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Now what? Where does residential fit?
September 6, 2012
1:33 pm
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mike collignon
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David:

I think I agree with your overall sentiment, but I'd like to point out one conflict.

The green programs/rating systems/codes you listed look at more than just energy, as they should, given what we know now.

The historical homes you reference were energy-conscious only.

The scope has expanded in that time. But the IgCC can represent a good floor for sustainable construction. I just wish it was independent of any other system.

September 5, 2012
7:55 pm
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david williams
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Which organization will finally become the "leading authority" for the residential energy efficiency building industry?  Will it be Energy Star, Leed, Living Building, Igcc, Green Globes, Earth Craft, ASHRAE, Passivhaus, etc.  With expensive certifications, 3rd party verifications, checklists and points systems, energy modeling programs that contradict actual performance measurements and Green Labels, could we be discouraging the very ideas that we are trying to promote? This countries obsession with Green branding has simply diluted an ideal that grew out of the energy crisis of the late 1970's.  That is common sense - energy efficient homes.  Without the proclimation of being green, we built advanced walls, used raised heel trusses, installed efficient boilers with radiant heat, utilized passive and active solar heat, installed heat recovery ventilation systems and can return to those homes, thirty years later, satisfied that they still exceed the recommendations of todays codes. Confident that those investments have returned dividends beyond the energy dollars that were saved.

At the end of World War II. the residential construction market, was driven by consumers that needed to be able to afford the homes that they were buying and building.  Lenders took the time to qualify buyers and accounted for the operating cost of these homes.  Thermo pane windows, weather sealing, radiant floor heat, gas appliances and heating equipment and yes, passive solar designs were common place in 1946.  The war had depleted supplies and the cost of energy and materials drove these common sense ideas.  There was no "greenwashing".  Fast forward about 10 years and cheap "subsidized" energy erased much of the energy efficiency and replaced it with Modern Convenience.  

I believe that Energy codes should be the Voice of building energy efficiency policy and realistic energy cost should be the driving force behind compliance - Good energy efficiency codes should reveal common sense materials and methods (specific to location)  that will be inherently affordable for the life of that building.  Passive solar, earth sheltered homes and other proven alternatives should also have means of recognition with recommendations drawn from the many, existing, successful examples. Cool

April 18, 2012
4:01 pm
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mike collignon
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Dennis:

I would hope you would feel comfortable speaking on here. If not, the process is more broken than I already thought.

I'm going to disagree with your 2nd paragraph. I think the authors of the IgCC really did want to make a difference when it came to the overall performance of our structures, not just the energy performance. I agree that compliance needs to improve. I'm sure there are a couple of different ways to "skin that cat", though.

While greenwashing is its own problem, I find it encouraging that communities are wanting to move in a greener direction. Better that than places where they want to halt code updates for 3 or 6 years or reduce insulation levels.

Finally, the NGBS (or ICC 700) can actually penalize smaller homes. The Green Builder Coalition's Technical Director was doing a dual certification on a Habitat home a couple years back. It only had 1 bathroom, because it's a Habitat home. She said through the NGBS, she could not earn very many points for low-flow fixtures because she only had one bathroom. (Meaning, if she had more faucets, she would have earned more points, and the house would have been considered "greener". Now think about that for a minute.) Meanwhile, LEED-H did reward for the overall reduction in water use.

April 6, 2012
12:36 pm
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dennis keierleber
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I know I'm going to regret saying anything but---

First, ICC 700 is a standard, not a code and I, for one, see nothing wrong with a points based system. As an introduction to green building practices, for a nation that just won't get it, it seems pretty fair. It addresses all issues relating to residential construction---site and lot design, resource, energy and water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and building owner education on maintenance.

Now for my rant---personally, I'm a wee bit worn out by the green movement. I see it as being mostly appearance over substance. It also tends to be viewed as just an above code energy program rather than something that looks at the project as a whole. As far as energy use goes, I'd like to see the energy code stabilize a bit and see compliance with the IECC get a little closer to 90% before we throw in above code requirements. Sure, super insulated homes are great. There are contractors out there who have been doing a pretty good job of above code work for at least a decade and there are homeowners who appreciate their work. Let above code stuff be voluntary or voluntary and rewarded.

I see jurisdictions, at least 3 out of 5 in this 20-mile valley, writing their own green codes. The individuals doing the writing have generally never seen the inside of the IECC. Although some of the people involved may be enthusiastic reformers, others just want the green label attached to their community.

Meantime, an energy code that does away with provisions relating to maximum fenestration for residential construction has moved in the wrong direction. Take a look at recent articles about architect designed glass houses.

Size is also an issue. The biggest proponents of green codes tend to be people living where mansions are the rule rather than the exception.  If we were serious about energy use in homes, we'd start with limiting the size of homes. Oh wait, the green building standard does address size. But that's a point based system and we don't like those, huh.

April 3, 2012
12:35 pm
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mike collignon
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The ICC Board reversed the decision of their own members by allowing ICC 700 to be a compliance path for the IgCC.

  • Even though the hearing committee in Dallas rejected a proposal allowing such.
  • Even though the voting members agreed by their vote at the final action hearing in Phoenix.
  • Even though ICC 700 isn't written in code language.

What was that about this being the "Year of the Member"?. Hmmm.....

And while they made the silver level (for energy only) required, understand this: They had to, or else the residential portion of the IgCC would have been weaker than the recently passed 2012 IECC.

Wouldn't want an awkward situation like that.

 

Oh, wait......

April 1, 2012
6:49 pm
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tony moore
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Thank You, we also believe we need this new code to. We have a few builders that think adding VOC, and extra insulation makes a home green or energy efficient. We also have home building to bare and below minimum code and the local inspectors pass these homes. WOW! I really hope this new code changes some of the crap being built in my area of South Georgia. Here is an small area of, will, u can see

January 31, 2012
4:24 pm
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mike collignon
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Arlene:

Part of the problem with ICC-700, as explained to me by code officials, is that it's not written in code language.

ICC-700 can be acceptable, in my opinion, if it is a) required and b) at the silver level or higher. Otherwise, my understanding is that it's weaker than some of the existing energy codes.

December 27, 2011
3:15 pm
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medard kopczynski
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For now, your best bet may be ICC 700. Version2 is in discussion and will be published soon. Do you havew some specific concerns?

 

Med

 

Medard Kopczynski

ACM/ Health and Building Safety Director
Keene, NH

 

December 7, 2011
11:29 am
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arlene stewart
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I take you have a copy of ICC-700 then, and are less than thrilled?

November 3, 2011
2:51 am
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laureen blissard
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I am an architect with over 20 years experience, as well as a small business owner of a company called LTLB Envirotecture.  My business is comprised of third-party inspections for green homes and the service area now includes Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.  I can tell you from experience that I and my clients really needed a green code.  We also needed to have the country’s foremost experts on residential codes define what “green” actually meant.  Many times I've had to inspect a home that’s supposed to be green & doesn’t meet expectations because the builder thinks low VOC paint & bamboo floors constitutes the definition of green. And I also would like to add that, frankly, who cares if the furnace is 30% more energy-efficient if there's mold growing in the home.

As someone that's charged with the health, welfare and safety of the public as well as a member of ICC, I looked to ICC as the mediator to establish what green means. In establishing a solid definition, I had hoped for a leveling of the playing field and setting the floor by which I, as a third-party inspector, could have had authority to stand upon.  I also did not expect ICC to create or support points based systems as there are other entities for that. Instead, I was hoping for the definition needed for a growing movement that still seems to be undefined.

 *lb