What is “Pre-Review”?
“Pre-Review” is Viridiant’s process for initial energy modeling based on preliminary drawings, specifications, and/or scope narrative that determines if a project is projected to meet the energy efficiency requirements of the program it’s pursuing. If applicable, it also assesses if the project is likely to meet Virginia Housing (VH) Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) energy efficiency requirements. Additionally, Pre-Review initiates the process to determine eligibility for DHCD’s HIEE funding as well as the 45L Tax Credit. The product of this initial run of modeling is projected ratings, so it is important to understand that these are informational ratings for the purposes of application submission only. At pre-review, Viridiant provides a limited review of plans and specifications to avoid unnecessary costs to the developer prior to funding being allocated. A written energy model summary will be provided to the project team. If applicable, Viridiant will complete Virginia Housing’s RESNET Rater form. Project teams should contact Viridiant once their project is funded for an in-depth review of the project design and specifications to ensure compliance with the programmatic and/or energy modeling goals.
What do I need to Submit to Viridiant for ‘Pre-Review?’
So that Viridiant can provide projected energy modeling information, an initial schematic set (at minimum) with floor plans, elevations, and ideally a wall section, are needed to get physical takeoffs of the dwelling units and provide back the required reporting. Viridiant also needs a preliminary understanding of the scope of the mechanical design (including mechanical ventilation). Project teams should do their best to fill out the specifications sheet provided by Viridiant on the pre-review registration page. This ensures we can appropriately model other aspects of the project that may not be incorporated into the preliminary plans.
For renovations, a scope of work should be provided, as well as any general information on existing conditions. VH has two pathways for renovation projects –achieving a HERS 80 OR a 30% improvement in HERS score. Pre-demo testing may be required to determine a percentage improvement over baseline conditions.
What is a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index?
RESNET defines the HERS index as “the industry standard by which a home’s energy efficiency is measured. It’s also the nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance.” Viridiant determines a dwelling’s HERS Index through the creation of Energy Models representing each dwelling unit. Having a HERS score allows multifamily dwelling units, townhomes, and single-family residences to be benchmarked against one another for performance. Different green building programs will have different HERS targets, so it is important to understand what target your project must meet to achieve certification. Many factors influence the energy model, such as changes in design, especially to energy using and envelope systems, will likely impact the HERS score. Diagnostic testing values – meaning blower door testing for infiltration and duct blaster testing for duct leakage – are required to create the energy model. Programmatic minimums are utilized for preliminary modeling until actual on-site diagnostic testing is completed.
What additional steps may be needed?
Once Viridiant has completed the initial energy modeling and provided the project team with a cursory summary, Viridiant will inform the project team if further analysis is needed to meet the energy efficiency targets established by the programs they intend to pursue. If a project is not meeting the required target(s), Viridiant can perform an assessment of different potential options consisting of a combination of scope changes to reach the efficiency targets across different unit types. While the options presented to teams are not comprehensive, Viridiant strives to provide teams with cost effective, practical information based on our expertise in energy modeling.
What happens next?
Once your project is funded, you are encouraged to reach back out to Viridiant to determine the best strategy for a successful project moving forward. Projects pursuing a green building program will want to be sure to coordinate a full review of design documents with Viridiant as early in the design process as possible. Projects seeking HERS verification only will also want to get in touch to confirm assumptions made during preliminary modeling and diagnostic testing goals. If you have a renovation project, you chose the HERS 80 pathway, and you did not opt for pre-demo testing at this time, you may want to coordinate having preliminary testing completed as soon as the project is funded to better understand what must be addressed during the renovation to stay in compliance. Often infiltration or duct leakage within your scope is based on assumptions made during pre-review and these items should be confirmed prior to finalizing the renovation scope.