All Energy Star
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|
|Lighting Efficiency (CFL or LED)||$20 (20+ qualifying bulbs)||$10 (100% qualifying bulbs)|
|ENERGY STAR®, Xcel Gas & Electric||$100||$100|
Who to Contact:
Logistics/Customer Support Supervisor
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.
Xcel Energy ENERGY STAR® New Homes Program Statistics
2016 Year-to-Date Program Statistics:
- 2,921 total completed houses
- 84,087 net dekatherms and 2,722,167 net kilowatt-hours in energy savings
- $1,926,765 in builder rebates and energy rater administrative fees, which represents roughly 69% of the 2016 budget
2017/2018 program year updates coming soon!
Additional information regarding the rebate structure and requirements is located on our website.
Who to Contact:
Logistics/Customer Support Supervisor
Not only are we celebrating our tenth anniversary, we also recently received our tenth award from the EPA ENERGY STAR® program! We’re proud of our Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence award – especially since it comes from the most widely recognized energy label. In conjunction with our Builder partners, we labeled more than 2,200 homes in 2015, bringing our cumulative count to over 20,000 homes.
ENERGY STAR’s Evolution
ENERGY STAR is a program that lays the foundation for homebuilders to create homes that are not only efficient but also durable, safe, and comfortable. This, in conjunction with the strength of the ENERGY STAR brand among consumers, has led ENERGY STAR to become the foundation of many energy codes and sustainability programs. As it has grown, its version and revision process has worked towards flexibility, ensuring that the home certification process is attainable and forward thinking.
How We Partner with Builders
EnergyLogic’s role in labeling a home as compliant with the ENERGY STAR program is one of education and verification. Here’s an overview of our process:
- Plans Analysis – ensuring that the quantifiable energy use of the home as measured by the HERS® Index score meets the program target requirement
- Field Verification & Quality Assurance Inspections – ensuring that all the mandatory components encompassed in the ENERGY STAR checklists have been incorporated in the home
Through the whole process, we are available as a training resource to builders and trade partners, specializing in construction techniques and ENERGY STAR specifications. We will work with you to ensure not only compliance, but also performance.
Ready to Partner?
Over 85% of Americans recognize the ENERGY STAR label. The incremental jump to ENERGY STAR from the IECC is small, thanks to revisions focused on allowing builders to focus on execution rather than on time-consuming verification hurdles. EnergyLogic is ready to help any builder with ENERGY STAR, whether just getting started or already experienced with the program. We look forward to many more years of partnership with the ENERGY STAR program!
Who to Contact:
Principal, Director of Builder Relations
A Little ENERGY STAR History:
- 2006 – Energy code adoption of portions of the ENERGY STAR Thermal Bypass Checklist. This checklist laid out a process of ensuring efficient, durable and well performing homes.
- 2012 – The checklist grew into a mandatory energy code requirement in table R404.2.1.1 which further defined air barrier and insulation installation requirements.
- Current – ENERGY STAR is on its 8th revision of version 3, continuing its pursuit of a program that is both workable and incrementally improves building practices.
- The program primarily pushes builders to ensure that their HVAC systems are better integrated with the home’s thermal envelope.
On February 20th 2015, the program shifted from rebates based on a HERS index score to rebates based on the percentage improvement over above code in which the home resides. The HERS ratings will determine the percentage above code using a matrix on millions of BTU’s. The ENERGY STAR certified home label is now a bonus rebate category and available to any home that earns the certification. EnergyLogic will continue to enroll your home in the program and provide all required documentation needed to process the rebate.
How your home is assessed
In addition to complying with the requirements of the Energy Star Thermal Enclosure Checklist, EnergyLogic will use a software modeling tool, to compare the as-built home’s energy consumption to that of a reference home built to meet the minimum code requirements in your local jurisdiction. The energy savings, as measured in MMBtu’s, between the as-built home and the reference home is converted to a “better than code percentage.” The more energy-efficient the home is, the greater the code percentage and the larger the rebate will be. The HERS index score is no longer used to determine the rebate award, but it’s a valuable tool for you to communicate the home’s efficiency to potential home buyers. And it is a piece of the information that Xcel requires of us to complete each homes rebate process.
Currently, homes built in 2009 IECC jurisdictions will have no difficulty meeting a rebate category. Those built in 2012 or 2015 IECC jurisdictions, however will have a more difficult time. Many of the homes are qualifying at just 10% better than the code, so if you would like to increase your rebate payment amount please contact EnergyLogic. We can model your homes and identify what cost effective measures may be available to increase your energy specification to bring you a larger incentive.
ENERGY STAR-Certified Bonus Rebate
Homes that meet the following criteria are eligible to receive a bonus rebate of $100 from Xcel Energy, in addition to the Performance Rebate.
- The home must have both Xcel Energy natural gas and electric service in Colorado; and
- Qualify for a “Percent Better Than Code” rebate; and
- The home must earn the ENERGY STAR label under all EPA guidelines at the time of certification via the performance path, and the ENERGY STAR label must be applied to the breaker box.
Additional ENERGY STAR Appliance Rebates
Builders who are eligible for the Xcel rebate can also receive a rebate for installing any combination of ENERGY STAR -qualified appliances and lighting. Homes that receive only natural gas service from Xcel Energy are not eligible for the ENERGY STAR refrigerator or Lighting Efficiency rebate.
EnergyLogic will confirm that the appliance is installed during our final inspections, and will document the model specifications. The information will then be submitted to Xcel Energy on your behalf for rebate.
Contact Robby Schwarz with any questions. 720-838-0677
ENERGY STAR continues to offer tremendous resources at no charge for marketing and promoting the homes that you build. In addition, their webinar series offers a mix of technical, sales, and marketing ideas that are well worth taking advantage off. For example check these tools out:
- ENERGY STAR Webinars
- ENERGY STAR Brand Book The purpose of the updates was to make the book more user-friendly and to add new sections, such as how to talk about ENERGY STAR via social media.
- Sales and Marketing resources that will help you educate home buyers of the value of an Energy Star home and set your company apart.
- Consumer Video – Loop this in your sales model
- EnergyLogic ENERGY STAR sales training available at a moment’s notice, just call Robby at 720-838-0677 or email him directly.
One last Energy Star Note:
Yes there is an ENERGY STAR version 3.1 whose primary upgrade is linking the program to the 2012 IECC insulation levels. However, EPA’s proposed policy for the Version 3.1 program requirements will only be implemented where the 2012 IECC or an equivalent code has been adopted at the state level. Therefore, in a state such as Colorado which has no state-level code, Version 3.1 will not be implemented at this time. At some point in the future (e.g., after a large majority of states or local jurisdictions have adopted the 2012 IECC), EPA may elect to enforce the Version 3.1 program requirements at the national level. Note that if this is done, EPA will first propose a national implementation timeline and solicit comments from stakeholders. That said, ENERGY STAR will continue to release revisions for the ENERGY STAR version 3 requirements and the next revision is expected to be released this summer.