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Happy New Year From the DOE Challenge Home

doe home energy challenge

What an incredible year for DOE Challenge Home!  In 2013, we launched new national program requirements in January and then hung on for an incredible ride. Over the last twelve months we introduced a new Zero Energy Ready Home training program with over 30 sessions across the country; developed a customizable homebuyer brochure that conveys the compelling Challenge Home value proposition; engaged commitments from over 170 builder partners to construct nearly 8,000 certified homes; developed and convened the first national Housing Innovation Awards at the Solar Decathlon featuring 19 DOE Challenge Home award winners; and provided technical and orientation webinars reaching over 1,000 stakeholders.

This year will be even busier as we march towards a goal of 2,000 certified Challenge Homes. We’ll introduce substantially augmented technical resources with national experts providing over 15 webinars on detailed program requirements and a new DOE Challenge Home interface on the Building America Solution Center to make understanding the requirements easier.

On the marketing resources side, Challenge Home will augment the homebuyer brochure with a full-day Challenge Home Sales Training course to be offered in select markets, along with a new Building America Building Science Translator web tool.  The translator tool will provide a whole new glossary of ‘power words’ that are much more effective at conveying the value of high-performance homes.  Also look for ongoing and improved Zero Energy Ready Home training classes, including special efforts to work with regional home builder associations. Lastly, the Challenge Home team will be reaching out to local hometown banks seeking Challenge Home mortgages with preferred interest rates.  Yes, 2014 will further establish zero energy ready Challenge Homes as the home of the future. Please join the movement.

Best,

Sam Rashkin

Tech training right at your desk

Start the year right with a series of DOE Challenge Home Tech Training Webinars in the comfort of your office.  Zero Energy Ready Homes include critical systems that ensure both energy efficiency and performance.  Each webinar in this series features an industry expert who will go into detail on a specific system or Challenge Home requirement.  These details and tips will help partners to design, construct and certify DOE Challenge Homes.

Efficient Hot Water Distribution II – How to Get it Right, Thursday, January 30th, 12:00 PM – 1:15 PM EST

Join us for the second session on hot water distribution on Thursday, January 30, 2014, 12:00 PM – 1:15 PM EST. Presenter Gary Klein, Affiliated International Management, LLC, will explain design techniques for optimizing hot water delivery for both energy and water – while avoiding unexpected performance issues. The session will include re-circulation system design as well as structured plumbing systems. Reserve your Webinar seat now.

Ducts in Conditioned Space, Thursday, March 20th, 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM EST

As a blueprint for zero energy ready homes, it is impossible to justify huge thermal losses from ducts in unconditioned spaces in DOE Challenge Homes.  That’s why presenter Bill Zoeller of Steven Winter Associates, a leading Building America expert on the thermal performance of air distribution systems, will lead a webinar on Thursday March 20, Noon – 1:30 p.m. EST, covering these mandatory specs. This session will cover how DOE’s Building America research program has developed a toolkit of duct design strategies to meet this requirement. You’ll learn the pros and cons of these strategies so you can specify distribution systems that are effective for your project. Reserve your Webinar seat now.

The compelling case for zero energy ready homes continues

Sam Rashkin and other talented trainers continue to tour the country delivering the Zero Energy Ready Home training. The training highlights the business case for building high performance homes as well as the technical details to construct these high-value homes. Here are some upcoming training locations:

How much will I save?

The DOE Challenge Home Savings & Cost Estimate Summary gives builders, contractors, utilities, energy programs, and other stakeholders a general sense of the magnitude and type of added costs for constructing a certified home and how these costs compare to the energy savings. Actual energy savings and incremental costs for DOE Challenge Home projects will vary based on design approaches, experience level with high performance construction, supplier relationships and numerous other factors, but this will give you a sense of what costs and energy savings might look like to put things into perspective.

Change to Garage Exhaust Ventilation Requirement

We’ve received a lot of interest in the garage exhaust ventilation requirement from you – our partners. So you’ll be interested to know that the underlying specification from EPA’s Indoor airPLUS program has been updated and DOE Challenge Home will follow suit. Effective immediately, a garage exhaust fan is only required in the event that the house uses exhaust-only whole-house mechanical ventilation. Additionally, this exhaust fan is not required if the home can maintain a minimum 45 Pascal (Pa) pressure difference with respect to the garage while the house has a 50 Pascal difference relative to outdoors. To see the details please refer to the Indoor airPLUS specifications. DOE is accepting home qualifications built to meet the revised specifications effective immediately, and will reflect the new specs in the next release of our program requirements.

Join us at RESNET

Home Energy Raters are crucial partners in high performance home projects, which is why we’re very excited to offer a DOE Challenge Home track at the upcoming 2014 RESNET Building Performance Conference in Atlanta. We’ll cover the business case for building zero energy ready homes, hear builder and rater perspectives and motivations for building in this space, and dig into key technical issues with Building America experts. The DOE Challenge Home track runs from February 24 – 26, with 10 sessions in all. We hope you can join us.

You deserve credit

Don’t forget to send in your DOE Challenge Home verification form from your RESNET-accredited software to get credit for your hard work on your profile in the partner locator

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