Important RESNET® Amendment on Rating Software Changes (Persistence)

RESNET Adopts Standard Amendment on Persistence of the Use of Previous Versions of HERS Software When Standards Change

The latest release of Rating software, represented by the new ANSI/RESNET/ICC 301-2014, has dramatically demonstrated an issue that has been apparent for quite some time. To further expand on how various software versions impact changes to HERS Index scores, and how the recently adopted amendment, effective February 16, 2017, applies, please review the following:

  • When standards and software are updated, the HERS Index score can change.  In the case of ANSI/RESNET/ICC 301-2014 the score change is dramatic.
  • As the HERS Index continues to grow in our national vocabulary, consistency of the scoring system becomes increasingly important.

As the standards are currently written, homes in a community with a buildout of twenty years can use old software because software does not have to be updated due to the notion of “Persistence”. If left open to interpretation, one Projected Rating could be applied to multiple building permits in production housing, allowing “Persistence” based on a Projected Rating to extend the use of older software versions to 5, 10, or even 20 years.

After the RESNET Standard Public Review and Comment process, the RESNET Standards Management Board has adopted Amendment #2017-01.

  • The amendment requires that “Confirmed or Sampled Ratings on homes with a building permit date that is on or after the six-month anniversary of the release of the software must utilize the newly released software.
  • Homes with a building permit date before the six-month anniversary of the release of the software will be allowed to complete a Confirmed or Sampled Rating based on the previous version of the software that was utilized for the Projected Rating.”

The amendment also allows the RESNET Board of Directors to stipulate a timeframe other than the six-month anniversary of the building permit date.  The RESNET Board of Directors has not used this clause to date.

The adopted amendment is posted at RESNET Standard Amendment #2017-01

The amendment goes into effect on February 16, 2017.

Link to related article: HERS® Rating Scores Going Up

Robby Schwarz

 

Who to Contact:

Robby Schwarz
Principal, Director of Builder Relations

Email Robby
720-838-0677

Energy Logic – All Homes Will Be Energy Efficient

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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:

Northern Colorado ENERGY STAR® Article

 

Robby Schwarz

 

Who to Contact:
Robby Schwarz
Principal, Director of Builder Relations

Email Robby
720-838-0677

Field Fusion Recap: The Disconnect Between Fire & Energy Codes

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.

Why?

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.

Clarification: What Part of the Shaft Wall Assembly is Fire-rated?  recap-of-ff-image_1

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.

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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). recap-of-ff-image_3

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.

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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.recap-of-ff-image_5

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.

Robby Schwarz (faked)

 

Robby Schwarz

Principal / Director of Builder Relations

EnergyLogic, Inc.

720-838-0677

Contact Robby Schwarz

Get to know our new Field Services Manager & Software Technical Liaison, Steve Eagleburger

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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.

 

RESNET HERS® Rater Online & Field Training December 5-8, 2016

$500 Discount for Online/Field Combo Students!

Click here to register

Use coupon code december2016 for $500 off of the HERS Rater Training Combo

EnergyLogic Academy’s Referral Program Rewards – Tell ALL Your Friends!

We feel everyone should benefit from ‘word of mouth’ marketing, not just us! We make it worth your while by offering cash rewards through our referral program.

Earn up to $100 cash per referral

Let’s keep building this industry – together!

RESNET HERS® Rater Training Combo Package (Phase 1 & 2)

PHASE 1 – ONLINE & SELF-PACED 
Start Today! 

Phase 1 of the EnergyLogic Academy HERS Rater training is designed to allow participants to navigate through the knowledge base needed for a HERS Rater at the users own pace. The course prepares students for the extensive knowledge needed in building science, building materials, integrated construction processes, HVAC equipment, and diagnostic testing equipment and processes.

The HERS Rater Training online course covers the core knowledge for the HERS Rater certification. By enrolling in our self-paced, open enrollment course, you will have 90 days to complete the training. You can complete the training at your own pace, and you do not need to use the whole enrollment period if it is not needed. There are 24 modules in the course – each module will take a minimum of two hours to complete, with some taking over four hours.

PHASE 2 – FIELD TRAINING 
December 5-8, 2016
Denver, CO

Phase 2 is four days of field training designed to introduce the HERS Rater inspection processes and diagnostic testing. During the field training, we will complete two practice ratings according to the RESNET training standard. Practice ratings will be performed on an existing home and a new home.

This is an instructor-facilitated course. Students will have one-on-one instruction with the testing equipment. Much of the field work will be done in a group setting, where peer-to-peer interaction is used to complete the practice ratings.

 

INSTRUCTORS: 

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             Ben Graham

             RESNET® Instructor, Green Rater, Auditor

 

 

steve-eagleburger-serious-for-ela

 

          Steve Eagleburger 

          Field Services Manager & Software Technical Liaison

 

 

 

After completing the course, Rater candidates have two steps remaining before earning certification:

The candidate must pass three exams. The exam fees are not included in the price of tuition. These fees are paid directly to RESNET. For more information click on the RESNET Exams tab.

The candidate must join a provider and complete the probationary phase of certification. The provider ultimately issues the certification once the candidate completes the probationary phase.

A package you just can’t turn down!

Click here to register

Use coupon code december2016 for $500 off of the HERS Rater Training Como