SUPERIOR BUILDING DIAGNOSTICS

Welcome to 2008! The SystemVision program is now in its seventh year, thanks to the hard work and collaboration of our partners.

In 2007, SystemVision guaranteed its 1,500th home. We also revamped our website to include more user-friendly tools to help you build high performance homes. At www.systemvision.org you will find new participant tools including a process guide that lists the logistical skeleton of the program, a materials list for guidance in materials selection, and an online plan review input form in which you’ll be able to upload your new house plans for review. We have also added training dates for 2008 and a tool for homeowners to log-in and track their home’s energy usage. We are particularly excited about this latest tool.

Upcoming newsletters will include a new section: Beyond SystemVision. This section will highlight programs available in North Carolina for which you can use SystemVision as a base. Many of you have become proficient in building to the SystemVision standards and are interested in what’s next, or what other high-performance or “green” features you could incorporate into your building processes. We are pleased help you in the decision-making process, so do not hesitate to contact us.

We are looking forward to continued growth in guaranteed affordable homes and program quality in 2008. We’ll be seeing you soon, and enjoy the New Year!

Krista Egger
SystemVision Program Manager




Documented savings
On November 12, 2007, Advanced Energy announced that the SystemVision program demonstrates 15 percent more energy savings over code-built homes, or approximately 30 percent of the heating and cooling portion of the bill. The study compared 12 months of energy usage data in central North Carolina homes that were less than five years old, and showed an annual savings of over $200 for SystemVision built homes. This documentation is significant, for home energy savings are often based on computer modeling rather than verified data.

Perhaps more important than the lower average energy use per home, the SystemVision homes sampled showed a smaller range of energy use and cost than the sample of code-built homes. Eliminating the “energy hogs” in the marketplace, as this study showed, is a crucial step towards making the operation, not just the purchase price, of homes affordable. Furthermore, while this study showed 30 percent savings in heating and cooling energy use and cost, resulting in the 15 percent savings overall, the overall energy use and cost of SystemVision home operation is expected to drop, as SystemVision homes built since the summer of 2006 are held to higher energy efficiency standards than those studied.  These new standards require an Energy Star labeled major appliance and CFL bulbs in the home, among other measures.

To learn more about the study and relevant energy savings, please click here.




Spec Help: Bath Fans
The article about bath fans received so much positive feedback that we are including it again in this issue. For information on how to use your bath fan efficiently and correctly for ultimate usage, please follow this link:  Why Doesn't My Bath Fan Work?




New designs and technologies have steadily and dramatically improved compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Not only do CFLs use less energy than standard incandescent bulbs, but they can last eight to 13 times as long as standard incandescent light bulbs. These bulbs are found in various shapes and sizes, and are compatible to standard fixtures. Purchasing a CFL may cost slightly more than a standard bulb, but can

  • Use 75% less energy
  • Last 10 times longer
  • Save you more than $30 over its lifetime

Each SystemVision home built since the summer of 2006 includes two CFLs. We encourage each builder to use as many CFLs as possible. Saving energy by purchasing energy efficient lighting and appliances not only lowers energy bills, but may lower a home’s summer cooling load. Incandescent bulbs not only use four to five times the energy of CFLs, but they waste much of that energy on heat generation rather than light production.

You may already know that CFLs contain mercury and must be disposed of at a hazardous household waste collection center rather than at a standard landfill. Although this is an extra step in disposal, you may be saving as many as a dozen incandescent bulbs from landing in a landfill as the number of CFLs you use. Further, one CFL bulb contains less mercury than a coal-fueled power plant must produce to light an incandescent light bulb over a CFL’s lifespan. Your use of CFLs is a net positive for the environment.

Household hazardous waste collection: http://www.wastenotnc.org/swhome/hhwsites.asp.
ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=cfls.pr_cfls.




Beyond SystemVision–ENERGY STAR Indoor Air Package
“People are increasingly concerned about mold, radon, carbon monoxide, and toxic chemicals commonly found in homes. In fact, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies show that levels of air pollution inside the home are often two to five times higher than outdoor levels. And poor indoor air quality is associated with a host of health problems, including eye irritation, allergies, headaches, and respiratory problems such as asthma.

In addition, indoor air quality is having a sizable financial impact on the home building industry. Litigation associated with mold and other indoor air quality related concerns and the rising cost of liability coverage have cost builders across the country billions of dollars …

… Builders can employ a variety of construction practices and technologies to decrease the risk of poor indoor air quality in their new homes. According to surveys, consumers are willing to pay up to $5,000 more for these improvements.

EPA created ENERGY STAR Indoor Air Package to help builders meet the growing consumer preference for homes with improved indoor air quality and energy efficiency. By constructing homes that meet EPA’s stringent specifications, forward–thinking builders can distinguish themselves by being among the first to offer homes designed to deliver lower utility costs, greater comfort, better durability and reduced risk of indoor air problems.”1

Healthy, safe, durable, comfortable and energy efficient – sound familiar? If you have ever been to one of Advanced Energy’s SystemVision trainings, it should. Since its inception in 2001, the mission of Advanced Energy’s Affordable Housing Program has been to provide training and technical support to improve the health, safety, durability, comfort, and energy efficiency of affordable housing in North Carolina.

In our trainings, we have presented SystemVision to builders as a step beyond Energy Star. We have done so because, in addition to guaranteeing the lower utility costs of an Energy Star home, the requirements of the SystemVision program also ensure improved health, safety, comfort and durability of the home through ventilation, moisture management, pressure balancing and combustion safety. In fact, SystemVision was created in large part because Advanced Energy felt that these issues were not adequately addressed by existing programs.

However, the EPA’s recently released Indoor Air Package now addresses many of these issues. It does so in a systematic way, addressing each of the major headings of the SystemVision program while introducing a number of other requirements, including bulk water management, pest barriers, choice of building materials and homeowner education.

If you are interested in learning more about this program, please reference the following links:

Those of you who are accustomed to building homes with SystemVision should find that you are already well on your way to completing many of the requirements including the ”HVAC Systems” and ”Combustion/Garages” portions of the package, sections 4 and 5. Please let us know if you would like more information about this certification or any of its requirements.


1 United States Environmental Protections Agency, Office of Air and Radiation (6202J), EPA 430-E-05-003, “New Builder Brochure,” November 29, 2007.
http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/bldrs_lenders_raters/downloads/IAPBuild508.pdf




Statewide Specialists
As always, thanks go out 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, as well as the building science specialists and their teams listed below who are also available at your convenience.

SystemVision Scheduling Hotline: 866 936-2784
Asheboro Adonai Building Science Services 336 626-8259
Asheville Southern Energy Concepts 828 279-6723
Boone Building Performance Engineering (formerly known as Southface Boone) 828 265-4888
Charlotte Environmental Building Solutions 704 579-8349
Charlotte Southern Energy Management 704 631-8346
Lewisville Energy Solutions 336 463-2005
Raleigh Advanced Energy 919 857-9000
Raleigh Southern Energy Management 919 341-8463



Feedback
We would love to hear from you if you have a question or comments about the SystemVision program, specs, the guarantee process or anything else that comes to mind. Please check out our website to access two new participant tools. A materials list to help you with your ordering and a process guide sheet for the logistics of the program. Stay tuned–training dates for 2008 will be posted soon!

Contact Krista Egger
919.857.9000 | kegger@advancedenergy.org
Also visit www.systemvision.org to find:

  • standards
  • workshop dates
  • plan review input form
  • air sealing, insulation and duct sealing tips

Advanced Energy is a Raleigh-based non-profit corporation that works with production builders nationwide. Our work improves builder profits and customer satisfaction, and reduces callbacks and liabilities.

 

Making the buildings in which we live, work, play and worship more healthy, safe, durable, comfortable, affordable, energy efficient and environmentally responsible.