ACI Mid-Atlantic 2012 Recap

Wed, 2012-10-10 08:29

Pittsburgh, PA is known for many things: three rivers, 446 bridges, steel mills, the Carnegies, Mr. Rogers, Heinz Ketchup, and of course, their stellar sports teams (Go Steelers!). What many people don’t know is that Pittsburgh has a legacy of leadership in energy innovation dating back to the first commercial oil well in 1859. This innovation has continued, with the development of the first natural gas well and pipeline and the nation’s first commercial nuclear power plant.

Overhead view of the Pittsburgh city

Pittsburgh provides an unparalleled mix of natural resources, research, and industry engaged in the development, production, and distribution of sustainable energy solutions. Pittsburgh is a leader in green building design and construction, boasting the world’s first and largest LEED certified convention center, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. This innovative structure is located next to the Westin Hotel, home to ACI’s Mid-Atlantic Home Performance Conference on Oct 1-2.

Everblue was a sponsor for the ACI conference, and our Business Development team members attended the conference to support the Pittsburgh region’s efforts in the home performance and weatherization industry. The 2-day event kicked off with a keynote speech by John Tooley, a senior building science consultant with Advanced Energy. A Tooley speech is always engaging, and he did not fail his Pittsburgh audience.

How Water Conservation Ties In With Energy Efficiency

John challenged his audience to reduce their water consumption by 1/6, noting that aquifer levels have gone down hundreds of feet around the U.S.

Aquifer replenishment takes hundreds of years. An aquifer near Chicago has gone down 900 feet. Land is sinking because of water withdrawal from aquifers: San Joaquin valley has dropped 28 feet, Las Vegas 6 feet, and Mexico City drops 2 feet yearly.

Looking around the audience, I saw many faces wondering how does this tie in with energy efficiency, which is ACI’s focus? John connected the dots quickly. For every 1 kWh reduction in household energy usage, you save 1 gallon of water. Each net zero home would mean 12,000 gallons per year water savings! Water conservation is a benefit to energy-efficient homes that we do not often consider.

John reiterated the need to focus on systems thinking. By definition, a system is a whole that derives its characteristics from the interaction of its essential parts and none taken separately. An energy-efficient house is a well-optimized system! This theme was repeated throughout the ACI conference. ACI had the “staple sessions” focused on duct performance, dense-packing, airflow measurement, and combustion safety. These parts, when done properly, all come together and help a home function as a system.

Up-and-Coming Energy Initiatives

This ACI conference also offered a finance track, which featured creative and successful financing programs like Keystone HELP in PA and the SEL program in Plano, TX. The most interesting session was hosted by Dave Robinson of GreenEarthEquities. Dave is a BPI 2012 Tony Woods Awards winner for Excellence in Advancing the Home Performance Industry. After attending his session, I have to agree that Dave deserved this award. His company buys foreclosures and performs deep energy retrofits on them before selling again. As part of every sale, Dave offers to pay 50% of utility bills for two years! Is there a better way of demonstrating confidence in a home’s energy efficiency? Robinson's business model has been so successful that the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded two contracts to GreenEarthEquities for the development of demonstration homes in California and Virginia, to measure specially designed HVAC and duct system configurations featuring Dave’s energy-efficient home performance improvements. If you hadn’t heard or read about Dave’s program previously, I encourage you to look it up. It is genius in its simplicity.

I would be remiss not to mention the exciting new initiative, ReEnergize Pgh, launched at ACI Mid-Atlantic 2012. This initiative, incubated by GTECH strategies, aims to reduce residential energy waste throughout Allegheny County, help create jobs, and improve air quality. ReEnergize PGH has some powerful partners including Duquesne Light, Equitable Gas, BlueGreen Alliance, ACTION-housing, the HEINZ Endowment, ACI, and the Kingsley Association. This is an initiative to watch. Undoubtedly we will see some innovative programs in the not too distant future.

Everblue is a proud sponsor of the hugely successful ACI Mid-Atlantic 2012 Home Performance Conference. We have committed to sponsoring ACI’s Northwest conference in Seattle Feb 5-6 and the ACI National Home Performance conference in Denver April 29 – May 3, 2013. Look for Everblue at these events!

View of Pittsburgh's stadium

Above: Heinz Field - The stadium was designed and built to celebrate Pittsburgh’s history of steel production, in mind with 12,000 tons of steel into the design. The sustainable result is a state-of-the-art stadium celebrating Pittsburgh’s heritage in steel that serves as the home field of the Pittsburgh Steelers, 6-time Super Bowl Champions.

By Lesley Cowie

Forward to a Friend