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January 25, 2007

Because of your participation, more and more affordable homes are being built to high performance standards across North Carolina. This summer, together, we crossed the 1,000 home threshold.  Congratulations!


Local nonprofit builds 1,000th house for low income families in North Carolina
Houses come with guarantee on energy use to be more affordable

Advanced Energy recently completed its 1,000th house for North Carolina’s affordable housing market. Built in collaboration with the N.C. Housing Finance Agency and developer Wilson Community Improvement Association [WCIA], the house was built using energy-efficient techniques and technologies, making the home even more affordable. All 1,000 homes were built to Advanced Energy’s SystemVision program requirements. This means the homes were built to specifications that go beyond N.C. building code requirements and are more healthy, durable, safe, energy-efficient and comfortable.

“Providing the best construction practices possible for housing is important to Advanced Energy,” said Brian Coble, director of Advanced Energy’s Affordable Housing Programs. “The success of our program has been through partnerships with fifty-six affordable housing developers throughout the state, and we plan to take the success we’ve had in North Carolina to other states in next few years.”

The goal of the SystemVision program is to build homes for low-income families that are not only affordable to buy, but affordable to live in. These energy-conservative homes can save homeowners 20 percent on heating and cooling energy. Per the 1,000 homes built, the energy saved to the state of North Carolina annually is 41,278 kilowatt hours, which is the environmental equivalent to not driving your car for 30,549 days.

"When you help a family earning fifty percent to eighty percent of median income buy a super-efficient, comfortable, affordable house as we do through the SystemVision program, you not only do the right thing for the planet and posterity, but you really make a positive and needed impact on their lives,” said Bob Dunham, manager of the N.C. Housing Finance Agency’s Home Ownership Investment. "Our partnership with Advanced Energy has been the key to our success in offering home buyers houses that are truly affordable, not only to buy, but also to operate and maintain over time."

Each home comes with a heating and cooling guarantee. If the home has exceeded its guaranteed energy usage for the year, Advanced Energy will pay the homeowner the difference. A comfort guarantee is also provided to ensure that the home is a comfortable place to live. If there is a problem with the comfort of the home an Advanced Energy staff person will be onsite to fix it. Based on research by the N.C. Housing Finance Agency the wealth creation per home is $7,500. This amount takes into account the health benefits from the home, the energy savings to homeowner and the increased value of the house.

“WCIA recognizes the importance of providing quality affordable housing,” said Barbara Blackston, executive director of WCIA. “We are dedicated to giving low-income families opportunities to not only get a home, but get one that is going to be more affordable and healthier to live in. We work in the best interests of our residents in order to foster a sense of community and improve the living standards of our area.”

Each home is certified Energy Star compliant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In order for homes to be qualified for the Energy Star program they must conform to two standards: they must conserve at least 30 percent more energy than homes that were built in compliance with the 1993 national Model Energy Code and at least 15 percent more energy efficient than the state’s energy code.

Advanced Energy’s 1,000 homes are in 41 counties of North Carolina. At this point Advanced Energy mostly assists in building single-family homes, but would like to move into working with more builders of multi-family and supportive housing. Along with N.C. Housing Finance Agency, Advanced Energy also partners with 26 different Habitat for Humanities in North Carolina to build affordable housing for low-income families.

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Statewide Specialists
As always, thanks to our building performance specialists across the state!  They serve as an excellent local resource for your building science questions. Advanced Energy is always here for your SystemVision needs, but the building science specialists and their teams below are also available at your convenience.

SystemVision scheduling hotline: 866 936-2784
 Asheboro  Adonai Building Science Services  336 626-8259
 Asheville  Home Energy Partners  828 350-1155
 Boone  Southface Boone  828 265-4888
 Charlotte  Environmental Building Solutions  704 849-7795
 Southern Energy Management  (coming soon)
 Lewisville  Energy Solutions  336 463-2005
 Raleigh  Advanced Energy   919 857-9040
 Southern Energy Management  919 341-8463

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New 2007 Training Dates
Want to freshen up on basic building science concepts or to begin learning about SystemVision?  Attend a one-day SystemVision course! They are offered from 9:30-4:30 at no cost and are available for new or participating SystemVision developers, builders, insulation and HVAC subcontractors, and other interested parties.

 2007 One-Day SystemVision trainings
 Call LaWanda Hall Davis, NCHFA, to register: 919 877-5707
 January 17     Raleigh, Advanced Energy
 February 21  Charlotte, Self Help Credit Union Board Room
 April 4  Raleigh, Advanced Energy
 May 16  Hickory, Catawba Valley Community College East Campus
 June 27  Raleigh, Advanced Energy
 August 8  Charlotte, Self Help Credit Union Board Room
 September 19  Raleigh, Advanced Energy
 November 14  Catawba Valley Community College East Campus

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Pressure Relief: The How’s and Why’s
What is pressure relief, and why is it such an important aspect of a healthy home? The heating and cooling system is a system that works on very basic principles. One of those is that it must pull in as much air as it sends out. This is done by means of air supplies and an air return or multiple returns. Everything will work great as long as all the air the system sends out will be able to make it back to the return(s). What happens when doors to rooms are closed and there is no way for air supplied to those rooms to make it back to the system? The system then begins pulling make-up air from other sources such as the crawl, attic or outside.

jumper duct jumper duct 2

One method of pressure relief is jumper ducts.

What can I do about this? This is where pressure relief comes into play. By allowing an easier path for the air from each bedroom to make it back to the system, the house as a whole becomes balanced again. Dedicated returns, door undercuts, transfer grills and jumper ducts are the ways to accomplish this. We require that all doors be undercut by at least a half-inch over the finished floors and that you also use another method (transfer grills or jumper ducts) to allow a sufficient pathway for pressure relief. When using transfer grills or jumper ducts, that pathway for air should be larger than the pathway for air supplied to the room, as the pressure relief pathways are passive.   

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Have a question or comment about the new SystemVision standards, the guarantee process, or something else?  We’d love to hear from you.

Also, if you haven’t visited www.systemvision.org in a while, please take a look.  You’ll find program information, including

  • standards
  • specs
  • the plan review Input form
  • illustrated air sealing, insulation, and duct sealing TechTips

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The SystemVision initiative was launched by Advanced Energy in 2000.

Advanced Energy
909 Capability Drive, Suite 2100, Raleigh, NC 27606
919-857-9000  |  800-869-8001 [toll free]  |  919- 832-2696 [fax]

www.advancedenergy.org  |  www.systemvision.org