Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Comprehensive 3-day HVAC for ENERGY STAR v3 Trainings

New guidelines released by the EPA for ENERGY STAR New Homes Version 3.0 will go into effect on January 1, 2012. It requires that all HVAC contractors working on ENERGY STAR v3 homes will need to complete training and register with a Quality Assurance provider (ACCA).

The North Carolina Energy Efficiency Alliance is providing comprehensive 3-day trainings across the state to meet these needs. This workshop is designed for HVAC contractors, but designers, home energy raters, and home builders are also invited to attend. These trainings will cover all you need to now about the new program.

  • A comprehensive overview of ENERGY STAR Version 3 (v3.0) HVAC Installer and Rater Checklists
  • How to perform the v3.0 test-outs including charging, airflow testing, balancing, & ventilation
  • Comprehensive overview of ASHRAE 62.2 calculations, compliance, & design solutions
  • An in-depth review of ACCA Manuals J (Version 8), D, S, & T
  • Training on the use of Wrightsoft software
The NCEEA has partnered with Home Energy Partners to offer these trainings for a registration fee of only $150 (normally $995), includes lunch all three days and a complimentary ACCA Manual D duct design book. This training also qualifies for 12 NATE CEU's. Click this link to register or for questions call 828-262-8331.

Following are the dates & locations:

January 4-6, Asheville
January 9-12, Fayetteville
January 23-25, Winston-Salem
February 6-8, Charlotte
March 14-16, Durham/Chapel Hill
March 19-21, Wilmington

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Year in Review

The North Carolina Energy Efficiency Alliance has had a productive year. We have made progress in bringing together the energy-efficient housing industry stakeholders to overcome market barriers through education, awareness, and outreach. Some of our accomplishments in 2011 are:
  • Multimedia, Direct to Consumer Marketing Campaign - an aggressive, comprehensive, statewide campaign that included: billboards, print media ads, consumer brochures, exhibits at home shows, and banner ads on websites
  • The Inaugural Annual NCEEA Summit - a roundtable discussion with Builders, Home Energy Raters, Utility Providers, Real Estate Agents, Lenders, and Appraisers that helped to generate over 175 initiatives
  • HERS Rater Incentive Program - Rebate program to achieve the goal of introducing 2,980 new ENERGY STAR Homes into the North Carolina marketplace. We currently have 2,200 ENERGY STAR Homes qualified towards that goal with another 800+ expected by the end of February 2012
  • Realtor & Homebuilder Sales Training
  • Realtor Trainings & Outreach
  • Builder & Rater Outreach
  • Continuing Education Trainings for Realtors, Lenders, & Appraisers
  • ENERGY STAR v3 HVAC Training
  • ENERGY STAR Market Impact Study completed - Provides statistical evidence that ENERGY STAR Homes have a significant market advantage compared to similar code-built homes
What a year! In 2012 we will persevere to grow and achieve sustainability as an organization, build upon our partnership with ENERGY STAR, add outreach efforts in the existing homes arena, and continue to promote the many benefits of energy-efficient homes. We currently have 285 members in the Alliance and 680 contacts on our mailing list. Join the Alliance at www.ncenergystar.org and help us meet our goals in 2012.

Friday, December 9, 2011

NCEEA Study Finds Statistical Evidence for Market Advantages of ENERGY STAR Homes

ENERGY STAR Homes sell faster and at a higher price per square foot compared to conventional homes, according to a study by the North Carolina Energy Efficiency Alliance (NCEEA).  The study analyzed data for new homes built in 2010 in a five-county area around the Raleigh-Durham region of North Carolina. The study showed that the ENERGY STAR label brings significant added value to homes beyond the well-known 15-30% savings on monthly utility bills.
The study compared ENERGY STAR homes to similar code-built homes. Appraisal values were provided by a third-party NC licensed appraiser.
ENERGY STAR Homes are a more profitable investment, selling for $2.99 more per square foot and up to 89 days faster than conventional homes. 
This provides important evidence for appraisers, home buyers, and sellers because until this study market data to compare these transactions has not been available. Now appraisers have market confirming support that shows added value in homes with energy efficient features and certifications.

At a time when the nation and state is struggling with a stagnant housing market and energy issues, these findings may encourage state legislators to support changes in the way appraisers and lending institutions calculate the value of energy efficiency in mortgage underwriting.
In addition, these new findings may help builders be more assured that their investment in energy efficiency is recoverable and more profitable. Lenders can have confidence that the collateral against the loan is valued properly. Additionally, these findings will give home sellers, particularly real estate agents, good reason to endorse and promote ENERGY STAR Homes because they sell faster and at a higher price point.
Consumers have the most to benefit when purchasing an ENERGY STAR Home. Lower monthly operating costs, mortgage incentives, utility rebates, and a higher quality home that is healthier for both the occupants and the environment.
While an ENERGY STAR qualification adds some additional upfront cost to the home, the financial savings for the builder and homeowner far exceed this initial investment. ENERGY STAR Homes require third-party verification system to assure buyers they are getting a more comfortable home with lower operating costs due to better insulation, advanced framing, air sealing, high performance windows, and more efficient lighting and appliances that meet the ENERGY STAR program requirements. As the study shows, the additional investment in ENERGY STAR qualification is recoverable and even profitable.
The executive summary from this study can be found here and the full report here on the NCEEA website. The North Carolina Energy Efficiency Alliance is a statewide organization housed in Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. The goal of the NCEEA is to strengthen the home building industry and raise awareness about the benefits of energy efficient homes. This effort was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the State of North Carolina’s State Energy Program.  To become a member and learn more about the Alliance, visit www.NCEnergyStar.org and www.Facebook.com/NCEEA.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NCEEA Offers Free HVAC Workshops for ENERGY STAR Version 3

The North Carolina Energy Efficiency Alliance is offering FREE workshops for HVAC contractors and technicians, home energy raters, HVAC suppliers, and home builders. The ENERGY STAR Homes program is changing January 1, 2012 and we want to help you learn the new HVAC requirements and get your business up to speed. These free 4-hour workshops are from 8am-12pm and include coffee and a light breakfast.

    Topics that will be covered:
  • ENERGY STAR basics
    • Proper equipment sizing and component matching
    • Sealing ducts to minimize leaks
  • HVAC System Quality Installation Contractor and Rater Checklists
  • Administrative Requirements for participation in ENERGY STAR
  • Importance of communication between HVAC contractor, rater, and builder
ENERGY STAR v3 defines new guidelines that continue to make new homes more energy efficient. New changes include a HVAC Quality Installation checklist for the HVAC contractor and HERS rater ensuring that HVAC systems are installed using industry best practices and perform at rated efficiencies. This verification of efficiency measures means more definitive savings for the homeowner. The ENERGY STAR New Homes program is nationally recognized and makes it easy for homebuyers to select energy efficient homes.

Click on the course location near you for more information and to register, or contact Nicholas Hurst at 828-262-8331 or info@ncenergystar.org.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Home Performance Industry Applauds New Energy Efficiency Tax Credit Legislation

New proposed tax credit would boost job creation in hard-hit construction sector and help reduce America’s energy consumption

Washington, DC — Efficiency First, a national trade association of home performance companies and industry allies, applauds Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) for their bipartisan bill to create a performance-based energy efficiency tax credit for homeowners.  The Cut Energy Bills at Home Act was introduced in the Senate earlier today.

The Cut Energy Bills at Home Act, if passed, would create the nation’s first performance-based energy efficiency tax credit for home retrofits.  For the first time, homeowners would be rewarded with a federal tax credit for projects that achieve a percentage reduction in energy use, rather than for installing a certain piece of equipment. The legislation would provide tax credits of $2000-$5,000 for qualified residential energy efficiency retrofits that save 20-50% respectively, up to 30% of the cost of the retrofit.

“This performance-based legislation is crucial to the success of the growth home performance industry while also sending an important message to homeowners:  save more energy, get more tax credit, save more money,” said Efficiency First Executive Director Jay Murdoch.   “We urge Congress to pass the 25E tax credit which would go a long way toward spurring growth and employment of home performance contractors while saving energy and reducing utility bills.”

Greg Thomas, CEO of Performance Systems Development and Chairman of Efficiency First, added: “This legislation makes ground-breaking strides at accessing the current infrastructure and best practices of the home performance to provide common-sense financial savings to consumers for whole house energy improvements.”

To coincide with today’s introduction of the legislation, Efficiency First has launched a grassroots effort to build support for the bill. More information can be found at www.efficiencyfirst.org/25e.  An Efficiency First representative is available for comment.

Efficiency First is the trade association for America’s home performance industry – uniting home performance companies, building product manufacturers and related businesses and organizations in the escalating fight against global warming and rising energy costs.

Efficiency First represents its members in public policy discussions at the state and national levels, to promote the benefits of energy efficiency retrofitting and to help our companies grow do the industry can meet customers’ demand for quality residential energy improvements. For more information: www.efficiencyfirst.org

Friday, November 11, 2011

Residential Energy Efficiency and Mortgage Financing

The following article is from the current issue of Carolina Banker magazine written by Marshall Dunlap. He is a residential green building specialist for the NC Solar Center and the NC Energy Efficiency Alliance. To view the complete magazine, click here.

Utility payments represent a significant yet underappreciated slice of the average homeowner’s budget. These heating, cooling and other energy related expenditures accumulate over the lifetime of every home. Despite this substantial long-term financial liability, traditional mortgage lending practices fail to take into account the degree to which a home’s energy efficiency can significantly impact the borrower’s ability to service his or her mortgage debt. This failure is a lost opportunity for lenders, homeowners and by extension, the American homebuilding industry.

According to figures quoted by the institute for Market Transformation, in 2008 the average American homeowner spent $2,278 to heat, cool or otherwise keep the energy flowing in his or her residence. By comparison, that same average homeowner spent $1,879 on property taxes and $791 on homeowner’s insurance in the same year. Taxes and insurance, along with the principal and interest in a mortgage loan, are routinely accounted for by lenders in determining the amount that a borrower can afford. Why not energy costs?

Traditional mortgage lending treats energy expenditures as if they were a predictable and discretionary component of a household budget. it is assumed that – like food, transportation, and entertainment – these costs can be reduced if necessary in order to pay the mortgage. This presumption is inaccurate in many ways.

Some occupant behavior, like adjusting the thermostat and taking shorter showers, can indeed reduce a home’s energy consumption. But a household’s energy costs are largely determined by the building’s construction details and the efficiency of its equipment and other building components. These factors can vary significantly from home to home, and the failure of lenders to recognize this variance when writing a mortgage means that a considerable portion of a borrower’s monthly expenses are not accurately considered in determining what size home loan he or she can afford.

A modest investment in energy efficiency features during the construction of a home can typically result in a reduction of 30% or more in energy costs. Applying this to the $2,278 average annual energy expense quoted above would account for $683 in annual savings. Over the life of a standard 30-year mortgage serviced on this home, even the simple accumulation of these savings amounts to over $20,000. For the homeowner, these savings could be applied instead to mortgage payments and other investments. For lenders, this translates into a more attractive client to finance.

The first and most straightforward approach to ensuring energy efficiency in a home being built or purchased is to look for the ENERGY STAR ® label. ENERGY STAR homes incorporate high performance windows, tight envelope construction and duct systems, effective insulation and efficient equipment and appliances. Underscoring all of these strategies is a system of third-party verification by independently certified energy raters.

The cost of implementing measures capable of achieving a 30% reduction in energy consumption varies, depending on the size and design of the home, its site conditions, the experience of the builder and many other factors. But data shows that with careful planning and engagement of a qualified energy rater and a responsible homebuilder, $2,000-$3,000 of additional investment can meet this goal. A conservative analysis demonstrates that the initial investment required to reduce a home’s energy costs by $450 annually can add roughly $100 per year to the mortgage payments. Energy efficiency is an investment that offers payback from the moment the lights are turned on.

So why should lenders care? Lower homeowner utility bills mean that more money is available to pay the mortgage. A green, energy efficient home is generally built better and more durable, and therefore less likely to incur unexpected maintenance costs. With properly designed fresh air ventilation, it will also have better indoor air quality, making it less likely to promote health problems and their financial burdens arising from “sick building syndrome.” Finally, recognizing the financial asset of energy efficiency in the home and the resulting enhanced ability of the homeowner to afford a mortgage increases the lender’s ability to safely lend to less risky borrowers.

Mortgage lenders should embrace the opportunity to offer Energy Efficient Mortgages – loans that recognize that the homeowner will spend less on utility bills and can thus afford larger mortgage payments which service the initial investment in energy efficiency upgrades. investing in high-quality, efficient ENERGY STAR homes offers payback for everyone involved.

Friday, November 4, 2011

HERS Raters: Provide an Integral Step in Achieving an Energy Efficient Home

For a home to have the ENERGY STAR label it must have a HERS rating to ensure the house meets the required guidelines. The HERS Index is a scoring system established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) and is an easy way for a homebuyer to identify a home that is more energy efficient than a standard home. So how does a home get a HERS rating?
Profile: Sam Galphin, Home Energy Rater
Employed at: Performance Point, Indian Trail, NC
A full service building performance contracting firm
Certifications: HERS Rater, Quality Assurance (QA), certified mold inspector & certified mold remediator
Last Continuing Credits Earned: ENERGY STAR Version 3 online training course
Lowest HERS rating given: 37, achieved by 2x6 walls, geothermal system & solar system
Trends: The demand for HERS ratings and ENERGY STAR is increasing. Although, more education and outreach is needed to help the public understand the value of efficient homes.
Approach on Projects: Performance Point uses a customer-centered approach as opposed to HERS- centered. Safety and durability are considered first with the next angle focusing on comfort and efficiency. Efficiency is emphasized through insulation, advanced framing, proper air sealing, and duct sealing. We help our customers find a happy compromise of performance and value…we call that the Performance Point.
Upcoming Training: Builders, Raters, HVAC, Framers and Insulators are encouraged to attend Sam’s workshop November 30 in Charlotte. Click here to register.
            A Home Energy Rater is a certified contractor who performs a standardized evaluation of the energy efficiency of your home. It includes an on-site inspection, air leakage tests of your home and duct work, computer analysis with estimated savings and a home energy rating. Home Energy Raters provide independent third-party verification during construction that is critical in ensuring high quality installation of energy efficiency features in homes.
            The HERS Index is a nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance. Home energy ratings can be used in a variety of ways in the housing industry. Most green home certification programs require a HERS rating such as ENERGY STAR, NAHB Green, and NC Healthy Built Homes. HERS ratings are recognized in the mortgage industry and are a way for you to qualify for an Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) which saves you money. When a home is being certified, it holds builders to a higher standard and ensures that you are getting an efficient, well-built house.  
            The NCEEA supports the home building industry stakeholders which creates value in the marketplace on the services Home Energy Raters provide. Stimulating demand for high-efficiency homes increases the demand for Home Energy Raters. Home Energy Raters
who join the Alliance will have a listing and link on our website as a member of the Alliance. The Alliance is currently offering $50 rebates per single family home and $20 per multi-family unit to Member-Raters who submit ENERGY STAR qualified homes to the NCEEA online database. For more information on how to get your rebates and to join the Alliance visit our website at www.ncenergystar.org.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Support The SAVE Act: Sensible Accounting to Value Energy Bill Introduced on Capitol Hill

Bipartisan, budget-neutral bill would include energy costs in mortgage underwriting, 
make energy-efficient homes more affordable, and create 83,000 jobs by 2020

Washington, D.C. – October 19, 2011 – Today on Capitol Hill, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) introduced the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act. The SAVE Act instructs federal loan agencies to assess a borrower’s expected energy costs when financing a mortgage. Although the average American homeowner spends over $2,000 per year on energy costs – more than on either property taxes or home insurance – current underwriting rules do not take those costs into account. The SAVE Act would remove this blind spot and improve lending standards.

In addition, the SAVE Act would enable more homeowners to finance the cost of energy efficiency improvements as part of their mortgage, lowering their utility bills for years to come. The bill would increase demand for energy-efficient new homes and improvements, creating an estimated 83,000 jobs across the U.S. economy and $1.1 billion in consumer energy savings by 2020, according to an analysis by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT).

“Right now, federal mortgage underwriting rules don’t factor in the second-biggest cost of home ownership: energy bills. That leaves mortgages more vulnerable as energy costs rise,” said Cliff Majersik, executive director of IMT. “The SAVE Act will make energy-efficient homes and home improvements more affordable, at no cost to the taxpayer. Increased demand will drive job growth in the construction and renovation industry.”

Backing the SAVE Act is a broad coalition of business, real estate and industry groups and environmental organizations, including: IMT, the U.S. Green Building Council, RESNET, the Alliance to Save Energy, and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. A full list of coalition members, the job creation analysis, and a fact sheet on the SAVE Act can be found at www.imt.org/save-act. Click here to view the full SAVE Act Bill. To support this bill, email your member of Congress by clicking here.

Homes are responsible for nearly a quarter of all energy consumed in the U.S. – more than $250 billion each year. The SAVE Act would dramatically ramp up home efficiency to save American consumers money, strengthen our nation’s economy, protect our health and environment, and reduce our dependence on imported energy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Performance Labels for Energy Efficient Homes

Knowing how to buy a home that integrates building integrity, indoor air quality, and lower energy and water use just got a whole lot easier.

David Parker and the staff of Effect Energy (www.effectenergy.us) in Garner, North Carolina worked with RESNET to develop this new home performance label for builders that will be used to quantify the energy performance of a home. The sticker is based on the HERS Index and provides an estimate of home’s energy performance, features and energy bills. HERS ratings take into account the home’s insulation levels, window performance, HVAC system efficiency, and the airtightness of the building’s envelope and ductwork.

The new label provides a simple, standardized format for homebuyers to take advantage of the green building movement and comparison shop for homes. Homes that receive this label qualify for tax credits and energy-efficient mortgages, and save homeowners money on operating expenses every month.

Builders interested in using this label can enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with RESNET to join the growing number of leading builders committed to building high-energy-performance homes.

Energy raters with builder clients interested in entering into an agreement with RESNET should contact Steve Baden at sbaden@resnet.us.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Utility Incentives Bridge the Gap Between Energy Efficiency & Affordability

Many utility providers offer financial incentives to builders and homeowners as a way to encourage and promote building ENERGY STAR qualified homes. Utilities like to promote energy efficiency because it keeps the demand for electricity at a manageable and cost efficient level. Utility providers can
Feature Profile: Progress Energy
Location: Headquarters in Raleigh, NC
Originated: 1908
Provides: 22,000 megawatts of generation capacity
Serves: Over 3 million customers in North and South Carolina and Florida

Awards: Edison Electric Institute’s Edison Award

Goals: To pursue a balanced strategy for a secure energy future, including aggressive energy-efficiency programs and investments in renewable energy technologies.

Current Incentives: Homebuilders are offered a variety of incentives which include: $400 rebates for new homes, $350 rebates for manufactured homes, $300 rebates for air-source heat pumps and qualifying air conditioning systems, and $600 rebates for qualifying geothermal heat pumps

Highlight: Owners of ENERGY STAR qualified homes receive a 5% discount on utility bills for the lifetime of the home!

Look For: New residential construction builder incentive packages coming in 2012

Find them at: www.progress-energy.com
increase their own efficiency in production and extend lower prices to their customers. Customers also benefit directly from utility incentives in the form of rebates, loan programs, and giveaways. Sometimes these can be coupled with manufacturer rebates to further reduce the cost to customers.

Progress Energy has set a good example in providing incentives that promote energy efficiency. Other utilities in North Carolina offer incentives for new and existing homes. 

Duke Energy provides homebuilders,  HVAC installers, and homeowners rebates for installing qualified heat pumps and air conditioning systems in new or existing homes.

Randolph Electric Membership Corporation offers homeowners of qualifying energy efficient homes discounted electricity rates and free energy audits.

Before installing any energy efficiency measure in your existing home or buying a new home, be sure to check with your utility provider to see if there is a discount offered.

For a comprehensive list of the most current information on utility provider energy efficiency incentives visit our website at www.ncenergystar.org.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Feature: Appalachian State Offers FREE Workshops on 2012 Energy Code

Workshops are being offered throughout the State on the new Residential Energy Code. The new code was approved by the NC Building Code Council and goes into effect January 1, 2012. Builders, Designers, Realtors and other Building Professionals are invited to attend these free 3-hour workshops that include lunch and are funded by the North Carolina State Energy Office.

      Topics Covered:
  • Review updates to the code
    • upgraded insulation levels
    • improved window performance
    • building envelope air leakage reduction
    • duct sealing & diagnostic test requirements
    • high-efficacy lighting required
  • (HERO) High Efficiency Residential Option
    • beyond code voluntary program
  • Understand the changes and be prepared to implement them!
This new code increases efficiency standards in residential construction by 15% beyond the code's current standard and 30% with the HERO option. Significant efficiency improvements will save homeowners money on their monthly energy bills and help create jobs in every region in the state. Click on the course location near you for more information and to register, or contact Anna Erwin at 828-262-8331 or erwinae@appstate.edu.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Feature: An Inside View from the Solar Homestead at the National Mall

What can ASU students teach the entire nation 
about how to reduce residential energy use?
Maybe how to design & build a solar-powered house that blends energy-efficiency, cost, and appearance that can perform in real world situations?
This is exactly what has been happening this week on the National Mall in Washington D.C. where 19 collegiate teams from 5 countries are competing in The Solar Decathlon. The competition is sponsored by the United States Department of Energy to promote student innovation for green building and renewable energy technologies.
Appalachian State University’s entry, The Solar Homestead, is the result of over 2 years of hard work by students, faculty, volunteers, and support from the entire high country and North Carolina community. ASU is currently in 8th place overall and Number 1 in the People’s Choice Award. The NCEEA talked to David Lee, Communications Manager for the Homestead, to get an insider’s view from the National Mall and find out what has been happening this week.

                The excitement began with Senator Kay Hagan as the first official tour of the Solar Homestead. The team was exhausted after an all-nighter to get the home done but very proud to be representing North Carolina. Response from the tours has been that it is an amazingly practical and beautiful home and that has been acknowledged by the People’s Choice Award.
                The Homestead has been performing great as a whole, even fighting the DC humidity. This week has been relentlessly cloudy and the team has had to make tough decisions about which points and contests to go after, focusing on efficiency. Dave stresses that in the competition setting it takes a lot of effort, across many different appliances and features, to become completely net-zero energy in a week. But over a longer time period, balancing energy use and production doesn’t relate to any loss of comfort or convenience for homeowners.
                 In the Home Entertainment Contest that includes hosting a dinner party & movie for their neighbors, the team had Illinois and Florida International University over for dinner. They cooked bruschetta with goat cheese, PLT’s, autumn squash soup shooters, Carolina dry rubbed pork, apple blueberry bars, and served Cheerwine bringing the Carolina pioneer spirit to DC.  For these delicious recipes, to follow the results, and to see who wins the 2011 Solar Decathlon visit the website at www.solardecathlon.gov.
 Photo courtesy of The Solar Homestead