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Green Boots Notes- Green Project Management, Solar for Builders, & Zero Energy Homes

 Our local Austin HBA chapter in conjunction with Austin Energy’s Green Building Program has a great course called Green Boots that is intended to give an overview of Green Building.  It’s a series of 14 half day education sessions and Mark Epler who works as an Assistant Project Manager for me took some great notes from the class last week that I thought I’d share here…

Presenter #1  Alex Pettitt – Spring Builders
Green Project Management is Project Management with more thinking (i.e. asking more questions … 1. Why? 2. How?)
Building efficient homes should also be an efficient process

Prebid *a critical early-on step in construction process, as this is where client goals are established and what the valued green features are for the project
Longer up-front process – hour up front saves a day on back end on avg

Green Project Plans – very best dollar spent is on design up front. There is big difference between working with a green architect/design principles vs simply adding green materials, methods and high-performance systems to a traditionally built house.

Do your due diligence with spec’s or materials you haven’t used before – Installation Quality is equally important to Material Quality for new and trusted products. This often means selecting the right trades (low bids usually equate to low quality and service quality).

Utilize Energy Modeling

Value Engineering – achieving goals/design intent with minimal resources or alternatives
A lot of this comes down to clear communication across all parties involved. This requires a very pro-active approach with open-mindedness, flexibility and creativity. Important to set clear expectations and all parties to be aligned/on same page (tools: Co-Contsturct, Dropbox etc.). *Best done during design phase to prevent emotional attachment to unaffordable elements.

Detailed material specs and order timelines can have a huge impact on project management success and potential for unwanted repercussions.

Impacts on Affordability:
     Upfront Costs
     Ongoing Costs
     Useful Life

Utilize manufacturer reps – they are usually more than willing to come to you and help train you or subcontractors on product + installation. They want you to buy their product, which usually means they’ll go out of their way a bit and this can be to everyone’s advantage.

Clean, clear and organized site allows your trades to work more efficiently, which means they make money. You want your trades to make money, to succeed.

Homeowner education is key (and key to referrals)

Presenter #2  Cathy Redson – SolPowerPeople, Inc
– Solar for Home Builders
Value of KW hrs is probably guaranteed to never go down – from an investment standpoint this is pretty safe and substantial. Solar is an investment – an investment built to last. First panel built in 1950’s and is still working, still cranking KW hrs. Performance/Energy production does drop over time, but levels out at about 85% @ 1/2%/yr drop.

25yr warranty
40+ yr life
free fuel
no maintenance
millions of jobs
made in usa
3 yr energy payback
energy independence
No moving parts
no special wiring or changes to existing electrical system
‘locked’ energy price of life of system

TYPES OF PV Systems:
     Grid Tied … worth noting Micro Inverters – (not an endorsement for enecsys)
     Off-Grid
     Grid Tied with Battery Backup (aka Bimodal)

Basic Formula for Monthly Savings or kWh:
      PV SYS SIZE (Panels x Watts) X PEAK SUN HOURS (PSH) X DC-AC LOSS FACTOR (~.77) X DAYS/MO. = kWh/month

Presenter #3
Austin Energy
Zero Energy Homes – What they are, and | how to get there

Zero Energy Home vs Net Zero Energy Home vs Net Zero Energy Capable Home

Austin is trying to set goals for substantial energy reduction/consumption for all newly built homes via city energy codes.
Doing so requires combination of Green by Design (passive design, hvac, envelope etc.) + Solar Technologies

Austin Energy offers substantial Rebates through their Solar PV Rebate Program – in conjunction with Federal Tax Credit, PV systems can be quite affordable. Also rebate program for solar thermal water heating and high efficiency systems.

Perhaps best way to help us achieve energy consumption reduction is by changing our own perceptions of how we think about and use energy. What about building houses that are suited to our actual needs vs.  what someone is telling us? 50% reduction sounds great, but 50% relative to what might already be a undesirable metric – let’s determine what efficiency should be instead of measuring against past levels/metrics. Like it or not, building code will need to be a force an agent for this change.

THANKS FOR READING, AND THANKS TO MARK EPLER FOR SHARING HIS NOTES WITH US. 

Best,
Matt Risinger
Risinger Homes in Austin, TX

Risinger Homes is a custom builder and whole house remodeling contractor that specializes in Architect driven and fine craftsmanship work. We utilize an in-house carpentry staff and the latest building science research to build dramatically more efficient, healthy and durable homes.
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