Habitat X Releases 2015 Position Statement


Big Sky Resort, Montana -- August 14, 2015

The Habitat X Summer National Conference provides a collaborative meeting place for leaders from the energy efficiencybuilding performance, and utility industries. Each year we work in a open public process to develop a position statement that addresses issues and initiatives that we deem to be of prime importance to our organizations, our industries, and society at large.

The 2015 Habitat X Position Statement reflects our collective commitment to support the six broad initiatives below. We recognize that there is much to accomplish within our respective industries, but we believe that our focused work on these key initiatives will be most likely to yield positive and industry-changing results.

The goal of this collaborative project is to gather knowledgedevelop industry guidance, and move these key initiatives toward success.

1. The Evolving Role of Gas and Electric Utilities
Team: Ben Bunker (lead), John Dendy, Ryan Schwochert, and Leif Magnuson.

The gas and electric utilities play a critical role in the construction, operation, and management of North American buildings. Their role is evolving rapidly due to factors that include the spread of smart grid technologies, decreased cost of photovoltaic installation, increased demand for clean energy, and regulatory uncertainty. Both the utility industry and the building performance industry will benefit from smarter and more collaborative ways of working together.

We commit to focusing on these strategic initiatives:

  • Support an increased dialogue among the building performance community, utility companies, and regulatory organizations. 
  • Develop educational and technical resources that increase understanding among these organizations.
  • Support the development and promulgation of best practices for utility programs that encourage energy conservation and high performance construction.
  • Support the development of data collection protocols that allow all parties to benefit from the increasing availability of data on building performance.

2. Connecting Home Performance and Home Health
Team: Kevin Kennedy, Leif Magnuson, Joe Medosch, Penelope Schwiebert, Bill Spohn, Brad Turner (lead), Chandler von Schrader, and Larry Zarker.

We recognize increasing connections between home health and home performance that establish this issue as one of the most important non-energy benefits of high-performance construction.

We commit to focusing on these strategic initiatives:

  • Strengthen the collaboration between home performance and home health industries.
  • Participate in the development of home health assessment protocols that are integrated with energy audit protocols.
  • Build awareness among consumers about the connection between home performance and occupant health. 
  • Support the development of credentials for combined building performance and home health assessors. Determine if there is a need for a credential for home health remediation specialists.
  • Identify, train, and empower building performance professionals who can expand their services into the home health arena.
  • Develop implementation models for combined home performance/home health organizations.

3. Consumer Ethics and Values
Team: Chris Dorsi, Mike Lynch (lead), and Corbett Lunsford.

The building performance industry has had only limited success in achieving widespread adoption of high performance buildings. We recognize barriers that are economic, cultural, and technical. True market transformation will not take place until we enjoy a deep and enduring consumer demand for these services.

We commit to focusing on these strategic initiatives:

  • Identify and focus on proven consumer needs and interests. Re-think the standard messaging of the building performance industry in this light.
  • Perform expanded consumer outreach and education that focuses on house-as-a-system concepts, and identifies the limitations of widget upgrades and box-change-outs. 
  • Engage in realistic dialogues with consumers about the potential hazards of poorly performing buildings.
  • Develop transparent educational campaigns that seek to reduce consumer belief in “magic” products.
  • Continue building brand awareness that supports high performance buildings and builds consumer confidence. Support strong existing brands such as ENERGY STAR.

4. Contractor Training and Quality Control
Team: Colin Genge, Jonathan Lang, Joe Medosch, Thomas Murrell (lead), Erwin Schwiebert, Karl Seebach, and J West.

The implementation of high-performance construction standards, for both new and existing buildings, has been slowed by barriers of tradition, economics, and training. We cannot attain widespread adoption of these standards without a capable and willing workforce.

We commit to focusing on these strategic initiatives:

  • Demonstrate the advantages of high performance buildings, with quantitative proof, in ways that are relevant to the construction industry, the real estate community, lenders, and consumers.
  • Develop protocols for high performance construction that recognize the realities and limitations of the construction industries.
  • Develop roles as trusted advisors and allies to building contractors and sub-trades.
  • Develop workforce training that focuses on house-as-a-system concepts and implementation.
  • Work to integrate the high-performance building industry into the existing construction industry.

5. Building Performance and Product Development
Team: Rick Blumenthal, Colin Genge (lead), Thomas Murrell, and Jim Robinson.

The methods and materials used to build and maintain high performance buildings continue to evolve. We recognize both opportunities and risks in the adoption of both new products and installation methods.

We commit to focusing on these strategic initiatives:

  • Perform research and development with the goal of producing safe, durable, effective, and environmentally benign materials.
  • Perform research and development with the goal of developing construction methods that produce long-term results.
  • Expand performance testing protocols to include assessment of non-energy attributes. Develop metrics for non-energy attributes as needed.
  • Continue building science research that focuses on the impact of methods, materials, and maintenance on human health.

6. Programs and Codes
Team: Griffin Hagle (lead), Jonathan Lang, Joe Medosch, Chandler von Schrader, and James Jackson.

The programs and codes under which we design, build, and manage buildings continue to fall short in their support of high-performance construction. We see great opportunity in the restructuring of these institutional definitions of success.

We commit to focusing on these strategic initiatives:

  • Advocate for stringent building and energy codes that encourage high-performance construction. 
  • Advocate for increased enforcement of building and energy codes.
  • Develop collaborative partnerships with administrators of utility and government efficiency programs.
  • Encourage the development of broad-based programs that integrate house-as-a-system concepts.
  • Support the development of pay-for-performance programs that reward building owners, implementers, and contractors for delivered savings rather than predicted or deemed savings.

Learn more at the Habitat X website.

Tell us about your work in a comment below. Are you working on any of these issues?

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