This Old House Saves Energy

Preliminary results are in for a green demonstration project undertaken by Affordable Comfort Inc. in the Pittsburgh area, and they’re impressive. Tests conducted by an energy consulting firm show the retrofitted home should use only a third of the energy that it did in its pre-retrofit condition.

Rather than seeking the latest, high-tech solutions, the project focused instead on using proven, readily available materials and methods. The project “demonstrates how an older structure can be improved beyond current new construction standards without breaking the budget of a typical major renovation,” says a report by MaGrann Associates, the Moorestown, N.J., energy/building consultants and engineers who tested the finished Energy Star-rated project.

The demonstration home is a small cottage built in the mid-1900s, representative of tens of thousands of similar structures built during the period. The project was produced by Affordable Comfort Inc. (ACI) to coincide with ACI’s Home Performance Conference held in Pittsburgh earlier this year (see Qualified Remodeler, March 2008, p. 18). ACI is a nonprofit educational organization that produces conferences on green building, home performance, and “house as a system” skills for the building industry.

Air infiltration was cut by 60 percent, reduced from 0.99 cfm50 per square foot to 0.39 cfm50 per square foot. MaGrann’s report notes that the firm rarely sees rates less than 0.5 cfm50 per square foot.

Projected annual energy use for the house is 92 MMBtu compared to 271 MMBtu in its pre-retrofit condition.
Improvements include:

  • Added insulation
  • Improved windows and doors
  • Enhanced mechanical equipment
  • Reduced air leakage
  • Efficient lighting and appliances
  • Spot ventilation
  • Mechanical ventilation for enhanced indoor air quality

Builder for the project was William Asdal of Asdal Builders LLC, of Chester, N.J. He is a Building Performance Institute accredited contractor, the 2006 Green Remodeler of the Year awarded at the Green Building Conference, the 2000 NAHB Remodeler of the Year, and was recently inducted into the NAHB National Remodeling Hall of Fame.

Asdal sees the demonstration as part of “building a new industry around mainstreaming home performance.” He wants the remodeling industry to develop energy-related analysis and testing skills to better deliver on promised performance results. He advocates a shift from first-cost to life-cycle cost in the decision-making process. Reduced consumption without sacrificing comfort and lifestyle is the goal, he says.

Association News

Sciolaro Named NKBA CEO

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) board of directors approved Don Sciolaro as the association’s chief executive officer.

Sciolaro joined the NKBA in 2006 as director of member services. Prior to his service to the NKBA, Sciolaro spent 15 years with the National Association of Manufacturers, most recently as senior regional manager for the group’s largest division, the New York/New Jersey region. He was responsible for membership and organizing grassroots public affairs efforts.