Houston Undertakes Existing Homes Retrofit Program

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1 May Houston Undertakes Existing Homes Retrofit Program By John Baden, Research Associate, RESNET The City of Houston, Texas has been taking the initiative in reducing its citizens energy usage through its innovative Residential Energy Efficiency Program (REEP). Under REEP, the city of Houston, along with CenterPoint Energy pays for upgrades to existing homes in selected communities with a high percentage of working-class and senior citizen residents. Those who reside in the communities automatically qualify for the upgrades free of charge, which cuts through bureaucracy and allows residents to save on their utility bill without complicated applications or lengthy upgrades to the house. This approach saves resident s money on their utility bill, lowers the energy demand on the city, and helps CenterPoint Energy meet its state and municipal mandated obligations to increase energy efficiency. The City of Houston first implemented REEP in the community of Pleasantville, whose residents have a median income of $28,000 and one of the highest kwh per foot ratios in the city. After over 600 homes were upgraded in Pleasantville, the program was expanded to include additional communities in Houston. As of March, 2008 over 2,000 homes had been improved. The improvements to the homes included adding insulation to water heaters and attics, caulking windows, and replacing lighting. Since all homes are from the same neighborhood, the limited variety of buildings significantly reduces the amount of time needed to upgrade the home. The City of Houston cites average savings of $335 per household over a six-month period. The process of selecting neighborhoods and offering its residents home improvements eliminates much of the red-tape of traditional low income energy assistance programs. REEP focuses on the home that needs an energy upgrade rather than the income qualifications of the residents. Instead of relying on individuals to fill out paper-work to determine whether they fall in the right income bracket, REEP qualifies the entire neighborhood and offers its residents a simple application form that requires only of name, address, phone number, and whether or not they wish to apply. Outreach is provided through partnership with neighborhood organizations and churches. Houston s REEP program shows what can be done when local leaders make energy efficiency a priority. Houston s mayor, Bill White, deserves recognition for taking the initiative in this program, along with the Texas State Legislature for mandating utility-sponsored energy efficiency improvements. The nation awaits what may be accomplished if Federal lawmakers make similar efforts. RESNET is working with the City of Houston is developing a financing program that will allow an expansion of the program.

2 Page 2 RESNET Adopts National Energy Audit Standard After three years of development, including the input of the RESNET National Energy Audit Standard Taskforce and two public review and comment processes, the RESNET Board of Directors has adopted the RESNET Energy Audit Standard. The standard is intended to define a framework for a home energy audit process. An accredited Provider or a program may apply this Standard to improve the energy performance of existing homes through uniform, comprehensive energy audits for existing residential buildings. This Standard is intended to result in investments by building owners to improve the energy efficiency of the home. The standard defines three categories of energy assessments: Energy Survey Diagnostic Survey Energy Audit The Home Energy Survey determines the general condition of the home with respect to energy performance and the homeowner s potential willingness to improve the home s energy performance. The Home Energy Survey will include a report that shows a general range of a home s energy efficiency based on specific criteria (insulation, equipment age, general condition, energy usage and costs) and a lookup matrix based on regional norms and climate, as approved by RESNET. The Home Energy Survey is not required if the homeowner wishes to directly pursue a Diagnostic Home Energy Survey or a Comprehensive Home Energy Audit. The Home Energy Survey may take one of two forms: an In-Home Energy Survey conducted by a certified Home Energy Auditor or a computerized On-Line Home Energy Survey approved by RESNET. The Diagnostic Home Energy Survey includes all of the provisions of the In-Home Energy Survey with the inclusion of diagnostic testing. The purpose of the Comprehensive Home Energy Audit is to directly lead to the improvement of a home s energy performance. The Comprehensive Audit includes an evaluation, performance testing and proposed treatments for improvement of an existing home. The evaluation will include a review of the data collected from any previous energy audit or audit survey, any further required measurement and performance testing, combustion appliance testing, and a computerized simulation analysis of the home's energy performance. The result of the process will be a work order for energy performance improvements to the home. The adopted standard should be seen as a starting point. RESNET will continue to refine the standard as it implements the standard. To download the adopted standard go to RESNET s web site at

3 Page 3 RESNET Executive Director, Steve Baden Appointed to Serve on Council for the Development of a Global Sustainable Buildings Network RESNET Executive Director Steve Baden was named by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Organization for Economic Development (OECD) to serve on the council for the development of a global network on sustainable buildings and propose policies that will reduce the environmental impact of buildings. The OECD is an organization of the 30 leading developed countries that addresses global economic policy issues At the last meeting of the G8 meeting in Heiligendamm, Germany, the leaders of the industrial nations (including President George Bush) mandated the creation of an international sustainable buildings network that would be housed within the Organization for Economic Development (OECD) as part of its climate action plan. The goal of the effort is to create a global network among policy makers, specialists, industry and public interest groups. Membership of the council include representatives of the United Nations, the IEA, the OECD, governments of Belgium, China, France, Germany and South Africa, and the World Green Building Council. RESNET will be the only American representative on the task force. Mr. Baden will be attending the first meeting in Paris on May 29, The appointment is a reflection of the growing international credibility of RESNET and a direct result of our work with the European Commission's Energy Performance Directive and the International Energy Agency. Membership on the OECD council, along Philip Fairey's membership on the ISO building performance standards committee, and our agreements with Canada and Shanghai puts our organization on the ground floor in the development of an international protocol for building energy performance. It is clear that international cooperation to improve the energy performance of buildings is rapidly increasing, and that RESNET will have a seat at the table in this development. Join the Parade! 2009 RESNET Building Performance Conference February 16 18, 2009 New Orleans The Residential Energy Services Network s (RESNET) mission is to ensure the success of the building energy performance certification industry, set the standards of quality, and increase the opportunity for ownership of high

4 Page 4 RESNET Needs Your Input on Sessions to be Offered at the 2009 RESNET Building Performance Conference The 2009 RESNET Building Performance Conference will take place in historic New Orleans on February 16-18, The theme of the 2009 RESNET Conference is "Join the Parade". RESNET's goal is to make the annual conference a memorable learning experience for attendees. RESNET is seeking nominations on sessions and presenters to be offered at the conference in New Orleans. The growing interest in the RESNET Conference is reflected in the number, diversity and quality of the sessions that were nominated in the past. To be a success in 2009, RESNET needs your ideas. The nominations offered by the RESNET network are the backbone of the RESNET's conference agenda. To nominate sessions to be offered at the 2008 RESNET Conference, click on conference/2009/nominations. You are encouraged to submit more than a single session. Please complete one for each session being nominated. The deadline for nominations is September 1, Habitat for Humanity May Need Your Rating Services A Great Opportunity to Volunteer through RESNET s Habitat for Humanity Program More and more Habitat affiliates throughout the country are looking for raters to volunteer their services to label Habitat Homes as ENERGY STAR. RESNET s Habitat for Humanity Program allows Habitat affiliates to find raters who have committed to providing free rating services in their area. By simply committing to provide free ratings, RESNET s Habitat for Humanity logo will be posted next to your name on the RESNET web site. The logo will also be available to you to use on your promotional materials and web site to show your commitment to improving the nations housing stock by volunteering your expertise. RESNET urges you to participate in this program. If you are interested in volunteering for this program, check out our website at partnership or contact Claudia Brovick at

5 Page 5 RESNET Adopts Amendments to National Home Energy Rating Standard The RESNET board of directors has adopted a series of amendments to the Mortgage Industry National Home Energy Rating Standards. The amendments adopted are: Rating Sampling Disclosure - This amendment revises the sampling label disclosure requirements that resulted from discussions with the Environmental Protection Agency. The adopted amendment is posted at Sampling.pdf Revision of Roof Reflectivity This amendment provides conservative (high) default values for three common, white roofing materials, allowing some default (un-tested) credit relative to the reference home, for clearly identifiable roofing materials. The adopted amendment is posted at Revision of Lighting Definition This amendment clarifies the definition of lighting in the standard. The adopted amendment is posted at amendments/2008/lighting_definition.pdf RESNET Developing RESNET Green Rater Designation RESNET is in the process of developing a new designation for certified raters, RESNET Green Rater. The designation will signify that the rater has successfully completed RESNET sponsored training. It is the goal of the effort that RES- NET Green Raters will be recognized by green building programs such as the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Green Building Program and the U.S. Green Building Council s (USGBC) LEED for Homes as meeting the prerequisites for certification as verifiers for their programs. RESNET is in discussions with the NAHB Research Center and USGBC to incorporate the RESNET Green designation into their green building verifier certification standards. It is expected that RES- NET will reach agreement with both programs by fall of In February, RESNET sponsored a pilot RESNET Green Rater Training in San Diego. RESNET undertook an evaluation of the training which included an online survey of participants who attended the pilot training and input from the pilot session's trainers. Continued on next page...

6 Page 6 Green Rater Continued... RESNET has formed a RESNET Green Rater Certification Task Force to develop the criteria for the RESNET Green Rater designation. It is planned that the task force s work will be completed by the end of the year. The task force represents a rich diversity of the rating industry. The members of the task force is posted on RESNET s web site at members.aspx Application Period Open for 2009 EnergyValue Housing Award The NAHB Research Center has announced the start of the application period for the 2009 EnergyValue Housing Award (EVHA) program. The EVHA honors home builders who voluntarily integrate energy efficiency into the design, construction, and marketing of new homes, while providing educational opportunities and challenging builders to elevate standards for energy-efficient construction. For the past 14 years, EVHA achieved industry recognition as a signature award for the energy-efficiency elite. In addition to the business benefits associated with winning the EVHA, one of the most beneficial aspects of the application process is access to the panel of energy-efficiency experts who judge the program each year. EVHA winners have also realized a number of marketing advantages as a result of their participation. The EVHA ceremony will be held during the 2009 International Builders Show (IBS) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Awards will be presented in the affordable, custom, factory-built, production, and multifamily categories for hot, moderate, and cold climate regions. Entries are evaluated based on the homes energy value; design; construction methods and processes; marketing and customer relations efforts; and participation in voluntary energy programs. All professional U.S. home builders whose primary occupation is constructing homes and/or developing real estate are eligible for participation. Though previous winning projects are ineligible, previous winners may submit new or different projects for consideration. Homes offered for consideration must have been completed after January 2006 and before application submittal. The official EVHA application must be postmarked by July 11, Companies may submit only one application per category, for a maximum of up to five applications. The EVHA is coordinated by the NAHB Research Center in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). To obtain an EVHA application or for more information, visit or

7 Page 7 Professional Liability Insurance for RESNET Raters & Home Inspectors By definition, Professional Liability Insurance covers monetary loss and expenses of an insured rater or home inspector for legal liability in the rendering of professional services as defined by the policy. Whether as a result of an honest mistake or misunderstanding, unreasonable or unrealistic client expectations or a failure to communicate, it is critical that you protect yourself and your assets against the financial magnitude of such allegations. Through the RESNET Insurance Program, RESNET members have access to the professional liability insurance they need. General Liability and Property coverages are also available through the program at competitive rates that may not be available anywhere else. Take a few minutes now to check out this important member benefit. Call toll-free (800) or visit the RESNET Insurance Program website at Electronic applications and online contact request forms are available for your convenience.

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