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Re: “Future looks dim for Little Rock home energy efficiency ordinance

I chair the Built Environment Committee of the Little Rock Sustainability Commission. The Ordinance is not dead. The plan is to get more stakeholders "into the tent," said the Mayor. There is too much at stake for the fear-based, self-interest of one group to derail it.
Effective March 14, 2016, new homes must meet the 2009 IECC (energy code) to be eligible for Federal mortgage insurance. In a confirming email to me from the FHA Resource Center on 3/27/17, HUD stated, yes "New construction must comply with the requirements of the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code, formerly known as the Model Energy Code. This is currently being enforced and Lenders should require the compliance."
This Ordinance will fix this for Little Rock by duct testing which will allow compliance with the required 2009 IECC. As is, new houses built to the current 2014 Arkansas Energy Code anywhere in Arkansas (except Fayetteville) do not qualify for FHA mortgage insurance. What's up with that Governor?
For appraisals, energy labeling new homes will finally give appraisers the comps they need to be able to value energy efficiency, PV panels, geothermal systems, etc. This will remove the biggest barrier to spec home builders building more energy efficient houses who say, I cant afford it when the added cost doesnt valued.
"I can't afford my light bill" is a major cause of mortgage defaults. The Ordinance addresses this by disclosing the projected utility cost to buyers before they buy and allows buyers to comparison shop (Realtors hates this).
The 2009 IECC sets a limit on house tightness without mechanical ventilation. Coupled with the mechanical code already in place this Ordinance can address the growing mold and moisture issues we are seeing in houses being built tighter with inadequate or no ventilation.
This Ordinance protects consumer's health and safety and protects builders from potential liability by blower door testing new homes and alerting builders and HVAC contractors when ventilation is (or is not) required. This will put the V back in HVAC and the City plans to provide training for HVAC contractors.
Unnecessary over-sizing HVAC costs both the builder and the buyer a lot of money. Energy rating gives the builder a second opinion on sizing. At $2,000/ton for AC, energy raters can usually save a builder enough money to pay for the energy rating with money left over to pocket. Mine is one of several companies in town that can test and energy rate houses. Ive been at it and since 1995. That is to say my opinions and observations herein are fact-based.
I've taught both real estate and appraiser CE classes through Pulaski Tech, Ray Camp Appraisal School and Arkansas Real Estate School. My class evaluations end with please check the box: I support, can live with, or oppose energy labeling houses. Once educated, over ninety percent of real estate agents and 100% of appraisers see the benefit of energy labeling and the importance of FHA mortgage insurance and check "support" or "can live with" energy labeling.
Bottom line, this Ordinance is good for the whole housing industry and even better if all do their part and put the energy labeling to good use. Building science teaches the house is a system. If any part fails to do its job, the whole system suffers. The housing industry is a system, too, so, Arkansas Realtors Association, get over yourselves, get educated and get on board.
To anyone reading this, if you can support this Ordinance, the City needs to hear from you. Please email James E. Jones, Assistant City Manager at jejones@littlerock.gov.

4 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by greenerhome on 06/24/2017 at 1:02 PM

Re: “Arkansas may violate ARRA caveat with dumbed down' residential rules

It gets worse. Senate Bill SB 86 by Jeremy Hutchinson to require six hours/year of continuing education for HVAC license holders was struck down in the Senate with only 9 votes in favor. This comes at a time when more and more new houses are being foam insulated air tight with inadequate of non-existent ventilation. The HVAC industry has forgotten what the V in HVAC stands for. Few to none have a clue how much ventilation a house requires or the best way to provide it and the legislature says that's ok because education costs money. Old school practices are colliding with new technology and it looks like it will take a fatality for a wakeup call. If the kids forget they put their pet in an airtight styrofoam cooler and closed the lid, will it wake up in the morning? That is what we are talking about. There are minimum ventilation standards but you have to test a houses to see how tight it is. Arkansas' 2010 Mechanical Code requires a new house not be tighter than 1/3 air change an hour, but it is not enforced because we don't test house tightness because of our dumbed down energy code which offers a "free pass" visual inspection option which, with the exception of Fayetteville, every builder of every house has chosen the free pass. No house has been tested for code compliance in two years. So much for the industry policing itself.

Posted by greenerhome on 02/20/2017 at 11:29 PM

Re: “Arkansas may violate ARRA caveat with dumbed down' residential rules

Duct testing is required by the 2009 IECC as written for a reason: It is a BIG problem. Duct leakage has long been estimated to average 20% of design airflow across the country. It may be worse in Arkansas. 3,000 houses have been tested in ENTERGY Arkansas' residential energy conservation program over the past few years. Average duct leakage is 39% of airflow. In other words, your 5 ton heat pump or air conditioner is delivering 3 tons of heating and cooling and 2 tons of leakage that is drawing in outside unconditioned air or throwing away air you just paid to heat and cool. Seal your ducts and knock 2 tons off the size of the AC you need. At $1,000-$1500/ton, a builder has just paid for the energy rating and any incremental cost from the energy code with money left over. Move from common to best practices in framing and save even more money. I submit that if a builder is willing to learn, the code can put money in their pocket and they will have a better product, more satisfied customers and less call backs. Yet the Arkansas Home Builders Association opposes testing duct leakage, and its not even a builder problem. It's an HVAC problem! Why would a builder want to base their reputation and the performance of their homes on leaky, untested ducts? Why would a builder want to continue to pay more for oversized HVAC systems to make up for their duct leakage. Why does the HBA advocate "No test. No problem." as the solution?

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by greenerhome on 01/09/2014 at 2:54 PM

 

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