With oil over $140/barrel and climbing and $4.70/gallon in Maine, I wanted to raise the alarm about a major component of heating costs in
Essentially, there is a huge problem with poor performance of building envelopes in
The following Study by the LBNL details where the heating energy is going, including that to ascribe to infiltration.
Residential Heating Loads
Commercial Heating Loads
A report by the National Institute of Standards has indicated that over 1/3 of the heating energy load is a result of infiltration and that commercial buildings are not as tight as often thought. They state that reducing air leakage to a target standard could result in savings of up to 36% in the coldest climates. Much of that report is summarized in the Winter 2007 issue of the Journal of Building Enclosure Design http://www.nibs.org/JBED/JBED_Winter07.pdf on page 16.
In the same issue, on page 42, is a description of the adoption of air tightness standards to fix the Carbon emissions problem and energy cost of leaky commercial buildings in the
The Cost of Energy Waste from Building Envelope Deficiencies in
In trying to quantify what constitutes 1/3 of the total heating cost of the state of
Residential heating of 49.1 trillion Btu: http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/states/sep_sum/html/sum_btu_res.html
Commercial heating of 16.8 trillion Btu: http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/states/sep_sum/html/sum_btu_com.html
Total distillate fuel in
473 million gallons of oil @ $4.50/ gallon will cost Mainers $2.13 billion dollars. Burning a gallon of oil produces 22.38 lbs of CO2, burning 473 million gallons of oil produces 5.29 million tons of CO2.
I would estimate conservatively that building envelope deficiency in
Of the 25% reduction, I estimate that at about half of the reduction (12.5% of consumption) could be accomplished with improvement costs that would result in a 5 year payback or less (the low hanging fruit). The other half could reasonably have a 10 year payback at current prices.
Total Cost of Oil Consumption in
Estimated Reductions of 25% from building envelope improvements: $532 million
Estimated Reductions of 12.5% defined as “low hanging fruit”: $266 million
Cost of Low Hanging Fruit Improvements (payback of 5 years): $1.33 billion
Estimated Reductions of 12.5% defined as longer payback: $266 million
Cost of longer payback items (payback of 10 years): $2.66 billion
Total cost of improvements to achieve 25% reduction: $4 billion
Based on these assumptions, there could be an astronomical investment in building envelopes in
Technical and Training Resources for Building Envelope
There is no shortage of information, research, and technical knowledge to support the effort, much of which is old knowledge published over a decade ago. There just needs to be an infrastructure. Here is a sampling of these resources.
Envelope Design Guidelines for Federal Office Buildings: Thermal Integrity and Airtightness (a NIST publication from 1993 detailing guidelines for the building envelope for the GSA)
Affordable Comfort (an organization devoted to advancing home performance, much of which deals with building envelope. They hold regional conferences for training these skills) Perhaps
Maine Home Performance (a program started in 2006 to train home performance evaluators, geared to residences and a whole house approach, essential to dealing with Maine’s older housing stock with wet basements)
MSHA has been working in the field of training “weatherization” for decades and may have resources to expand.
Building Performance Institute is a leading credentialing organization which has a published standard for a Shell Professional (otherwise known as a Building Envelope Technician or Specialist) http://www.bpi.org/documents/Shell_Standards.pdf which is a great place to start.
Saturn Resource Management publishes text books and guides including Residential Energy (used by Maine Home Performance and MSHA Energy Auditor Courses) They have recently published a Building Shell Field Guide http://www.srmi.biz/Bookstore.Professionals.Building_Shell_Field_Guide.htm. which I have yet to see but have high hopes for it being a helpful training tool and guide.
British Resource Establishment (BRE) has been instrumental in implementing a testing and improvement of airtightness in the
Rick Karg of R.J. Karg Associates (an experienced trainer in energy efficiency for decades who has written weatherization standards for several states and is well qualified to guide the process of training and development of infrastructure. He is the lead technical trainer of Maine Home Performance and has been a trainer for MSHA’s energy auditor trainings.
Growing the Workforce and Infrastructure
While there are many incentives for Mainer’s to invest in energy improvements (such as MSHA HELP loan program funds or just the high price of energy), there is almost no current infrastructure to effectively take care of this demand. There are existing insulation contractors but I would estimate that less than 25% are compentent in airsealing. Of that 25%, precious few have the standard tools to do it effectively (namely the blower door and infrared camera).
With my estimate of building envelope work that can be done cost effectively being about $4 trillion,
A well trained building envelope techician must have the building science knowledge, diagnostic skills, and capability of performing work that results in energy savings. Training needs to be as rigourous as other licensed trades such as plumber, electrician, and heating technician. A building envelope technician is responsible for ensuring indoor air quality, adequate insulation, moisture control, and air tightness. It can involve everything from installing a sump pump to drain a wet basement, installing vapor barriers over dirt floor basement and crawlspaces, basement insulation and air sealing, attic air sealing, blower door guided airsealing, proper mechanical ventilation for kitchens and bathrooms as well as whole house air quality, wall and attic insulation, attic ventilation, etc.
It is a surprise to many that tightening up a house involves more than weatherstripping and caulking. There is a so much more that needs to be considered to control heat, air and moisture to support the health, safety, and comfort of a buildings occupants while also ensuring the durability and efficiency of the structure. This knowledge base and approach is at the core of Home Performance with Energy Star. Since the laws of physics govern results of improvements, knowledge of building science is essential to design successful solutions consistent with the physics. This is high skill work.
In order to develop this work force, the state’s educational system needs to be brought in, from the University to the
Incentives to Existing Contractors
Existing contractors, such as our company, are facing great hurdles for expansion to meet incredible market demand. Much of what our company faces is no different than any other company faces in the start up phase, financing, management, systems building, etc. Added to this problem is the prohibitive cost to self train in this pioneering field and to find and train new workers. Established trades such as electricians, plumbers, etc already have an infrastructure. Home performance contracting companies will need a workforce to expand.
If the state invests significant resources to finance energy efficiency improvements with out an infrastructure to provide those services, they are in effect giving out reduced price train tickets when there are no trains in the station. Contractors need financing to grow their business to serve the public demand, to purchase the diagnostic equipment (blower doors and infrared cameras) to do high quality work, to train their workforce and develop systems.
What about the Energy Auditors supporting Building Envelope Improvement
The efforts by MSHA and Maine Home Performance to expand the pool of energy auditors in this state is a very important step in diagnosing buildings and Maine and finding opportunities for savings. However, the diagnostic tools that auditors use to evaluate the home are essential to the improvement of the home. It is essential that these same advanced tools be available to the contractors creating the improvements. I have found from personal experience of both evaluating and fixing homes, that in the course of doing work, especially airsealing, initial conclusions in the audit phase where often quite different in the course of improvement work. Assumptions made turn out to be wrong. The workscope needs adjustment, sometimes dramatically, to reflect found conditions.
The auditor, as consultant, could of course be brought in every time, and be available to test out at the end but the real success of an improvement lies with the technician installing the improvement.
It is no different than walking into a modern hospital with modern equipment and getting diagnosed by a skilled doctor / surgeon and have surgery recommended. However, instead of the doctor doing the surgery, the patient gets referred to a list of uncertified people that do the surgery on the kitchen table without the high tech tools used in modern hospitals.
BPI has a Building Analyst certification which corresponds to “energy auditor” as the basic level credential. A Shell Specialist (Envelope Tech) is a more advanced certification requiring the Building Analyst designation as a pre-requisite. It takes more specialized skill to actually achieve energy improvements than to diagnose them.
It is really no different than an energy auditor finding that a heating system really needs improvement or replacement and the improvement work being done by a licenced heating technician. The auditor is essentially an energy efficiency reconnaissance professional, focused on identifying opportunities. Airsealing work, in particular, is something that most auditors simply don’t have direct, first hand experience in. For this reason, the most experienced people in diagnosing and fixing air leakage problems should be the ones doing the improvement. Therefore, they need the blower doors and infrared cameras, etc as well as the training to use them effectively.
I would even go so far as to argue that MSHA or any other state funding source shouldn’t be financing air sealing work done by contractors that don’t have this equipment and training. Providing contractors with the equipment through leasing or financing or grants while also requiring them to use them and record air sealing improvement results would be a carrot and stick approach that would benefit Mainers by increasing the effectiveness of work done and paid for.
ConclusionWith an energy crisis facing