Happy Earth Day 2022!
At Viridiant, we are building the science of sustainability through environmental, economic, and structural initiatives. We are constantly looking to improve the built environment, making residential homes more energy efficient and changing the construction industry with innovative green technologies. Viridiant is one of the largest green building implementers in the country, and we are focused on creating an equitable and sustainable future for all.
On this Earth Day, we want to recognize, acknowledge, and celebrate what clean energy and going green can do for you and the environment!
Did you know that…
- Green, energy efficiency diversifies our fuel sources, which enhances energy security and reduces the risk of fuel spills
- Green, energy efficiency employed nearly 84,000 Virginias throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, stimulating the economy and protecting the environment*
- Green, efficient energy does not have to be transported, so the price of these energies is more affordable, no matter what
- Green, energy efficient buildings emit very little, or no, emissions, which makes it better for your lungs and overall health.
- Green, energy efficiency is accessible all over the world, creating more equity and opportunity for future generations
Get involved and support our mission of protecting the environment through energy efficient and sustainable housing for all! Every dollar makes a difference: https://www.viridiant.org/get-involved/
*According to the 2020 Clean Jobs America Report
Viridiant to continue Circuit Rider work to implement the 2018 Energy Code
Viridiant is proud to announce that shared funding from the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has been granted to build upon the 2020 Circuit Rider program. With the expansion of the circuit rider program, 10 jurisdictions in the Commonwealth of Virginia will receive complimentary technical assistance, Manual J review, Blower Door and Duct Blaster training, energy code implementation training resources, specialization for code review, and a forum for best practices amongst the jurisdictions.
This work will support Virginia’s implementation of the energy code. Ultimately, this will help Virginians reduce their energy cost burden. Additionally, implementation of the energy code and the technical work being provided by Viridiant will help homebuilders deliver resilient and healthy homes across the Commonwealth.
Viridiant has confirmed the participation of ten jurisdictions: James City County, the City of Hampton, Fairfax County, the City of Alexandria, Montgomery County, Franklin County, the City of Norfolk, Roanoke County, Warren County, and Southampton County. With the assistance of stakeholder feedback and through the tailored technical assistance offered to the participating jurisdictions, Viridiant will develop 2018 Virginia Residential Energy Code resources. These resources will be deployed to all Virginia jurisdictions.
Viridiant and the Expanded Circuit Rider participants are eager to do the work. Linked are the full resources that were developed from the 2020 program to aid in the 2015 Virginia Residential Energy Code.
SolarizeRVA Helps the Richmond Region go Solar
SolarizeRVA Helps the Richmond Region go Solar
By: Andrew Grigsby, Energy Services Director
Do you have one of these (pictured left)? I bought this one in 1996, and it still works just fine. That’s right, 24 years old, and those tiny solar panels still power out trigonometry and lots of other things I still don’t quite understand. But my point is not to date myself, rather, it’s to demonstrate how durable and reliable solar panels are. Here we have cheap, quarter-century-old equipment that keeps chugging along. Of course today’s panels are as much improved as this year’s smart phones compared to the flip phone (or was it a car phone?) of 1996. They pack way more electricity-producing technology into each panel, such that many homes can now produce 50%, 75%, even 100% of their annual electricity needs with rooftop solar.
If you’ve been curious about solar for a while, Viridiant is launching a new effort to help you understand the technology, the logistics of an installation, tax credits, financing options, and the overall opportunity. We call it SolarizeRVA. And our goal is 1000 new solar homes in the Richmond region. This campaign is a continuation of a long-time project of the Richmond Region Energy Alliance, with whom Viridiant merged earlier this year.
Here’s how it works: You call us, email us, fill out our online form, or tune into a webinar or community meeting. We take a look at your roof (or yard/field) and your electric bill and talk through how much solar electricity you could generate and how that could work for you financially. We also discuss other energy-smart technologies and offer you an in-home energy analysis for as little as $45. Basically, you get easy access to some of Virginia’s most experienced residential energy and green building professionals to provide un-biased expertise without a sales pitch.
Over the coming months we’ll offer numerous public events where area residents can join in the conversation and have their specific questions answered. Our first is a webinar on Thursday, July 23 at noon – with an evening edition at 7PM. Register for free here. In addition to providing education, SolarizeRVA includes access to vetted installers to whom we can refer you.
It’s a great time to go solar. The federal tax credit of 26% is set to go down to 22% at the end of this year (details here). Installation on your roof takes just 1-3 days depending on the complexity of the operation, and 99% of the work is outside, so it really is a safe undertaking during social distancing. Our re-design of the Solarize model offers both consumers and industry partners more flexibility to get to the best solutions and best prices on a customer-by-customer basis.
There are no free panels. The utilities are not “paying you” to go solar. There is one simple federal tax rebate. We can explain all of that – without a sales pitch. Viridiant is a mission-driven non-profit that has led the charge for cleaner, greener building in Virginia since 2006. Our experts are always available to explain the technology, financing options, installation process, calculating your ROI, and logistics of solar, insulation, HVAC, water heaters, appliances, electric vehicles, and more. If you want to lower costs, improve indoor air quality and comfort, or reduce your carbon footprint, we’re here to help you make the most cost-effective choices.
Here’s my family’s solar story. We’ve had solar panels on the roof of our house a little more than 3 years now, and the only problem we’ve ever had is with my router dropping its connection with the equipment. Meantime, the panels have produced over 28,250 kilowatthours of electricity. At roughly 11 cents per kilowatthour, that’s $3080. After the federal tax credit, we paid $10,400 for this 6KW array (20 panels). Using the simple payback method, we’re in the clear in around 10 years (where else are you going to get a guaranteed 10% return on an investment?). But since this array is rolled into my mortgage (we paid for them as part of a rehab loan), I look at it from a cashflow point of view: I pay about $53/month to have the array there. It makes an average $68/month. I call that making money – from day one. If you’re considering refinancing your mortgage, this could be as good a deal for you.
So what makes a good solar site? First, it’s sunshine. Lots of sunshine. The area should be unshaded most of the day. And if it’s a roof, it should be facing generally south. You want your solar panels to produce as much electricity as possible. They produce the most when the sun’s rays hit them straight on. You also should have a roof that’s in very good shape. You don’t want to install a solar array on shingles that need replacing in less than 10 years.
But you don’t have to figure all of this out on your own. Just reach out to us and we’ll save you hours of research. Not every home has a good site for solar panels and that’s why we encourage everyone to get a home energy inspection as part of the process.
Join us for our webinars on July 23 – or call/email any time.
[trx_button type=”square” style=”default” size=”medium” bg_style=”custom” link=”https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/8965679904929864464″ popup=”yes”]Register for the 7/23 webinar[/trx_button]
Remembering the 2020 RESNET Conference
As members of Viridiant staff continue to work remotely, we look back on our experiences at the annual RESNET Conference in February. The RESNET Building Performance Conference provides a diverse and dynamic opportunity for HERS raters to obtain usable solutions in an evolving industry. Viridiant staff attends every year to network with like-minded professionals and take home fresh information from the nation’s best experts in the industry. It’s also an opportunity to share Viridiant’s work in the Southeast with professionals around the country. Viridiant led a session on: What We’ve Learned from 10 Years of Multifamily HERS Rating.
They discussed Viridiant’s work with over 20,000 multifamily units, both new construction and existing, in building types ranging from garden style to high rise. Session information included the similarities and differences between multifamily and single-family ratings as well as strategies and potential pitfalls to consider. The presenters offered perspectives on energy modeling, quality assurance, field verification, and project management.
The RESNET Emerging Leadership Council (ELC) hosts a fellowship opportunity for young professionals in the industry to attend the conference for free. Viridiant’s Operations and Outreach Manager, Manon Shankle, was recognized as one of three fellows. Click to learn more about the ELC and fellowship program.
Pictured from left to right:
- Rachel LaMantia, EnergyLogic, 2020 ELC Fellow
- Leo Jansen, Energy Efficient Homes Midwest, Inc., ELC Chair
- Manon Shankle, Viridiant, 2020 ELC Fellow
- Steve Baden, RESNET Executive Director
- Aaron Hope, Southern Energy Management, 2020 ELC Fellow
We will look forward to next year’s conference when we can safety engage with the industry in a conference setting. Viridiant will continue to share industry news and positive highlights during these uncertain times. Click to view Viridiant’s response to COVID-19. RESNET staff is working with the rating community on determining creative ways that will allow us all to keep our employees safe while getting our business done. Click to see RESNET’s response and resources for the HERS Rating community.
Virginia Residential Energy Code Field Study Report Released!
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Building Energy Codes Program is conducting a series of research studies investigating building energy code implementation to assist states in measuring energy code compliance and to identify areas of focus for future education & training initiatives.
Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) led the initiative in Virginia and provided funding for Viridiant to perform a field study in 2017-2018 to assess how well the residential energy code was being implemented across Virginia in new construction single family buildings. Following Viridiant’s data collection and analysis by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the Baseline Report was released in October 2019. Key findings include:
- Significant energy and cost savings potential exist through increased compliance with targeted measures. Potential statewide annual energy savings are 150,752 MMBtu, which equates to nearly $3 million in cost savings, and emission reductions of nearly 75,000 MT CO2e. Over a 30-year period, these impacts grow to 70 MMBtu, $1.3 billion, and over 34 million CO2e in avoided emissions.
- Duct leakage and envelope air leakage measures showed the greatest potential for energy savings.
- To achieve potential energy savings focus should be applied to energy code compliance-improvement programs including educational, training, and outreach initiatives.
Based on the results of the study, SEEA provided funding for Viridiant to lead energy code trainings across Virginia. These trainings are intended to provide code officials, builders, architects, and subcontractors with a better understanding of compliance with the targeted energy code measures and how to meet 2015 energy code changes.
- Virginia Residential Energy Code Field Study: Baseline Report | October 2019
- DOE Energy Code Field Studies (15+ Participating States)
- Energy Code Trainings (Hosted by Viridiant)
Award Finalists Honored at the Building Sustainability Conference & Awards
On Thursday, April 25th, regional leaders in the advancement of sustainable design and construction were honored at Viridiant’s Building Sustainability Conference & Awards. The annual event highlighted efforts to build sustainability in our communities and infrastructure with a focus on health, resilience, and innovation. This year’s event aimed to educate and recognize innovative solutions of today to meet the needs of the evolving building industry of tomorrow.
Viridiant hosted four conference sessions and an inspiring keynote address from Dr. Danny Avula. 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. The speakers’ presentations are available for download HERE. Topics included:
- Energy Code Research
- Municipal Sustainability Programs in Virginia
- Building Resilience into Commercial and Residential Structures
- Construction Delivery of the Future
- Keynote: Building a Culture of Health in RVA
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. Award winners include:
- Visionary Award: Sustainable Design Consulting, LLC (SDC)
- Program, Initiative, or Partnership: Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE)
- Next Generation: Jennifer Kearney – University of Richmond
- Builder or Developer: Metro Green – Arlington, VA
- Habitat for Humanity Affiliate: Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley
- Project or Development: Presented to outstanding projects or developments with a focus on energy efficiency, integrated design, resource efficiency and conservation, resiliency, innovation, and/or community impact.
- Top High Performance Homes: Presented to the top three homes certified by Viridiant in 2018 with consideration for design, construction, energy efficiency, and systems.
Special thanks to our 2019 event sponsors!
Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Day with DMME
Viridiant staff recently visited a single-family home under renovation by Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity and were joined by volunteers from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME). The home is a 1,200 square foot cape-cod built in 1969 and located just outside the Randolph neighborhood in Richmond, VA. Like many Habitat homes, it is pursuing EarthCraft certification.
During the volunteer day, Viridiant’s Executive Director KC Bleile talked about the unique partnership between Viridiant and Habitat for Humanity as well as the history behind the EarthCraft program and its introduction into Virginia. Viridiant Technical Advisor Bill Riggs discussed the requirements associated with meeting the EarthCraft certification, HERS modeling, and the quality assurance provided through the inspection process. Additionally, blower door testing was conducted at the home to show the method for capturing envelope leakage and provide a first-hand demonstration to volunteers. This Habitat home has undergone extensive renovations: completely gutting the interior; re-insulating; installing brand new mechanical equipment, appliances, and finishes. These improvements will result in a much more comfortable, healthy, and energy-efficient home.
The benefits of green construction are especially apparent in affordable housing. That’s why Habitat for Humanity and other nonprofits partner with Viridiant. For families fighting their way out of poverty, energy-efficient homes represent a major step toward their American dream. Every gift to Viridiant pushes that dream forward, helping us touch more buildings, educate more industry professionals, and advocate for high performance construction. Whatever the amount, charitable contributions make our services more affordable, fuel research, and drive educational outreach. We hope you’ll stay involved in our vital work and consider making a tax-deductible gift.
House of Pressure
Developed by EarthCraft Technical Advisor Anthony Cox, the House of Pressure is a nationally recognized prop used to visually demonstrate home performance testing using pressure diagnostics. It’s a useful tool to show stack effect and the movement of pollutants through homes. Attendees of our lecture on Oct. 11, 2018, Managing HVAC in High Performance Buildings, had the opportunity to see the House of Pressure first-hand. Click the video below to see a full demo:
Stay tuned for a full lecture recap and other energy efficiency tips that Viridiant will share throughout October for Energy Action Month!
EarthCraft Home Featured in Williamsburg Yorktown Daily
WYDaily.com recently featured an EarthCraft home built in 2010 by Joe Terrell, which is still proving to be comfortable, durable, and energy efficient. The homeowners, Mary Rogers and Ron Shafer, wanted an environmentally-friendly, cost-efficient house. They are “constantly in awe of the quietness of their home — no loud air handler noises or creaky windows or doors when there’s heavy wind or rain. It’s as tight as a clam”. They also enjoyed the experience working with Viridiant and the EarthCraft House certification program. Rogers said, “it was an interesting process. Inspectors came out in all stages of the building process to make sure it was meeting the green building standards. Everything from the insulation to the ENERGY STAR appliances and flooring”.
Read the full article to learn more about the sustainable features of this home and gain insight into the experiences of an EarthCraft builder and homeowners.
If You Can’t Reuse It, Refuse It
June 5th is World Environment Day. This is the United Nation’s main way to raise worldwide awareness and encourage action for the protection of our environment. It’s a day to celebrate the natural environment and focus on issues that affect the global community and our posterity. Now more than ever it is important to recognize the environmental issues we must mitigate and take action.
This year’s theme is Beat Plastic Pollution. It is a call to action for all of us to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time. By 2050 there could be more plastic in the oceans than fish! 50% of our plastic waste is made up of single-use items. The theme invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife – and our own health. To change the future, we each need to play our part. Here are a few ways to participate in the celebration:
- Carry out a plastic audit. How much disposable plastic do you use? Think about the single-use plastic that you use regularly, make a list and estimate how much plastic waste you create. Once you know your plastic footprint, set a goal to reduce it over time. It will be easier and have a greater impact if you challenge friends, family, or coworkers to work with you to reduce plastic use. Setting goals together will help you hold each other accountable.
- Easy ways to reduce your single-use plastic waste include bringing your own shopping bags to supermarkets and other stores, refusing plastic straws and cutlery, picking up any plastic waste you see (especially at the beach), and encouraging your favorite restaurants and businesses to switch to non-plastic packaging.
- Participate in or organize a clean up. UN Environment has teamed up with Litterati, a data science company that has created a powerful tool to help people to clean up the planet. As you pick up trash and recycling, use the Litterati app to record plastic items and brands you find. They will use the crowdsourced data to develop a ranking of most commonly found plastic products and brands.
- Support environmental organizations. Consider making a donation to Viridiant or another nonprofit that is committed to advancing sustainability.
- Join the global #BeatPlasticPollution game of tag. Invite friends and colleagues to take a selfie with their canvas shopping bag, metal straw or any other reusable product and tag five friends, telling them to do the same. The person tagged should post a photo with their reusable item within 24 hours.
Remember that every day matters. June 5th is World Environment Day, but the movement doesn’t stop there. Take steps everyday to lower your resource waste, stay involved in the conversation, and keep beating plastic pollution!
For more resources and information on World Environment Day or Beat Plastic Pollution visit worldenvironmentday.global/en
Media credits: World Environment Day & UN environment