Saturday, April 28, 2012

What is Home Performance with Energy Star?

I take the lonely position that the Unites States is horribly misguided, where it takes and pushes the notion that residential weatherization benefits from a US Department of Energy/ Environmental Protection Agency program called Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®.

This position is expressed in numerous posts. Search Home Performance in the line above. I do not just imagine that home performance is simply a scam to most contractors. A little snake oil song and dance. Privileged access to rebates for customers then abused in a conflict of interest. I knew I had done wrong when I sold my blower door to a BPI-certified know-nothing. I had done wrong in abetting misuse of that tool, thereafter. She immediately perceived me with pity. How will I get work? She offered to share crumbs to me as a subcontractor, in her privileged role as a General, no doubt taking ten percent for no effort and no competence or responsibility, a theft from my customer. A year later her only recollection of value in the blower door was in finding a nail pull-out hole at bottom of a large-diameter return air duct; no value in other words.

I might have a blower door again some day. But, never while lies persist, that they are needful. Trained eyes find every problem, where I have done the hard work of developing attic access. In every case where I have followed a HPwES tester, I find large savings opportunities not detectable by test, never sought by test, and not achievable without days of hard work, less rewarded because of counterfeit competition. The worst problem with privilege of rebates or other incentives in HPwES, is that it teaches non-participants to not bother with diligence.

I have thought HPwES to be a product of odd thinking at Bonneville Power Administration and Eugene (Oregon) Water & Electric Board, feeling guilty of association as an Oregonian. From EWEB: Final Report, Demand-Side Resource and Programs Assessment for Eugene Water & Electric Board November 13, 2006at page 35:

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® programs, a structure that focuses on optimizing household energy performance using blower doors and other test equipment.
It is rarely more than a blower door show.

ICF claims it is running the show, for EPA: 
ICF provides support to the EPA’s Climate Protection Partnerships Division in the development and implementation of Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® (HPwES) and other home improvement initiatives designed to encourage homeowners to make cost-effective energy efficiency improvements.

The HPwES program focuses on the development and delivery of the whole-house approach to improving residential energy efficiency, comfort, and safety. As the primary recruitment team for HPwES, ICF works with utilities, state energy offices, and other organizations on program development and coordinates the delivery of national objectives in regional markets.

Currently, ICF manages twenty regional markets to identify program sponsors for HPwES. We actively work with these organizations to provide support during the planning and implementation process. This support includes assistance with conducting a detailed market assessment, selecting appropriate program design, establishing contractor training and certification requirements, recruiting contractors, and implementing comprehensive home performance programs, including incentive payment verification and processing.

Who is ICF? 
ICF International was founded in 1969 as the Inner City Fund, a venture capital firm whose mission was to finance inner-city businesses.  

Our first president was C. D. Lester, a former Tuskegee Airman, who was joined in the firm by three U.S. Department of Defense analysts. Our consulting business proved more successful than our investments, and in 1972, the firm was reorganized as a consulting firm and renamed ICF Incorporated.

Focusing on energy issues for U.S. federal agencies and for industry throughout the 1970s, the firm expanded into environmental business rapidly in the 1980s and began to build its engineering capabilities. In 1988 ICF acquired Kaiser Engineers, which had originated as the engineering unit of Henry J. Kaiser's industrial empire and grew to rank among the largest engineering and construction companies in the world. In the following year (1989), the combined company went public and eventually traded stock on the New York Stock Exchange. The combined company operated as "ICF Kaiser,"with the consulting unit remaining largely intact.

In 1999, ICF Consulting ended its decade-long affiliation with Kaiser Engineers through a leveraged buyout, financed in part by the CM Equity Partners, LP, an equity investment firm based in New York City.

In 2006, ICF Consulting was renamed ICF International to reflect our growing geographic presence and increased scope of our service offerings from advisory services through implementation and improvement. The firm also pursued an Initial Public Offering (IPO) and now is a publicly traded firm listed on the NASDAQ under the symbol ICFI.

ICF International is a global, diversified firm that combines the entrepreneurship and dynamism of a new company with a solid reputation in the consulting industry derived from more than 40 years of performance.

Friday, April 27, 2012

PACE Up-Front Weatherization Funding

I wonder if Oregon is in fact showing any leadership in rational funding of residential weatherization. It seems there already is a national movement in PACE, Property Assessed Clean Energy program. I heard that this week, in an interview of Bill McKibben, noting it is working in Vermont, and in California's Sonoma County.

An excellent review is presented by Minnesota state government

Here is the California plan. 3179 projects delivered. Only through contractors who have bought into a BPI false ticket of credibility. The BPI contractor starts out with the lie he will guide actions with a blower door. Work may be aggregated to under-performing subcontractors.

Vermonters think they are doing better. Vermont delivery is through the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation. VEIC operates Efficiency Vermont, much like Energy Trust of Oregon is now operating Clean Energy Works Oregon. Picking a tab that matters to me, Insulation and Air Sealing, I find a dead end. Where is PACE?

Oregon aimed to do right in its HB2626 of 2009. Now that is shriveled and dysfunctional in delivery through Clean Energy Works Oregon. 1200 homes served in a couple of years in monster dollops of $5,000 to $20,000. More than a cautious person is willing to take on as debt. Violating a golden rule that a loan is paid off in, say fifteen years, by resulting savings. Not really a big part of the weatherization needed and delivered. Poor people and renters disregarded. Good contractors like me excluded from the delivery, where I declare a lie the notion that  that weatherization can be guided by blower door testing, and must be aggregated under home performance contractors, HPwES. The nearest I've gotten to CEWO as a work asset, was where a greedy contractor on the take was willing to let me install a needed attic ladder for his job, as a subcontractor. He no doubt would have pocketed more than my potential profit, as his due for buying a BPI diploma.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Attic Floor Pits: adding to a weatherization dictionary

Home Performance practitioners resist the concept of attic floor weatherization measures that are not measurable in a blower door test. That is, just about every measure other than wishful smothering in a disaster of blown cellulose. Pick Label: Attic Floor Pits, for several posts on this subject.

A stairwell is a common example, concealment failed. Simply a large growth of the attic floor, subject to attic conditions,  not insulated. Covering is difficult, and very worthwhile. 

Not an attic wall. Not an attic floor. Not a Thermal Bypass. What is that, a patch of missing insulation?  This is a pit.

This Attic Floor Pit was found and fixed in August 2010.

Closed up with thought. A set of steps up the floor/ stairwell ceiling. A manhole for closure, giving future access for wiring down to an important wall of the kitchen. Photo records given to the customer and saved by me indefinitely, to answer future questions.

Shouldn't all important contractor records, now digital files, be securely archived?

Here is a story of this pit as a Google Docs PDF.

Pit all gone. Safe walking is allowed on a deck. R38 everywhere.

This repair could not have been done through the found access in a closet ceiling. All the work, hauling large objects, was permitted via a wonderful new attic ladder. I think those who fail to provide access, generally fail to do the most important work in weatherization. They will often boobytrap against inspection.

At November 2016, add photos of my first-discovered attic floor pit, understood but not yet named.

Look for unmarked danger between two ABS vent pipes and a steel HVAC return at center of this found-conditions photo. It is a typically darki and dangerous attic under R10 weighted-average. Fixing an attic floor pit is the most-golden opportunity.

The pit is hidden-only, by draped batts, concealed further by general cellulose covering. Could a home owner be sued for maiming an honest, struggling workman stepping-through?

Here is the fully-revealed pit over a basement stairwell with bump-in of a bathroom cabinet, nothing insulated against attic cold and hot temperature.

Safest covering is with 3/4" plywood upon 2x4 bridges. Did I seal it air tight just a year into my learning curve as a weatherization contractor able to learn only by my own intelligence and experience? Maybe not.

The efficient  plywood covering was an option only because of a new attic ladder. Recognize the now-safely hidden pit at the duct cluster mid-photo. The plywood covering is buried too by my added 2x6 access flooring.