Monday, December 1, 2014

Mandatory HERS Testing in the 2013 Title 24 code.

That is the 2013 code that came into effect July 1 2014. One major change is that all ducted systems are to meet the low leakage thresholds that used to be elective. So any leakage must be less than 6% of the airflow as determined by design or equipment specifications. This means all new ducted systems must be tested, which though adds expense, will result in real energy savings. Even now it is still common for me to see less than perfect duct installations. Another mandate that won't save energy but is intended to assure that indoor air quality is maintained is, required measurement of Air flow at bathroom and range exhaust fans. Ashrae 62.2 ventilation rates must also be verified. Below is a boiled down formula page.
Refrigerant Charge and Airflow must also be verified on all systems that have air-conditioning. Again the intent is to save energy which this will. Of course an even better method in the SF Bay area would be to not use AC at all. Good design and quality building can eliminate any need for AC in most of this area. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Unnecesary complications in Green Building codes

As I encounter more and more of the various codes through the county I am finding that the powers that be when adopting the codes decidedly ignored a simple rule, that would ultimately make the process go better. The simple rule - keep it simple. In an effort to basically stick it to larger projects by utilizing a complicated set of criteria to ramp up the requirements as the project gets bigger the new codes have created a unavoidable mess that is frankly difficult to explain and justify out in the field. Many have decided to use the GreenPoint Rated system developed by Build it Green (BIG) and then have gone further by requiring more than this system requires. Many then have made it optional to actually go through Build it Green to get certified but still require a third party rater. This does indeed save the builder or home owner some money, but it means that the trouble that (BIG) has gone to, to develop a data base that will track the progress of their system is kind of wasted. This means that the individual cities are then going to try and figure out how they are doing towards meeting their goals. I doubt it, so in other words we wont have any idea what the benefit of the green building code is, in any sort of quantifiable way.

What I would propose instead is this. Use the (BIG) system "GreenPoint Rated" but don't alter it, no extra points, no extra measures just use the system. They have already developed the system to result in improved building practices. Also require certification through (BIG) which will then result in a much better documentation of the codes. Don't have complicated tables that break down what is required by size or valuation. This is asking for difficulty in interpretation, something the people behind the building department counter don't need as much as the applicant for a permit. I obviously am all for improving our buildings and building practices and my business is about this, but I fear that the well intentioned green building codes that are coming out around Marin are creating some ill will towards the concept.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Leaky outlet boxes

Well essentially outlets and switch boxes are holes in your wall. inevitably a blower door test will reveal that there is leakage through the outlets. These can be sealed with foam or caulk. What I wanted to get at was this cool product that eliminates this problem. The Airfoil They have wall boxes and ceiling J-boxes Obviously these are mostly for new construction or extensive remodels but should be considered especially for exterior walls.

You foam the slots where the wires pass through and no more leak.

As of 12/6/10

SG-1 $2.89 each 40 per case

2G-2 $4.98 24 per case

RD-1 $4.55 36 per case

FR-1 $7.70 15 per case

HERS II audits update

There are two providers that certify HERS raters and they are supposed to have an online registry for filing these ratings. This registry has to have very particular criteria to receive approval from the CEC. I was certified through CHEERS which did not manage to get their online registry together or up to the CEC dictates. There fore they can not provide the necessary service to us raters to do our job. Luckily the other provider CalCERTS stepped in and made some allowances to help the CHEERS raters get re-certified with CalCERTS. This is what I am doing; as of now I am certified for new construction and HVAC change outs. Dec 13, 2010 I start the training for the Whole House Energy Rater module which is equivalent to CHEERS existing homes except it is actually approved by the CEC. So I'll be official again soon but now I am still able to provide necessary paper work for getting permits.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Additions in San Rafael

At this point to submit for permit in San Rafael the green building code requires an audit of the existing home, and waste management plan, a GreenPoint checklist, and Green Building Compliance Form, along with the usual material. Aurora BP can provide the audits, GreenPoint Checklist and compliance form. I have described audits in the last entry. The waste management plan needs to be provided by the contractor. The level of requirements can be determined from Table A. It is everything from some simple prescriptive measures to a whole house audit with a 20% improvement at completion. Where do you fit? The code states that the valuation of the project is the determining factor before square foot area. The problem is some folks are trying to get a permit before they've gotten bids. It is perhaps a bit mushy so I suspect you make the best guess on the valuation of the project and proceed on that assumption. the hazard of low balling the valuation is if it doesn't fly with the building dept you may get surprised with stiffer requirements. This is particularly true at the $300,000 mark; everything gets more complicated.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Existing Home HERS II audits

Well, actually the HERS II audit does not exist just yet, while the CEC is still reviewing the Software and the reports generated by it. As it is required to have one of these audits to get your permit in San Rafael and Marin County Bldg departments, we are providing the reports as they are now. The approval will probably happen soon but at the same time the building departments are accepting the submissions as we are providing them.
What is a HERS II audit you ask?

Here is what is involved with an audit. Essentially it is like a check up at the doctor, but of course we do house calls. You may feel a little uneasy with us crawling all around but this is what it takes to really assess your house’s performance. If there is a room where you absolutely don’t want us to go, that is your right but it does add challenges to our process.

You are welcome to observe and learn right along with us just what is going on with your house. It takes the better part of a day to do a complete audit. When all is done I will provide you with a report that documents the issues we find and gives you an itemized list of things to improve your homes performance or comfort. There will also be a rating number assigned to your home comparing it to what has been determined to be the standard home by the 2008 Title 24 Standards rated at 100. It is conceivable that your home could rate at 100 or lower but I’ve not seen any yet.

Your preparation for our visit:

Think about any issues you may be having with the house, cold, odors, leaks, drafts, etc.

Provide copy of at least 1 year of utility bills

log on your account at PG&E.

click on usage. they have the last two years available.

Print out table

Graph electric usage and Gas usage, selecting degree days at bottom of graph

Print these two graphs

Would also like to see some actual bills to see if they are hitting the tiers

Clear access to heat registers and utility areas, such as furnace and water heater

For the blower door test we will put a large calibrated fan into an appropriate door opening sealed with a special frame and canvas apparatus. With all exterior openings closed we then blow air into the home, pressurizing it to 50 pascals. The fan is attached to a device that can then read the CFM leakage of the structure by comparing pressure differences between the interior and exterior. This value is useful for comparison sake to a standard building. It is then possible to walk around the home and find what may be the worst sources of leakage.

For the duct leakage test we seal all the heat registers with tape and then through the cold air return use another calibrated fan to pressurize the duct system, again we can determine the leakage through pressure differences. Obviously we will need to access all of the registers.

I will also measure all existing windows and count all the lights.