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Better Buildings and the Federal Government

Posted on | April 5, 2011 | No Comments

In today’s class we discussed the various programs, standards, and incentives supported by the Federal Government to promote energy efficient, high performance and sustainable buildings.  We started off by talking about funding… the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency receive substantial funding, but it’s only a fraction of what “other” agencies receive.  Below is a graphic representation of the two agencies funding.

The amount of federal money spent on the DOE and EPA in 2011

We went on to talk about the biggest programs administered by the EPA and DOE, including ENERGY STAR, WaterSense, BetterBuildings, Building America, and most recently, the DOE’s Home Energy Score.  The Home Energy Score is the latest in a long line of attempts at “labeling” buildings or homes.  Labels have been used for years successfully on things like food for nutritional information, and cars for miles per gallon, so labels for homes are often described using these analogies – a Home Energy Score describes the energy “content” (consumption) of a home in the same way that nutritional labels describe the energy content of food.

Nutritional labels describe energy content in food...

...just like Building or Home Energy labels describe energy consumption of buildings.

This Thursday we’ll be going on a field trip to the Water House, 1616 NE 140th, Portland, just north of Halsey.  The Water House is the first WaterSense certified home in Portland, as well as an ENERGY STAR certified home and an Earth Advantage Platinum home.  On this field trip, students will also be gathering information for Assignment #1: use the EnergySavvy online tool to create a basic energy label of the Water House. It is a good idea to go through the EnergySavvy portal once, say with your own house, to get used to the inputs the tool asks for.  Once students have gone through the EnergySavvy online assessment tool, they are to take a screen shot or create a report of the results and put it in their assignment binder.

Our first field trip and our first real assignment!  The EnergySavvy online tool is a great “icebreaker” to become familiar with the idea of gathering inputs for energy audits and energy modeling.  Next week we’ll talk more about labeling within the context of state and local codes and programs.

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