The LEED and Passive house concepts have gained prominence in recent years because of the benefits that they ensure the homeowner. In addition, the greening of buildings contributes to energy conservation and is therefore beneficial to the world given the threats that global warming poses. In America, the passive building concept has been promoted by the Passive House Institute US (Murphy, 2008). This Institute also certifies houses to the Passive House Standard. While the Passive house concept is relatively new to the US, it has been thoroughly developed in Germany.
Evidence of the advances in passive house technology is noted by Murphy (2008) who reports that the European Passive House conference has been held continuously for the past twelve years in Germany. That the concept has caught in Germany is indicated by the frequency of the meetings and the number of participants. While the number of participants in the German Conference in 2008 was over 1,000, only about 150 people attended a similar conference which was held in the US for the third time (Murphy, 2008). A Passive House is one which has been super insulated.
In addition, such a house has a “tightly sealed envelope” (Miller, 2009). The insulation and sealing are the two main features of passive houses and they guarantee that the heating and cooling of the house happens more efficiently. One of the major benefits of passive houses is that they have lower heating and cooling expenses. It is estimated that these expenses could reduce by as much as 90% (Miller, 2009). To achieve this, insulation is carried out on the wall and roofs of the house. In addition to insulation, the process of heat conservation is aided by the use of heat recovery ventilators.
Passive houses are easy to create because the tools needed are easily obtained and do not cost much. While various ways are used to create LEED houses, Miller (2009) notes that there are two requirements for the creation of a passive house. These two requirements are super insulation and sealing. Business prospects for retrofitting to the passive house standard Retrofitting to the passive house standard has many benefits, both in the short term and in the long run. In addition, it creates many business opportunities. Golubchikov (2009) notes that retrofitting has a powerful impact on the job market.
It creates many jobs. This is because retrofitting projects are labor-intensive and therefore will employ many people. Moreover, the fact that the projects are carried out by experts in energy conservation results in the transfer of technology to non-experts such as home owners. This happens because a high level of training is required from the experts. In addition to the transfer of knowledge, energy efficiency projects such as retrofitting help boost other industries whose goods or services will be used by the retrofitters. The most direct beneficiary of retrofitting is the construction industry.
In addition to the construction industry, many other firms and households benefit as the retrofitters purchase many parts and implements from them (Golubchikov, 2009). Retrofitting projects are especially beneficial in situations where there is unemployment or under employment. These projects help in the generation of green jobs and this leads to many positive changes for both the individual worker and the local businesses. In addition, these projects result in massive savings in energy bills on top of contributing positively to reduction in the rate of global warming.
The example of Los Angeles city’s green Retrofit Ordinance is instructive of the savings that retrofitting projects can generate. According to plans in the Ordinance, Los Angeles is estimated to save up to $6 million when the retrofitting project is implemented in the city (“Los Angeles building retrofit”, 2009). In addition, this program will be especially beneficial to people in disadvantaged neighborhoods as it will create jobs for them and also improve public buildings. Equipment used in retrofitting Creation of passive houses is considered a fairly low-tech undertaking (Miller, 2009).
There are only two processes to the creation of a passive house. These processes are insulation and sealing. For this reason, Miller (2009) explains that the creation of passive houses does not depend on the “latest energy technologies such as solar panels or geothermal heat pumps”. The German example on retrofitting is considered ideal as Germans are pioneers in the creation of passive houses. The German authorities have not issued any specific instruction on the materials that should be used for retrofitting. Rather, the material that should be used is mainly a matter of innovation.
However, some basic materials and equipment are useful in retrofitting. To achieve super insulation, polystyrene is used to cover walls, roofs and floors (Pillen & Doerrie, 2008). The polystyrene cover helps in reducing heat leaks and therefore aids in warming the house. The windows should be retrofitted with glazing. While the polystyrene cover improves the preservation of heat, it is important to improve air circulation in the house as there is the risk of formation of mold and condensation as the house is now airtight. To improve circulation of air, a ventilation system should also be installed.
To provide energy for space heating, it is recommended that geothermal pump be used. Alternatively, a solar thermal collector could be used (Pillen & Doerrie, 2008). Companies that will benefit from selling retrofitting equipment Several US companies have been supplying retrofitting equipment and are set to benefit from the retrofitting of houses. One such company is WaterFurnace. WaterFurnace is a major supplier of geothermal systems. The company’s range of products is large and includes what are known as comfort products. The comfort products are mainly heating equipment which come in many varieties.
In addition, the company sells many accessories for use with the comfort products or separately to enhance the heating function. Other products sold by the company are swimming pool heaters and indoor air cleansers (“Products for your home”, 2009). Another big operator in the US market is the company known simply as Retrofit Insulation. The company specializes in foam insulation and serve the Massachusetts area and Rhode island. Another major provider of retrofit services is the Conservation Services Group (CSG). The company is a major supplier of energy efficiency equipment including thermostats and refrigerators.
The company has a national presence as it has a well-developed contractor network. Government support for retrofitting activities In February 2009, President Obama signed legislation to help boost retrofitting activities (Sichelman, 2009). As part of this economic stimulus, homeowners who buy energy-efficient equipment will be entitled to a 10% credit. Moreover, the credit can be claimed for any energy-efficiency expenses that a homeowner incurs in the course of improving the house by insulating doors, windows and roofs or in the purchase of heat pumps.
The law allows the homeowner to make a 10% credit claim on the cost of a product up to a maximum of $500. Complaints by homeowners that the percentage being allowed as credit by government was too low to encourage people to invest in the energy-efficient products forced Congress to raise the credit per item to 30% and raised the maximum available credit per item to $1,500 from the original $500. These actions by Congress will boost the sales of remodeling and retrofitting activities.
Sichelman (2009) suggests that the since the incentive is oferred as a tax credit, it will encourage homeowners to acquire retrofitting equipment as a tax credit has more meaning for the purchaser than a tax deduction. Estimates from the Congressional Budget office show the expected growth in remodeling activities as likely to rise to $6 billion by the end of 2010 (Sichelman, 2009). This estimate is probably conservative. Apart from the Congressional incentive, the fact that other state and local authorities are giving additional incentives could make the increase in remodeling and retrofitting services much higher than estimated.
Some major retrofitting companies Johnson Controls International is one of the biggest suppliers of retrofitting equipment and services. According to the company vice president and General Manager, Lain Campbell, the company is a leader in the installation, manufacture and servicing of retrofitting equipment . The company has the capacity to take huge and long term projects as it has more than 140,000 employees (“Our green initiative”, 2009). Skanska is also a major player in the supply of retrofitting goods and services. The company says that it has completed 70 LEED projects in the US alone.
Moreover, it has operations in other regions and as part of its Green initiative has completed a LEED program in the Czech republic (“Our green initiative”, 2009). Hochtief is also a big supplier of retrofitting equipment. As part of the company’s construction business, the company is involved in what it calls green building. In the US, the company’s subsidiary, Turner, has been involved in the development of LEED-Certified projects. Moreover, the mother company was among the first German companies to obtain ISO Certification for observing prudent environmental standards.
In addition, it was a pioneering founder of the German Green Building Council (“Sustainable ‘green building’ increases in importance worldwide”, 2009). Regreening Guidelines Regreening guidelines are comprehensive instructions issued by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) in conjunction with the US Green Building Council (USGBC). The guidelines cover all areas of construction work and contain step-by-step instructions on how to achieve environmental-friendly and energy-efficient constructions both indoors and outdoors (“Regreen residential remodeling guidelines”, 2008).
The guidelines direct the users on steps to follow when performing such routine constructions tasks as painting a room or fitting a kitchen. The instructions are meant to create real professionals in the area of interior design and construction. To achieve this, professional integration must be achieved between the various professionals involved in the construction industry. The guidelines are therefore used not just by interior designers but also by architects, engineers and builders. As part of measures to achieve green designs, the regreen guidelines emphasize that it is impossible to have a good design that is also not green.
As a consequence, regreen instructions handle such basic issues as the beauty of a building as it is generally accepted that beauty is part green design. Not only does beauty make a building attractive, it also contributes to the durability of a building (“Regreen residential remodeling guidelines”, 2008). Relationship between green guidelines and LEED The developers of the regreening guidelines have developed their instructions but have not attempted to create a certification or rating system.
For standardization, the regreening and remodeling guidelines uses standards developed by LEED. Some of the LEED standards used include LEED instructions on energy ratings, the criteria to be followed to guarantee water efficiency, and the standards to be followed in the selection of materials. In addition LEED standards on the quality of indoor air are utilized in the regreening and remodeling guidelines. The guidelines are very comprehensive on what a homeowner or contractor needs to observe in order to achieve deep energy retrofit.
The importance of observing green practices in the construction of the house are shown by the fact that it when proper practices are followed, energy savings can go to a level as high as 50% and even reach 90% (“Regreen residential remodeling guidelines”, 2008). To achieve deep energy retrofit, a number of issues need to be addressed at the design stage. If it is an old house that is being turned green, an assessment of the current energy bills should be carried out. All energy bills, including electric, gas and fuel oil should be reviewed. In addition, assessment should be made of the house’s design.
The home should be analyzed as a system so that matters such as the insulation of the house together with the outdoor infiltration of air are assessed. Furthermore, checks should be conducted on leakages and also on water heating systems. Assessment of the house as a system enables for the application of correct retrofitting procedures and also for making decisions on areas to prioritize. The greening of houses is a great idea and a major boost to efforts to fight global warming. The fact that greening has immediate and long-term benefits for home owners makes it an idea which will keep growing in popularity.
Moreover, Congressional support for greening activities in the form of tax incentives is a further boost for these activities. References Golubchikov, O. (2009). Towards energy-efficient housing: prospects for unece member states. Committee on housing and land management. Retrieved April 14, 2009, from http://www. ee-housing. com/storage/Background_paper_Sofia_26March2009. pdf “Los Angeles building retrofit designed to boost green jobs”. (2009). Greener buildings. Retrieved April 14, 2009, from http://www. greenerbuildings. com/news/2009/04/09/la-building-retrofit-boost-green-jobs Miller, S. L.
(2009). Passive house design in philadelphia. Residential architect online. Retrieved April 14, 2009, from http://www. residentialarchitect. com/industry-news. asp? sectionID=275&articleID=909619 Murphy, P. (2009). Promoting the passive house – a report on the 3rd annual north American passive house conference. Retrieved April 14, 2009, from http://www. passivehouse. us/passiveHouse/Articles_files/promotingThePassiveHouse. pdf “Our green initiative”. (2009). Skanska. com Retrieved April 14, 2009 from http://www. skanska. com/en/About-Skanska/Our-green-initiative/ Pillen, N. & Doerrie, N. (2008).
Passive house through retrofit. Climate solutions special issue. Retrieved April 14, 2009 from http://www-stefancarpentier. blogspot. com/2008/10/passive-house-through-retrofit. html “Products for your home”. (2009). WaterFurnace. com. Retrieved April 14, 2009 from http://www. waterfurnace. com/residential. aspx “Regreen residential remodeling guidelines”. (2008). American society of interior designers and us green building council. Retrieved April 14, 2009, from http://www. regreenprogram. org/documents/regreen_guidelines. pdf Sichelman, L. (March 27, 2009). Remodeling tax credit gets a boost. Chicago tribune. Updated
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