This article was originally published in the July/August 1994 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.



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Home Energy Magazine Online July/August 1994



Affordable Comfort Does it Again

Now in its eighth year, the Affordable Comfort conference again drew record attendance--with more than 1,000 participants including 184 presenters meeting in Philadelphia this March. With 84 workshops, 81 tutorials, and two advanced evening sessions, the five-and-a-half-day conference continues to be a true mega-training event for energy conservation professionals.

While Affordable Comfort has grown in size, the sessions have maintained their intimacy, with the 6-to-1 ratio of participants to presenters providing many opportunities for questions and quality discussion.

New to the conference were tracks devoted to energy efficiency in multifamily dwellings and advanced technical sessions held during the evenings, with presentations from building scientists Mark Modera of California's Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and Larry Palmiter of Seattle-based Ecotope.

The notion that energy-efficiency programs should transform the marketplace for goods and services was a recurring theme at this year's conference, with a track devoted entirely to the subject. For attendees, there was a sense that Affordable Comfort is not just a conference, but a movement--part of something larger that is emerging.

Market transformation was the theme of keynote speeches by Steven Cowell, president of Conservation Services Group and of Affordable Comfort Incorporated, and by Dennis Livingston, executive director of the Baltimore Jobs in Energy Project.

Reflecting an industry trend, health and safety topics such as combustion safety again dominated the conference agenda. There was also an increased emphasis on how weatherization affects a building as a system with less emphasis on how to find the holes. A draft policy statement issued by Affordable Comfort Incorporated reflected a growing concern about indoor air quality.

A large number of practitioners, building scientists and program planners believe that the attention paid to indoor air quality and combustion safety has been inadequate, reads the draft statement. Energy efficiency, air tightness and weatherization should not be viewed as contradictory to occupant health and safety. The economic benefits of improved health and safety should be added to the economic benefits of energy efficiency when determining the cost-effectiveness of measures or assessments.

Another highlight was a speech by Carol Tombari of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, who discussed the Clinton Administration's recent efforts to deal with global climate change. Energy-efficient buildings can of course play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (see Carrots and Sticks From Washington).

Four sessions receiving the highest ratings on conference evaluation forms were: Better Results from Technical Staff Development, a workshop about integrating technology and client education to achieve optimum energy savings; Treating the Comfort System, A Case Study in Comprehensiveness, centering around Atlantic Electric's Energy Smart Service, a program in New Jersey targeting heat-pump customers with high utility bills; and Duct Repair and Forced Air and Indoor Air Quality, both with John J. Tooley, Jr. of Natural Florida Retrofit.

Three of the most heavily attended sessions were Dense-Pack Cellulose, User-Friendly Pressure Diagnostics, and How Tight is Right? Audio tapes of conference sessions are available for $8 each from Gail Ettinger, Affordable Comfort Incorporated, P.O. Box 57174, Philadelphia, PA 19111. Tel:(215)563-3761, Fax:(215)563-3948. The 1995 Affordable Comfort conference will be held at the Hilton in downtown Pittsburgh and the 1996 conference is to be held in Chicago.

Affordable Comfort has already issued its call for presenters for the 1995 conference (the deadline for applications is August 1).

West Coast Conference Coming!

An Affordable Comfort Regional Conference is scheduled for October 13-15 at Pacific Gas and Electric Company's Learning Center in San Ramon, California, near San Francisco. The conference will be modeled on Affordable Comfort, with 40-50 sessions with six or seven simultaneous tracks plus hands-on tutorials. The conference will blend some of the highlights of the March conference with regionally-specific topics like water conservation and cooling.

-- Cyril Penn


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