It wasn’t exactly as we planned. However, RaterFest! 2013 may well be the most memorable RaterFest ever, if for no better reason than the “biblical” level of flooding that our locale received starting Thursday morning, the kickoff day for the event. We were supposed to be at a super lovely place in the mountains between Blackhawk and Nederland here in the mountains of our beloved Colorado. However, by noon, we knew we had to zig as the weather was zagging. The worst flood in Colorado history was making it’s debut. We made the call and our amazing EnergyLogic team sprang into action to move our nearly one hundred person event. In a matter of two or three hours we secured a new venue, redirected our caterers, our musicians and all of our attendees and presenters.
One of the nifty things about RaterFest is that we are getting in touch with our youth camp side, staying in bunk houses, cabins and camping depending on preference. Well that all went out the window, and we had to find accommodations for all the attendees as the cost of RaterFest includes lodging (I know! It’s really a super deal – remember that for next year!). We reached out to our amazing friends and neighbors in our headquarters’ town of Berthoud. They responded as only a small town generally can and doors were flung open; travel trailers were brought and by the evening; we had beds for all of our awesome attendees.
As we had roads closing and bridges going out all around us, we employed all the technical tools at our disposal and via attendees and staff reports, worked to help folks driving into RaterFest negotiate the flood waters safely. Result? Nearly everyone who planned to make it to RaterFest made it! Out of the ninety-three people signed up, we had just a bare few who couldn’t get here. A testament to the passion of our attendees and the coordination and crisis management skills of our incredible staff..
RaterFest itself was smooth if not as scenic as it would have been (though our little town is lovely!). The sessions and speakers were top notch. Our best ever (presentations will be up on our website very soon!)
Sam Rashkin of DOE was first up and led the way with a great presentation on DOE Challenge Home. We’re deeply indebted to him for braving the enormous initial uncertainty of the Great Flood and trusting and working with us to kick things off.
Rob Moody of Organic Think followed Sam and gave a super presentation on very innovative work that he and others are doing in Arkansas with the HEAL program. The Clinton Foundation and a ton of passionate people in Arkansas and beyond are doing cool stuff to drive energy retrofits for some of the most at risk folks in the market.
Bill Spohn of TruTech Tools took the stage next, and we had the world premiere of the TruTech Airflow trainer. Bill guided the audience through a detailed and fascinating discussion of the right and wrong, the true and false of airflow testing and then entertained a mob of folks around the trainer. Awesome!
Ari Rappaport and Graham Davis of IBACOS introduced an idea to the audience that has the potential to change the nature of our work as HERS Raters. For many years, IBACOS has developed and executed a best in class quality assurance program called CQA. The discussion centered on presenting and gathering feedback from the audience on how Raters can be a part of a builders QA process at a much more meaningful level via a program partnership between IBACOS and EnergyLogic.
Frank Kinder of Colorado Springs Utilities presented on his organization’s embracing of WaterSense and gave a great presentation on the program, products and his utility’s experience with the program.
We finished up Day One with Pecha Kucha presentations from Bill Spohn of TruTech, Tiger Adolph of BPI, Dan Wildenhaus from Fluid Strategies, and Bob Kingery of Southern Energy Management. Pecha Kucha is a challenging and fun presentation style that allows a speaker twenty seconds on each of twenty slides, that’s it. It really makes you get to the point and synthesize your thoughts!
After that, we had the traditional Rater Jam and had a great time listening to our compatriots play some great music. Those who jammed – Ron Hughes, Laura Capps, Rob Moody, Mark Jabaley – thanks to you all! Much craft beer from our very own City Star Brewing was consumed, and we all got safely tucked away in bed ready for Day 2.
Our one casualty of the weather was unfortunately our keynote speaker Mark LaLiberte, but we’ll drag him back here another year! In general, you can run but you can’t hide from the RaterFest minions.
Ron Hughes of HERS, Inc. started off Day 2 with a fantastic House (industry) as a system presentation. Ron has done pioneering work in Arkansas bringing HERS ratings out of the dark and into the mainstream, and there is much to learn from him and his colleagues as they drive the industry ahead in his home state.
The indefatigable Laura Capps of Southface (All Hail!) gave a very interactive and amazingly useful presentation on both hiring and getting hired, the ins and outs of making yourself marketable and the corollary of finding good folks.
Abe Kruger of Kruger Sustainability Group led everyone through the intricacies of conducting ENERGY STAR work on multi-family high rise buildings. This is a great business development topic for all raters in areas with big buildings. Abe has it down, and there was a great Q&A session.
Paul Morin of TEC (The Energy Conservatory) followed on appropriately with a super detailed discussion of how to test multi-family and big buildings. How many of you have done a twenty blower test? Amazing work and again a big (pun intended) opportunity for Raters everywhere.
We ended Day 2 with Stephen Davis of Demilec USA. Now Stephen is a shy and retiring type, but somehow broke out of his shell to deliver a rousing, humorous and very educational session on spray foam insulations. Anyone who presents knows how difficult the dance between humor and information can be and Stephen did an amazing job.
We then proceeded to the Coliseum (also known as the EnergyLogic training center) for Rater Olympics! Our team of Olympian organizers put together a challenging course that pitted contestants from across the nation against each other on a course that tested dexterity, decision-making, building science knowledge, observation, athletic skill and stamina. Blower doors fell down; hard hats tumbled; foam blocks flew and not a little beer was spilled. Yet everyone completed the course, most with some measure of grace and dignity. Daniel Johnson from Arkansas is your new champion of Rater Olympics, and as such received the Golden Banana (and a free pass to next year’s event)!
Following a sumptuous repast, we were mightily entertained by local musician Esther Sparks (buy her CD!) and our coterie of Rater musicians, Ron Hughes on various strings, Rob Moody on sax and Laura Capps on mandolin. A damn fine time was had by all.
Day 3 and the final day of RaterFest. Last but far, far from least, Gary Klein of Affiliated International Management did his truly outstanding workshop on Hot Water System Efficiency. This is a highly interactive, “hands on” training that absolutely brings to life the myriad issues surrounding hot water distribution. Highly recommended wherever you can catch Gary!
That was it! We shooed everyone off to the airport and highways as the waters were rising again. We packed it up, cleaned it up and collapsed like the heap of monsters in Where the Wild Things Are. Yet, through a fog of fatigue and the aftermath of a four-day adrenaline rush of crisis management, we began to think ahead… to RaterFest! 2014. Oh yes, even better? Well, we’ll see. We can certainly do with less weather, but it will be hard to beat the people who joined us, the intrepid presenters who blessed us with their humor and knowledge and the fun we had with music, great food, competition and camaraderie.
See you next year!
CEO of EnergyLogic
For more pics of RaterFest! 2013, click HERE!