EnergyLogic is in the news, helping to support the importance of the ENERGY STAR® program

EnergyLogic was happy to participate in Grace Hood’s Story on the importance of the ENERGY STAR® program. Grace Hood is an Energy and Environment Reporter with Colorado Public Radio. ENERGY STAR is on the list of 49 programs proposed to be cut within the Environmental Protection Agency.

Want An Efficient Colorado Home? The Program That Certifies That May Face Cuts

Denver is ground zero for Colorado’s construction boom, especially when it comes to building to accommodate a swelling population. In a North Denver development called Midtown, construction workers are still putting finishing touches on Energy Star-rated homes, a program that’s existed since 1995.

There’s many elements invisible to most people: special building materials and features help these new homes achieve up to 30 percent energy savings. Steve Eagleburger, who works for an independent company named EnergyLogic, is someone who reviews and certifies some of those unseen elements. Today, he’s checking a home to make sure the attic is insulated.

“This one is not insulated at all,” Eagleburger notes before moving on to the next thing — a checklist of dozens of items.

EnergyLogic CEO Steve Byers said this home won’t get the Energy Star seal of approval until the builder fixes the insulation and any other issues his company has flagged.

“The Energy Star brand has brand recognition on par with Coke and Pepsi,” said Byers said. “This is a very successful program. I don’t know what more one could want out of a government program.”

Read the full Colorado Public Radio story here

Why all HERS®/ERI Index Scores are Increasing Nationwide

It is important to understand the Home Energy Rating System (HERS®) and Energy Rating Index (ERI) are describing the same thing. HERS is a proprietary acronym created by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), so the term ERI has been used for the code language. RESNET is the governing and standard setting body of the home energy rating world. RESNET recently created the ANSI/RESNET/ICC 301-2014 standard that describes how the Index score is developed. Within the 2015 IECC language that used to describe how to develop an ERI score has been replaced in the 2018 IECC with the ANSI 301 standard. In addition, the standard has now been incorporated into every software used to develop a HERS® or ERI Index score.

The ANSI standard change has, and will, cause all HERS/or ERI index scores to increase across the country. Due to this score increase and other fixed mandatory requirements in the ERI pathway, it is unlikely that jurisdictions will see builders using the ERI path for quite some time.

For more information on why this is happening, please refer to the following article: HERS® Energy Rating Index Scores are Going Up!

Software developers have incorporated the new ANSI/RESNET/ICC 301-2014 standard into their systems. As stated before, they are all consistently seeing the HERS/ERI index scores increase. Currently, there are three software systems available:

Ekotrope

REM/Rate™

EnergyGauge®

EnergyLogic is in the process of transitioning to the Ekotrope compliance software which will change the look of the reports but will not affect the content of the reports. Click here to see a sample Ekotrope report. All three software versions have incorporated reference homes to developed code compliance documents for the UA Tradeoff, Simulated Performance, and Energy Rating Index pathways through the energy codes.

What is a reference home?

Imagine your two hands are two homes that are geometric twins of each other. Your left hand, the reference home, is a house built with the energy and aesthetic features defined by the code which uses a quantifiable amount of energy that the code has deemed to be the minimum amount allowed by the jurisdiction.  Your right hand is the home you want to build, the proposed design, with the energy and aesthetic features you believe, are best to achieve whatever goal you have for the home: cost- effectiveness, safety, aesthetic beauty, comfort, durability, efficiency or livability. Your home, the proposed design, on the right, is compared to the code reference home on the left and if your home’s performance is equal to or better than the reference home it complies with the code and can be permitted to be built. The jurisdiction, an approved third-party, or both will inspect, verify, and report that the home was built as proposed in order for the certificate of occupancy to be released. 

For more detailed information, please refer to the following article: Simple Explanation of the IECC

In summary, changes and upgrades to software systems are inevitable. The creation of the ANSI/RESNET/ICC 301-2014 standard was the most impactful, but every version upgrade affects something. As a result, RESNET has developed a standard that governs when Energy Raters must transition to the most recent version of a software.

For more information on this subject, please refer to the following article: Important RESNET® Amendment on Rating Software Changes (Persistence)

 

Robby Schwarz (faked)

Who to Contact:

Robby Schwarz
Principal, Director of Builder Relations

Email Robby
720-838-0677

A Simplified Explanation of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)

EnergyLogic is a residential energy services company that specializes in energy code and/or program compliance, generation of the HERS® or ERI index score, third-party risk and quality assurance inspections and diagnostics, as well as HVAC design. Most often we work directly with architects, builders, and developers and it begins with code compliance. This article will focus on explaining the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

The IECC is a tool used by jurisdictions to ensure that when new or remodeled homes are built, they achieve a specific quantifiable level of energy efficiency. Although it is a code, it does not mean that it is one-sided. In other words, the energy code is a marvel of flexibility, offering multiple compliance paths in order to help determine the most cost-effective way to build a home that not only meets the performance goals and expectations of our modern world but also includes the design imagination and material integration we desire. Yes, there are boundaries to this game, but there is flexibility as well, to ensure that we can build and live in the homes of our dreams.

Energy code flexibility is discovered in the different compliance paths of the code. A path through the energy code guides one through a series of code sections that, when followed, demonstrate that a building’s design meets the baseline requirements of the code defined by a quantifiable amount of energy use in the home. The quantifiable amount of energy used in a home is defined by a reference home, which the home you want to build is compared to.

What is a reference home?

Imagine your two hands are two homes that are geometric twins of each other. Your left hand, the reference home, is a house built with the energy and aesthetic features defined by the code which uses a quantifiable amount of energy that the code has deemed to be the minimum amount allowed by the jurisdiction.  Your right hand is the home you want to build, the proposed design, with the energy and aesthetic features you believe, are best to achieve whatever goal you have for the home: cost- effectiveness, safety, aesthetic beauty, comfort, durability, efficiency or livability.  Your home, the proposed design, on the right, is compared to the code reference home on the left and if your home’s performance is equal to or better than the reference home it complies with the code and can be permitted to be built.  The jurisdiction, an approved third-party, or both will inspect, verify, and report that the home was built as proposed in order for the certificate of occupancy to be released. 

Important terminology to know:

Mandatory requirements– requirements that must be met in every building design no matter which compliance path is chosen, unless there is a specific exception in the code

Prescriptive requirements – Requirements that must be met by every building, unless an approved tradeoff is utilized or unless there is a specific exception in the code

Tradeoffs – tradeoffs are defined performance features in a home such as R-values, U-values, infiltration, or duct leakage that allow trades to be made between various low and high performing features of a home

Performance approach – An overall performance requirement for the building that replaces the individual prescriptive requirement for building systems and components

Pathways in the IECC

There are four basic pathways through the code, all of which utilize the reference home/proposed design construct described above. The primary difference between the paths is ease of use and flexibility of choice of materials to determine the most cost-effective way to achieve the efficiency goals of the code and the builder.

Prescriptive Path:

The prescriptive path lays out the energy specification, R-values, and U-values, as well as installation techniques that must be used in the home you want to build. If you choose the prescriptive specification level for your home, you must install materials that are equal to or better than those listed in the R-value or U-value tables in the code in order to achieve a level of performance that is equal to or better than the reference homes level of performance.

Area weighted U-value or UA trade-off path (sometimes called the RESCheck Path):

RESCheck is not a compliance path: it is actually a software developed by the Department of Energy to demonstrate Area Weighted U-value (UA) trade off compliance. The pathway uses a tradeoff approach which provides flexibility for builders and designers to determine how they want to create a house.  For example, if a builder wants to install R-38 insulation in an attic rather than the required R-49 as prescribed by the 2015 IECC in climate zone 5, they may be able to trade off the lower energy performance in the attic for better than prescribed energy performance somewhere else in the home, such as foundation insulation.  In this way, the builder has demonstrated that lower R-value performance in the attic can be traded off for higher R-value performance on the foundation.

Simulated performance path:

The simulated performance path builds on the UA method and utilizes whole-house energy analysis to determine compliance with the IECC. As energy moves by conduction, convection, and radiant energy transfer this path offers the most flexibility by not only utilizing R-value and U-value tradeoffs but also allowing tradeoffs of house tightness and duct leakage, among other things. Annual energy costs rather than area weighted U-value is used as the matrix of compliance. In other words, the proposed design’s annual energy cost must be lower than or equal to the code reference home, to demonstrate compliance. Currently, EnergyLogic believes that the Simulated Performance path is the path that best helps builders achieve the most cost-effective and high-performance home to meet the intent of the IECC.

Energy Rating Index (ERI) path:

The Energy Rating Index and the HERS Index are the same. However, the ERI score is used as part of a code compliance path that was adopted in the 2015 IECC. It is important to know that the climate zone specific ERI score is one, but not the only thing required by the pathway. Like all code paths, the ERI path requires that all mandatory features of the code be completed for each home.  In addition, among other things, features such as mechanical equipment and solar, can lower the ERI score; therefore, in order to ensure a sound thermal envelope, a backstop was introduced. A home using the ERI path must use the prescriptive insulation levels outlined in table R402.1.1 of the 2009 IECC.

The 2018 IECC kept the structure of the ERI path while raising the ERI scores in each climate zone. In addition, if solar is installed on a home, the 2018 IECC states that the prescriptive insulation levels outlined in table R402.1.2 of the 2015 IECC must be used.

Robby Schwarz (faked)

Who to Contact:

Robby Schwarz
Principal, Director of Builder Relations

Email Robby
720-838-0677

New Home Builder Rebates are increasing, in a good way!

New rebate structure update and highlights of the Xcel Energy ENERGY STAR® New Homes Program 2016 accomplishments.

Total year-end program results from 2016:

  • 5,300 total completed houses
  • 145,835 net Dekatherms and 4,957,801 net kilowatt-hours in energy savings
  • $3,361,890 in builder rebates and energy rater administrative fees
  • 1,800 earned the $100 ENERGY STAR rebate

Program and Rebate Changes for 2017/18, effective for homes submitted after March 1st:

  • Homes will qualify for rebates based on the percent improvement better than the local adopted IECC code
  • Rebate levels are increased for homes built in jurisdictions where IECC 2012 and newer codes are enforced
  • The $10 ENERGY STAR dishwasher rebate is discontinued and the clothes washer rebate is reduced from $50 to $30
  • The High Efficiency Lighting rebate is unchanged for homes built in jurisdictions where IECC 2009 and older codes are enforced
  • For homes built in jurisdictions where IECC 2012 and newer codes are enforced, a $10 rebate is available if 100% of lighting is CFL or LED fixtures and/or bulbs
Percent Better Than Local Code Improvement Builder Rebate – IECC 2009 and older Builder Rebate – IECC 2012 and newer
10.0 – 14.999% $200 $250
15.0 – 19.999% $350 $400
20.0 – 24.999% $500 $600
25.0 – 29.999% $650 $900
30.0 – 34.999% $800 $1,300
35.0 – 39.999% $1,000 $2,000
40% and higher $1,400 $2,550

 

Appliance/Lamp Builder Rebate – IECC 2009 & older Builder Rebate – IECC 2012 & newer
Refrigerator $10 $10
Clothes Washer $30 $30
Lighting Efficiency (CFL or LED) $20 (20+ qualifying bulbs) $10 (100% qualifying bulbs)
ENERGY STAR®, Xcel Gas & Electric $100 $100

Tracy Larson

 

Who to Contact:

Tracy Larson
Logistics/Customer Support Supervisor

Email Tracy
970-556-6491

Claiming the $2,000 Federal Tax Credit for 2016

EnergyLogic assesses compliance with the Federal tax credit for every home that we inspect. In addition, we provide a tax credit compliance report that is signed for every home that is tested.208-9x463-2artboard-1800x1200

Over the past several years EnergyLogic has had to reissue these tax credit documents due to software updates that have also changed the physical look and content of the document.  Due to the need to reissue the reports, we were able to issue new passing tax credit certificates and lump them together for your convenience. The reports were typically sent in an email at the beginning of the year or a builder login was issued directing you to pull these reports from our DASH data system.

For 2016 homes, EnergyLogic will not need to re-run tax credit certificates or make any adjustments to the certificates you have already received. Therefore, builders will not be receiving an email containing all passing tax credits. EnergyLogic has already emailed all final report packets to you at the time the home has been rated and certified. Within those final report packets, you will find the tax credit certificate. It clearly states on the tax credit certificate if the home passes or not.  In addition, the tax certificate is signed only for the homes that pass.

Link to Sample Tax Credit Report

Builder Login for EnergyLogic’s DASH database
You can also access these final report packets using your builder login to EnergyLogic’s DASH database. Contact Tracy Larson at tracy@nrglogic.com if you need directions, username and password for the DASH builder login.  Tracy will be sending you a spreadsheet in the next few weeks that lists all homes that qualified for the tax credit which will narrow down the list of packets you’ll need to locate and make your search easier.

Link to document on how to search and locate tax credit documents packets in DASH

The Federal tax credit expired on January 1st, 2017.  As in the past, Energylogic will continue to issue tax credit certificates for all homes that we inspect. We will do this because historically every time the tax credit has expired it has been re-authorized and made effective retroactively to the date it expired.  For example, on January 1st, 2015 the tax credit expired. In December of 2015. the tax credit was re-authorized to be effective from January 1st, 2015 through December 31st, 2016.  The only way we can be sure that your homes will be able to get the credit if the tax credit is re-authorized is to keep track of whether they pass or not at the time of the final inspection.  We strongly recommend that your office file the tax credit certificates for those homes that pass and are signed off on, so you are prepared to file for your credit if and when re-authorization occurs.

At this time, because nobody knows if re-authorization will occur, EnergyLogic does not recommend changing your building specification to optimize for the tax credit.

Additional information regarding the rebate structure and requirements is located on our website.

Robby Schwarz

 

Who to Contact:

Robby Schwarz
Principal, Director of Builder Relations

Email Robby
720-838-0677