EnergyLogic is in the news! Check out this interview with Robby Schwarz, one of the founders and continuing principals here at EnergyLogic. You’ll find the article supporting how EnergyLogic continues to help builders, salespeople, and consumers in our industry better understand the long-term benefits that energy efficiency will bring to their lives.
To access the article, please click on the link below:
Who to Contact:
Principal, Director of Builder Relations
In July of 2015, EnergyLogic began informing you about upcoming software changes. As a reminder, the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) began to align the energy rating reference home to the 2006 IECC almost two years ago. The reference home, which currently reflects the 2004 IECC supplemental code, is what your home is compared to in order to create the HERS Index score. RESNET has gone through a process of taking the rule set for how to develop the HERS Index score through the ANSI process in order to create the ANSI/RESNET/ICC 301-2014 Standard for the Calculation and Labeling of the Energy Performance of Low-Rise Residential Buildings using an Energy Rating Index. The main impetus for this ANSI Standard arose from the desire to use the Index Score for code compliance and the adoption of the Energy Rating Index (ERI), a HERS path, as a compliance matrix for the 2015 IECC.
The alignment with the 2006 IECC has three primary effects on the HERS reference home.
- First, the updated 2006 IECC reference home infiltration rate became tighter to better reflect the improved tightness levels of newly constructed homes.
- Second, the updated 2006 IECC reference home window solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) went from 0.55 in climate zones 4 through 8 to a SHGC of 0.40 in those climate zones. This updated value reflects the market penetration of improvements in basic window technology and is in alignment with the 2006 IECC.
- Lastly, revised mechanical ventilation requirements are used in the HERS reference home which are now aligned with the ASHRAE 62.2-2013 ventilation standard.
Scores to Increase by 2 to 6 Points
Philip Fairey, Deputy Director of the Florida Solar Energy Center and a consultant for RESNET, performed research on the impact of these changes on the HERS Index values of rated homes in all eight climate zones. His research has demonstrated that the HERS Index values will increase across all climate zones by a range of 2 to 6 points due to the reference home alignment with the 2006 IECC that occurred through the creation of the ANSI/RESNET 301-2014 Standard. EnergyLogic has been working with the newly released software, and we are seeing results that are consistently on the high end of the range (3-8 HERS Index points) when comparing homes that were rated with software developed prior to the ANSI standard adoption. RESNET is mandating that HERS providers begin using the new software on January 1, 2017. EnergyLogic has worked with RESNET to find ways to reduce the impact of the implementation of the ANSI standard software. A few things are, or have been, changed but the impact of the score increase will remain significant, affecting every home across the country.
Incorporating Water Heating
The development of the ANSI standard has also given RESNET the opportunity to include additional features related to water heating. This is specific to energy use related to hot water distribution and does not take into account water conservation. RESNET is working on a Water Index score that will address water conservation. The ANSI standard addendum allows the HERS Index score to quantify the efficiency or loss of energy through; pipe runs from the water heater to the farthest fixture, hot water pipes that are insulated, on-demand recirculation systems, high-efficiency low flow fixtures, and drain water heat recovery systems. If all of these systems are deployed in a home, the technologies can provide builders approximately 1-3 point reduction in the HERS Index.
It is important to also understand that if a builder is currently utilizing a water delivery system that is not delivering the hot water efficiently then the HERS Index would be penalized. For example, if you are currently using a timer or continuous recirculation loop to deliver hot water, your home’s HERS Index will be penalized. This will result in a higher score than the normal transition to the ANSI approved software. So, in this example, if the transitioning to the ANSI approved software took a HERS Index from 60 to 65, the inefficient hot water circulation system could add another 5-10 points, taking the score to 70 or 75. It is important to evaluate your current specifications and choose the most efficient water distribution systems, such as an on-demand hot water recirculation system, or stop installing them all together.
Summary: All Homes will Be Affected
These changes will affect every home that is rated but should have minimal impact on the use of the Index score for demonstrating compliance with programs such as EnergyStar, as the program’s energy Index target will fluctuate in unison with the home that is being rated. In the same way, these changes should have minimal effects on code compliance when utilizing the Simulated Performance path as the code reference home is separate from the HERS reference home. For those few builders utilizing the 2015 IECC Energy Rating Index path (ERI), these changes will be significant. Lastly, builders utilizing the Index score in their marketing efforts will need to update HERS related marketing collaterals.
Principal / Director of Builder Relations
The Q3 Field Fusion event delved into air-sealing and sound transmission challenges in multi-family units through a guided discussion that included perspectives from Code Officials, Insulators, and Raters. Read more here.
There are many complexities that accompany building townhomes and duplexes. For example, townhomes and duplexes built with common fire separation walls (party walls) are twice as leaky as single family houses that are twice their size.
The shaft wall, which we see most often in Colorado, is open directly to the outside through the designed gap between the shaft liner and the framing, thus creating a leaky assembly. An additional complexity arises when the reduction of unit-to-unit sound transmission is taken into account, which requires correctly installed insulation.
EnergyLogic’s August 31st Field Fusion delved into the details of these assemblies through a guided discussion that included perspectives from Code Officials, Insulators, and Raters.
We must first define what part of the shaft wall assembly is fire-rated, as the entire assembly is not. This is an important distinction that allows for more air sealing options once understood.
In chapter 3 of the IRC, Section R302 “Fire Resistant Construction” and Section R302.2 “Townhouses” states, “The common wall shared by two townhouses shall be constructed without plumbing or mechanical equipment, ducts or vents in the cavity of the common wall. The wall shall be rated for fire exposure from both sides and shall extend to and be tight against exterior walls and the underside of the roof sheathing.”
This statement in the IRC is our first indication that the two layers of sheetrock in the shaft liner wall are the fire-rated two-hour wall, designed to slow the spread of fire from unit to unit. Thus, the two layers of 1” drywall cannot be penetrated with ducts.
The framing (which is held off the fire-rated assembly by a clip) often has ducts or plumbing in it and is specifically designed to burn and separate from the two-hour assembly when the clip melts. This allows one unit to burn and fall before fire is able to pass through to the adjacent unit. The UL (Underwriters Laboratory) listing for many of these assemblies’ references section 705 of the International Building Code (IBC) which states in Section 705.2 “Structural Stability”, “Fire walls shall have sufficient structural stability under fire conditions to allow collapse of construction on either side without collapse of the wall for the duration of time indicated by the required fire-resistance rating.” This is another indication that UL listings and the code are in agreement that the fire assembly is the two layers of 1” drywall and not the framing adjacent to the drywall.
It is important to point this out because throughout Colorado there is not a common understanding of what constitutes a shaft liner fire-rated party wall assembly. Some jurisdictions still hold that the assembly is the drywall, air gap, clip, framing and interior drywall while others hold that it is as explained above. What is consistent is the understanding that the assembly must be built continuously from the foundation to the roof deck.
EnergyLogic suggests having a discussion with jurisdictions, in an effort to:
- Ensure a common understanding of this assembly
- Determine how the assembly will be air sealed to control airflow to meet the air leakage requirements of the energy code.
One thing to note: jurisdictions throughout the state require that the two layers of sheetrock run continuously from the foundation to the roof deck, but not the entirety of the rest of the assembly. The most conspicuous example is the interior drywall, which is always missing on the ventilated attic side of the party wall.
Challenge: How to Achieve 3 ACH50?
Now that a common understanding of the assembly has been achieved, it is time to determine how the assembly can be air sealed in order to meet the air leakage target of 3 ACH50 for the 2012 and 2015 IECC. Most jurisdictions have not amended the requirement to meet this airtightness level, so pre-planning is crucial in order to be successful.
The clip that holds the framing off the two-hour party wall assembly creates a 1” gap that is connected directly to the outside at the front and back of the unit, as well as to the attic. This is where the UL listing of the assembly comes into play. UL is an American safety consulting and certification company that provides the one or two-hour rating for fire-rated assemblies by testing them in a laboratory environment. The UL listing for these assemblies is often mixed up with code’s definition of the assembly, which creates confusion regarding what materials are allowed to be used to seal them.
UL often refers to fire-blocking materials. Fire blocking materials are usually defined within the UL assembly and can be any one of the following:
- 2” nominal lumber
- Two thicknesses of 1” nominal lumber with broken lap joints
- One thickness of 0.719” wood structural panel with joints backed by 0.719” wood structural panel
- One thickness of 0.75” particleboard with joints backed by 0.75” particleboard
- Gypsum board, including 1” DensGlass Ultra® Shaftliner and 5/8” DensArmor Plus drywall
- Batts or blankets of mineral wool or fiberglass
- Other approved materials installed in such a manner as to be securely retained in place shall be permitted as an acceptable fire block (Section 717.2.1, 2006 IBC).
As some fire blocking materials are air barriers and some are not it important to choose a material that can stop the flow of air. EnergyLogic has seen the most success when builders tackle fire blocking on each individual floor.
Application: The Picture Frame Method
When looking at the party wall assembly, envision a picture frame around the perimeter of the wall. All four sides need to be fire blocked. The material of choice right now is the same 1” gypsum board used in the 2-hour rated assembly. Install the 1” gypsum board in the 1” gap between the interior of the unit and the outside at the front and back of the units, between floors, and to the attic. Again, picture framing the party wall.
Depending on your foundation type, if you are standing on the first floor you will need to air-seal the two layers of gypsum and the bottom plate to the slab in the shaft wall, or address the rim joist connection in the basement or crawl space to the shaft wall. At the rim joist be sure sill seal has been installed between foundation and sill plate as it is your primary capillary break, then seal the sill plate to foundation, seal rim board to the sill plate, and seal the rim board to sub floor. Pay special attention to any knockouts for foundation bolts.
Once the large 1” gap has been fire blocked with an air-impermeable material such as gypsum, seal the smaller gaps between the fire block and the shaft wall and the fire block and the framing. A fire-rated caulk or expanding foam works for this. Following these steps, with careful attention to detail, should enable you to successfully achieve 3 ACH50.
A few words of caution:
- Ensure that the drywall lid is air-tight: duct boots and other penetrations need to be sealed. In addition, as required by ENERGY STAR, the drywall to top-plate should be sealed. (This is a requirement of code that is generally not enforced.)
- Mechanicals can derail all good air-sealing intentions. Undampered ducts run to the exterior for combustion or ventilation air as well as atmospherically vented appliances. These combustion air ducts can ruin one’s ability to build a tight home that gains control and predictability of the airflow in the building.
Don’t Forget: Sound Reduction
Lastly, these assemblies should reduce sound transmission from dwelling unit to dwelling unit. The party wall is assumed to be an adiabatic wall, i.e. there is no heat loss or gain through the wall between two conditioned spaces as the temperature is the same on each side. Therefore, the insulation is primarily installed to lower sound transmission. The principles of sound reduction and heat flow are the same, so proper installation of the insulation in the framed cavity of the party wall is imperative.
NAIMA, the North American Insulation Manufacture Association, states that the installation of insulation in a party wall application should “comply with the manufacturers’ instructions including filling the entire stud cavity and cut to fit around outlets, junction boxes, and other irregularities in the cavity.” In other words, the insulation in a common party wall should be installed to a RESNET, Grade 1.
To learn more please see EnergyLogic’s Tech Bulletin on “Fire-rated Party Walls” which includes an article by Building Science Corporation.
Have a technical question? Contact Robby Schwarz.
Our next event will take place on November 16th. It is focused on Selling High-Performance Homes. Our guest speaker, Todd Gamboa, President of Building Trust LLC., has a wealth of experience and perspectives to share. Please see details here.
If you have suggestions for topic you would like to see discussed in depth, please let us know. We will be releasing our Q1 2017 event topic and date soon.
Principal / Director of Builder Relations
Get in the Game by Selling High Performance
3:00 – 5:00 PM
Presenter: Todd Gamboa, President of Building Trust LLC
5:00 – 7:00 PM
EnergyLogic’s Mixer and networking
Drinks & hors d’oeuvres provided!
Todd Gamboa, President of Building Trust LLC, has been in the building industry for over 30 years, managing private and public companies. As a homebuilder, he has been responsible for the creation of thousands of homes. As a building science consultant, public speaker, and host of “New Home Solutions Radio”, he educates homebuilders, contractors, architects, appraisers, and realtors all over the country about the value and benefits of buying new construction. Mr Gamboa has launched and managed several, energy efficiency and “market transformation” programs for utility providers; home builder and realtor associations; and state and federal government agencies throughout the U.S. His fast-paced, fun, and informative sales training have been described as “Info-tainment” by attendees.
This Field Fusion event is generously supported by Tyvek.
EnergyLogic is proud to announce some exciting changes to our team! Get to know our new Field Services Manager & Software Technical Liaison, Steve Eagleburger.
Q&A: Learn more about Steve, his comprehensive background, and credentials!
What was your first job in the residential construction industry?
I’ve been involved in construction most of my life. I started as a painter/faux finisher around 30 years ago. I moved on to handyman work and eventually became a General Contractor around 2003.
How and when did you first become interested in high-performance homes and energy efficiency?
I’ve always been interested in environmental construction and design. I built the one and only Compressed Earth Block home in Denver and currently live there. It’s imperative that the construction industry realizes the impact it has on this planet and its inhabitants and take steps to move toward more efficient, cleaner and safer homes.
What insights did you gain in your time working as a general contractor?
Contractors can change the way we build homes and by making that change we can create longer- lasting, more comfortable, better performing homes. We often are focused on the bottom line when we should step back and look at the big picture. Success comes when we meet a triple bottom line -Economic Value, Environmental Sustainability and Social Responsibility. This is what drove me as a G.C. and eventually what lead me to work at Energylogic.
You’ve been with EnergyLogic since 2010 and have worked at a number of different roles. What are some things you can share about your background in residential energy consulting?
You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it and as soon as you know it you need to share it. This is a constantly evolving industry and as raters and builders, we have to stay informed. Codes and programs evolve over time. It’s our responsibility as energy consultants to keep our clients informed and be as pre-emptive as possible when change is coming. Nobody likes surprises!
What are some of the common design mistakes or misconceptions builders should watch out for?
Demand a detailed set of drawings from your architect and engineer before you start to build and make sure those drawing specify local codes and builder program details! Refresh your plan set to include updated codes or details that were missed originally so you don’t keep repeating the same mistakes. So many failures and re-inspections can be avoided by having a knee wall framing detail somewhere in your plan set, or air barrier detail drawn for double framed walls, or by making sure there’s room between the stairs and foundation wall to add insulation, etc. These details allow everyone to do their job better, from estimators to installers.
Little things do matter. Even though we don’t like to delay construction schedules over minor issues, small improvements on a national scale can make an impact. We call these things out to help you build a better product, not to be obstructive. The building code and national programs such as Energy Star and DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes exist to help you build a better product and get to that triple bottom line. Embrace it and accept the future of construction!
What do you like to do in your free time?
When I’m not working you’ll find me hiking or camping with my wife and dog, but nothing too extreme. We like the quiet places. Or maybe I’m down at the local brewery for a pint of cask-conditioned English ale. Once a week you’ll find me at Zenko Kyudojo in Boulder, practicing Japanese archery.
Quite often I step backward and look outside the badge of a BPI auditor and put myself in the shoes of a homeowner. A homeowner whose home I’m about to pick apart. For the most part homeowners are happy to have us there. We’re there to help, not to sell. They expect us to make recommendations telling them what should be improved. They expect, “Fix or replace this, and your house will be better.” What they don’t expect is the education that comes with it. With an understanding of how these recommendations make a difference, homeowners could save thousands.
On a recent assessment of a home I was told the main interest in having an audit was to confirm the need to replace an induced draft furnace with a sealed combustion furnace. The homeowner was replacing a sensor that was failing every few months. An HVAC contractor suggested buying a sealed combustion furnace. Ta Da! Problem fixed. Not so fast.
It should be noted that the furnace was located in the crawl space; and a vented crawl space to boot. This was a big factor in several issues, one of which was the routine replacement of the sensor, the comfort in the rooms above the crawl space and poor indoor air quality. The thinking was that the sealed combustion furnace would reduce or eliminate the likelihood that the sensor would need to be replaced often and that the air flow would be better to the rooms above, increasing comfort.
As you know, a new furnace doesn’t address the root of the problem. This is where educating the homeowner is valuable. We need to make sure they understand why we recommend the improvements we do. We sat down to discuss why the problems existed in the first place and how a new furnace will still leave them with their current problem.
First, let’s look at the sensor problem. The dry, dry dirt in the crawl space was being pulled into the furnace housing and collecting on the sensor. What he needs is to install a sealed barrier over the ground of the crawl space, preventing premature failure of the furnace. More importantly, this would improve indoor air quality. Next was to address the comfort issue in the floor above the crawl space. With a new furnace and increased air flow to rooms, the vented crawl space would still allow cool air to directly impact the floor above. To truly fix this would be to seal the crawl space vents, air seal and insulate the rim joist and insulate the walls. This was an easier fix and less expensive than replacing the furnace. The homeowner understood and agreed, then decided to pursue improving the crawl space.
In the end, recommendations for improvements are a lot more beneficial if the homeowner has basic understanding of the science behind those recommendations. Too bad there is not a Cliffs Notes of basic building science for homeowners.
Attention: RESNET® Trainers, Raters, and Rating Field Inspectors!
The train is leaving the station- don’t be left behind.
In early 2013, the RESNET Board adopted changes to Chapter 2 of the Mortgage Industry National Home Energy Rating Standards. Those changes included two significant additions that are now going into effect. The minimum required knowledge and skills for individuals carrying RESNET credentials now includes Combustion Safety Testing (CST) and Work Scope Development! For details on how this will affect you, read on.
Rating Field Inspectors (RFIs) and HERS Raters
- Beginning January 1, 2014 all new candidates will now have to pass three exams. (80% or better on the written and 85% on the simulator.) The first is the usual 50 question (either RFI or HERS® Rater) written exam, which includes basic building science, field diagnostics, RESNET Standards, etc. Second, the new candidate will have to pass a 25 question CST/Work Scope Development exam. Finally, the candidate will have to pass a simulated Combustion Safety Testing field exam. This was developed for RESNET by Interplay and uses much of the same platform as Interplay’s BPI BA training simulator.
- The phase-in will be consistent with previous RESNET exam changes. Those who have already earned the RFI or HERS Rater designation are “grandfathered” but only for a time. All existing RFIs and HERS Raters must pass both the Work Scope Development exam and the Combustion Safety Testing simulated exam by January 1, 2015.
RESNET Trainers and Training Providers
- Beginning January 1, 2014 all existing RESNET Accredited Trainers will now have to pass both the Work Scope Development written exam and the CST Simulated exam.
- Beginning January 1, 2014 all RESNET Accredited Training Providers will have to incorporate both CST and Work Scope Development into their curriculum. RESNET will not allow Training Providers to renew for 2014 until they have at least one trainer who has taken and passed the two new exams.
My colleague Glenn Pease and I both successfully challenged the new exams recently in order maintain EnergyLogic’s RESNET Training Provider Accreditation. Our advice on the simulator exam is to first read the new standard carefully. Those familiar with BPI’s CST procedures will have an easier go of it, but only after noting some of the significant differences such as time limits for spillage testing and simulating the draft of non-sealed combustion wood stoves and fireplaces with your blower door. Once you’ve registered for the simulator exam, Interplay makes available their online tutorial with unlimited access for a full month. It is worth taking the time to do all of the tutorials. Even for you experts at CST, take our advice and practice using the simulator to become familiar with the navigation and use of the tool. For those not previously trained in Combustion Safety Testing procedures (BPI or equivalent) we strongly advise taking a CST & Work Scope field training from a RESNET Accredited Training Provider. Mike Barcik and his pals at Southface Institute will be offering this training at the RESNET Conference in Atlanta this February. EnergyLogic Academy includes CST in our Rater Training Curriculum now, and we will begin offering a stand-alone version for current raters and RFIs in spring of 2014.
Are you a rater, auditor, or installer who is thinking of advancing your career by obtaining a new credential? It’s been said that our industry has caught a case of certificationitis. And it is true that there have been a lot of new certifications within the last year or so. So how do you make sense of it all? Read on.
I received a large envelope in the mail recently. It was from the Building Performance Institute, informing me that I have been awarded the new Quality Control Inspector certification. BPI does a really good job when they award certification- including a letter, a nice color certificate, ID card, and even some BPI patches if you want to create your own swag. So, you can imagine that I was feeling a little bit of pride. But then, someone asked me to explain in plain terms what this would allow me to do and how it would impact my job.
I thought for a minute. As I did so, the wind in my sails subsided. The short answer is, absolutely nothing. At least in the short term, I won’t be doing anything any different than I was already doing. There is no new work out there for me, no new program that I can participate in today that I couldn’t already participate in. So why did I bother to obtain this new certification? I’ll get to that. First, I thought it would be helpful to outline some of the new credentials out there, how you obtain them, and how to determine if they would benefit your…
Here is my personal guide to things to do in Denver especially focused on eating and drinking and things that you can walk to from the 16th St. Mall.
Disclaimer: This is my personal list, it reflects places I’ve been and things that I enjoy. Good luck!
PDF attached below or scroll down for links and a separate map…
ACI – Welcome to Denver –
The Mile-High City, Queen City of the West, Queen City of the Plains, Wall Street of the West and a whole lot more!
Welcome all my fellow ACI attendees to Denver. I can tell you right now that I’m quite proud of our fine city. We’ve done a tremendous amount of work in the past many years. This is a photo from the Denver Post of the Rockies opening day twenty years ago…
The city is barely recognizable from this photo. Old Mile High in the foreground – gone. McNichols Arena next to it – gone. No Coors Field, LoDo a place you didn’t go because there was no reason to go. We’ve got a tremendous amount of in-fill and density happening. We’ve got light-rail; we have a recovered river. It’s good stuff.
In some ways, it’s back to the future…
Wow! Downtown is exciting again. And that brings me to the objective of this missive. One thing I can say about the people at ACI is that they work hard, really hard.
They barely leave the hotel. So this is my clarion call to you to… leave the hotel!
A great city is at your doorstep when you are downtown like this. I’ve put together my personal list of favorite places to eat and drink, listen to music and focused it primarily on what you can walk to with a few exceptions.
Just like your great city, the history is rich and pride runs deep.
I hope that you can take a few minutes or better yet, an extra day or two and see some of what we have to offer. Once again, welcome!
My twitter handle is @elstevebyers and if you want to reach me that way for guidance or an opinion, I’ll do my best!
Denver Art Museum – a few blocks from the conference and really lovely. If you’re in early, Georgia O’keeffe leaves after 4/28.
Confluence Park – at the west end of the mall, ride the tram and then walk a few blocks, the river should be raging with the moisture we’ve had!
16th Street Mall – once you’ve been up and down it a few thousand times it loses a little charm, but pretty fun all and all, look for the pianos up and down the way. Bars, eateries and shopping all along.
Red Rocks – west of town, incredibly beautiful, no shows yet, too early!
Clyfford Still Museum – one man’s art. If you like modern art (as I do) this is a great stop.
Tattered Cover Bookstore – a really great independent bookstore towards the west end of the mall – hours of fun for bibliophiles!
Rockies vs Rays on Friday – we sometimes have professional baseball here J
Nuggets – yep, they could still be playing!
And of course, you can get outside. We have a couple of outdoor activities around here…
Eating and Drinking – these are few of my favorite things…
Drinking – off the mall, but all within a block or three of the mall bus…
Falling Rock Taphouse – many, many beers on tap, close to Coors Field
Freshcraft – ditto with lots of locals. We have a LOT of excellent local beer…
Whiskey Bar – a “nice” dark, “dive” bar. Go to Biker Jim’s (below) and then cross the street to the Whiskey Bar. 200+ whiskies, firewater, what have you…
On the Mall – The Yardhouse – convenient and plentiful selection
Eating – likewise off the mall but all easy to get to…
Larimer Street – this is the place, go just south of 16th St and you’ll find a plethora (yes I like big words) of mid to upper end places, tons of great ones. If you’re looking for a really good, organic, local, etc. somewhat pricey meal I recommend The Kitchen.
On the other hand…
Biker Jim’s – fantastic wild game Brats. Really one of my favorite places to eat. Great sides and sauces matched up with the brats.
Snooze – a magnificent breakfast eatery. There can be a line here any day of the week and especially on weekends.
Crepe’s and Crepe’s – just off the mall with a wide variety of sweet and savory crepes. Here’s a challenge, get a group together and let them decide only between Crepe’s and Crepe’s and Biker Jim’s – Ha!
Sonoda’s Sushi – if you’re a sushi snob, this probably isn’t the place, but I like it and it’s in a basement!
Okay, this is a short list, I could probably go on and on, so good luck out there and for God’s sake have some fun too!
We’ll be here to meet you!
More eating and drinking!
Steuben’s 523 East 17th Avenue
Really great lunch and dinner, diner style. Not a terribly long walk.
Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Cafe 534 East Colfax Avenue
A local chain, fabulous beer, decent food, probably too far to walk
Uncle 2215 West 32nd Avenue
Cross over the Platte by foot or go by taxi. This is my new favorite in Denver. Truly fantastic, affordable Korean inspired food.
Root Down 1600 West 33rd Avenue
Haven’t been here, but it’s supposed to be fantastic. This and Uncle above are in Highlands. If you go here, there are great places all around you. The amazing Johnny Cupcakes personally recommended this place to me.
Amerigo Delicatus 2449 Larimer Street
Low-key, neighborhood style type of place really nice. Italian dishes, good deals on wine, Bruschetta Bar.
Jazz @ Jack’s – one guess what they have here. Right on the 16th St. Mall, so very easy…
Paramount – right off the mall, big time theater type venue – John Prine on Friday night!
See schedule below…
While this thread came from a discussion of pricing for Energy Star Version 3, it applies to any service you might offer. Pricing is one of the most difficult tasks you face as a business. I’ve written a related post on Firing a Client and we’ve also discussed how we set pricing for software services. Let’s start by assuming that a “good” price is one in which we have an equal exchange of money for value. What other questions should you try to answer?
- What will the market bear?
- Can you deliver the service for less without sacrificing quality?
- Are you building a business or working for wages?
- Could you scale up at the price you’ve set?
All of these questions (and there are a LOT more!) are considerations for pricing your services. I’d like to spend a few words discussing the last bullet, price versus scale. In an immature, developing service industry, there are typically a multitude of small companies, many of them sole proprietors. These companies are able to offer their services for a very low price as they have insignificant overhead; tend to have simple systems and far too often don’t understand the implications of pricing. A key factor in small business failure is attempting to fight a price war. I just wrote about this in my last post about racing to the bottom.
As an industry scales up, the assumption is that prices will drop. This is often true in product sectors. I’d like to propose a contrasting position; as an industry scales up, in order to meet market demand, prices must increase to handle increased complexity and overhead requirements. BIG CAVEAT: This presumes consistent quality of service. That is, it presumes and apples to apples comparison. If quality is eroded, then my theory doesn’t hold. I contend that the impact on the industry (any industry, but especially service industries) if quality is diminished will be negative. In my opinion, we are a trust agent industry. If and when we lose that, we all lose for a long time. Finally, as an industry achieves maturity, prices can come down again as economies of scale and other synergies come into play. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as the integrity of the industry is protected.
I think it’s critical for the long term health of our industry that we all work to support and demand a high level of accountability, enforcement of standards and ethical behavior. For better or worse at the moment, we must self-police. This is not a call for collusion. It is a call for demanding quality of ourselves and our peers. In fact, we can and should explore increasing oversight and raising standards. The Rating Registry is an example of something that will benefit us all. Yes, it’s additional effort, but the payback for the industry as a whole is worth it. (We’ve got a very nice system for handling your registry woes built into our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System iRate® if you’re interested. See this blog post on our solution!)
We work in a price sensitive environment to be sure. Builders, homeowners and utilities are cost-conscious shoppers. However, we do ourselves and our businesses no favors by racing to the bottom. In the words of Mark Twain (possibly?), “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” We’ve seen this before; markets nearly drive themselves to destruction with price wars. Quality suffers, companies go out of business, and industry integrity is damaged. It is my fervent hope that we are building an industry that will supply meaningful work that is fairly compensated–that our industry will be stable enough to grow, mature and deliver ever better service and information to our customers.
Many of us have worked long and hard to bring this industry to where it is today. And where is that? I think we’ve built a foundation of credibility for long-term, sustainable growth. It’s up to us not to screw it up.