Award Finalists Honored at the 2020 Building Sustainability Conference & Awards
On September 2nd, leaders in the advancement of sustainable design and high performance construction were honored at Viridiant’s Virtual Building Sustainability Conference & Awards.
Viridiant hosted two concurrent conference sessions and an inspiring keynote address from Belltower Pictures’ President, David Powers, on the upcoming documentary “Heard”. The featured sessions and speakers shared knowledge and inspired discussion, all in an effort to drive change in the protection of our living environments, both inside and out. Topics included:
- How Virginia is Achieving our Energy Goals
- How to Deliver High Performance Buildings
- Keynote: “Heard” sneak peek documentary by Belltower Pictures
Awards were presented to recognize the region’s leaders in high-performance construction with a focus on projects, programs, and initiatives that represent the future of sustainable building. Nominees and winners were honored in a variety of categories based on work completed in the last three years in the Mid-Atlantic region. Each winner receives a FSC-certified wooden award plaque from Rivanna Natural Designs, a local business offering planet-friendly alternatives to traditional trophies and plaques.
Award winners include:
Project or Development – Single Family
Atelier Q2 Architects – 3518 13th Street N., Arlington
The Joyce Residence is a certified ENERGY STAR home achieving a HERS score of 22 and received Arlington County’s silver level Green Home Choice Award. The project incorporated passive solar design including the home’s orientation and exterior solar shading to take advantage of natural light and solar gains during the winter to decrease the heating load and solar shading during the summer months to decrease cooling loads within the home. It utilizes central mini-split heat pumps, an Energy Star hot water heater and many locally sourced or recycled content materials. 24 solar panels are installed to produce 8kw power for electrical vehicle charging station and includes battery storage.
Project or Development – Multifamily
Virginia Supportive Housing – Church Street Station Studios
Church Street Station Studios by Virginia Supportive Housing (VSH) is a 100% affordable, five story, 80 unit project designed and constructed to achieve EarthCraft Platinum Certification. To achieve the pinnacle level of the EarthCraft certification, Church Street incorporated advanced framing techniques, low to no VOC materials, energy efficient doors and windows, high efficiency water heaters, a VRF mini splits, resource efficient lighting, and WaterSense fixtures. The property includes a photovoltaic array to minimize the building’s dependence on non-renewable electricity generation, along with a solar thermal system for hot water generation. The compact, infill site connects to public green spaces and transit, minimizes parking, contains advanced stormwater control, and included native pollinator plant species within its landscaping. Virginia Supportive Housing’s commitment to sustainability not only improves the surrounding community while decreasing the carbon footprint of its developments, but also allows VSH to continue furthering their mission of providing transitional housing to the Commonwealth.
Builder or Developer
Peacock Holland Construction
Peacock Holland Construction (PHC) was founded in 2018 and is already a strong contributor to the inventory of green certified homes within the Commonwealth having certified 80 EarthCraft units during its short and obviously productive lifetime. PHC is currently in the process of renovating and constructing an additional 318 units. PHC collaborates with both Viridiant and design teams to implement high performance construction details and methods. PHC trains site staff in basic high-performance building theory, works closely with trade contractors to educate tradesmen on energy efficient means and methods, and educates residents to better understand their high-performance home. They’ve utilizes a team-based, integrated approach to optimize program delivery and has developed internal controls to manage and conserve construction schedules, materials and cost. PHC’s historical experience with the production of multi-family construction along with classic engineering knowledge ensures construction and delivery of energy efficient, practical, and resilient spaces.
Habitat for Humanity Affiliate
Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley
In recent years, Habitat Roanoke has maintained an average of 8 certified homes a year. 2019 was no exception. All certified homes in 2019 were clustered in the same collective community. Of those 8 certified homes, 5 addressed existing, vacant housing stock. One was torn down and rebuilt, while the other 4 underwent gut rehabilitation including all new insulation and energy using systems and were certified under the EarthCraft New Construction guidelines rather than renovation based on the extent of the work. By complementing the existing streetscape with new construction projects and preserving existing architectural styles with renovations, Habitat has received significant support and enthusiasm from neighbors and the surrounding community. Habitat Roanoke takes pride in knowing their families can afford to be comfortable in their own homes while also helping to ease the housing burden on partner families associated with high utility bills.
Top High-Performance EarthCraft Home
Shelter Alternatives – Single Family Home in Blacksburg
This single family home by Shelter Alternative in Blacksburg includes a tight building envelope and insulation combined with Energy Star appliances and solar to achieve a HERS 20. In addition to reducing the amount of energy needed to operate the home, there were some material choices that made good use of existing resources. Trees taken down for the homesite were repurposed into trim and countertops for the home. The siding is locally sourced Hemlock. The home was intentionally designed to incorporate warehousing and home offices for a home-based business and also includes a suite for an aging parent which will in turn provide future aging in place for the owners.
Ms. Annette Osso currently serves as the Managing Director of Resilient Virginia, established in 2014 with the mission of accelerating resiliency planning in communities across Virginia. Resilient Virginia evolved from Virginia Sustainable Building Network (VSBN), originally formed in 1995, where Ms. Osso served as president for 18 years. As one of the earliest advocates and adopters of green building practices in the Commonwealth, she was the key part of a collaboration that brought the EarthCraft program to Virginia. Through her years of work, Ms. Osso built a strong network of public and private partners that together advanced energy efficiency, high performance building practices, wide-ranging education and outreach efforts, and spearheaded the Virginia Sustainable Future Conference and Workshop Series. As a result of Ms. Osso’s efforts, Virginia now operates one of the most successful regional green building programs in the country, is a top 10 state for LEED certifications, and hosts very active US Green Building Council Chapters in the Region. In 2014, Ms. Osso created the Resilient Virginia organization to further VSBN’s mission. She grew and expanded her vision well beyond sustainable building design and construction, to examine issues of sustainability at a macro level, addressing the many aspects of resiliency: community, health, transportation, emergency planning and preparedness, grid modernization, urban and rural issues, both coastal and inland, as well as the basics of energy, water, and food security. For 25 years, Annette Osso has advocated to advance a clean economy, sustainability, and resilience. Through her tireless efforts she has engaged a network of supporters, provided education to thousands, and advanced policies and programs to ensure a more sustainable future for Virginians.
Special thanks to our 2020 event sponsors!
Viridiant’s Building Sustainability Conference & Awards Event Details
Join Viridiant on Wednesday, September 2nd for the virtual Building Sustainability Conference & Awards! The event will kick-off at 1:00pm on Wednesday, September 2nd with concurrent educational sessions followed by a keynote address and the 11th annual awards ceremony. You won’t want to miss this live, virtually connected experience!
1:00 – 2:00pm | Welcome & Concurrent Educational Sessions (sponsored by Virginia Housing)
Viridiant is excited to welcome six special guests to kick-off the conference. One panel will explore Virginia’s energy goals with the Virginia Clean Economy Act, energy code updates, and utility rebate programs while the other panel details how to deliver high performance buildings through design, construction, and the integration of technology.
How Virginia is Achieving Our Energy Goals
- Angela Navarro, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade
- Michael Hubbard, Dominion
- Cindy Davis, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development
How to Actually Deliver High Performance Buildings
- Jimmy Holland, Peacock Holland Construction
- Nathan Blinn, archi-TEC-tonic
- Colin Arnold, Arnold Design Studio
2:00 – 2:40pm | Keynote Address
“Heard” is a 90-minute documentary currently in production by Belltower Pictures in partnership with VPM, Virginia’s home for Public Media. “Heard” captures the inspiring stories of four people who grew up in Richmond’s public housing, the challenges they faced and how they’re giving back to their home communities.
Conference attendees will hear from Belltower Pictures’ President, David Powers, and Von Johnson, one of the four people featured in the film. A Q&A portion will follow their presentation so conference attendees can ask questions and learn more about the homes, lives, struggles and hope for being “Heard” in public housing.
We encourage attendees to stream the sneak peak trailer (featured below) before the event.
2:45 – 3:30pm | Awards Ceremony (sponsored by Dominion)
The 11th annual awards ceremony will recognize leaders in high performance construction in the following categories:
- Project or Development – Multifamily
- Project or Development – Single Family
- Habitat for Humanity Affiliate
- Builder or Developer
- Most Energy Efficient Home (EarthCraft and non-EarthCraft certified)
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10 Tips To Lessen Your Impact This World Nature Conservation Day
Is cooking on a gas stove doing more harm than good?
Many Americans depend on, and oftentimes prefer, using gas appliances for heating and cooking in their homes. What many don’t realize is the negative impact burning fossil fuels in your home has on the climate and human health and how well alternatives like heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and induction cooktops can perform.
The Health Effects from Gas Stoves Pollution recent study by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) found that gas stoves, particularly when unvented, can be a primary source of indoor air pollution, often exacerbating respiratory conditions like asthma. With indoor air pollution being largely unregulated, RMI put forth immediate recommendations to help mitigate the associated health risks
Over 40 years of evidence indicates that gas stoves can lead to unhealthy levels of indoor air pollution. The report outlines eight key points:
- Indoor air is largely unregulated and is often more polluted than outdoor air.
- Gas stoves can be a large source of toxic pollutants indoors.
- Indoor pollution from gas stoves can reach levels that would be illegal outdoors.
- There are well-documented risks to respiratory health from gas stove pollution.
- Children are particularly at risk of respiratory illnesses associated with gas stove pollution.
- Lower-income households may be at higher risk of gas stove pollution exposure.
- Ventilation is critical but is not the sole strategy to prevent exposure.
- Electric cooking is a cleaner household cooking option.
What can you do to immediately mitigate the health risks associated with gas stoves?
- Open windows and use the exhaust (not recirculating) hood during cooking
- Install a low-level carbon monoxide detector
- Use a plug-in induction cooktop
- Switch out a gas stove for an electric stove
Most building science professionals and sustainability researchers recommend moving away from fossil fuels in the home as part of a wider “electrify everything” movement that recognizes both the safety and carbon footprint benefits of new technologies.
Interested in learning how your home is impacted? Schedule a visit with one of Viridiant’s building science experts to perform safety tests of gas appliances, including stoves, and to evaluate the effectiveness of your home’s ventilation system.
Click here to learn more about Viridiant’s services for your home, including in-home inspections, solar consulting, and now remote energy audits.
Contact: Andrew Grigsby, Energy Services Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Introducing Viridiant’s Remote Home Energy Audits
We all know that getting a professional energy audit is the best first step towards making smart home energy improvements. But, in the time of COVID, how can that be done safely? While Viridiant has suspended in-home visits for now, we still are eager to help Virginians use good building science to make the best decisions to save money, use less energy, go solar, and improve health, safety, comfort, and durability.
Viridiant is exited to introduce our remote home energy audit. Here’s how it works. One of our expert technicians “comes to your home” using Zoom, Google Duo, Skype, FaceTime, Facebook…whatever app works for you. We talk for a bit and then ask you to turn the camera around and take us on a tour of your home.
Throughout the tour, we’ll be on the lookout for opportunities to reduce your energy costs while improving health, safety, comfort, and durability. If you have a flashlight, or perhaps a laser pointer, those are great to have along so that we direct your attention to particular issues.
As we go through the home, our technician will talk through energy, health/safety, and comfort issues in real-time, and then we’ll follow up with a written report full of no-, low-, and higher-cost improvement ideas, referrals for contractors and solar as appropriate, and useful information on incentives or rebates!
The cost is $85 and takes 45-90 minutes depending on your home’s size and complexity.
Energy-Smart Renovations with Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEMs)
Buying a home that needs some work? Want to save some money?
Viridiant’s new Community Energy Services division are available to help you plan energy-smart renovations. Use an Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) or traditional renovation loan (203K, etc.) to increase your borrowing power and roll upgrades into your mortgage payment.
You get critical work done before you move in, and then enjoy lower total cost of ownership while you’re in the home. We can inspect and test the home to craft a package of improvements that will reduce your energy costs more than the increase to your mortgage.
- provide consultation regarding the smartest energy improvements and provide the inspection, testing, and energy modeling (a computer simulation of your home’s energy use to calculate the energy and economic impact of different efficiency strategies) that are needed for the EEM process
- utilize energy modeling software allows us to “test-drive” different changes to the home you want to buy
- craft an improvements package that, when paid for via your mortgage, results in total monthly bills that are less than they would be if you didn’t do the improvements
If you’re in an Opportunity Zone, there are additional opportunities:
203k loans typically let home buyers borrow up to $35,000 above and beyond the home price, and use the extra money for renovations. And thanks to a new rule, people buying in designated “Opportunity Zones” can borrow up to $50,000 — giving them an extra $15,000 in renovating power. But the new rule is first-come, first-served. Only the first 15,000 applicants nationwide will be able to use the higher FHA 203k loan limit. So if you’re interested in a bigger 203k loan, check your eligibility and move fast. [Source]
What are the benefits?
- Monthly savings for your household budget
- Increased comfort and improved indoor air quality comfort
- Reduced carbon footprint of your home
- Improved property value
- Home mortgage interest deduction if you include improvements into your mortgage
- Enjoy the thrill of producing electricity at your home with solar on-site
Are you interested in making those wished-for improvements happen before you move in rather than hoping to make them happen sometime down the road? Visit the Community Energy Services Financial Tools webpage or contact Andrew Grigsby, Energy Services Director, at email@example.com to learn more.
Commit to making energy efficiency changes at home this Earth Day
At Viridiant, we’re building the science of sustainability not just on Earth Day, but everyday. And we hope you will consider implementing some energy efficiency changes in your home that will help you save money and help save our planet in honor of Earth Day!
Will you sign the Home Energy Pledge today and commit to lowering your energy consumption to help make your home and community more resilient and sustainable?
When you sign the pledge, you’ll receive Viridiant’s Top Ten Home Energy Tips! These easy to implement tips will help you maintain comfortable heating and cooling temperatures, reduce water consumption, and make basic appliance usage adjustments to reduce energy consumption.
- Heating & Cooling – Space heating and cooling making up nearly half of the average home’s energy use! There’s a huge opportunity to lower energy consumption and utility bills by adjusting how your home stays at a comfortable temperature.
- Water Consumption – Water is one of Earth’s most precious resources. Water heating is the second highest utility expense. Several no- or low-cost changes could have a real impact on your water use and utility bills.
- Appliance Usage – Energy-efficient options and behavioral changes will help reduce electricity costs and usage. Decreasing energy use at home saves money and lessens pollution. Reducing electric loads starts with behavior choices.
Interested in Learning More?
Viridiant’s energy experts can help with remote utility bill analysis which can show your target areas for savings. We can also advise you about energy monitoring devices, smart home technology, and green energy credits. When stay-at-home orders are lifted, we can schedule an in-home “energy audit”.
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Virtual Earth Day 2020
For Viridiant, every day is Earth Day.
But today we are excited to celebrate our planet on a global scale to support environmental protection.
While Earth Day might look a little different this year, that should not stop us from doing what we can, from wherever we are.
So what can you do outside to join the world’s largest environmental movement while practicing social distancing?
Here are a few ideas to get outside:
- Go for a run, walk or bike ride – ditch your car and enjoy the outdoors while lessening your carbon footprint!
- Garden – get your hands dirty or plant a tree, it will have a positive impact on the environment!
- Take a pause and meditate or practice yoga – sometimes it’s not all about the action!
Did you know getting fresh air and vitamin D is scientifically proven to be good for your health?
Spending time in nature is good for you and the planet. Tag us on social media to show us how you are spending your Earth Day!
Want to know how Viridiant staff plans to spend their Earth Day outside?
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Viridiant and RREA Merge to Provide Expanded Services (Press Release)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – APRIL 16, 2020
Stacy Mitchell, Director of Communications & Outreach
Local non-profits expand services to homes and businesses under the Viridiant name
(Richmond, VA) Two Richmond-based non-profits are merging to provide expanded services to central Virginia and beyond. Staff from the Richmond Region Energy Alliance (RREA) will establish a new Community Energy Services division under the Viridiant name to offer energy audits, financial assistance, technical expertise, and education directly to homes, businesses, and organizations in the Richmond metro region.
Expanded services will include:
- home energy audits discounted using rebates from utility companies;
- technical support for energy-efficient mortgages;
- an update to RREA’s popular SolarizeRVA bulk-purchasing campaign; and
- community educational programming to explore the connection between energy use and climate change.
This partnership was conceived before the COVID-19 crisis as an effort to increase organizational efficiency and effectiveness, but those goals are even more salient now, as local institutions navigate a much-changed world. The public health crisis makes clean energy solutions more important than ever, as sheltering in place reminds us the importance of resilient, efficient shelter.
Of the organization’s merger with RREA, Viridiant Executive Director KC Bleile said, “By combining our organizations, we can really focus on bringing resources and immediate benefit to our community and the built environment.”
Andrew Grigsby, Energy Services Director for the newly established Community Energy Services division within Viridiant and former Executive Director of RREA, shared, “Viridiant and RREA have always shared the same vision and worked towards complementary goals. Together, we can provide more advanced energy services to our community, help more households and businesses save money, and accelerate a carbon-neutral future.”
As 2020’s Virginia Clean Economy Act has committed the Commonwealth to 100% clean energy by mid-century, Viridiant will have greater ability to help existing buildings – traditionally the most difficult market for clean energy applications. The expanded services under Viridiant will advance on-site solar, tried and true efficiency techniques, and cutting-edge innovations in smart homes, behavioral energy efficiency, big data, and more.
About Viridiant: For 14 years Viridiant has partnered to advance energy efficient buildings across the Commonwealth and has supported the delivery of over 25,000 high performance homes to families, primarily under the EarthCraft certification. In 2018 alone, Viridiant certified 2,550 homes, saving these families over $1 million collectively in energy bills and eliminating over 4 million pounds of coal burned. These families, and the thousands of families served before them, now have access to more affordable, more livable, and more durable housing in a healthier community.
About the Richmond Region Energy Alliance: Since 2010, RREA has provided the Richmond, Virginia region with technical assistance, quality referrals, discounts and rebates for efficiency and solar energy, research, advocacy, and leadership to promote and deploy clean energy solutions.
For more information and to learn more, visit www.viridiant.org/energy-services.
Viridiant Response to COVID-19
Here at Viridiant, our top priority is promoting the wellbeing of our team members, clients, and the broader community.
We feel it is important to update you on the steps we are taking as precautionary measures.
To do our part in reducing the spread of COVID-19, you can have confidence in your ability to reach our team virtually during this period of social distancing.
Keeping the health and safety of our community in mind, we have postponed our Building Sustainability Conference & Awards and Bus Tour, originally scheduled for April 23rd and 24th respectively, until later this year. And while all partners were looking forward to our festival celebration around Earth Day, Party for the Planet has been canceled and will return in 2021 even bigger and better.
Viridiant remains committed to these events and will regroup soon to begin planning them for later this year when it is safe.
As a small non-profit, we greatly appreciate the continual support of our donors, clients, partners, and friends and we look forward to continuing our mission during this difficult time. Please contact any one of our team members with your questions, concerns, or business needs as we monitor and navigate this evolving situation.
Stay safe and healthy.