Today Corbett talks with Hap Haven of US Green Home about where home performance contractors come from and where we're going (and how not to crash and burn on the way there). Sponsored by the Building Performance Workshop's 6-Week Mastermind Distance Course and Home Performance for Tiny Spaces course.
Home performance articles and stories from the field with internationally respected building forensics guru Corbett Lunsford at the Building Performance Workshop. Hear new episodes of the Building Performance Podcast, see new videos from the Home Performance YouTube channel, and learn all about how diagnostic testing (more than an 'Energy Audit') can make home improvement and new home construction a proven process!
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Diagnostics are the heart of all home performance work- testing will set you free with proof and prediction!
Getting the job done right is a critical part of the job, but what about educating your client on what was done and why it's important? What about reminding them 2 years later? Metrics are the crux of the whole home performance movement, from pre-improvement testing through continuous monitoring.
This week to illustrate 'Rocking the Client' Corbett broadcasts right before his Earth Day celebration keynote at the U.S. EPA's Region 4 headquarters in Atlanta! Danny Orlando, longtime supporter, is now a client- but it took 5 years to get here!
Infrared expert Corbett Lunsford uses the FLIR T660 infrared thermal camera to illustrate how insulation was installed in the #TinyLab for optimal control over heat bleed. For more info about where you can tour the #TinyLab on its 20-city Proof Is Possible Tour, visit:
A full week of workshops for homeowners, building pros, and real estate pros show the path to worry-free construction
The launch of the Proof Is Possible U.S. Tour is unusual for several reasons, the biggest being that ‘energy efficiency’ is not central to any of the workshops. Instead, what the homeowners, Realtors, mortgage lenders, appraisers, and building pros absorb is the need for quality control, pure and simple. Proof Is Possible for everyone involved: proof that you do better work than the competition, that you got what you paid for, and that a home is worth more.
The tour had a sponsored kickoff event in Tampa way back in 2014, and that got participants hands-on with state of the art tools like testing fans and infrared cameras thanks to TruTech Tools and Retrotec. While the help from exclusive sponsor Dow Building Solutions on that original event was awesome, it made the process of replicating the tour in other cities very slow. Corbett and Grace ultimately decided to streamline the tour, do it all at once in sequence, and spend a whole week at each location, instead of just two days! Find out more about the 2016 tour at http://ProofIsPossible.com.
The Building Performance Workshop team makes ‘Proof’ both educational and entertaining, showing homeowners and homebuyers that they should expect nothing less. Whereas most marketing for home performance is of a ‘macro’ nature intended for huge swaths of people in different areas, the Proof Tour takes a markedly ‘micro’ approach and simply gets everyone who needs to be involved in a local market in one room together.
“I attended the first Proof is Possible in Tampa, and it was the most informative class I have ever been to. Corbett took a very involved subject and in 2 days made me understand things about Home Performance that I hadn’t known in 5 years of testing and 30 years of contracting. It is worth every penny and a lot more to spend this time with the man who wrote the book on the subject while he breaks it down and shows you how it works,” reported Mike Bowman of Dunedin Refrigeration. Adds Cate Hammer of Building Insight, “It’s exciting to have an exuberant and nationally-respected expert like Corbett help us connect the top local contractors with the homeowners and real estate pros who’re looking for what they can deliver- proven results.”
The tour aims to also deepen the real estate community’s understanding of the value of performance. Out of 850 total MLS databases in the U.S., a surprising 185 incorporate ‘green’ features- but few Realtors understand how to use them. The National Association of Realtors found in 2012 that 87% of surveyed homebuyers believe cooling and heating costs are “important” or “very important”. High performance home certifications such as ENERGY STAR and Passive House can add a 10% premium to a home’s selling price, according to several studies surveying millions of home sales throughout the nation. Punta Gorda-based home appraiser Sandra Adomatis adds, “There’s a huge misunderstanding about the cost- a new high performance home will only cost 2-7% more than a code-built home, but then it works for you, instead of you working for it.”
The Proof Is Possible Tour is coming to a city near you, with dinner workshops for anyone who owns or plans to own a home, a breakfast workshop for real estate professionals, mortgage brokers, and appraisers, all free of charge thanks to sponsorship. Additionally there’s a full day of training ($200) for building professionals, who’ll be equipped to turn around and prove they did the job right the first time, and find the mistakes competitors have made. And on Day Two a Duct and Envelope Tightness certification course is be held for a limited number of participants.
For a list of upcoming cities, information and registration visit: http://ProofIsPossible.com
I thought I would send this your way. I live in the Central Valley of California. Yesterday it reached 106 degrees. I did an experiment with my house. My 1,883 sq./ft. house had a deep energy upgrade over three years ago. The heating and cooling unit is a 2 stage/2 ton heat pump with no back-up heat. The second stage of cooling is disconnected so I am cooling with 1.4 tons. That is one ton for every 1,345 sq./ft.
Yesterday morning I left the house at 7:40 am. It was 75 degrees in the house and 75 degrees outside. I closed all of the blinds, turned the HRV off and turned the Heat Pump off. In other words, I let the house float. It got up to 106 degrees in Stockton yesterday. Luci my bride got home at 5:40 in the afternoon and the house was 78 degrees. She turned the thermostat back on and it brought the temp back to 75 in 30 minutes.
This stuff really works.
Keep up the GREAT work;
You are awesome. I'm not sure I know many other home performance experts who have fixed their own homes- most of our families have to suffer at home while we help other people get comfortable. Thanks so much for sharing the good word!
Welcome to the new series where you solve it yourself! Watch me demonstrate a common problem happening in a brand new home- will you be able to diagnose the problem and prescribe the solution? In heating and cooling, airflows and pressures are the most critical and least understood factors for performance.
For my own company to be successful in the home performance industry, I strive to distill complex concepts and practices to their most essential and basic elements. This does two things:
- It enables a professional to keep a cool, clear head when faced with complicated challenges in the field
- It helps frame the way we talk to our clients about our work (clients, professional or otherwise, tend to tune out when we get technical)
In the interest of keeping it simple, therefore, let's take a tour through all of Home Performance Contracting in a 4-3-2-1 approach. Here it is:
THE 4 ELEMENTS
I describe Home Performance to my clients, and to myself, with four basic elements:
- Heat Flow (which everyone thinks they understand, though they generally don't)
- Air Flow & Pressure (two sides of the same coin, which very few building professionals think about deeply, even in HVAC)
- Moisture (damaging the home's durability more effectively than almost anything)
- Air Quality and Safety (including carbon monoxide, electricity, and structure)
This list is in increasing order of importance. You'll notice that the two elements which have to do with energy efficiency are at the least important end of the list. This is why your title is better defined as a Home Performance Expert than an Energy Efficiency Expert. People will continue to call it 'Energy Auditing' when you're testing, but if you can keep reminding them that you're doing so much more than saving energy, you make yourself more valuable.
THE 3 STEPS AND 3 RECOMMENDATIONS
Before you whip out your tools and get to work, always remember that your most valuable tool is your own experience and your senses, and taking time to think. There are three stages to any really valuable activity in this field (or any field, as far as I'm concerned):
- Recommendations for Improvement
What you see, hear, smell, and feel in the home (or taste, but please don't let your client see you) is often the most valuable testing you perform, and it can tell you a lot about what you expect to find in the diagnostic stage. Never use your testing tools until you know what you're looking for (for example, if the A/C isn't running well, discovering that the coils are filthy should NOT lead to superheat and subcooling testing- you should clean the coils first).
The diagnostic tests are what separates a pro from an opinion-giver, and the tragedy is that not only are diagnostics seldom performed in the HVAC field, most HVAC techs are not even supplied with the equipment or training necessary!
Recommendations should only be offered once performance diagnostics have been run, so you and your client can be sure that the solution offered will solve a pinpointed problem.
There are generally always three recommendations you'll make in any home:
- Air Sealing
- HVAC (including anything that heats, cools, or moves air)
Air leakage will defeat any insulation or HVAC improvement you make, so make sure to always start there. Not only that, but it's cheap, straightforward, never needs maintaining or replacing, and doesn't use energy over the long-term.
Insulation, likewise, is inexpensive and efficient, and must be consistent for the HVAC to function properly.
Lastly, the HVAC itself must be properly sized, selected, and installed, AND THEN VERIFIED WITH PERFORMANCE TESTING. Everyone thinks they do good work- most are woefully mistaken. The pros who know, know because they tested their work before they left. Those pros don't waste money on callbacks.
THE 2 SYSTEMS
As far as the home performance professional is concerned, there are two main systems in any home:
- The Envelope (air sealing and insulation)
- The HVAC (anything that moves heat or air within the home)
The important thing to remember is that the Envelope will always defeat the HVAC if they're working at cross purposes.
THE 1 GOAL OF HOME PERFORMANCE
Since we're not talking about energy efficiency, as already mentioned, and we're not talking about sustainability or 'green' stuff, what ARE we talking about? CONTROL.
Control is the goal. If you control all 4 ELEMENTS by using the 3 STEPS to make 3 RECOMMENDATIONS on the 2 SYSTEMS, then you've achieved a high performance home, regardless of what the occupant chooses to do with the space.
And the only way to demonstrate control is with PERFORMANCE TESTING. All building codes across the country will require performance testing (at least of ductwork) by 2017, due to a requirement of the ARRA funding of 2009.
Eventually, homeowners will understand that they can demand a guarantee on any contracting work they pay for, and there will be companies who can continue to profit in that business. There will also be companies who have never tested their work, and find out that it doesn't pass performance testing- under the immediate pressure of performance-based guarantees, many of those companies will not survive. Make sure your company does excellent work before your clients ask to see the proof!
Today Corbett talks with Peter Troast of Energy Circle, who was just awarded the 2015 BPI Tony Woods Award at ACI National Conference. Peter runs the websites of over 300 home performance contractors, and so may have the best view of how performance-based business in the 21st century is actually working.