I am one of the "Somewhat Optimistic" people. I guess I have my reservations, but I believe that if you have a good product at a reasonable price, you will have customers. Who doesn't want a home that is not only efficient, but comfortable and healthy? I believe we have some education to do in the community for homeowners to understand that there is a correlation between a home that has been serviced by a Home Performance with Energy Star Contractor, is not only much more efficient, but also comfortable and healthier. There is certainly value to that! For some reason that has been difficult for us to articulate to the homeowner. Any ideas? The utility rebates are helpful, but I don't believe they are the critical deciding factor in a customer's decision to say "yes" to the upgrades. If nothing else, I believe they give "somewhat validity" to the contractors in the program. At least a customer can go to a reputable company (like their utility company) and see that they are approved by the reputable company to do work for them. But we must not be alone? I believe there are PLENTY of houses that need energy upgrades and we don't need to be dog-eat-dog at all. If were to prioritize our issues, it would be 1. homeowner's understanding of the issues, 2. the ability to pay for the upgrades,3. finding and training the labor to complete the tasks recommended.
Well as I am typing my comment from my somewhat pisamistic view on this program I do see the first comment was posted 6 months ago. So it has made it another 6 months and is still moving forward slow but forward. I have been working in residential energy efficiency for over 20 years now and from my experience you can just about tie it to gasoline prices. When a gallon of gas goes up so does your work load and vise versa. It is going to be an interesting ride so to speak. Energy independence is in our very near future says our new commander in chief. If President Trump actually gets his vision of energy independence past all the road blocks before it deflates and or runs out of gas our energy cost should be next to nothing. If this is the true future energy costing you next to nothing your work load will follow suit. Unfortunately I do not believe home performance will survive that senereo. We will need to switch from home (energy) performance to a pollution or a carbon footprint performance program. Some of my clientele today are having their homes made energy efficient just to reduce their carbon footprint. Doing what they can to save the environment you know save the planet for the next generation of oil burners,to slow down global warming. Just Pick one they all belong in the drivers seat until we can get off carbon based energy. Now here is the bump in the road as I see it, at least for my company. The clientele that has had work performed on their homes just to reduce their carbon footprint and not looking for an actual monitory return on their investment is only 4 -5% of my work and I think this estimate may be high. Unless incomes increase drastically or we bring carbon credits into the individual residential market and make them valuable like a bitrate or something to the effect energy efficiency cannot sustain itself. Fallow the price of a gallon of gas and watch your work load increase with it or disappear with energy independence. I must say it has been a long long time for me to see let's say .50 cents a gallon for premium: but then again I could be wriong wrong wrong possible to bring back the Lincoln continental and it's 6mpg on a good day. So Let see what road we travel down this new year of 2017**^
There is no question that keeping the faith in Home Performance is challenging. Most contractors have all the work they can handle right now and finding good help (labor) is the challenge. Many of the early HP devotees have gone back to traditional remodeling roles. That said, I think we, as a society, have no choice but to reduce waste across the board. As more folks strive toward a ZNE solution the principles of building science will have a much larger audience. New financing options and the potential for innovative incentive models are starting to stimulate growth in HP, this combined with the Governors goals will help keep the fire alive - in California anyway. When energy is cheap and there is no penalty for the waste product selling on efficiency alone is a tough. The trend in the industry is to promote the non-energy benefits with a current shift to IAQ and health. We must keep the faith and support those who are pushing ahead to keep the industry moving forward. (like Efficiency First)
As they say for anything of value; no pain, no gain. We have suffered long and hard in this winter of mis-information. However, what I am seeing here in the temperate climate in the San Francisco Bay Area is indeed change. The think-tanks first made plans based on building science that gave us a roadmap to success with "most" buildings. Then a workforce must be in place that will consist of the advisors, contractors (doers), and then QC. Then the word goes out with some incentives to help with the change. Results must be advertised. Then after we see some good solid evidence that the efforts are worthy, we reduce the incentives, and make regulations that are backed up with code enforcement. Throughout the years, the change will be accentuated with higher fuel costs.
Efficiency is happening here in California with Title 24. People are learning that someone coming in the door and telling them, "You don't really need a permit" are to be avoided. I am seeing movement, and am hiring auditors.
ps. I did seal my house too tight according to ASHRAE 62.2, but this was only because I had a lot of children come to my home. I did put in a continuous fan/ERV, and I love it. Now the air seems fresh even on stagnant days, and no AQ problems.
I agree that the growth of home performance as a business segment is very slow. However, I feel that much progress will be made in the future as more people see the side benefits in addition to energy savings. Some of the most promising research that I have seen on the matter shows that the most valuable benefit to home performance is improvements in health and quality of life of the occupants of the building. The value of the improvements in health is greater than the value of energy savings.
However, the general public in the USA is largely "ignorant" when it comes to matters of energy use in homes and buildings. In addition you have the problems noted below:
Problems with Market for Retrofits for Energy Efficiency
•Insufficient information stifling demand:
o Lack of credible information on the performance of these technologies, including return on investment and payback times
o Perception of efficiency technologies as insufficiently reliable
•Finance: In some instances, lack of access to capital to cover upfront costs
•Supply: Lack of availability of these technologies from manufacturers or other vendors
The comments above point to recognized factors preventing industry growth, such as inadequate consumer demand, conflicting messages to consumers and limited builder training. I've posted a couple articles proposing a solution that would make home performance the centerpoint of remodeling. Among several elements of existing efficiency programs that would be adjusted, "thermal optimization" shifts the retrofit investment from homeowner to home's energy supplier. Imagine going out every day and transforming leaky homes into high performance units without charging the homeowner a penny. The details are in this report:
I WAS INVOLVED IN THE FIRST " GREEN MOVEMENT" AND STUCK WITH IT. AFTER IT DIED, I THEN DID MAINLY RETROFIT AND DID REAL WELL AT IT. THE PROBLEM IS THERE IS NOT ENOUGH PAIN AND WITH OUT PAIN THERE IS NOT ANY BEHAVIORAL CHANGE. ALL THE CONTRACTORS WHO GOT ON THE GREEN BAND WAGON, AS THE MONEY DRIED UP, THEY DIED AND WENT TO" GREEN HEAVEN" OR WHERE EVER OLD CONTRACTORS GO. THEY WERE ONLY IN TO MAKE MONEY NOT TO MAKE ANY TYPE OF BEHAVIORAL CHANGES FOR THE LONG HAUL.
One answer is never enough to reflect what is going on. On many and or most frontiers, building practices have not changed much. All around me, most architects are designing crappy assemblies and builders are building them. It is hard to watch them going up or being remodeled.
I am lucky and can choose my jobs and I only work on high performance buildings, so from that perspective-
"It is going great", people are educated and clients care, but outside that sphere- change is pretty sluggish.
I see a combination of forces driving DOWN demand for HP. Legislative action that increases flat-rate fees for energy weakens any incentive to conserve, and while we may say, "Make it tight and ventilate right," a lot of customers push back against having their house that tight. I literally heard a staff member at my church, who didn't know I was in the HP field, advise another congregant, "You don't want to get one of those energy audits. They'll end up making your house so tight you actually have to run a bath fan all the time, just so the air in your own house is safe."
At the moment our Mother Nature is at risck. But there are efforts by many Nations, Organization, People all over the world that increases the cance for saving our Environment. Green Building is one of the solutions.
Good luck to all green and peaceful movements
Trade education will not force change. Consumer/buyer education will not force change. Builders will not adopt change if they perceive it will either drive away business or impact their profit margins. If energy independence, good construction value, a desire to re-invigorate the building trades and housing stock longevity are a national priority then the only logical path is NOT "bandaid"-type bureaucratic program fixes, but a wholescale re-engineering of the nation's building codes so that they are uniform across the entire country, reflect industry best practices and impact every building (i.e., no "grandfathering"). Buildings set aside as registered historic are a different animal and have their own requirements.
Matt Golden commented on a parody video "Single Pane" a few months back that the 9 year old video is funny again because almost none of the same people are here. THAT IS A MAJOR FREAKING PROBLEM! I starved to death trying to do good insulation contracting (which evolved into Home Performance.)
There are NO viable program-related HP business models that I know of. Programs will not save us.
The critical thing is DEMAND. Until consumers ASK for HP, we are lost in the wilderness. Early adopters don't need proof. They will just try stuff. Early majority needs PROOF. We have none. Show me the serious case studies with real metrics. (I'm close to publishing 11 of them on our projects.)
If we measure and rank, we are much more likely to get the early majority to act. I'd suggest ranking on test in/predicted/test out for both blower door and Energy Use Intensity (EUI in kBTU/sf/yr).
Until that happens, I remain extremely pessimistic about HP. It will be another 40 years in the wilderness. Can we please start measuring and ranking?
Today I had a city building insp ask me why his 2nd floor was so hot? After doing a heat loss and gain and air flow test we came to the finding there was no return to 2nd floor and not much supply, The basement had most of the air and return and no one lives down there. He is head man. and had no know how of what should happen with sealing and air flow. He looks at 6-10 houses a day, most new. No one showed him what to look for and how to test. Education of all trades is needed and builder just say "extra cost? Not needed. There must be a demand for well build building that take 3 times less energy use.
I am confident that more programs will be created to support Home Performance as time goes on. I am confident that creative financing options will continue to show up. I am hopeful that home owners will seek the benefits of home performance retrofits more as time goes on.
I am not confident that contractors will have the commitment to do the level and quality of work that will result in Deep energy reduction. I believe that we will continue to see meager air sealing efforts, poor insulation installations and oversized HVAC systems poorly installed. Very Sad.
I would like to see a real accountability effort installed. I would like to see incentives paid Only on measured energy savings, not modeled. I would like to see contractors take pride in their results and not simply be profit driven.
That's my 2 cents.
I still feel optimistic about doing home performance in my area (SF Bay Area) but over the past year many prospects don't see the value or the ROI of doing the work. ROI is a tricky equation when it comes to air sealing and insulation and I feel that more education is needed about the urgency to reduce our carbon output.