Upon returning home from five long days at the RESNET Building Performance Conference in Raleigh, N.C., I reviewed my notes to see what I had picked up while there. Now for those of you who don’t know this crowd, this is one roomful of serious geeks. Compared to the building industry and the average consumer, I am pretty geeky when it comes to building science, but most of this crowd (as well as many of my friends here at GBA) truly humble me with the extent of their knowledge. I recognize that I am way too ADD to gain and retain the level of expertise of this crowd. I am much more comfortable in my role as a generalist.
So, taking RESNET from a generalist perspective, I thought I would share some observations from sessions I attended and amusing tidbits from casual conversation. I have not done any research to back up some of the things I am reporting, so if anyone has corrections or clarifications, please share them. In no particular order, here are things that I heard:
• Energy Star is developing a certification program for existing homes above and beyond Home Performance, more in line with the new homes program.
• Garage vent fans are required by the mechanical code.
• According the Shelton Group, homeowners are willing to pay up to 70% more on their energy bills before they will spend money on home efficiency measures.
• RESNET is way behind the curve on Web 2.0.
• My friend Mike Barcik from Southface realized that after you size an HVAC system with Manual J, then you go to STD.
• RESNET presenters in general had an astounding amount of information to share. However, most of the presenters I heard could improve their presentation skills and slides—look, a whole screen of tiny type is never visible past the first few rows.
• The hotel was hot, crowded, and noisy. I never appreciated a good conference center so much before this.
• The staff at LEED for Homes has a much better attitude and sense of humor about my criticism than others I torment.
• Tyvek housewrap installation instructions require 1-inch cap nails, 6-inch overlap, and tape at all seams. Never seen that personally. I guess staples and big rips aren’t approved methods.
• An NAHB Research Center wall air leakage study proved that caulking sheathing and between plates and subfloor makes a big difference.
• If you slap spray foam installations, you can hear hollow spots.
• Manual D requires adjustable dampers to be installed in each runout.
• The garbage bag flow test works on both supply and return ducts and vent fans, and instructions are available on the CMHC website.
• 1 cfm only goes out of the house if 1 cfm comes in to replace it. Example: If a 1200-cfm vent fan can only get 300 cfm of supply, the other 900 cfm is just noise.
• The number of bathrooms is an excellent predictor of home energy use. More baths = more luxury = more stuff = more power use.
• In cold climates, most ducts are in basements where the leakage tends to remain in the envelope, having a limited effect on efficiency.
• Testing ducts at 25 Pa tends to overstate the actual duct leakage.
• Ken Reaid of Hathmore Technologies had one of the best ideas of the day: when you are learning how to do something new on the computer, turn on your webcam video recorder and narrate what you are doing. You can replay it later when you forget.
• My friend Steve Byers of Energy Logic keeps beer in the bathtub and uses awards for doorstops.
• And finally, what could be my favorite PowerPoint typo of all time: “$1 Million General Inability Insurance Required.”
These range from useful to amusing, but I definitely picked up a few good ideas, once again reinforcing my theory that if you leave a class or conference with one useful idea that you can implement in your business, then it is worth your investment of time and money—not to mention the great networking. On that subject, coming up on March 1–2 is Greenprints, in Atlanta, a great regional green building conference that will certainly be worthwhile for anyone who decides to attend. Hope to see you there.