This article was originally published in the January/February 1996 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.


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Home Energy Magazine Online January/February 1996


Building and Mechanical Codes Strengthened. On September 15, 1995, Building Officials and Code Administrators Incorporated (BOCA) accepted the 1995 Model Energy Code (MEC) as the energy conservation portion of the National Building and Mechanical Codes. The building and mechanical codes formerly allowed either MEC or ASHRAE Standards 90A and 90B for compliance. MEC requires more insulation in basements and walls and better-insulating windows than the 15-year-old ASHRAE Standards. The decision should improve the efficiency of new buildings in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast regions of the United States, where BOCA codes are commonly used. Four states-Maryland, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Virginia-have laws requiring them to adopt the newest edition of BOCA codes when they become available. BOCA had input from the Building Codes Assistance Project, the National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards, North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, National Fenestration Ratings Council, ASHRAE and some states. The 1996 edition of the building and mechanical codes will be published early next year. Energy and Housing Report, Sept 1995. Allan L. Frank Associates, 9124 Bradford Road, Silver Spring, MD 20901-4918. Tel:(301) 565-ALFA; Fax:(301)565-3298.

DOE Grant for State Building Codes. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has granted four states $500,000 to update their state and local energy codes for new buildings. North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia will use the funds for enforcement as well as development of energy codes. Specific projects include training for state and local code enforcement officials; seminars for builders, architects, and contractors; simplified code enforcement documents; and an energy code hotline. Conservation Update, August 1995. Kentucky Division of Energy, 691 Teton Tr., Frankfort, KY 40601. Tel:(502) 564-7192; Fax:(502)564-7484.

From Disaster to Efficiency. Habitat for Humanity is rebuilding a 40-acre area devastated by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 with an integrated village of almost 200 affordable and efficient family homes. The Jordan Commons project is located in Dade County and is intended as a model for nonprofit housing and community developers. Each 1,000-1,400 ft2 house includes natural cooling, high efficiency appliances, solar water heating, water reuse, and access to public transportation. The development will also include playing fields, parks, and three large central buildings. The homes are expected to use 38%-48% less energy than the average new home. Habitat for Humanity will monitor electricity use in the homes for different appliances, including the air conditioner, air handler, water heater, refrigerator, dryer, range, and clothes washer. Florida Solar Energy Industries Assocation Industry News, vol. 16, no. 3, summer 1995. 6208 W Corporate Oaks Dr., Crystal River, FL 34429. Tel:(904)795-9095; Fax: (904)795-7440.

BPA Wins Contract Dispute. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided in favor of Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) on August 29 in a case brought by SESCO, an energy services company in New Jersey, concerning a contract dispute. In 1993 BPA had terminated negotiations with SESCO in a competitive bidding proposal for residential weatherization because BPA felt that it would not be able to verify SESCO's estimated savings. SESCO claimed that specifying its intended audit procedures or describing how the company would choose which buildings to treat would force it to release proprietary information. But BPA found it unacceptable to set up a performance payment scheme based on an evaluation without this information. The court determined that BPA made an appropriate and rational decision to terminate discussions with SESCO. SESCO can appeal the ruling. Clearing Up, Sept 18, 1995. Box 900928, Queen Anne Station, Seattle, WA 98109-9228. Tel:(206) 285-4848; Fax:(206)281-8035.

ICAA Loses Preferred Installers Decision. Wisconsin Public Service Commission (WPSC) has rejected a request by the Insulation Contractors Association of America (ICAA) to force two utilities to stop publishing a preferred insulation contractor list. ICAA filed the complaint against Madison Gas and Electric and Wisconsin Power and Light, claiming that the utilities were unfairly extending preferential treatment to select contractors who enrolled in utility-sponsored training of one proprietary insulation system. Since these companies automatically get thousands of inquiries because of its utility franchise, steering customers to specific contractors is unfair-simply because of contractor enrollment in a utility-sponsored seminar series, ICAA wrote. WPSC's executive director, Michael Kwart, however, responded that utilities do not prevent their customers from hiring the contractor of their choice to perform conservation services. They do recommend that customers who want a certain kind of service, such as air sealing, choose a contractor that is trained and competent to deliver that service. That is the purpose of training. Kwart emphasized that no contractors are excluded from receiving the training, the fee for attending the workshop is nominal, and blower doors and pressure gauges are tools of the trade. Energy and Housing Report, Sept 1995. Allan L. Frank Associates, 9124 Bradford Road, Silver Spring, MD 20901-4918. Tel:(301) 565-ALFA; Fax:(301)565-3298.

A Mail-Order House. A new kit is available for a house that, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), uses only one-quarter as much energy as a conventional house. The kit costs $19,000, as compared with $20,000 for materials, appliances, and so forth, and nearly as much for labor to build a conventional house. The kit house has 440 ft2 on the first floor, which is divided between a cooking-eating-living space and a sleeping space, and 140 ft2 on the second floor. The first floor has an unusual bathroom arrangement: there's a separate pedestal lavatory in the sleeping area, and the toilet is accessible from all areas. If residents want to have a conventional bathroom, they widen one of the two storage wings and place it there. The house is heated with a solar system, backed up with a small gas log fireplace, and cooled by a through-the-wall heat pump placed in the loft. The stressed-skin foam panel walls insulate well; they consist of a sandwich of oriented strand board enveloping a foam core. Since these panels are precut, the house can be built in a single day. Drexel Insulation Report, July/Aug 1995. Center for Insulation Technology, MEM Department, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Tel:(215) 895-1833; Fax:(215)895-1478.


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