2015 June Newsletter

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Message from David A. Wilson, Executive Director, Utah Energy Conservation Coalition:

For additional information, check out our website at utahenergy.org.

From Becky Robbins, Rocky Mountain Power wattsmart program:

HERS Raters,

The Rocky Mountain Power wattsmart New Homes program has received approval for the changes proposed earlier this year with an effective date of July 1, 2015. Any home received on/after that date will be eligible for the following incentives in the table below, in addition to our existing measures<https://www.rockymountainpower.net/res/sem/utah/esnh/bi.html>, with the exception of dishwashers which are being retired. Homes received on/after July 1, 2015 will no longer be eligible for dishwashers. Please note the new submission deadline of 180 days to align with Questar, which will be allowed for those home submitted after July 1, 2015.

Also in effect for those applications postmarked on/after July 1, 2015:

*        ECM Motors in 95% AFUE furnaces available with or without HVAC-QI (Rater or Contractor) Checklist. (Always considered with checklist when Energy Star).

*        HVAC Contractor Agreement no longer required. (HVAC-QI checklist or Energy Star Homes previously required this. HVAC Contractor name must still be listed on submission form.)

*        Homes must be submitted to program within 180 days of Certificate of Occupancy or Final Inspection Date. Exceptions will still be considered but must accompanied by an explanation about the reason for request. (All applications received before July 1, 2015 must still be within 120 days).

We are working on updating our submission form and hope to have it to everyone by next week. We are also in discussions with Questar Gas staff about scheduling our next rater meeting – stay tuned!

Let me know if you have any questions.

Best regards,

Becky Robbins
Program Administrator
Rocky Mountain Power wattsmart New Homes Program
Office: 801.743.1614

TEC Price Increases

From TEC:
Due to the changes in the cost of both materials and labor to manufacture our products, we will be adjusting the price of most of our products.

The last time we increased the price of our main products was over two years ago. The approximate price adjustment for TEC products will be 4%. The price of DuctMask and the TEC WiFi Link will remain the same.

The new prices go into effect July 15 and the updated price list will be available on our website July 1.

In the meantime, here are a few of the new prices:

  • Minneapolis Blower Door System: $2,775
  • Minneapolis Duct Blaster System: $2,075
  • DG-700 Pressure and Flow Gauge: $885
  • TrueFlow Air Handler Flow Meter: $850
  • Exhaust Fan Flow Meter: $180
  • FlowBlaster Capture Hood Accessory: $1,150

Better Buildings Residential Network Peer Exchanges

Following is the Better Buildings Residential Network Peer Exchange call schedule through August, along with associated registration links. Please join the discussion!

Date/Time Call Topic Registration Link
June 18
12:30-2:00 ET
Bonus call!
Staged Upgrades as a Strategy for Residential Energy Efficiency https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6833737812498738946?source=month_email
June 25
12:30-2:00 ET
Creative Financing Approaches for Residential Energy Efficiency Programs https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6489962307289101570?source=month_email
June 25
3:00-4:30 ET
Strengthening the Front Lines: Sales Training and Continuing Education for Contractors https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/531093068182212354?source=month_email
July 9
12:30-2:00 ET
Social Media and Messages that Matter: Top Tips and Tools https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1992368211042581762?source=month_email
July 9
3:00-4:30 ET
The Dog Days of Summer: Capitalizing on the Pet Market https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/685134647523914498?source=month_email
July 23
12:30-2:00 ET
Think Again! A Fresh Look at Home Performance Business Models and Service Offerings https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/280076762874280706?source=month_email
July 23
3:00-4:30 ET
Hit The Road: Lessons from Applying a National Campaign to a Local Context https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8312157637847948290?source=month_email
August 13
3:00-4:30 ET
Streamlining Assessments: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5941780991996495361?source=month_email
August 13
12:30-2:00 ET
Tailored Marketing for Under-Represented Population Segments https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3348778533012258562?source=month_email
August 27 No calls – Summer break!

In the event you missed out, here are the links to the May call summaries:
–          May 14: Generating Demand for Multifamily Building Upgrades
–          May 14: Better Buildings Residential Network Orientation

If you have experience with any of the topics listed and would like to be considered to be a featured speaker, have other call topics you would like to suggest for 2015, or would like to be added to all Peer Exchange call email lists, please reply to Better Buildings Residential Network Peer Exchange <peerexchange@rossstrategic.com>.

Free Webinar That You Do Not Want to Miss

RESNET New ANSI Standard on Rating Hot Water Use in a Home
July 15, 2015 4:00 p.m. (EDT)

RESNET has adopted procedures to incorporate additional features of water heating energy use in a home as an Addendum to ANSI/RESNET Standard 301-2014. This addendum gives credit for shorter pipe runs, drain water heat recovery systems, and higher performance appliances such as clothes and dish washers. To view the added features of water heating energy use go to ANSI/RESNET Standard 301-2014.

Homes with shorter pipe runs, drain water heat recovery systems and higher performance appliances will be credited with lower HERS Index Scores.  Philip Fairey of the Florida Solar Energy Center has calculated that, depending on the climate zone the home is located in, these technologies can provide builders up to a three (3) point reduction in the HERS Index Score of a home.
All RESNET accredited HERS Rating Software Programs must include the new calculations by August 1, 2015, and certified RESNET HERS Raters will be required to the use the new HERS software programs on October 1, 2015.

To educate certified HERS Raters and builders on the effects of this critical change, RESNET is hosting a webinar on this topic at 4:00 p.m. (EDT) on July 15, 2015.  The webinar will feature Philip Fairey, Deputy Director of the Florida Solar Energy Center.  Philip will explain the new procedures and explore the potential effects on homes’ HERS Index Scores across the nation.
HERS Raters and Energy Smart Builders will not want to miss this opportunity to learn new cost effective ways to lower a home’s HERS Index Score.

To register for this free webinar go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3103414817312654849  Advanced registration for the webinar is required and seating is limited.  Register today.

RESNET and the International Code Council to Develop Joint ANSI Standard

Testing of Air Leakage, Duct Leakage and Airflow of Mechanical Ventilation Systems

JUNE 2, 2015:

The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) now requires air leakage and duct testing of homes. The IECC, however, does not specify procedures on how these tests are to be completed. To provide guidance to code officials on how such tests should be conducted, the International Code Council (ICC) and RESNET are developing a joint American National Standard (ANSI) standard.

The new ANSI standard will be based on the draft BSR/RESNET/ICC 380-201x PDS-02 that was developed by the RESNET Standard Development Committee 300. This proposed draft standard has undergone two public review and comment periods and is in the final stages of development.
The adoption of ANSI/RESNET/ICC 380 by jurisdictions will provide code officials with an American National Standard that they can specify for air and duct leakage testing. It will also help ensure greater consistency in compliance to energy codes.

The International Code Council (ICC) is a member-focused association. It is dedicated to developing model codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures. Fifty states and the District of Columbia have adopted the ICC’s International Codes (I-Codes) at the state or jurisdictional level. The ICC develops the IECC.

My view: Utah needs new energy codes that make buildings, homes more efficient

By David Brems and Kevin Emerson
Originally published by the Deseret News

Air pollution is a top concern for Utah citizens. So is financial stability. Improving our air quality while saving money for Utahns is a win-win opportunity. This summer, decision-makers will be voting whether or not to adopt up-to-date building energy codes that will help new homes and buildings constructed in Utah cut energy waste, lower air pollution and reduce Utahns’ energy bills.

The average Utah home wastes far too much energy because it was not designed and constructed with energy efficiency as a priority. This is where the energy conservation codes come in. While lacking the flashy glamor of solar panels or electric vehicles, the “2015 International Energy Conservation Code” can dramatically reduce energy waste and related air pollution by incorporating common sense, readily available, yet often invisible efficiency solutions to new homes and buildings.

Industry leaders like GSBS Architects and public interest organizations like Utah Clean Energy see tremendous value in adopting the new energy code. But despite the benefits it brings to Utah families, businesses and consumers, getting the new code adopted has become a political undertaking. It shouldn’t be. Just consider the benefits from updating the energy codes.

First, newer energy codes reduce energy usage and deliver long-term reductions to homeowners’ utility bills. This is a straightforward equation that will keep $1.7 billion in the pockets of Utah homeowners between the years 2017–2040, according to a new analysis by the Building Codes Assistance Project. This is too much money to waste through continuing inefficient building practices.

In addition to creating financial returns, up-to-date energy codes will benefit Utah’s air. According to the Utah Division of Air Quality, homes and buildings now contribute nearly 40 percent of the emissions that cause Utah’s unhealthy air — and this percentage is expected to grow. While inefficient new buildings demand more energy and cause needless pollution, energy-efficient new homes and buildings provide a long-term tool to reduce air pollution by lowering energy waste, thereby reducing the resulting pollution emissions over the 100-plus-year life of each structure.

We’re not the only ones who hold this view. The Clean Air Action Team, which was formed at the request of Gov. Gary Herbert to develop recommendations to improve Utah’s air quality, recently endorsed adoption of energy codes. The “CAAT,” which was made up of legislators, business representatives, experts and advocates, issued numerous recommendations to the Utah Legislature and Gov. Herbert, including the recommendation to “Update the state building code to include the energy efficiency standards of the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code.” The time is right for Utah decision-makers to follow through on this important recommendation.

This summer a little-known group of local government and building industry experts, the Uniform Building Code Commission, is undertaking a formal review of the new 2015 energy code. This commission will provide its recommendation to Utah lawmakers during the Legislature’s interim session this summer, to be debated during the upcoming 2016 legislative session. During the last session, House Bill 285 would have changed Utah’s building code adoption cycle for new single-family homes from every three years to every six years. Luckily, this legislation failed to pass last session but will likely be proposed again. If this bill were to pass, an estimated 60,000 new homes would be built using out-of-date standards until at least the year 2022, causing unnecessary energy waste and needless air pollution.

Utah has much to gain by updating the energy codes currently on the books. Our state’s air quality and financial well-being deserve the long-term benefits that the 2015 energy codes have to offer.

David Brems is a principal with GSBS Architects and member of the governor’s Clean Air Action Team. Kevin Emerson is the senior policy associate for Utah Clean Energy and a public member representative of the Uniform Building Code Commission.

What Homeowners Think About Clean Energy

by Scott Gibson

Originally posted by greenbuildingadvisor.com

Solar and wind energy enjoy broad popular support as the preferred energy sources for the future among U.S. homeowners, regardless of age or political affiliation, according to a new survey.

SolarCity, a solar installer, and Clean Edge, a marketing research firm, jointly sponsored the survey for a second year, polling 1,400 randomly selected homeowners about renewable energy, energy efficiency, conventional energy, transportation, and a number of related topics.

Half of all those surveyed identified solar energy as the most important energy source for the nation’s future, and it didn’t seem to matter where they lived or how they identified themselves politically. Wind was second with 42 percent of all homeowners, followed by natural gas (33 percent), energy efficiency [construction] (25 percent), oil (17 percent), hydro (17 percent) and nuclear power (14 percent).

Power sources with the least public support were geothermal (10 percent), coal (8 percent) and biofuel/biomass (7 percent).

Solar was popular across the board, but age did seem to play a role in support for both natural gas and nuclear power, the survey found, with older respondents looking on them more favorably than younger ones. For example, 43 percent of those over 70 said they favored natural gas while only 27 percent of those between 18 and 24 agreed. When asked about nuclear power, 24 percent of those over 70 were favorable but only 1 percent of those 18-24 said they were.

What motivates people to buy clean energy

A whopping 87 percent of those polled said that renewables are important to the country’s energy future, but it is “saving money” rather than “reducing my environmental impact” that emerges as the most important factor in decisions to buy clean energy products and services. Saving money got 82 percent of the vote, while reducing environmental impact had 34 percent.

“Sustained double-digit growth rates for more than a decade reflect the long-term nature of this current shift to more efficient, cleaner, and environmentally friendly products and services,” the report says. “But don’t be mistaken; as our research clearly points out, it is cost savings, much more than environmental factors, that are driving this monumental shift.”

The most popular energy upgrades people were planning in the coming year included a couple that have a relatively low cost — LED light bulbs (27 percent) and smart thermostats (12 percent) — while very few people were planning on big-ticket purchases such as photovoltaic panels (6 percent), electric vehicles (4 percent), or heat pumps (4 percent).

Support for electric and hybrid vehicles dropped from last year, but the report points out that oil prices also dipped dramatically. Enthusiasm for solar power and other clean-energy choices “held steady.”

Other findings

Here are some other key findings:

  • Saving money is the biggest motivator for people, but 65 percent of the respondents said they “consider or investigate” the environmental impact of their major buying decisions at least some of the time, and 75 percent said they were taking some steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Most Democrats (82 percent) and two-thirds of all Republican respondents (67 percent) said that they support federal incentives for wind and solar energy purchases. The number of Independent voters supporting incentives was 72 percent.
  • When asked whether they agreed with efforts by electric utilities to charge fees for the installation of grid-connected PV, 61 percent said no (and 43 percent strongly opposed). Opposition was stronger among Republicans (66 percent) than Democrats (53 percent).
  • Green building remains popular. The number of buildings winning LEED certification hit 5,800 in 2013, a compounded annual growth rate of 56 percent over 11 years. The number of Energy Star homes built in 2013 reached 77,000, a market share of 13 percent.

Good Water Sense

Posted by Green Builder Staff

THE EPA’S WATERSENSE DESIGNATION IS POISED TO BECOME AS UBIQUITOUS as the Energy Star label. The program encourages manufacturers to find ways to make their products more resource efficient.

Manufacturers such as Kohler and Moen, among others, have been recognized recently for their water-saving efforts. In October, Moen was named a 2010 WaterSense Partner of the Year for its 2009 collection of bathroom faucet products and for its national media outreach. Kohler, a WaterSense Partner of the Year in past years, recently received an inaugural excellence award from the program for strategic collaboration.

Tom Liebhardt, senior director, marketing–wholesale for Moen sees an opportunity for all members of the residential building industry to benefit, in part because of the success of the Energy Star program. “We’re banking on WaterSense,” he says. “The EPA can generally get a constituency together and get things done. They even offer certification for builders.”

The EPA has a lot of marketing and education clout, which means plumbers and builders can do a lot less explaining and a lot more installation.

Aaron Gaynor, owner of EcoPlumbers in Columbus, Ohio, has already seen a change in how people view plumbing fixtures. “Today, everyone understands low-flow faucets and WaterSense faucets; it’s pretty straight-forward. Toilets are tougher because we get complaints that they don’t stay as clean as a regular toilet.”

Gaynor plans to open a new showroom using the WaterSense label to differentiate what he offers from other plumbers or retailers of plumbing products in his area.

John Smith, owner of The Arizona Green Plumbers in Greater Phoenix, says he uses the WaterSense program daily in his business. “We offer WaterSense-labeled fixtures as the first option to our customers,” he explains. “If it is a repair that they choose to make themselves, we recommend that they still look for products with the WaterSense label. In addition, we offer free home and business water audits.”

Smith also uses the program to help educate consumers. “We demonstrate our products and services at community events, give free seminars at local community centers, and are active online on several social networking sites,” he says. Smith also hosts The Arizona Green Plumber Radio Show on BlogTalk Radio.
Smith married WaterSense marketing with charitable work by partnering with other organizations to retrofit WaterSense labeled toilets, faucets, and showerheads into a Ronald McDonald House, which resulted in a 20% water savings for the building.

Smith and Gaynor both point to consumer habits as the big issue when it comes to ongoing water efficiency. “It doesn’t take a huge, contracted job to make a difference in a household,” Smith reminds. “Changing everyday habits can make a big difference without the customer having to spend a dime.” Gaynor concurs, noting that where he operates, water shortages are not top of mind, but more media coverage of the highly subsidized nature of our country’s water supply has even that area of the country looking to conserve before prices make it a necessity.

Builder Brian Peulicke, the construction manager of Coachella Valley Housing Coalition in La Quinta, Calif., thinks user habits are extremely important when deciding which water-saving products to chose. When spec’ing toilets for an affordable multifamily project, he switched from dual flush to a 1.2-gallon single flush. “Our research showed that people waste more water with dual toilets because they flush them multiple times instead of choosing the correct flushing option.”

Liebhardt emphasizes that partnerships are what will move the WaterSense program forward and provide benefits to all members in the building supply chain. “The issue is trying to partner better. KB Homes is one of our biggest partners and was one of the first to get a home WaterSense certified,” he says. “We worked with them to get there, and it was just a tremendous partnership; we both pushed each other, which is how you get there.”

© 2015, Green Builder Media. All rights reserved. This article is the exclusive property of Green Builder Media. If you would like to reprint this content, you are free to extract a short excerpt (no more than 1/4th of the total article), as long as you 1. credit the author, and 2. include a live link back to the original post on our site. Please contact a member of our editorial staff if you need more information.

Improving geothermal energy

University of Utah team chosen for geothermal research

April 27, 2015 – Generating electricity from the hot rocks deep underground is clean, safe and renewable – and it’s about to take a step forward in Utah.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Monday that a team from the University of Utah’s Energy & Geoscience Institute is one of five research groups selected to study new techniques for developing geothermal energy in places where it’s not currently feasible. EGI is part of the U’s College of Engineering.

The U team of geologists and engineers, led by EGI research professor Joseph Moore, will evaluate establishing an underground geothermal laboratory about 10 miles north of Milford, Beaver County, within the Milford renewable energy corridor. This corridor is home to two geothermal plants and a 306-megawatt wind farm. Utah’s geothermal power plants provide enough electricity to power nearly 70,000 homes in Utah, California and Arizona.

“This is really game-changing technology in terms of being able to develop self-sustainable energy for the U.S.,” says Moore, who also is a geologist.

The award is a Phase I grant in a three-phase DOE project known as FORGE, or Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy. If selected for Phase III, the FORGE laboratory would be built on private land and cover about 10 acres. The laboratory would consist of two wells drilled to depths of about 8,000 feet. One well would be used to inject water into the hot rocks below. The second will recover the heated water, which is recycled.

What makes geothermal systems work? Three ingredients are necessary for a geothermal system: water, heat from the rocks (at 300 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit) and underground cracks that allow water to flow through the hot rock. Moore is confident that the granite formations beneath the site near Milford are hot enough, but the rock lacks the permeability needed to form a natural reservoir for the water to flow through.

The wells drilled at the FORGE laboratory would be used to develop ways to produce the underground fractures needed to create large, sustainable geothermal reservoirs for electric production. The researchers would create the fractures using the low-pressure injection of locally available, non-drinkable water. This water will migrate along the newly created pathways and heat up as it comes in contact with the hot granite formations.

“The experiments, testing and analyses will be conducted in an environmentally benign way,” Moore says, and they will follow DOE and Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

The goal is to discover better ways to create underground flow that will allow communities throughout Utah and across America to construct sustainable and clean geothermal systems and power plants. According to the DOE, capturing even 2 percent of the naturally occurring thermal energy in the U.S. would provide 2,000 times more energy than we currently use.

DOE Under Secretary for Science and Energy Franklin Orr, and Douglas Hollett, the DOE’s deputy assistant secretary for renewable power, made the FORGE program announcement in Reno Monday. The EGI Phase I research team also includes scientists from the Utah Geological Survey, Idaho National Laboratory, Temple University, the U.S. Geological Survey and private contractors. The award of a $400,000 grant will kick-start the first phase. The DOE will select three teams for Phase II, and the final team for Phase III. Drilling activities at the site chosen for Phase III would begin in about two years, Moore says.

“This is important to the state of Utah, and it could potentially lower energy costs in the future, and reduce CO2 emissions,” said EGI Director and research professor Raymond Levey.

Copyright © 2015 Utah Energy Conservation Coalition, All rights reserved.