Some communities are addressing
Energy in buildings
Buildings consume the majority of energy used in this country. Making them more energy efficient is the most cost effective way of cutting energy consumption and saving money. The benefits of the efficiency measures carried out on the GBW building are an example of how economical such efficiency measures can be. Some communities are exploiting these benefits by carefully designing new buildings and assisting building owners who wish to reduce energy use and climate gasses.
As we discussed previously, Net Zero by 2030 is already in the 2009 Master plan. Other items in the pan related to buildings include:
- Encourage use of the practices outlined by the US Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and certification of all major projects.
- Promote the construction of Platinum and Gold certified buildings under the LEED program within the community.
Deerfield is considering building a new safety complex. Hopefully this building will last the better part of a century, so the way we design and build it have long term implications for energy use, economics and GHG emissions. The benefits the town is getting from the GBW retrofit are clear. Doesn’t it make sense for us to build those benefits into a new building we’ll be lighting and heating for a long time?
Our Master Plan includes, over time, work top has in adoption of the 2030 Challenge of making all buildings Carbon Neutral by the year 2030. Other communities are building efficient, Net-Zero projects of this sort, shouldn’t Deerfield do the same?
NON-MUNICIPAL (Residential and Commercial) BUILDINGS.
The State of NH has an Energy Code which sets the minimum standards for new construction and renovations. There is nothing to stop someone from building a more efficient structure than this legal minimum, and the law allows for some communities to adopt ‘stretch codes’, more stringent minimum energy efficiency standards for new building and renovations. This may include more insulation, better windows, better air sealing, ventilation and/or renewable energy.
BLOWER DOOR TESTING
Of all of these factors the most effective single step that could be taken is to test every structure for tightness with a blower door. Blower doors measure tightness in AIR CHANGES PER HOUR Ach/hr. (video on blower door testing) How many times would the volume of air in a structure be changed over time. NET ZERO structures usually have less than 1 Ach/hr. The current national code is 3 Ach/hr and NH’s energy code is Ach/hr. However testing is optional. What this means is that one of the most important factors in making a building energy efficient is not evaluated and most structures don’t even meet the minimum standards.
To do this, all the windows and doors in a structure are closed and a blower door, a big fan, is set up in a door. The blower door sucks air through the house and by measuring the volume of air that passes through the fan, determines how tight a house is. (Less air tighter house) Learn more about blower door testing here.
Blower door tests may be available to utility customers through NH Saves energy audits. NH has an association of independent auditors, the Residential Energy Performance Association (REPA) where you can hire a professional to do an audit. These are great services as far as they go. To be really effective the systematic use of a blower door, and perhaps the adoption of a tighter standard for every new structure and retrofit would be the most effective single energy efficiency measure regarding buildings that the town could take. The most inexpensive means to achieve the blower door tests would be to purchase a blower door for under $2000 and, if necessary train the code official to use the blower door. With a blower door, the code standards could be confirmed, and if the town has the will, the standards could be strengthened.
While increased standards are used in many towns, Durham has a kinder, gentler approach. The following list is given out with every building permit in Durham NH. The code official sits down with each applicant and reviews this list of potential energy efficiency measures and discusses their benefits. The points on the list are suggested, not required however in a high percentage of cases some of these measures are adopted on a volunteer basis just because they were suggested.
The following is a cop of the Durham Energy Considerations Checklist:
Learn about possibilities for community projects and potential sources of funding here -> Community Projects.