Affordable Comfort, Inc.

Affordable Comfort, Inc.

March 31, 2011 19:24 ET

Highlights from Opening Day of the 2011 National Home Performance Conference

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA--(Marketwire - March 31, 2011) - Affordable Comfort, Inc. (ACI), the nation's leading educational resource for home performance and weatherization, welcomes 2,000 contractors, builders, energy raters, remodelers, designers, weatherization professionals, policy makers and program managers to the 25th annual National Home Performance Conference taking place at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco, CA, March 30 to April 1, 2011.

Highlights from yesterday, Day One of the conference, are below:

Amy Fazio, Executive Director of ACI, opened the conference with her welcoming remarks at the plenary session. She announced record-setting attendance of more than 2,000 attendees, with 400 of them coming from California, the host state. 101 exhibitors make it the largest home performance conference and tradeshow in the country. All 50 states and 7 Canadian provinces are represented at this event.

ACI Leadership Award

Fazio presented Charles Segerstrom of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) with the ACI Leadership Award. In his acceptance speech, Segerstrom noted the growth and change in the industry and within ACI, and recognized several milestones achieved in the last 25 years. He reminded the attendees of the importance of ACI's role at the center of home performance and weatherization, providing a meeting place, a learning place and a sharing place for all stakeholders. 

News from the Host State

Next, PG&E Vice President Steve Malnight took the stage to speak about California's commitment to energy efficiency policy and implementation. For example, the state weatherized 130,000 homes for low-income families and $170 million in energy efficiency rebates were distributed to homeowners last year.

News from the Host City

Melanie Nutter, Director of the City of San Francisco's Department of the Environment welcomed ACI attendees to the city on behalf of Mayor Edwin M. Lee. She presented findings on sea level rise in the Bay Area and the impact it would have on the city if allowed to continue. She shared the city's initiatives for reducing environmental impact intended to help reach a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% below 1990 levels and power the entire city on 100% renewable energy. She also provided an overview of several major efforts geared for reducing energy demand, including the Stimulus Residential Energy Program and the San Francisco Energy Watch program, which has helped to reduce enough energy to be equivalent to the amount used to power 30,000 SF homes, saving $30.2 million on utility bills.

A Walk Down Memory Lane with an Eye on the Future

Following Nutter, Linda Wigington, founder of the Affordable Comfort conference, reminisced on the history of the organization as it celebrates its 25th anniversary. The houses improved, people whose lives have been changed, the incredible advances in diagnostic equipment and methods that have taken place over the years. She spoke of the essence of ACI as a platform to explore and inspire a paradigm change. Saluting 25 people who have shaped the industry—one selected for each year of the organization's history—Wigington noted that many of them found their passion, were able to nurture it and share their knowledge with others through ACI conferences. To continue that opportunity to inspire and share, she announced that the Memorial Scholarship Fund had been expanded to allow 25 people who would otherwise be unable to do so to attend the conference. More than 200 people applied for the scholarship this year.

Tony Woods Award for Advancing Excellence in the Home Performance Industry Presentation

David Hepinstall, Chairman of the Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI) board of directors presented the 2011 Tony Woods Award for Advancing Excellence in the Home Performance Industry to A. Tamasin Sterner, President and Head Coach of Pure Energy Coach LLC. Sterner was nominated by her industry peers and selected by an independent panel of impartial judges, both for her national impact on home performance contractor training and her pioneering work in low-income weatherization, bringing residential energy efficiency to the nation's attention. 

"For nearly 30 years, Sterner has been a crusader for conserving energy, a pursuit that's taken her into more than 40,000 homes to advise residents on how to become more energy efficient. More recently she has applied her depth of experience to contractor training," said David Hepinstall, Chairman of the BPI Board of Directors. "Throughout her work in the field and classroom, she has demonstrated a bedrock understanding that the work we do as energy auditors, trainers or QA inspectors depends on effective communication with key audiences, whether they be homeowners, students, contractors or senators." 

Building Performance Industry Hall of Fame Inductions

Also part of the ACI Opening Plenary session, three new individuals were inducted into the Building Performance Industry Hall of Fame. Nominated by their peers and selected by a panel of impartial judges, these individuals were recognized for their significant and lasting contributions to the building performance industry over the course of their careers. The new inductees are:

Stephen Cowell, CEO of Conservation Services Group (CSG), has helped create and build the home performance industry through sound public policy, legislation, the establishment of trade ally networks and the delivery of cost-effective residential energy efficiency programs for the past 30 years. He founded CSG in 1984 with three employees and one office. Today, CSG has 700 employees and 22 offices nationwide. The company has designed and implemented conservation and renewable energy programs for utilities, state agencies, and other groups throughout the U.S., providing services to nearly two million businesses and households.

Among his many achievements, Cowell implemented EPA's first Energy Star Homes program in the Northeast in the 1980s. In 1986 he served as the first president of ACI, and has been advising ACI for 25 years. Last year he co-authored national Home Star legislation and helped establish the Home Star Coalition.

Hap Haven, dubbed a master educator for the home performance industry, in 1981 Haven pioneered the "home systems approach" toward energy education while directing the country's only urban energy model home, called Te Energy House. Haven's educational materials have been used by tens of thousands of customers and contractors across the United States. Since 2005 he has personally trained over 1,000 contractors for BPI certifications. He holds three BPI certifications as a building analyst, shell, and heating specialist, and has developed two curricula that prepares candidates for BPI certification exams. 

Haven spent 18 years with the Energy Coordinating Agency, (ECA) of Philadelphia, PA where he helped design, manage and evaluate energy educational programs for local, utility and government agencies. In 2004 he founded US Green Home® dedicated to "Making the world greener, one house at a time™"

Courtney Moriarta is Northeast Business Development Manager for Masco Home Services. Her contributions to the building performance industry are legion: she has inspected thousands of homes, trained contractors and energy professionals nationwide, and authored technical standards covering a broad range of building performance issues. 

From 2002 to 2004 she served as Executive Director of the Building Performance Institute. She is a strong proponent of a holistic approach to building improvements and supporting the contracting trades and technicians responsible for carrying out this work. 

State of the Industry Overview

Steve Cowell took the stage next to present a state-of-the-industry report. In his presentation, he made the case for the contribution of rising energy prices to the economic collapse, noting that in 2003 – 2005, energy costs accounted for 3.5% of median household income in the United States and by 2007 – 2008 it had risen to 8.5%. This caused a 12% drop in household income pre-tax and 15% post tax—a substantial change in the economy that shows a clear correlation between mortgage delinquencies and rising energy prices over that five-year time period.

Efficiency as an energy source is the only answer for the sustainability of society, economy, and the environment over the long term. He pointed out that Home Star would have saved 10 times more oil equivalent than the gulf spill. Performing energy efficiency upgrades on 7.7 million homes would save the equal to all off-shore oil drilling on the pacific and Alaskan coasts combined.

Keynote Address from California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom provided the keynote address, speaking to environmental stewardship, green job creation and the establishment of a clean energy economy in California and San Francisco in particular.

He noted that 2005 was first year that more people lived in cities than suburban or rural communities and that 75% of world's natural resources consumed were already being consumed in cities by that year.

During his tenure as Mayor of San Francisco, Newsom helped to establish the first and most aggressive green building standards in the US, as well as aggressive solar programs—taking San Francisco from last to first in solar generation in the country.

He then shared the results of those initiatives. After independent third party verification of greenhouse gas emissions, San Francisco was just shy of 7% below 1990 levels by 2008. Almost 80% of taxis are on alternative fuels and 100% of the public transit fleet on alternative fuels. Fats, oils and grease from restaurants, hotels and cafeterias are collected by the city at no cost to the proprietors and converted to bio diesel. Meanwhile, the economy of city actually grew and Californians saved $56 billion.

Newsom was adamant that energy efficiency creates jobs, noting that unemployment in the construction field is still ranging from 20-50% depending on the particular craft. California has 12.5% overall unemployment in state, with several counties near 15%.

Then he shared some interesting math. Calculations show that investing $1 billion in coal would generate 870 jobs. Investing $1 billion in a nuclear plant would create 1,500 jobs, in solar it would create 1,900 jobs and in wind it would create 3,300. But investing that $1 billion in efficiency retrofits for the built environment would create 7,000 jobs.

"Energy efficiency is a no brainer," he told the crowd. "We need to start talking about it more."

New Product Launch: EnergyMeasure™ HOME

Conservation Services Group (CSG) announced the launch of its "next generation" energy measurement and home improvement software. EnergyMeasure™ HOME is tailored for utilities, state agencies and home improvement companies implementing large-scale energy efficiency programs with CSG. The software tracks and analyzes every aspect of a home's energy performance, from insulation levels to heating and cooling systems and appliances, and provides customized recommendations for improvements. EnergyMeasure HOME is based on CSG's 27 years of experience and standards set by groups like the Building Performance Institute (BPI) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 

CSG's new software is a comprehensive, in-home assessment tool that provides the analytics and tools to support various retrofit jobs. EnergyMeasure HOME covers the entire workflow from audit, through installation, to quality control inspections. It works for home energy scoring, direct installs, simple improvement projects and complex, deep retrofits. In addition to covering the analytical bases, the software comprises back-end elements for scheduling, reporting, invoicing and other elements that allow programs to run effectively and efficiently, from start to finish. Initially being rolled out to CSG clients, EnergyMeasure HOME will be available to other organizations with high-volume auditing needs later this year.

For more information about EnergyMeasure HOME, contact For more information about CSG, visit

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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