Center and why, and then a tour of the core content and user interface that we house in the Solution Center. And then I'm going to give you a run-through of business applications that you can use Solution Center content to apply, including developing guidance and training materials for your field crews, construction documentation, creating sales materials, using content to prepare presentations and present to company decision makers, as well as using content to create agreements for code officials and help overcome code barriers.

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The URL for the Solution Center is basc.energy.gov. That's again basc.energy.gov.

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What the Solution Center is at its core is a way to disseminate the research from the Building America program. Instead of waiting for reports to sift through and find building science information, we provide a continuously improved database that houses all of the content. The content is developed and updated constantly. It's fast. It's free and gives you reliable best practices based on Building America research. The focus in the Solution Center, the core of the Solution Center, are what we call guides. And these guides are specific measures and technologies to help you apply best practices for green building, energy-efficient building. You can browse all sorts of content. All of the content that the Solution Center is created by is available for browsing. You can provide feedback, and we encourage you to provide feedback because we are a community-based tool. You can also register as part of the Building America community to customize your content, and we will go through that customizable content in just a little bit.

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So just a quick overview of who our stakeholders are. We touch many people in the industry, everyone from architects and engineers to code officials, HERS raters, of course builders, remodelers and installers, and labeling programs. What we are at our core is information to help you properly install measures, help you specify the measures, and help you prove performance of the measures that you are installing.

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We recently updated our home page. If you have not been to the Solution Center for a while, you will now see a new home page. I'm showing it to you right now. We have new tiles and new capabilities that we're going to talk through today. The Solution Center gives you access -- this is kind of a snapshot of where our database is right now. We have 244 applied guides for building science. We have over 1,600 images that are browseable in the image gallery. Over 330 case studies; these are all case studies that come out of the Building America program. Over 130 CAD files that you can download directly into your AutoCAD software program. 975 building science references and resources, which includes the entire Building America technical library. Over 30 code compliance briefs to help you overcome code barriers. Over 100 videos for how to install measures. And 40 sales briefs to help you sell high-performance homes and high-performance building science.

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I'm going to walk you through the core content of the Solution Center. Right now, we're looking at a guide; the guide is what we call the core of all of the content that we amass in the Solution Center. This particular guide is "Drainage Plain Behind Exterior Wall Cladding." The first tab on the guide is what we call a scope of work. This is a downloadable scope that you can give to an installer to specify each one of these measures. The description will walk you through how to install the measure. It will give you background information, the technical information behind the measure, and then it will give you step-by-step instructions about how to properly install the measure.

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The Ensuring Success tab is going to give you planning information, health and safety information that might go along with the description or might go along with the measure.

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The Climate tab is going to give you climate-specific information. It's going to tell you whether a measure is applicable to your climate zone; maybe it should be avoided in your climate zone.

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The Training tab includes right and wrong images. When you click on them they will blow up and kind of expand for you, for installing this particular measure. It's going to give you any presentations that we have, which tend to be kind of slide decks of installation practices. It's also going to give you video, where applicable, on how to install that particular measure.

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The CAD tab is going to give you access to CAD files that apply to that measure. Each CAD file when you click on it will become larger. You can then download a PDF version of that CAD file, or you can download the AutoCAD version of the file, as well.

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The Compliance tab is going to give you access to code information. It's also going to give you access to planning or program information, such as ENERGY STAR, the Zero Energy Ready Home program, Indoor airPLUS, and WaterSense. It's going to talk about codes and standards, as well.

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The Retrofit tab is populated for new home guides that also include a retrofit application. This is a new feature that we just rolled out at the end of last year, when we rolled out our new existing homes tool. I will walk you through that. But the Retrofit tab will talk through applying this measure to existing homes, and it will walk through a scope of work for applying the measure. It will walk through a description and specific installation instructions for that measure, and any other pertinent information that's important for an existing home application.

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The More tab includes links to Building America case studies. It also includes links to Building America resources and technical reports, as well as other outside technical reports or resources that were used by Building America teams to compile the information.

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And finally, the Sales tab includes a sales message and information for the sales team. It includes the brief technical description, alternate terms from the Building Science Translator, and then a specific sales message that you can use to sell the measure.

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So the Solution Center guides are browseable in many different ways. I'm going to walk through a couple of the navigational features that we have in our interface to find a specific guide. In this instance, we're interested in ducts in dropped ceilings. And I'm going to show you many ways to find this guide.

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So here I am, back on the home page again. The first way I'm going to look at is through the building components tool. It's the tile on the upper left of the building components. We also have a left-hand navigation that walks you through all of our navigation options, as well. But the building components tool looks like this dial, and each category is isolated in its own button. In this case, we're going to click on "HVAC," and when we do, some options are going to pop up. In this case, we're looking for that ducts guide.

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So we're going to click on "Ducts," and we're going to go to a list of all Solution Center guides that have to do with ducts. You'll notice that you can then filter by a couple of options. You can filter by keyword. You can filter by construction type, if the list is really long and you want to isolate a different subset of topics. Here we are, our ducts in dropped ceiling guide.

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I'll click on it from here, and again, I'll be taken to the guide with its nine tabs of information. Note on the top of the guide there's a feedback link for providing direct feedback about the content or about the navigation, whatever you'd like to provide feedback about. You can also get a PDF version of the guide, over on the right. You can also print the whole guide, as well.

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So I'm going to go back to the home page and find the same guide in a different way. In this case, I'm going to look through program checklists. And the first checklist I'm going to look through is the Zero Energy Ready Home checklist.

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I'm going to click on that, and I'm going to go to a page that, line item by line item, shows me the Zero Energy Ready Home program checklist. This particular measure is going to be found in exhibit 1, which is the mandatory requirements for labeled homes. It's going to be in the duct system section, which requires that all ducts are contained within conditioned space.

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And I'm going to look through the list of Solution Center guides that meet this requirement. And here I am, again, at ducts in dropped ceilings.

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And I can go back to my guide this way. I will also find on the Compliance tab all of the specific requirements associated with the Zero Energy Ready Home program, if that is the checklist that I happen to be using.

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So one final way that I'm going to look for a guide is through the new existing homes tool. And this is the tile on the lower left of the screen. This tool was released in somewhat of a soft release or a beta release in October of last year. We've continued to populate it. It is now about 80 percent populated in terms of all of the content. I'm showing you on the left-hand side, kind of a snapshot of what the highest level of the tool looks like. The tool is organized around steps to apply measures to existing homes, step 1 through step 5, the idea being that you incrementally go through the steps. And then an anytime step, which are equipment upgrades.

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So here's a snapshot of the existing homes tool. In this case, I'm going to click on step 5, which is "Ensure thermal comfort," and I'm going to go to a new page that shows me all of the categories associated with the thermal comfort in an existing home.

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Note the little project map that I have over on the right-hand side of the page. It says "Current Project," and it basically tracks all of my clicks. So when you're in the tool, any time you want to go back to a previous step or a previous click, you can use the project map to navigate through easily without going through the back button or without starting over. In this case, I'm going to look at putting ducts in conditioned space.

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I'm going to click that option, and it's going to expand and give me many different Solution Center guides. Here I am, again, with my ducts in dropped ceilings.

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And this time, instead of going to the Scope tab like I went to in the other two times, I'm going to go to the Retrofit tab, because I found this guide in the Retrofit tool. So it's set to automatically open in the Retrofit tab. Again, I have my little project map over on the right that shows me every click that I made to get to where I am. So if I'm interested in a different application of putting the duct into conditioned space, I can go back one step. If I want to go and look at HVAC equipment, I can go back to the beginning and look at HVAC equipment that way.

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The sales tool is another one of our primary navigational modes. Instead of looking at guides in this tool, we look at sales messages. In this case, I'm going to walk you through finding something in the sales tool. I'm going to look at a whole-house health protection system, Healthy Homes.

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And this is my choice here. I have many different choices here. In this case, I care about high-MERV filters.

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So I'm going to find the MERV filter sales message and go directly to that page. So this is isolating just the sales tool content. You will find the sales tool content in that last Sales tab within guides, but if your application is specifically for sales teams or trainings, you can isolate the sales messages on their own by searching the sales tool. Each sales message is going to provide a power word translation, which is a way that you can translate technical jargon into something that homeowner or the mass market will identify with. It's going to give you some alternate terms associated with this measure. It's going to provide a simple technical description, as well as an image or photograph. And then it's going to provide you with a sales script that you can use to sell this measure. Again, the guidance is available on the guides' Sales tabs and then alone in the sales tool. You can print these. You can add them to field kits, which we'll talk about in just a moment. Or you can download PDFs of these, as well. We're going to talk about creating sales binders, and that's a great option for cataloging a lot of this information.

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Registering as a user in the Solution Center allows you to customize content. We're going to walk through this customizable content. But some of the important things that it allows you to do is to create field kits, which is a kind of a folder capability for bookmarking content in the Solution Center. It allows you create point-of-sale fact sheets and training materials. Those are highly customized. And then it allows you to access to your saved content and the content folders that you create from a mobile device using our Solution Center web app. So we do encourage you to register for an account. You will see a register or log-on link at the upper right-hand corner of the blue bar on the Solution Center home page. You can also find some information about why you want to register and what type of customizable tools are available to you if you register, by clicking the link "Why Register" next to it. But I'm going to walk you through some of that stuff now.

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So we're going to look at some really specific business applications for Solution Center content. We're going to look at how to develop guidance and training materials for field crews, as one example. We're going to look at developing construction documents. We're going to look at how we can use the different content browsers to prepare presentations. We're going to look at creating sales materials. We're going to look at developing some guidance for company decision-makers. And then we're going to look at an example of using content to create agreements with code officials.

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So again, on the upper right of your screen, if you're on the home page, you will see a log-in or a register button. So in this case, I'm going to pretend that I just went through the step of logging in or registering for the Solution Center. And I'm going to have some new options up on the upper right-hand screen. First, I'm going to have my user name, which is in this case "Demo," and then I'm going to have two icons that expand when I hover over them. The first one is this little field kit icon, looks like a little lunchbox or suitcase, which I happen to be hovering over right now. And it is expanded. And the other one is the sales worksheet icon, which will expand in the same way if you hover over that. These will follow you everywhere you are in the Solution Center. You can expand them whenever you want to bookmark content or to create sales content. In this case, I want to create a field kit. So what I've done is I've hovered over my field kit icon, and I have two options. I can create a new field kit, which is the first line item, or I can view my field kits. And the tool is showing me all of the field kits I have previously created, so I can easily go right back to them. In this case, I'm going to click a new field kit and give it a name. You can make as many of these as you want. You can call them whatever you want. But after you make a field kit, then you can add content to it.

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So now I'm back on a guide, in "Ducted Returns" for this example, and not only do I have my feedback link, my print and my PDF link on top of the guide, but I have a new icon. I have this little orange field kit icon, and the tool is telling me that this guide doesn't belong to any of my field kits. So if I want it to belong to one of my field kits, all I need to do is hover over the guide and then put it in the field kit, the folder name, that I created for this purpose.

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I can do that with any type of content in the Solution Center. So whether you're in the image gallery or looking through CAD files, through information guides, through videos, case studies, the library, sales messages, you can add any type of content you want to these field kits. And this shot is giving you an example of what your field kits look like. All of the content will be saved under headings describing which type of content it is. If it's an image or a CAD file, it's going to give you a little thumbnail of what it is. If it's a guide, it's going to give you a thumbnail image as well as a linked title to the guide and a description, so on and so forth for every type of content in there. That way I can constantly go back to my folder. This one is a Zero Energy Ready Home project in San Francisco. And I can access the Solution Center content that is pertinent to this project, and that I want to access over and over again.

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One thing that we have just released is the ability to easily share this field kit. So I can work with my project teams in front of a computer and show them what I am talking about. I can download the PDFs of all the guides and create a binder. Or, I can click this "Share this Field Kit" link and it will pop up in an email, and it will give any user a link directly to the field kit that I just created. So you can send this to whomever you want, and they will go directly here and see exactly the measures that you want to specify or that you want to talk through.

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So the next example that we're going to walk through are building presentations, training materials, and construction documentation, using the content browsers. So in this case, you know, I might not be as interested in guides. I might be looking for images for a presentation, for example. I can use a variety of browsers in the Solution Center that I'm highlighting here to find that content. I can use the guides, A to Z, which will give me access to all Solution Center guides that we have in the tool. It will then allow you to pare down those guides based on construction type or keywords or topic. But you can look at all of the content that make up guides. You can look at the code briefs. You can look at case studies. You can look at images, videos, and CAD files, as well.

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This is the image gallery. The image gallery is searchable by keyword.

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Any time you click on an image, it will pop up in a window like this, and it will give you a couple of options down at the bottom. The little "i" icon will give you the reference for where it came from. The little field kit icon will allow you to put it in the field kit. And then the little disc icon over on the left-hand side will allow you to download the image files directly to your computer.

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The same is true with CAD files, as well. If you're in the CAD file gallery, you'll have the same filtering options by keyword, and then each CAD will pop up in a preview when you click on it. The only difference is how you can download it. If you click the save icon on a CAD file, it will download the .dwg file, which is the AutoCAD file. Or you can save it as a PDF if you don't have AutoCAD or you don't want to put it in AutoCAD. You can just download it as a PDF. And again, of course, you can add this to your field kits.

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So in the example of developing construction documents, we also wanted to show how you can use guides for this purpose. You can use each guide to develop a scope of work for a subcontractor. If you're on a job and you're subbing out some work, if you're the general contractor, let's say, you can tell your insulation contractor exactly what the expectations are, what the scope of the work is that they need to perform, just by using the Scope tab of Solution Center guides. Again, you can create these and put them in field kits and send them to your subs, as an example. Or to your other trainers to train your subs.

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So let's talk about creating and accessing sales materials. Just like the field kit icon, the sales worksheet icon lives right next to the field kits, and any time you hover over it, you will have a couple of options. You will have the option to create a new sales worksheet, or you will have an option to view all or view a few or a specific sales worksheet that you have already created. So clicking on "Create" or "View All" will give you two choices here.

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You can create a customized fact sheet based on the Zero Energy Ready Home value propositions: Advanced technology, engineered comfort, enhanced durability, healthful environment, quality built, and ultra-efficient. And what the tool will do is create this formatted worksheet that you see here that breaks down all of the measures that are associated with the Zero Energy Ready Home program for each value proposition. So they're different for each one. That way, when you're talking to homeowners or consumers that are interested in a different category here, you can kind of isolate the measures that they would be interested in.

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The other option is to pick and choose your own measures. Maybe you build in Florida and you're known for hurricane-resistant construction and you really want to call that out, or solid-state lighting, or you build with SIPs and you want to make sure that that technology is captured. You can do that, as well. This tool allows you to pick and choose through all of the sales measures that are available and format them onto a worksheet. Both options allow you to download and insert your company logo. They allow you to add a description. And they allow you to add your name, your phone number, your contact information, etcetera. You can then save your worksheets to your field kits if you want to create a sales binder, for example, or you can download them directly as PDFs to print or share with others that way.

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Here is an example sales binder that I created for my Zero Energy Ready Home project. Again, I can email this directly to others in my team, or the marketing department.

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I can also download all of these and put them in a binder to have at my -- to have at a home that I'm showing.

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Another example that we're going to walk you through is creating guidance for decision-makers. This is maybe more on the technical side. Let's say that you want to develop a new best practice for implementing particular measures in your homes.

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You can use the library tool. That will give you all of the Building America technical reports and research that will provide the technical background for all of these best practices. That's one example. And there's the library on the upper right-hand corner of the Solution Center.

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You can also use the climate packages tile in the middle to isolate the climate packages. And what the climate packages do is help you understand the technical requirements and energy-savings potential for meeting Zero Energy Ready Homes.

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So the climate guidance is broken down into each Building America climate zone. It's going to give you the benchmark and then the applied measures that you can do in the enclosure and HVAC and components to meet certain modeled energy-savings potentials, and meet the requirements to achieve Zero Energy Ready Home. So these packages are available in each climate zone. And -- sorry I was walking you through the tabs. So this is telling you about the energy-savings potential, about the requirements for the thermal enclosure for HVAC and then for efficient components. The links within the climate packages are going to take you to Solution Center guides. And again, we'll tell you how to apply and specify the particular measure.

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So the final example I'm going to walk you through is the new code brief tool. "Code Briefs" is this tile here, next to Existing Homes. Again, it's also available on the left-hand navigation of the tool, as well. When you click on "Code Briefs," you'll be taken to this page that will give you a link to all of the code briefs. You can then filter them by topic, by climate zone, or by Solution Center keyword.

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And each brief is going to provide some really specific information. It's going to give you an overview of addressing a code barrier. It's going to give you detailed references associated with that, again, coming from the Building America program. It's going to give you consistent expectations that you can work with your code official to overcome that barrier or to meet the code requirement, and provide technical validation, as well. The code briefs are -- here's kind of a shot of what they look like. The code briefs are available isolated. They are also available on the Compliance tab of Solution Center guides. But not every guide will have them. Where applicable, there's a button that says "Code Brief" that you can push that will take you directly to the code brief. But there are about 40 of the code briefs in general, and about 245 Solution Center guides. So you're not going to find them on every guide. So if you are specifically looking for code guidance, I would suggest to use this searchable tool.

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The Solution Center also has a mobile application. You will find a link to the mobile app on the lower right of the home page tiles. The Solution Center for -- is available for both Apple devices and Android devices. You can find the whole packages directly on our website to download. This gives you the ability to synch your field kits, all of your saved data, with the mobile app. So when you are fully synched, you can take the data out into the field and access it with or without an Internet connection. It's also formatted nicely so you can talk through the information with training crews or other stakeholders. I will note that the Solution Center website is optimized for cell phones and tablets, so you don't need the app to view the Solution Center in a way that is going to be kind to navigate on a smaller device. However, it does give you very quick access to your saved content. You can find the IOS version in the Apple store, as well. The Android version is not available on Google right now due to some legal issues. So we just recommend that you download them directly from the website. We are implementing an update to the IOS version now. We just updated the Android version. That new release is now available, and IOS will be available very soon.

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We launched the Building America Solution Center in January of 2013, and this slide was one that we developed for kind of our five-year anniversary. The Solution Center has seen pretty continuous growth throughout the years. We're really excited about that. We're continuing to broaden our stakeholder group. This kind of gives you a breakdown of how our usership has grown throughout the years.

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And this is our "happy birthday" slide. Again, we're celebrating five years of putting world-class research at your fingertips. basc.energy.gov. Again, we are a community-based tool, free, fast, and reliable. So we would love to hear from you if you have feedback, if you'd like to engage with us. We're always here and looking forward to talking to you.

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My contact is Chrissi.Antonopolous@pnnl.gov. You can also contact Michael Baechler, who's the program manager for Building America, at PNNL, the PNNL side of the Building America work that we do. Again, you can contact us through our website at basc.pnnl.gov.

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And thank-you very much.

Alex Krowka:
Thank-you, Chrissi. That was a very informative and useful webinar for a lot of our builders and others. We have a couple of questions that I'll go through. And if anyone else has questions, feel free to submit them through the webinar tool, the webinar questions tool. So the first question: What is the website, again? If you could just repeat it once more so everyone's clear on the line.

Chrissi Antonopolous:
Yea, it's basc.energy.gov. And I'll go back to a slide that -- here it is, right here, at the bottom of the slide.

Alex Krowka:
Perfect. And it shows up as basc.pnnl.gov sometimes, as well, correct?

Chrissi Antonopolous:
Yea. You can use either URL, and it will redirect you to the same place.

Alex Krowka:
Perfect, perfect. OK. And then if you use images for public presentations, do they need to be cited or referenced in any particular manner?

Chrissi Antonopolous:
No, they do not. All content that comes into the Solution Center is considered free and clear property of the U.S. government. If users submit content to us and it goes through our peer review, they are asked to sign a waiver to free that content out into the world. So we do not require that you get copyright permissions or any other permissions. It's always nice to be cited, in terms of finding valuable information on our site. I think our developers and content administrators would appreciate that. But no, you don't need to. All public domain.

Alex Krowka:
Perfect. And then: Any ideas if the website can be translated to Spanish for farming, building envelope, etcetera?

Chrissi Antonopolous:
Yea, you know, that's a really great question, and it is something that we have discussed internally. I think it would be highly valuable to have Solution Center content in a variety of languages. And outside of just using Google Translate, right now we don't have that capability. But there are free translators out there that do a pretty good job and it is something that we are discussing with DOE, about a potential future enhancement.

Alex Krowka:
Great. And then, if someone's a research engineer or scientist, can they register for BASC and use the features for research studies?

Chrissi Antonopolous:
Sure. Again, all of the content is open and to the public domain. The content that is in the Solution Center, the guides, are all created by Building America research teams. All of the measures have been researched by the Building America program, and these best practices come directly from that research. The research is all peer-reviewed and funded by the DOE Building America program. So it's all citable, peer-reviewed best practices.

Alex Krowka:
Got it. Thank-you. Well, it looks like you've pretty much answered everyone else's question. So this webinar was planned for an hour, and it looks like everyone has another 15 minutes back in their day. So thank-you very much, Chrissi. This is much appreciated. I'm sure all the attendees appreciate it, as well. And I hope that everyone has a good rest of your Tuesday. Thank-you very much.