Affordable Comfort, Inc.

Affordable Comfort, Inc.

March 29, 2011 20:27 ET

Highlights from Day One of the Home Energy Summit

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA--(Marketwire - March 29, 2011) - Affordable Comfort, Inc. (ACI), the nation's leading educational resource for home performance and weatherization, welcomes politicians, private investors, academics and entrepreneurial home performance contractors as they discuss the acceleration of clean energy entrepreneurship and green-collar job creation at the ACI Home Energy Summit in San Francisco, CA, March 28-29, 2011.

Highlights from Day One of the ACI Home Energy Summit, March 28, 2011, are below:

Opening Remarks

Charles Segerstrom, President of the ACI Board of Directors and Supervisor of Energy Efficiency Training at the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Energy Training Center - Stockton set the tone for the Summit with his delivery of opening remarks. Stressing that sustainable market transformation means looking at the triple bottom line and balancing social, economic and environmental capital. Job creation, serving disadvantaged communities, generating homeowner demand for energy efficiency and environmental responsibility must be considered and treated with equalizing importance.

Home Energy Efficiency…A National Security Imperative

Adam B. Siegel, Director, Energy Security, Profitability and Sustainability FTI Consulting has 25 years of experience in the defense industry, and it shows. He reported Department of Defense statistics that roughly 80% of the cargo we move in Afghanistan and Iraq is fuel and water, while deployed staff report issues with comfort and alertness.

He said that for every 50 NATO convoys in country, someone was killed or hurt. "So it's about blood." It's also about capability. Fuel efficiency means deploying fewer people, or using them for something else. Civilians can get where they want to go without convoy annoyance. Personnel are more rested, and therefore more alert and effective.

Initiatives such as creating white roofs and installing foam insulation on tents have lowered fuel use by the military in operations to 35%.

Energy Efficiency Imperative

Dr. Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) for the United States Department of Energy outlined DOE priorities, including the completion of stimulous funding and building a long-term energy efficiency infrastructure after Recovery Act funding runs out. Tools being brought to bear to meet these goals include federal policies, state policy assistance, education and outreach.

She told attendees that drivers for these initiatives include the creation of domestic jobs, greenhouse gas reductions, cost savings, enhanced competitiveness for America on a world stage and the emergence of a new clean energy economy.

The Home Energy Score, essentially a miles-per-gallon type of rating for homes, is in pilot now in 10 locations. Data analysis from those pilots will occur over the summer, and it will be nationally available fall 2011. Meanwhile, the Better Buildings initiative encompasses 41 grant recipients, 31 states, $500 million in funding, and multiple building types.

What It Would Take: More Thoughts on a Building Performance Manhattan Project

Phillip Fairey of the Florida Solar Energy Center took a look into the future of energy in America. He told attendees that the US used 18.8 billion gallons of oil a day in 2008, with 67% used for transportation, and 67% imported. He pointed out that US oil production has been declining steadily since 1985 and by 2030, the business-as-usual case shows the US relying on 80-90% imported oil.

75% of electricity generated in the US is used by homes and buildings. We can cost-effectively get to 30% improvements now, while technology advances and rising prices are expected to get us to 40% by 2030. "And let's remember that two-thirds of the buildings that will be in use in 2050 are already built."

Here's an interesting question, posed to the audience: "Can building energy efficiency retrofits allow us to operate electric cars for free?"

The answer is, apparently, yes. Fairey cited a study on one central Florida home that received an $8,000 retrofit, resulting in $446 in net savings / year. That means it could power an electric car over more than 11,000 miles on the difference. Reducing building energy use by 25% across the US would save 102% of total imported oil, and $230 billion a year for consumers/businesses.

California Perspective

Karen Douglas, Commissioner of the California Energy Commission, gave a brief overview of the current situation in the state, saying the home energy initiative has the potential to bring environmental protection into every home and every office. The state has big goals: 75% of homes will be retrofitted by 2020, and one-fifth of grid capacity will be replaced in the same time period.

Energy Upgrade California, launched March 1, 2011, will bring the industry to scale and is a collaboration between state agencies, PUC, local agencies, non-profits, contractors, local, city, county governments. It should create a sustainable, scaled up retrofit industry, using a comprehensive approach including workforce development, standardization, and quality assurance.

State Commission Support of Residential Energy Efficiency

Dian Grueneich, Former Commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission and now a Partner at Morrison and Foerster, presented on the California Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan. She then went on to provide an overview of all state-level energy efficiency incentive program activity in the United States:

  • 45 states have at least one utility or other program that offers energy efficiency programs
  • 15 states have consistently spent more than 1% of annual utility revenues on energy efficiency over last decade
  • Utilities administer programs in ~30 states: third parties or state agencies administer programs in 9 states.
  • All 50 states have state public service or public utility commissions that set goals for energy efficiency, set small charges, administer the programs.

In 2010, $5.3 billion total was spent on state level/utility consumer funding (non ARRA). Residential and Low Income programs received $2.44 billion. By 2020 program funding is forecasted to reach $7.5 - $12 billion range. It should be noted, however, that spending is uneven, with 10 states currently accounting for nearly 80% of national spending on customer-funded energy efficiency. 18 states have passed Energy Efficiency Resource Standards that set savings targets requiring significant investments in energy efficiency, with four more considering doing so.

The State Energy Efficiency Action Network, or SEE Action, residential retrofit working group has a vision: a thriving industry for comprehensive, durable, performance-based upgrades, with robust demand, well-qualified network of full-service home performance contractors, rigorous system for quality assurance and a sufficient pool of affordable, accessible private capital.

How the Private Sector Looks at the Opportunity of Energy Efficiency

This panel discussion, featuring Stephen Crouch, Residential Marketing Manager, Johns Manville (moderator), along with representatives from the Linc Group, Serious Materials and OPOWER, examined the reasons why for-profit companies get into the energy efficient housing industry, and the challenges they face.

The panel agreed that market awareness and consumer demand are the two largest hurdles to overcome. Getting consumers to act, whether because they believe it's the right thing to do, want to correct a specific comfort or operational problem in their home or are spurred on by available incentives, is the number-one priority for the industry.

Taking clues from successes on the commercial building side of the energy efficiency industry, with creative financing, voluntary programs like the LEED(R) that actually raise the value of a building and therefore the rents that can be commanded, and the operational and productivity metrics being gathered will help accelerate market growth on the residential side.

The ACI Home Energy Summit is a high-level gathering of industry thought leaders that kicks off the week-long ACI National Home Performance Conference, the largest event of its kind, with an expected 2,000 attendees who are interested in and passionate about improving the energy efficiency, comfort, health, safety and durability of homes.

About Affordable Comfort, Inc.

Founded in 1986, Affordable Comfort, Inc. (ACI) is a not-for-profit organization that has become the go-to resource for information, education and best-practices in the home performance and weatherization industry. ACI recently expanded to new headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA, while also maintaining its original offices in Waynesburg, PA.

ACI national and regional events provide the forum for thought leadership, bringing together the best and the brightest—and the eager to learn-to solve technical problems, exchange new techniques, source new tools and materials and build the momentum of this fast-growing industry. For more information, visit

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1187 Thorn Run Extension, Suite 625
Moon Township, PA 15108
Phone: 800-344-4866
Fax: 724-627-5226

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