Energy Logic - All Homes Will Be Energy Efficient

Building with sustainability doesnʼt need to be blasé. Nor overtly difficult. Utilizing inspiration alongside innovative techniques, EnergyLogic is finding ways to help set industry standards in ways that are straightforward and smartly adaptable to proven home construction methods.

Welcome to EnergyLogic

“EnergyLogic is a Northern Colorado home energy rating company,” says Robby Schwarz, one of the founders and continuing principals of the Berthoud-based company that serves the greater Front Range area, alongside Steve Byers and Wynne Maggi.

As a multi-faceted business who envisions a future where all homes will have the least possible impact on Earth, they offer several key features to those involved in the building industry.

These include, but arenʼt necessarily limited to:

  • Builder Services for production, custom or multi-family projects
  • Industry specific software for HERS (Home Energy Rating System) companies, entitled DASH, based on their own experiences as well as those of hundreds of users across the nation. DASH is a comprehensive solution for HERS rating companies. The advanced technology helps to manage both the massive amount of data that flows from HERS, plus the rating company.
  • Leadership in the form of participation in RESNET (Residential Energy Services Network) committees, board membership and working groups. They also are a HERS training organization.
  • Formation of the forward thinking EPX (Energy Professional Exchange).

The best residences possible

Schwarz is passionate about what he does, because, he admits, he learns something new every day himself.

EnergyLogic is helping to build better homes by “working with builders at the planning stage. We begin with building permits and then Energy Star certificates and HERS scores,” states Schwarz.

They also include diagnostics at the different stages of construction for such issues as ventilation and insulation.

“The best resource, the one that makes the most sense at the start, is for builders to talk to a HERS rater,” says Schwarz of those potential builders wanting to find a jumping off point for quality information. “They can also look up the Residential Energy Services Network website. Thereʼs tons of information online. In this way, there are benefits they would be able to see as a builder, and ultimately, pass onto their customers.”

Energy Star vs. the HERS index

Although similar with an ultimate goal of moving toward more sustainable homes, Energy Star and the HERS index are two different measures.

Energy Star is a labeling program backed by the U.S. government. It is designed to help consumers save money while reducing greenhouse gases by identifying superior energy efficiency in home appliances, office equipment and electronics.

On the other hand, HERS is recognized throughout the nation as a system by which a homeʼs energy efficiency is measured. It has become the standard for inspectors calculating a homeʼs energy performance.

Changes in the building industry - past and future

“I really feel the changes in the building industry are mirroring expectations,” says Schwarz. “A hundred years ago, if people were cold in their homes, they adapted by putting on a sweater.”

Or building a fire, or just plain old toughing it out and shivering. But, as times have changed to where creature comforts are the norm, the majority of homeowners want their internal residential environments to cater to their bodily needs.

“Nowadays people want to walk around from room to room in their underwear,” adds Schwarz. “Learning how to meet that expectation means creating homes that provide that.”

The point is to do so in a way that uses less fossil fuels and utilizes energy efficient methods.

Schwarz poses the question, “What are realistic expectations and what are not?”

The traditional thermostat is one example. Say itʼs set at 75 degrees, then the reading will have the same temperature at the thermostat and within 10 feet. But in the basement or on the second level, it will vary, possibly by quite a lot. So, if people believe that the temperature will be consistent throughout, theyʼd be mistaken.

Hereʼs where education to the potential client by the builder or salesperson comes into play. Instead of assuming there will be an automatic energy efficient heating or air conditioning system, they might have to upgrade to a zoned system at an added cost. But, it is important to note that the initial financial output will be offset by long-term returns.

The future always holds an element of uncertainty, but in the case of sustainable construction it likely wonʼt come down to technology itself, but something more fundamental. The human factor.

In this case, a shifting work force.

“I think that labor is going to define how we build houses,” says Schwarz. “Even though construction is a proud profession, people have turned away from the industry.

We donʼt have enough labor for demand. Homes will need to be more panelized and systemized, instead of being all site built. Thatʼs where building science will offer better understanding, supervision and quality assurance.”

The trend is moving away from McMansions, however, which could, in its very essence, offset some of those problems.

“People arenʼt as interested in huge houses,” continues Schwarz. “Millenials prefer smaller, more efficient homes. Those things will be reflected in our society.”

Challenges faced when building and selling energy efficient homes

“I think itʼs twofold,” answers Schwarz concerning the challenges faced by championing this profession. “Number one is the perceived cost. Most people have the myopic view, of what it costs right now. They only want to look at the initial cost versus the long term costs. Builders and home buyers alike arenʼt always very good at looking at the final product so that issues donʼt become a problem again and again.

“The other thing is that sales people often say people arenʼt asking for efficiency,” continues Schwarz. “So there needs to be a tremendous effort to educate the sales people in order to challenge the buyer to comparison shop.”

By Schwarzʼs experience, heʼs found that consumers are more likely to pay if an amenity is already included in the home, especially if you let them know the value.

“We simply need to invest a little more time helping builders, salespeople, and consumers understand the long-term benefits that energy efficiency will bring to their lives,” concludes Schwarz.

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Author - Lynette Chilcoat

Loveland-based Lynette Chilcoat, a Colorado native, has been a freelance writer for nearly 20 years.

20 Years of ENERGY STAR
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