It’s no surprise that in today’s ailing market, new home sales are down. What is surprising is that construction is on the rise for six Florida homebuilders.
In partnership with one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America teams, led by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), these successful homebuilders are building super energy-efficient homes. They are achieving a standard met by fewer than one of every 1,000 new homes built in Florida since 2007.
Homes consume about 35 percent of the electricity produced in the United States. Homes are also responsible for more than 20 percent of the U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, a significant contributor to global warming. Building America’s goal is to develop cost-effective solutions that reduce the average energy use of housing by 40 to 100 percent.
Similar to an automobile’s miles-per-gallon sticker, energy-efficient homes can have an energy-efficiency rating called the EnergySmart Home ScaleSM (E-Scale), which is based on the nationwide Home Energy Rating System’s HERS Index. A home with an E-Scale of zero generates as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis. While most existing homes have an E-Scale of 130 or higher, typical new homes in Florida have an E-Scale of about 90. Read more
Just as President Barack Obama steps up his campaign for energy efficiency, the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) celebrated the opening of its new Hot Water Systems Laboratory in Cocoa.
Water heating is the second largest home consumer of energy, and the performance of some systems on the market today have never been tested under realistic and extreme weather conditions. Testing in the lab will help provide answers the solar industry, utilities and home builders are looking for to increase energy efficiency.
“This project is an important part of Building America’s goal of zero energy buildings by year 2020,” said Robert Hassett, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Heating and Cooling Technology Manager. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America Program funded the lab at FSEC, a research institute of the University of Central Florida.
The facility, which opened on Wednesday, will be a hub to test solar, tankless and conventional domestic water heating systems for efficiency.
“Solar water heating is an excellent way to save energy on water heating and reduce whole-house energy use, but utilities are specifically interested in knowing whether or not solar is providing relief to the power grid during peak times. Our testing will answer their questions,” says Subrato Chandra, the Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership project manager. This information is key to utility “buy-in” to more aggressively sponsor solar water heating systems.
As project manager for the Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership (BAIHP), FSEC’s Subrato Chandra was recognized earlier this year by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary, Alexander Karsner, for his outstanding support during the development of the DOE Builders Challenge.
In February, the Builders Challenge called on the U.S. homebuilding industry to build at least 220,000 high-performance, energy-efficient homes by 2012. The initiative was announced at the 2008 International Builder’s Show (IBS) in Orlando, Fla., where Chandra and other FSEC researchers provided live technical assistance at the DOE booth. Out of the 40 pioneering builders that signed up for the challenge prior to its launch at the IBS, Chandra and the BAIHP team were responsible for recruiting 18 of these builders.
“Your enthusiasm and dedication are exceptional,” wrote Assistant Secretary Karsner in a letter to Chandra.“It is because of the hard work and dedication by individuals like you that America is able to meet the challenges of energy security and climate change head on at this critical time in our history.”
The Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership (BAIHP) team is the only university-based Building America team competitively funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy-Building Technologies program. BAIHP works with partners throughout the United States. The project focuses on effectively balancing cost, design, construction, and energy decisions to develop customized solutions for our team members. The BAIHP brings practical research expertise to America’s Home Building Industry.