March 9, 2015

In This Issue:

Project Spotlight: Evernia Place Top Scoring  FGBC Certified High-Rise in FL
Florida Officials Ban Term 'Climate Change'
Lumber Liquidators Case May Enhance Value of Certified Green Buildings
Sarasota County Earns 5-Year Recertification
IAQ: What Builders Should Know
Incentives Hold the Key to Florida's Solar Energy Growth
New Water Heater Standards Take Effect in April
U.S. House Bill Looks to Promote Energy Savings
Understanding the Role of Nature in the Green Building Environment
10 Ways Millennials are Changing Real Estate
New Testing Procedures Announced for Home Energy Score Assessors
Member Spotlight: LifeStyle Homes Offers Solar Supplied Vehicle Charging Option
FGBC Welcomes New Members
Education Opportunities
Funding Opportunities
Job Opportunities
Articles of Interest:
California Moving to Mandate Solar on New Homes
The 10 Healthiest Housing Markets for 2015 - Florida Markets Hold 3 Top-10 Positions
Energy Efficiency Measures Offset Larger Square Footages
Will Hemp Be Florida's Next Building Material?
Women in Solar Energy: Nonprofit Pushes for Greater Role in Industry

Self-Driving Vehicles to Hit the Streets by 2016

Project Spotlight:

Evernia Place - Top Scoring  FGBC Certified High-Rise in FL
Evernia Place, an 85-unit affordable senior housing project in West Palm Beach, has been certified as a Florida Green High-Rise Residential Building by the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) after it successfully met the sustainability standards established in the FGBC Florida Green High-Rise Residential Building certification program. Evernia Place achieved 65 points of the 50 minimum required score, making it the highest scoring FGBC Green High-Rise project certified to date.

Evernia Place was sited on an infill property in a redevelopment area of the city, which utilized existing infrastructure, eliminating the need for construction of additional roads and public services.

The project performs over 25 percent more efficiently than required by the Florida Energy Code, providing the residents with low energy bills. Each unit is equipped with Energy Star Appliances, energy-efficient lighting and high-efficiency air conditioners.

The cumulative water savings will easily exceed 50 percent over traditional construction through the use of low-flow, highly-efficient interior water fixtures and appliances, plus the incorporation of Florida Friendly Landscaping and soil moisture sensors.

The most impressive part of this project is how Evernia Place weighs all of the concepts of sustainability - putting the residents, the environment, and the economics in balance to provide a great sense of community, easy access to services, and affordability. [More]


Florida Officials Ban Term 'Climate Change'
The state of Florida is the region most susceptible to the effects of global warming in this country, according to scientists. Sea-level rise alone threatens 30 percent of the state's beaches over the next 85 years.

But you would not know that by talking to officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the state agency on the front lines of studying and planning for these changes.

DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term "climate change" or "global warming" in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

The policy goes beyond semantics and has affected reports, educational efforts and public policy in a department with about 3,200 employees and $1.4 billion budget.

This unwritten policy went into effect after Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011 and appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr. as the DEP's director, according to former DEP employees. Gov. Scott, who won a second term in November, has repeatedly said he is not convinced that climate change is caused by human activity, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

"We were told not to use the terms 'climate change,' 'global warming' or 'sustainability,'" said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP's Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013. "That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel." [More]

Lumber Liquidators Case May Enhance
Value of Certified Green Buildings

Recent claims that some Lumber Liquidators' flooring contains high amounts of formaldehyde could have ripple effects in the home building industry for years, industry experts say.

As CBS's "60 Minutes" reported, independent tests of the retail giant's flooring found levels of the cancer- causing chemical to be off the charts, some close to 20 times above what's allowed, based on California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards.

Lumber Liquidators insists that the flooring is safe and has questioned the approach the network took to test the formaldehyde levels.

Whether or not the charges are true, the media coverage has set off consumer worries about indoor air quality and the health of homes. Some homeowners are ripping out their Lumber Liquidators flooring, stopping contractors in mid-project, or seeking to have it tested. [More]

Sarasota County Earns 5-Year Recertification
The Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) that administers green certification standards in Florida has recertified Sarasota County as a Florida Green Local Government after it successfully met the sustainability standards established in the FGBC Green Local Government 5-year recertification program.

First certified in September 2008 at the gold level with 47 percent of its 351 applicable points, Sarasota County continued to expand its sustainability strategic planning and performance management actions to earn 59 percent of its 399 applicable points, thus qualifying it for a gold-level designation and making it the second highest scoring local government in the state, surpassed only by the city of Dunedin. [More]

IAQ: What Builders Should Know
Tightening a home's building envelope can result in significant energy savings, but it can also choke off the air exchanged through the building shell, potentially contributing to the buildup of indoor air pollutants such as radon, dust mite feces, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). A conscientious builder would address this potential concern as a basic quality control requirement.

In-The-Field Advice

  • Build in added mold and moisture protection withwater- managed roofs, walls, and foundations. "Features include continuous drainage planes, proper flashing and air sealing, damp-proof foundation walls, capillary breaks, drain tile, and proper grading."
  • Prevent pests by fully sealing, caulking, or screening likely entry points. Combining physical barriers with proper pest management techniques may reduce pesticide use.
  • Employ "best-practice design and installation of ducts and equipment to minimize condensation problems, whole-house and spot ventilation to help dilute and exhaust indoor pollutants, and air filtration to remove airborne particulates."
  • Provide radon-resistant construction in potentially high-radon areas, "including gravel and plastic sheeting below slabs, fully sealed and caulked foundation penetrations, plastic vent pipe running from below slab through the roof, and an attic receptacle for easily adding an electric powered fan to the vent pipe if needed."
  • Reduce potential exposure to combustion gases by "installing direct- or power-vented gas- and oil-fired equipment, properly vented fireplaces, garages fully sealed from living spaces and equipped with an exhaust fan, and carbon monoxide alarms in each sleeping area."
  • Reduce sources of pollutants by selecting materials that minimize risk of moisture damage and have reduced chemical content, and ventilate a home prior to occupancy.

[More] [EPA's AirPlus Guide]

Incentives Hold the Key
To Florida's Solar Energy Growth

Solar power is booming in America, but a lack of solar- incentives may hold Florida back.  Since 2008, wind and solar capacity - a term that describes a system's highest possible electric output - tripled, according to a Bloomberg report this month.

Even though Florida's potential for solar energy use is third in the nation, the state ranks No. 13 for actual solar capacity installed, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, which keeps a running record of solar capacity.

In 2009, Gainesville Regional Utilities began the Solar Feed-in-tariff program where customers with solar technology could sell energy back to GRU under a 20-year contract. This incentive inspired Kurt Johnsen to open Kurt Johnsen Energy Systems.  He said the majority of his customers were motivated to try solar because of the program, and business plunged when it halted in 2013.

Incentives will continue to decrease if the federal government does not renew the Solar Investment Tax Credit that gives solar customers, commercial and residential, a 30-percent return on the full cost of their purchases of solar equipment.

The federal program started in 2006 and was scheduled to expire in 2007, but several extensions caused an increase in solar installations of more than 1,600 percent, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Without another extension, residents won't be eligible for a tax credit after Dec. 31, 2016, and the commercial credit will be reduced to 10 percent. [More]

New Water Heater Standards Take Effect in April
By April 16, 2015, Residential water heaters must comply with the amended standards noted below. [More]

U.S. House Bill Looks to Promote Energy Savings
U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) have  introduced H.R. 1273  that would foster the development of energy efficiency baselines for buildings while ensuring home builders and home owners are not burdened by unreasonable regulations.

The Energy Savings and Building Efficiency Act is similar to legislation the lawmakers introduced in the previous Congress. The measure would help promote savings in commercial buildings and homes through the use of more cost-effective energy codes.

Of note to the housing community, the bill would require that any code or proposal supported by the Department of Energy have a payback of 10 years or less.

The bill text is not yet available, but you can track its movement. [More]

Understanding the Role of Nature
In the Green Building Environment

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is hosting a webinar featuring architects from HOK and Terrapin Bright Green to discuss topics like how to incorporate biofilia and biomimicry into our future buildings to create humane, sustainable and resilient spaces.

The Role of Nature in our Future Built Environment Wednesday, March 18 at 2:00 - 3:30 PM ET [Register Here]

10 Ways Millennials are Changing Real Estate
As the millennial generation, also known as Generation Y, takes a greater role in the housing market, young people's preferences are starting to shape the way real estate business is done.

The real estate portal Zillow predicts that millennials will overtake baby boomers as the generation purchasing the largest number of homes this year, making their preferences even more important. Here are some tips for dealing with this tech savvy generation:

Don't call us, and we won't call you. Many millennials prefer to communicate by text, but some prefer email. It's important for agents and customers to clarify upfront how they will communicate and how often, as well as how quickly they can expect a response.

We've done our homework. Millennials rarely need agents to find homes for them to see. They usually have their own list, and they've already researched comparable sales and chosen a neighborhood. "With millennials, we do not control information," Murray says. "What they need is for us to interpret the information." At times, that can mean demonstrating that the information is not accurate, but this generation may not simply take the agent's word without proof and visuals.

We don't like surprises. Younger buyers want to know what to expect and when. "I see them wanting to understand what's going on at any time in the process more than any other generation," Reid says. They like timelines, checklists and charts. "If they don't know what's coming around the corner, it could cause paralysis when they get there," Murray says.

We want customer service, and we want it now. Millennials expect to be partners in the home search, and they want quick answers to questions. "They want information, and they want valid information, and they want it right now," Reid says. "They're the generation of Google at your fingertips."

Is there an app for that? Younger buyers live on their smartphones and use them as a key tool in their home searches. Apps are often their preferred method to check listings and collect other information.  [More]

New Testing Procedures Announced
For Home Energy Score Assessors

DOE announced the release of the Home Energy Score Simulation Training, a new online simulation tool that provides free, targeted training and testing to individuals interested in providing the Home Energy Score.

The Home Energy Score is similar to a vehicle's miles- per-gallon rating. It helps homeowners and homebuyers understand how much energy a home is expected to use and provides suggestions for improving its energy efficiency. It also allows homeowners to compare the energy performance of their homes to other homes nationwide. The Home Energy Score includes: 1) the Score itself, 2) facts about the home including data collected and energy use breakdown, and 3) recommendations to improve the Score and the energy efficiency of the home.

The Home Energy Score uses a 10-point scale with a "1" applying to homes likely to use a lot of energy and a "10" corresponding to the most efficient homes.

The Home Energy Score relies on weather data from approximately 1,000 weather stations across the United States to adjust the energy values underlying the 10-point scales and thereby account for climate variations. An individual home is linked to the
appropriate 10-point scale by its zip code. This weather data also informs the energy load calculations used to estimate the home's energy use.

To generate an official DOE recognized Home Energy Score, a qualified energy assessor must collect and submit a standard set of data inputs regarding the energy related features of a home, including but not limited to its envelope, heating, cooling and hot water systems.

As part of the Home Energy Score oversight, DOE reviews all of the data provided by the assessors for every home scored. Local and national Partners are required to carry out additional quality assurance through on-site reassessment of 5% of homes scored. [More] [How to Become A Home Energy Score Assessor]

Member Spotlight:

LifeStyle Homes Offers Solar Supplied Vehicle Charging Option
LifeStyle Homes, a Brevard County home builder, has successfully proven that its solar-powered homes can produce enough energy to not only run the household, but an electric vehicle as well. Its recently purchased Tesla is being rotated among LifeStyle's solar-powered model homes on weekends, allowing potential homebuyers to see and understand first-hand how homeowners can live more energy-independent lifestyles.

Each new home by LifeStyle is built SunSmartSM and guaranteed to score a 60 or lower on the HERS Index. LifeStyle is credited with building the first zero-energy home on Florida's East Coast. The company has won many awards for its solar-powered homes, including the Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA)'s Aurora Award for the best solar-energy home, as well as the North American Net Zero Energy Production Home of the Year, which was awarded by the Net Zero Energy Home Coalition. [More]

New Members:

FGBC Welcomes New Members & Certifying Agents

Craig Slabach (Rejoin)
Slabach Home Inspections of Sarasota

Charles Stephenson (Rejoin)
City of Temple Terrace
Temple Terrace

Maggie Sims

Marcus Lara
D.L Folsom Air Conditioning & Heating Corp
Boynton Beach

Mark Lange (Rejoin)
Green Spaces Consulting
West Palm Beach

Karen Kicinski
LifeStyle Homes, Inc.
West Melbourne

Funding Opportunities:

FHFC Multifamily Energy Retrofit Program
National & State Green Building Funding Opportunities
St. Johns River WMD
South Florida WMD Water Programs
Southwest Florida WMD Water Programs

Education Opportunities:

March 26, 2015
FGBC Certifying Agent
Annual Verification Course

Tallahassee, FL

April 14-15, 2015
FGBC Certifying Agent Designation Course

Cocoa, FL

Building America Webinars
Energy Star Webinars

Job Opportunities:

APA Florida Job Board
Green Dream Jobs
Florida Facility Managers Assn Job Board
City of Sunrise Internship opportunity