February 21, 2014
Homecrete Homes Adopts FGBC Certification
In a community development known as Westcliffe Estates at Tradition that was started by an HGTV Green Home project in 2009, Homecrete Homes will be building green certified courtyard homes
All homes will be certified by the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) under the ‘Florida Green’ Home Certification Standard. Criteria in the standard incorporate building methods and products superior to traditional code-built homes, and provide energy efficiency, water conservation (both indoors and in landscaping), reduced maintenance requirements, and protection from natural disasters, such as hurricanes, termites and wildfires.
“Our courtyard styled home design and building method will be the ultimate complement to the home specifications of the HGTV Green Home at Westcliffe Estates,” says Bob Cenk, Vice President of Homecrete Homes.
Homecrete Homes builds all of its structures using some key product features that contribute significantly to the green effort including:
- Insulated Concrete Form Walls that use polystyrene (EPS) foam with reinforced concrete.
- Tinted Low-E Impact Windows (no exterior storm shutters required.)
- Spray foam under the roof deck. This also allows for the attic to become a conditioned space reducing hot air infiltration from the attic into living spaces, reducing utility costs. When combined with ICF walls and the window package, it produces a highly energy-efficient building envelope.
- High SEER rated mechanical equipment.
“We are excited to welcome Homecrete Homes into the Tradition community. Their unique energy efficient building methods will add another dimension to the home choices available within Tradition and further Tradition’s commitment to sustainable development,” says Wesley McCurry of Fishkind & Associates, development managers for Tradition, Fla.
Florida Jumps to #7 in Solar Jobs Nationwide
The number of solar jobs in Florida grew 60 percent in 2013, raising the state's nationwide rank from 12th to seventh, according to a study released in December 2013 by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA®).
Florida now employs 4,000 solar workers, an addition of 1,500 in a year, though the state has struggled to keep pace with other states in the number of solar installations. Florida ranks 18th in solar installations, down from 12th.
The U.S. installed 930 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaics (PV) in Q3 2013, up 20 percent over Q2 2013 and 35 percent over Q3 2012. This represents the second largest quarter in the history of the U.S. solar market and the largest quarter ever for residential PV installations. Even more importantly, 2013 is likely to be the first time in more than 15 years that the U.S. installs more solar capacity than world leader Germany, according to GTM Research forecasts.
The residential market continues its rapid growth. Through Q3, residential PV installations were up 45 percent year-over-year, driven largely by increasingly attractive economics and by fair net metering policies.
Shared Solar Projects Expand Household Opportunities
For decades, typically only homeowners with enough rooftop space, the proper roof tilt, and just the right orientation to the Sun had the option to power their homes with solar. The average cost of solar panels has dropped precipitously over the last decade, making solar a rapidly growing and affordable source of clean, renewable power for U.S. consumers. About 360,000 U.S. households have installed solar energy systems to date. However, many Americans face challenges adopting solar. Perhaps they rent instead of own, or share a roof with neighbors in a condominium building. Maybe their homes have north-facing roofs or too much shade.
There’s good news for people in this predicament: an innovative model for solar deployment, called shared solar, can help Americans take advantage of solar energy’s many benefits regardless of their housing situation. Participants in a shared solar program contribute directly to the deployment of a solar energy system, typically by owning or leasing a portion of the system or purchasing some of its energy output. In turn, they can slash their electricity bills.
Existing shared solar programs managed by utilities, entrepreneurial communities, and innovative solar developers are reaching a largely untapped market and realizing the financial benefits of the purchasing power of larger groups. Such programs have many siting options for solar energy systems, including municipal buildings, school and church rooftops, and reclaimed lands like landfills. Apartment residents can participate in offsite programs or join forces with neighbors by using their own shared rooftop. [More]
Green Builders Weather Recessions Much Better
According to the Green Home Builders and Remodelers Study, unveiled by McGraw Hill Construction, those builders with green construction credentials have performed better amidst the recent adversity in the US building sector. The study indicates the market prospects for sustainable products have significantly improved, with 51 per cent of builders and remodelers saying that selling green homes is easier, as compared to 46 per cent in 2012 and 40 per cent in 2008.
Green homes also hold the promise of bigger profit margins, with 68 per cent of builders reporting that clients are willing to pay a premium for more efficient and sustainable homes, as compared to 61 per cent in 2011. Nearly a quarter of builders surveyed also said that customers are willing to pay a premium in excess of five per cent. A stunning 84 per cent of remodelers indicated that customers are willing pay a green premium, as compared to 66 per cent in 2011. Well over half of remodelers also said that customers are willing to fork out a premium of more than five per cent.
The McGraw Hill study expects the popularity of green building to continue surging as consumers become more educated and exorbitant energy costs spur them to pursue more efficient and sustainable homes. Local governments and communities are also making strides in the incorporation of green requirements into regulations, ordinances and building codes, which will further drive market growth. McGraw Hill Construction’s current forecasts for total residential construction see the value of the green building market doubling within just a three-year time frame, rising from $36 billion in 2013 to between $83 billion and $105 billion in 2016.
The green building share of the overall residential construction market is also expected to rise, from 23 per cent in 2013 to between 26 per cent and a third of the market by 2016. As a result of this surge in demand for sustainable construction, more and more builders are expected to go green completely. A full 20 per cent of builders expect to be working exclusively on green projects by 2015, while 24 per cent expect 61 to 90 per cent of their projects being green by the same date. [More]
APA Guide Helps Improve Wall Thermal
Performance And Reduce Material Costs
A new illustrated guide, co-published by APA and the ICC (International Code Council), provides recommendations to help builders construct energy code-compliant wood walls using continuous wood structural panel wall sheathing.
IECC Compliance Options for Wood-Frame Wall Assemblies describes how energy performance is measured in exterior wood wall assemblies and how to improve wall thermal performance to meet energy code requirements. The 20-page publication details several wall assemblies that comply with the R-20 and R-13+5 prescriptive requirements for many of the climate zones included in the 2009, 2012, and 2015 editions of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Also provided are recommendations for reducing material costs by increasing use of lower-cost cavity insulation, optimizing material usage with easy-to-apply advanced framing techniques, and boosting thermal performance with insulated headers and siding. [Download the Guide]
Renewable Energy Legislation
Not Looking Popular in 2014
With natural gas prices remaining low, the drumbeat among state leaders for diversifying Florida's energy supply is fading. House Speaker Will Weatherford said the whole debate about energy has changed because of low gas prices due to discoveries of new supplies and techniques for extracting natural gas.
Weatherford and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam say Florida remains susceptible to possible future price increases. But Putnam also said that a third natural gas pipeline being planned into Florida relieves concerns about supply disruption.
Putnam also told the House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee on Feb. 12 that the Legislature seems to lack an appetite for renewable energy legislation, so he isn't proposing any this year.
Harvest Power Turns Disney Garbage to Electricity & Fertilizer
An emerging company has opened a plant on Disney property to convert food wastes from restaurants, supermarkets and others into electricity and fertilizer.
Harvest Power will burn the biogas generated from the decomposing garbage to produce electricity and sell it to Reedy Creek Improvement District, where eventually the juice will serve rides, hotels and other needs at Disney property.
In another corner of the plant, what's left of food scraps that micro-organisms have chewed on for a month is baked by heat from the generators to produce granular fertilizer. [More]
Increase Your Earning Potential – Become an FGBC Certifying Agent
With the residential construction market heating up in Florida, now is the time to advance your professional credentials by becoming a Florida Green Building Coalition Certifying Agent. Certifying Agents work with builders to perform required inspections on homes seeking the FGBC ‘Florida Green” Home certification. To date over 7,000 Florida homes have earned or are seeking the FGBC certification. Increase your earning potential by registering today for the next class on April 15-16, 2014 in Cocoa.
‘Fix-A-Leak’ Week Runs March 17-23
Communities across the country will celebrate EPA's sixth annual Fix a Leak Week March 17 through 23, 2014, with a variety of road races and fun runs. WaterSense's annual educational campaign encourages Americans to help put a stop to the more than 1 trillion gallons of water lost annually due to household leaks. These easy-to-fix leaks waste the average family the amount of water used to fill a backyard swimming pool each year.
Plumbing leaks can run up a family's water bill an extra 10 percent or more, but chasing down these water- and money-wasting culprits is as easy as 1—2—3. Simply check, twist, and replace your way to fewer leaks and more water savings:
- Check for silent leaks in the toilet with a few drops of food coloring in the tank, and check your sprinkler system for winter damage. You can also check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
- Twist faucet valves; tighten pipe connections; and secure your hose to the spigot. For additional savings, twist a WaterSense labeled aerator onto each bathroom faucet to save water without noticing a difference in flow. They can save a household more than 500 gallons each year—equivalent to the amount water used to shower 180 times!
- Replace old plumbing fixtures and irrigation controllers that are wasting water with WaterSense labeled models that are independently certified to use 20 percent less water and perform well. [More]
FGBC Welcomes New Members & Certifying Agents
Roger Held, Town of Jupiter
Michaela Henning, Hlevel, LLC
Chris Koontz, Koontz Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.
Karl Peer, Premium Energy Solutions, LLC
Victor Yinh, Town of Jupiter