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For the past 110 years, we have been in a rush to make sure the hurdle of the new housing stock is built safer, stronger, and more energy efficient than the last code cycle because people dying in tragic collapses and fires is not a good thing, nor is wasting our limited natural resources on poor quality construction techniques.
The insurance industry started the trend by suggesting building codes to address huge losses. The codes were adopted by building industry and all of the sub-trades and updated every few years like clockwork over the years.
The same cyclic process done with building codes is now done with energy codes too. Some jurisdictions adopt them immediately, others sit on them for 3 years and modify them to their specific needs with amendments.
What’s new, is that the new codes for energy efficiency and building techniques are starting to provide diminishing returns. The big stuff is solved. We have had all sorts of disasters that we have learned from. As we have refined codes for so many cycles, that we are just making fine adjustments as me knowledge is gained and new building materials, and best practices are developed.
As an example you can only put so much insulation in the attic, then it just does not do anything to decrease your energy consumption.
What About the Existing Housing Stock?
These are homes that have missed the code cycle where big changes were made. They were left behind, so to speak.
Turns out that I am not the only one thinking about this issue. Portland Oregon has established a rating score card system that rates the existing housing stock for cost to operate a form of energy efficiency. The system kicks into action when a home is being resold. A rater comes in and asks a bunch of questions and you get a number.
The concept is that you will be inspired to make changes to be more efficient than the house down the block. Sounds swell but there is a problem. They are not basing their number on anything objective.
How Can We Improve the Existing Housing Stock of America?
Here is my 2 cents. Have Boise Idaho make it a incentivized program where anyone with an older home (Say over 50 years old) could have a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) certified energy rating firm do an audit rate your home. Make it mandatory at resale. This testing would be done with a series of scientific equipment (like a blower door test) for a baseline report.
Once rated you would have something to look at and measure against. As a bonus the knowledgeable inspectors would be allowed to make recommendations based upon factual findings and make suggestions based upon facts to to improve the energy efficiency of the home. Then for a small fee, provide a repeat visit for a new rating (assuming the selling party or the buying party want to make any or all of the suggested upgrades) and rate the home with a new number and certificate of the facts.
The results of the audits would be shared with the city and a baseline could be established for the age of the home and we could actually measure the improvements. My guess is that the energy efficiency of the existing housing stock would go up and energy consumption would go down. We could be the example for the country!
Your comments are welcome. To ask questions or get more information about fixing stuff, click here to email me directly, or call 208-639-1808
I do these things during non-Levco time to be sure it doesn’t interfere with the Remodeling business. Repairing things and understanding homes is just another passion of mine.
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