What is the Cool Energy House Project?

By Stacy Hunt and Craig Savage

The Cool Energy House (CEH) project is a deep-energy remodeling project focused on taking a real-life, traditional remodeling project and optimizing it for peak energy performance. Two Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Department of Energy teams from the Building America program are collaborating to produce, engineer and present the project, which can be toured during the 2012 International Builders’ Show in Orlando Fla., Feb. 8-11.


The CEH is being produced by the Building America Retrofit Alliance (BARA) with the engineering done by the Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings (CARB). Both organizations are teams under DOE’s Building America program. The CEH is focused on illustrating the impact of new energy-efficient systems and strategies on traditional remodeling projects, as well as showing remodelers the opportunity to include peak energy-performance strategies in their projects for added profit, increased customer satisfaction and referrals, and reduced risk. In this project, the DOE’s Building America teams are incorporating revolutionary building-optimization software (BEopt) and proven guidelines to reduce energy use by more than 50 percent.


The CEH is presented as a demonstration home project to allow builders, remodelers, researchers and others a chance to see, in action, some of the residential energy-efficiency strategies developed by DOE’s Building America program.


In the current housing market, remodels, retrofits and home-performance upgrades are promising and profitable directions for many volume and custom-home builders, as well as remodeling contractors. The CEH demonstration will serve as a living example to those trades and the interested consumer. The “house-as-petting-zoo” tour will offer multimedia short courses that effectively explain the building-science-driven products and solutions incorporated into the high-performance retrofit.


Affordable, effective and quick payback energy-efficiency measures, researched and vetted by the Building America program, will be showcased at the house and on the web-based virtual tour, which includes videos about air sealing and enhanced wall insulation, a foam insulated and sealed attic, LED lighting, Energy Star appliance swap outs and extremely efficient pool-pump replacement. An “energy information station” inside the home will complement each measure, explaining the how and why of each optimization decision and resolution.


Stacy Hunt is principal with Confluence Communications and a member of the BARA team. She can be reached at (406) 550-9397 or stacy@confluencec.com. Craig Savage is co-president of Building Media Inc. and a member of the BARA team. He can be reached at (805) 963-4353 or csavage@buildingmedia.com.