There is this disconnect in our industry. It's around building science and the ways that all the systems in the house work together or against each other. It looks like this: evaluators and raters know about house-as-a-system and can look at a house and see some solutions and fixes that include the building envelope and the HVAC system of the house. Weatherization folks can see mainly solutions to the building envelope. HVAC folks see the mechanical side of it. Homeowners see the capital cost side of things in a much brighter focus than they see the energy savings. Funders see the short-term cost recovery side of things, and realtors see what will give them the shortest sales period. Appraisers see only the features that realtors sell houses on.
Building science and understanding the principles behind energy efficiency measures needs to be recognized across the spectrum of people involved in the housing industry, but it's hard to connect all those dots. We have a lot of focus on the house-as-a-system and the impact that a wide range of variables have on the building envelope in our initial course offerings, because, from our point of view, it's the first thing that needs to be understood. After we wrap up production on the insulation course, we're headed into HVAC territory.
In advance of that course going into production, Blue House Energy CEO, Shawna Henderson, has started writing a series of articles for the New England-based magazine, Oil and Energy. The series will focus on building science, HVAC systems, cold climates, high performance housing and deep energy retrofits. The first one was published 5 September, 'Striking the Right Balance' discusses low-temperature hydronic systems in high-performance houses, and some of the issues that come up when designing a heating system for a house with a very small heating load in a cold climate where homeowners are loath to do away with the security of a central heating system.