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California's Home Performance Data Drought

Posted by Debra Little on November 07, 2016
California's Home Performance Data Drought
Using a tablet allows workers to log data while on a job site.

Every energy upgraded home has data. But it’s the story behind the data that gives it meaning.

Stories like Mark and Jane’s who sold their home in Carmel, California fixer upper with a couple acres in Grass Valley so they could pursue their micro-farm dream in their retirement. With extensive energy upgrades in the attic and to their crawl and mechanical systems, they reduced consumption by 56%.

Then, a year later, they added enough solar to make the home net zero. But to them, the most remarkable benefits of the upgrades are Mark’s health improvements. For 75 years, Mark suffered from asthma but he’s been off medication for over two years now for the first time in his life.

Data Driven

Data is vital to every industry. Home performance has started to collect data and its reservoirs are filling but many stakeholders like real estate agents and appraisers are still in a data drought.

Real estate professionals are an essential group that could help drive demand if they had access to home performance data. Thousands of homeowners and builders have invested in energy upgrades but have been frustrated by agents, appraisers, and lenders because too often, they have not recognized added value for the upgrades. This has been a detriment to market uptake. Consumers need the certainty that these investments will pay off.

In this case, who is hearing Mark and Jane’s story? What’s working in their house that other homes don’t have? What specific upgrades were installed?

Home performance experts often track and analyze their own data in pursuit of excellence—as a way to learn from successes and mistakes. But many more could track their data if they had a tool to make it fast and easy.

Enter AjO.  

A New Mobile Data Tool

AjO is a new mobile data tool that equips contractors with the ability to quickly and easily manage their project data while on site. Its hallmark product is a one-page report for homeowners. Unlike a rating or label, AjO’s One Page Report  (pictured below) is a concise list of the installed energy upgrades. This condensed summary of the work scope is helpful for homeowners, and informs real estate agents and appraisers in their value estimates. AjO is designed to help contractors first, but facilitates data accessibility to real estate professionals and data exchanges who need it to drive demand—much like two more California projects currently being developed.

Industry Connections

Soon to be launched, the Home Energy Propensity Map, a Center for Sustainable Energy project, is an interactive map of homes with energy upgrades and/or solar. Not only does it illustrate market activity, but will also connect viewers, via hyperlinks, to project data such as AjO reports, which will raise visibility of these home performance experts and their stories.

Another resource soon to be introduced to the California real estate market is the Green Home Registry. This registry will connect data on energy upgraded homes to the MLS, increasing accessibility and utility to real estate professionals.

These, together with AjO, address home performance data accessibility and value. They are part of the new home performance data network infrastructure we’ve needed for so long.

 

AjO’s pilot is currently underway as part of Energy Upgrade CA’s outreach to contractors. You can participate here.

Debra Little is a home performance and valuation specialist. You can contact her at DL@AjOhp.org.

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