Dr. Bailes speaks regularly at conferences, training classes, and special events.
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Amy Musser has a PhD in Architectural Engineering and, like me, used to be a college professor. Her husband, Matthew Vande, is an architect with an MS in Architectural Engineering. He is also a treehugger (photo at right). Together, they founded Vandemusser Design, a firm that provides green design, certification, and consulting. They walk the talk, having designed, built, and moved into their net zero energy home in Asheville, North Carolina.
Labradors? James Brown? What do either of those have to do with the RESNET conference?! Be patient, my friend. All will be revealed shortly. The 2013 RESNET conference just ended, and it was fantastic. It and Building Science Summer Camp are my two favorite events of the year, and this year it was better than ever.
I've been going to the RESNET conference at the beginning of each year since 2009. I also went in 2004, and I can tell you that it's a great learning and networking opportunity if you're in the home energy industry. Are you on the fence about coming to the RESNET conference this year? Are you not on the fence but just haven't registered yet? Even if neither of those apply, see my list below and you may find a reason that you hadn't considered.
We've been teaching our Home Energy Rater training class for over two years now. Because I'm like Sweetwater beer, a local favorite here in Atlanta, and "don't float the mainstream," I spread the material of the class out over 8 days. (Well, I don't know that I'm a local favorite, but it's true that I don't float the mainstream.) I announced a couple of months ago, however, that we were putting our class on hold for the rest of the year to re-evaluate how we're offering this training because our enrollment has been low.
Six years ago, RESNET published a major revision of the HERS Standards, called...wait for it: the 2006 National Mortgage Industry Home Energy Rating Systems Standards. One important new feature in the standards was the grading of insulation installation quality. Before this change, R-13 insulation installed poorly (as shown below right) was equivalent to any other R-13 insulation, including insulation with impeccable installation quality (as shown at left). If you know any HERS raters, you've probably heard the debates about the various types of insulation and the poor quality of installation they sometimes see. (OK, you're right; it's more than sometimes.) Just last week I wrote about the discussion of banning batt insulation.
A lot of home builders and homeowners are getting certified home energy ratings to find out how efficient their homes are. There's also a lot of buzz about HERS ratings, with builders looking at them as a tool for marketing their homes. As I described in our basic description of home energy ratings, this process models the energy performance of a home and comes up with, among other results, a number called the HERS Index. But what exactly is this thing called the HERS Index?
OK, HERS raters, here's a question for you: Have you done ratings on homes that have duct systems in encapsulated crawl spaces? If the duct system didn't qualify for the RESNET exemption from testing (ducts 100% inside the building envelope and 100% visible), how did you perform the test for duct leakage outside the building envelope? The HERS Standards now specify that the encapsulated crawl space should be at the same pressure as the house (25 Pa) when you run the test.
One of the great benefits of going out into the field to do quality assurance and training for HERS raters is that I get to see what's going on in new construction. Last week I visited HERS raters in Nashville, Memphis, and Birmingham and got to see that there's some good stuff happening in the world of home building. Yesterday I wrote about a net zero energy house near Memphis. Today, I'm going to just show you a photo of something I've seen only three times now - fiberglass batt insulation installed to RESNET Grade I quality.
Did you make it to Austin last week for the RESNET Conference? Did you catch the presentation that I did with Peter Troast of Energy Circle? Whether you did or you didn't, now you can download the pdf version of the presentation. In it you'll find out:
Because of this blog, I've sharpened my powers of observation by several orders of magnitude. I thought I was a pretty good observer before, with my background in physics, but writing as much as I have these past two years has changed me. I'm always looking at the things around me, stuff I see online, everything people say, dreams, soup cans, potholes, a memory from something that happened ages ago—in other words, everything that comes into my mind—and trying to fit pieces together and see how it might turn into something new for the blog or for my teaching.
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