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The Compliance Project: 2016 Newsletter

If you were among the nearly fifty professionals that joined us from across the country for the first Habitat X webinar of 2016, Programs and Codes That Work, you likely confirmed your suspicions – compliance with energy codes in most jurisdictions is far, far below what it should be.

(View or download the webinar slide deck.)

(Download or print this newsletter as a 204 KB PDF file.)

Consumer Outreach

You may have also learned how The Compliance Project will help address the problem. Beginning in February, we will engage homeowners on the issue through select social media outlets. With scandals in the transportation sector in recent focus, we plan to provoke similar inquiry into how new homes often “cheat” their occupants when it comes to energy codes – and subject them to greater energy, health, and environmental costs than they bargained for. Our outreach will direct readers to resources that help them understand how code compliance fits into the purchase and maintenance of their homes.

Professional Support

The Project is working to support our professional allies by developing brand-able media kits, such as the CodePlus Builders Package, that can be shared with local homebuilders, building officials, and trade associations. We’ve gotten solid response from many of you about this concept, and so we’ll fast-track the effort to provide these kits within the next few months.

Programs That Work

ESVI_logo_horizWe also heard from Chandler von Schrader of EPA during the January webinar. He brought the potentially good news that EPA is set to re-launch the program known as ESVI (ENERGY STAR Verified HVAC Installation) in Spring 2016. With utility organizations as local partners, and a simplified program based on ACCA standards, ESVI will leverage data streaming from increasingly available smart systems embedded in HVAC equipment to remotely evaluate the installation and ongoing performance of HVAC systems.

The Recovery Act is Back

Recovery Act logoThose of you who stayed for the second half of the webinar gained some fresh knowledge about a decidedly un-fresh piece of legislation. As Habitat X Fellow Ryan Boswell explained, upon accepting funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, governors of all 50 states were required to demonstrate 90% compliance with 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) by 2017. While more stringent codes have since been adopted in some states, the 2009 IECC’s enclosure-integrity requirements were a major leap forward. With reported compliance with energy codes varying from 20-80% in the various states, things clearly have not gone as planned. It also doesn’t help that no one seems to know what happens if the ARRA-mandated targets aren’t met (one webinar participant suggested that these ARRA commitments could provide states with another tool to implement the Clean Power Plan). Whatever happens, this is an issue you can expect us to follow closely.

(Read Ryan’s article about the 2017 ARRA deadlines.)

Follow-On Responses

Several questions were raised by webinar participants, including these:

  • Q: What about the joint HUD-USDA determination (May 2015) that new homes constructed with FHA-insured mortgages must meet the 2009 IECC. A: This will impact the minority of states that have not already adopted these codes, affecting about 18,000 housing units annually, according to HUD.
  • Q: Do the early results from DOE’s Residential Energy Code Field Study differentiate homes that meet code from homes built to a higher standard such as ENERGY STAR? A: The study, currently in its first of four years, does not appear to make this important distinction.
  • Q: Is the Compliance Project allied with regional trade groups such as Southeast Louisiana Coalition of the Air Conditioning Industry, who seem to be picking up some slack in energy code education in laggard jurisdictions? A: Yes we’re working these alliances diligently. Our work plan includes efforts to profile and promote outstanding contractors in the coming months.

Connect to the Network

If you’d like to take a deep dive on any of these topics, and connect with some of the most forward-looking professionals in the home performance industry, you should consider attending the next Habitat X Summer National Conference.
(Learn about the Summer National Conference.)

 

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