Volume 9, Issue 9 - October 2008

Energy and Environmental News

Code Council Creates Sustainable
Building Technology Committee

The International Code Council (ICC) Board approved the creation of a Sustainable Building Technology Committee (SBTC) to support its many ongoing efforts in green, sustainable and safe construction.

“I am proud that the Board continues to be proactive on green building matters and supported creating this new committee,” says Council Board president Steve Shapiro. “From the creation of the International Energy Conservation Code, the most widely used energy efficiency code, to the continual advancement of the International Plumbing Code, which requires the efficient use of water, the Code Council has embraced and committed itself to helping communities build safe and build green. Other examples include the ICC- 700 National Green Building Standard for residential construction, a program to verify sustainable attributes of building products, a green clearinghouse for jurisdictions to share sustainable information and green building certification and training programs.”

According to the ICC, the SBTC will provide an open forum for discussion of sustainability and ensure that Code Council members and stakeholders have a key voice in the critical debate. The SBTC will be charged with:

• Developing proposed code changes and analysis/response of related changes proposed for the Code Council family of codes and standards;

• Participating in the development of Council guidelines to assist members and jurisdictional authorities in implementing sustainable construction practices in their communities;

• Providing input on related Council programs such as green training and a green certification program for First Preventers, code officials who ensure buildings are safe and energy efficient; and

• Serving in an advisory role to the Council’s Board of Directors regarding the development of new International Codes or Standards in support of sustainable construction practices.

Thinking and Buying Green, Survey Reports A recent survey conducted by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and McGraw-Hill Construction revealed that home buyers at all income levels are looking for green elements in their home purchases.

Families and individual homeowners with the lowest incomes are overwhelmingly satisfied with their green homes, are more likely to recommend a green home to family and friends, and strongly prefer green homes as a purchasing option, according to the study. The survey found that 78 percent of homeowners earning less than $50,000 per year say they would be more inclined to purchase a green home.

The survey estimated that within the last three years more than 330,000 market rate homes with green features have been built in the United States, representing a $36 billion per year industry. An estimated 60,000 of those homes were third-party certified through LEED or a local green building program.

“We’re crossing the tipping point for green home building,” says Harvey M. Bernstein, McGraw-Hill Construction vice president of Industry Analytics, Alliances and Strategic Initiatives. “Concerns about energy costs, health and even resale value are adding up green for builders, buyers and renters. Green homes are here to stay.”

The company surveyed a representative sample of one million U.S. households (equating to three million consumers) to find those individuals who had purchased LEED certified and other green homes over the last three years. Eighty three percent said their new homes will lower operating costs; lower energy bills within the first year after purchase (79 percent); and also lower water bills within the first year after purchase (68 percent).

Going green was the top reason cited by survey respondents for remodeling their homes. Environmental benefits, such as lower energy costs and healthier air, were identified by 42 percent of respondents as their main reason for home improvements; 34 percent cited increased comfort; only 24 percent said improved appearance was their main benefit from remodeling.

Other key findings of the survey include:

• 70 percent of buyers are either more or much more inclined to purchase a green home over a conventional home in a down housing market;

• More than half (56 percent) of those surveyed who have bought green homes earn less than $75,000 per year; 29 percent earn less than $50,000;

• Overall, lower income buyers say they found tax credits and government programs, indoor air quality benefits and green certifications to be the most important incentives for them to buy green homes; and

• Almost half (44 percent) of homes renovated between 2005 and 2007 used products chosen for their green attributes.

California Adopts
Nation’s First Statewide
“Green” Building Code The California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) announced the unanimous adoption of the nation’s first statewide “green” building code. The code is a  direct result of the Governor’s direction to the Commission and will lead to improved energy efficiency and reduced water consumption in all new construction throughout the state, while also reducing the carbon footprint of every new structure in California, according to a CBSC release.

The new code contains standards for single-family homes, along with several other types of buildings, and is composed of optional standards that will become mandatory in the 2010 edition of the code. This adjustment period will allow for industry and local enforcement agencies to prepare for, and comply with, the new green building standards.

After 2010, the California Green  Building Standards Code will be updated on an annual basis to ensure that the latest technology and methods of construction have been incorporated to maintain a high level of standards.

Florida Legislature Passes
Building Code Standards Bill
The Florida Legislature passed a building code standards bill, CS/HB 697, on May 2. The bill, which will go into effect on July 1, revises eligibility requirements for rebates under the Solar Energy System Incentives Program and expands the required codes to be included in Florida Building Code updates, etc.

In addition, the bill revises provisions authorizing use of solar collectors and other energy devices and revises requirements for future land use element of local comprehensive plan to include energy-efficient land use patterns and greenhouse gas reduction strategies. ❙❙➤ www.floridabuilding.org

Accsys Named in World’s Top 20 Sustainable Stocks Listing Accsys Technologies PLC, the parent company of Titan Wood, has announced that it was included The Sustainable Business 20 (SB20) list of the world’s top sustainable stocks, published by SustainableBusiness.com.

The SB20 showcases innovative, model companies that, through their products or initiatives, are contributing substantially to the advance of a sustainable economy and have the potential to greatly impact our ultimate goal of reaching a sustainable society, according to Accsys. The listed companies are nominated, discussed and then voted on by a group of judges.

The list, published in the monthly online Progressive Investor newsletter, features large and small companies from several countries that are strong from both a sustainable and a financial perspective.

“It is a privilege for the company to be featured on this elite list,” says Willy Paterson-Brown, Accsys’ executive chairman. “Not only is the far-reaching potential of our highly successful Accoya® wood product and its proprietary wood modification technology receiving the recognition that it deserves, but it also acknowledges that the company is well positioned to exploit this substantial opportunity.”

AEC Unveils Aluminum
is Green Logo
The Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) has unveiled a new logo to promote the environmental benefits of aluminum. The new Aluminum is Green (AIG) logo made its debut in May during the Ninth International Aluminum Extrusion Technology Seminar and Exposition (ET ‘08) in Orlando, Fla.

The logo was designed to convey aluminum’s recyclable, sustainable and versatile attributes.

Survey Shows Homeowners
Willing to Invest More in “Green” Home Improvement Products A recent survey commissioned by Plastpro Inc. showed that despite the weakened economy, homeowners are still willing to pay more for products that are “green” or energy-efficient.

In a poll of more than 700 homeowners, 73 percent said they would pay more for home improvement products that they believe are better for the environment. The survey also showed that women find the green message more compelling than men, with 80 percent indicating they’d be willing to spend more on environmentally friendly products compared to 66 percent of men.

Additionally, 89 percent of those polled said they would be willing to pay more for products that reduce heating and cooling costs, while 9 out of 10 would buy quality products that last longer–rather than less expensive materials that save upfront costs but have a shorter life span–when considering replacement items like doors or windows.

The poll, which was administered by the Opinion Research Corp., also showed that when planning a home improvement project involving professional help, 86 percent of homeowners felt it was important that the people they hire be knowledgeable about environmentally beneficial and energy efficient products.

Edgetech I.G. Unveils SustainaView™ Campaign Edgetech I.G. recently launched the SustainaView™ Window Technology marketing campaign, which is designed to educate homeowners on the environmental benefits of Super Spacer®.

The SustainaView program includes product literature, a DVD, posters and window labels. The Cambridge, Ohio-based company plans to also add a customized web page soon. Among the product literature is a full-color brochure that discusses how windows made with SustainaView technology help homeowners cut energy costs, while helping the window systems to stand the test of time, according to information from Edgetech. ❙❙➤ www.sustainaview.com

DOE Presents
The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced its 2008 ENERGY STAR wards. Pella Corp. in Pella, Iowa, was named the 2008 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for Window Manufacturing. Gorell Enterprises in Indiana, Pa., and ProVia Door of Sugarcreek, Ohio, both were recognized with 2008 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Awards.

The awards for doors, windows and skylights are based on the following criteria:
• Percentage of models offered that are ENERGY STAR-qualified;
• Proportion of total unit sales that are ENERGY STAR-qualified;
• Correct and consistent labeling of ENERGY STAR-qualified products and display units adhering to the ENERGY STAR Marks, Maps and Messaging Guidelines;
• Inclusion of ENERGY STAR logos, messaging and program information in marketing collateral and advertising materials; and
• Integration of ENERGY STAR content in sales staff training materials. ❙❙➤ www.energystar.gov

A Look at ENERGY STAR® Homes
Manufacturers who make ENERGY STAR-qualified doors and windows no doubt market these to builders. But do you market these products to builders who participate in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR Homes program? If not, you should consider this, as an increasing number of builders are signing on to this program.

Sam Rashkin, manager for ENERGY STAR for Homes, reported at a meeting in July, “We’re approaching a million labeled homes at the end of this year. This is an amazing accomplishment,” he said.

He pointed out that in the last 18 months, the program has increased by 300 builders per month as compared to 35 per month in the period before that, which he said proves great interest on the part of builders in green building. “The number of builder partners is staggering,” he said.

According to Rashkin, it’s easy to build an ENERGY STAR Home. All you do is control air flow, moisture flow and thermal flow. “One way to do this is to install low E- windows in the home,” said Rashkin. “You have to have advanced windows appropriate for the climate.”

Comparing the program to others, such as LEED for Homes, Rashkin said, “In the end if you verify it, you’ll have an Energy Star Home … Compared to green building programs that have tiers, etc., with ENERGY STAR Homes, either you are or you aren’t.”

Following is some more information on what goes into an ENERGY STAR Home. For more information, visit http://www.energystar.gov/ index.cfm?c=new_homes.hm_index.

• A home must meet guidelines for energy efficiency set by the EPA. These homes are at least 15 percent more energy efficient than those built to the International Residential Code and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20 to 30 percent more efficient than standard homes.
• ENERGY STAR qualified homes can include a variety of energy-efficient features that contribute to improved home quality and homeowner comfort, and to lower energy demand and reduced air pollution.
• ENERGY STAR Homes are subject to third-party verification. With the help of independent Home Energy Raters, ENERGY STAR builder partners choose the most appropriate energy-saving features for their homes. Additionally, raters conduct onsite testing and inspections to verify the energy efficiency measures.

Reasons Homeowners Remodel
Going green was the top reason cited by survey respondents for remodeling their homes. Environmental benefits, such as lower energy costs and healthier air, were identified by 42 percent of respondents as their main reason for home improvements; 34 percent cited increased comfort; only 24 percent said improved appearance was their main benefit from remodeling.

DWM Magazine Launches e-Green Website
In an effort to serve the needs of the door and window industry, DWM magazine has launched a section on its website, e-Green, specifically devoted to energy and environmental information targeting the industry. Looking for the latest information on the United States ENERGY STAR® program? Go to e-Green. Want to know what Canada is doing in terms of ENERGY STAR proposed changes? Go to e-Green. Want to find energy-related links? Go to e-Green. The site also includes profiles of door and window manufacturers who have made environmental issues a priority in their plants. Viewers will also find profiles of particular products that have an environmental slant. The site is sponsored by Edgetech IG. ❙❙➤ www.dwmmag.com/e-green

U.S. Green Building Council to Modify LEED Standards The U.S. Green Building Council is changing its certification process for green buildings through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

A 30-day online public comment period ended June 22, and the new version, dubbed LEED 2009, is slated to debut in January.

LEED certifications are available in eight categories: new construction, existing buildings, commercial interiors, core and shell, retail, schools, health care and homes.

LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Points are awarded for specific practices in each area and are verified by an independent third party. Depending on the number of points earned, a building is awarded a certified, silver, gold or platinum ranking.

Points will be allocated differently and reweighed in 2009, and the entire process will be flexible to adapt to changing technology, account for regional differences and encourage innovation.

“These changes—giving LEED an umbrella rating system—will streamline the process and make it less confusing, especially for non-practitioners,” Jackson says.

The certification process has been criticized for being too rigid, cumbersome and demanding, for being too costly, and for awarding points illogically, according to USGBC. A common example is that installing a bike rack gets one point, as does installing a costly HVAC system.

Fees are based on the size of the project and are assessed for registration, design review and construction review. Jackson said the fees are not significant and dismisses the other complaints.

“There are a number of ways you can achieve certification, and it’s only hard to achieve if your mindset is traditional construction,” she said. “One of its strengths is its flexibility.”


© Copyright 2008 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.