In late May, Alliance builders and sponsors got together for our first annual Technical Summit. While there were a lot of innovation focused presentations, one of the primary goals of the event was to spur discussion and identify emerging challenges in the industry that could be further addressed through Alliance programming and, potentially, Building America research.
A number of system-specific issues and opportunities came up in each of the technical sessions. We’ll dive into those topics over the next few issues of the Alliance Update newsletter. For this issue, we’ll focus on three key takeaways that emerged: 1) unintended consequences of higher performance, 2) market confusion over ratings and 3) water as the next big frontier.
1. Unintended consequences of higher performance – This issue was a common thread during most of our discussions and specific examples appeared in a number of presentations. Theresa Weston from DuPont summed it up best when she said that the industry had done such a great job of pushing the performance envelope that everyone needed to take a step back to assess what’s happened – what isn’t working behind the scenes.
2. Market confusion over ratings – This has been a big concern in general during Alliance discussions over the past two years. The market’s ability to understand all of the labels – HERS, ENERGY STAR, LEED, NAHB Green, Environments for Living, etc. – how they compare to one another, and what the options are worth in terms of house values and better quality of life for the homebuyer. During the Tech Summit, we specifically discussed HERS versus the Home Energy Score (HES).
3. The emergence of water as the next big frontier – Water is the next biggest user of energy in the home, and is a very limited resource with a lot of outside factors pushing on pricing, availability and efficiency – drought, wildfires, falling water tables, agriculture demands, failing infrastructure and code issues.