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Industry Consensus Needed for Multifamily Energy Efficiency Retrofit Approach

Energy efficiency upgrades in multifamily properties offer benefits to residents including lower utility bills, but some of the materials used in these projects to better insulate buildings can create health hazards. A new report by Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA)—Making Affordable Multifamily Housing More Energy Efficient: A Guide to Healthier Upgrade Materials—offers a comprehensive guide for builders and policymakers in the use of readily available, healthier insulation and sealing materials. It includes policy frameworks to accelerate these materials’ adoption and improve air quality.

Currently, contractors and building owners are most focused on boosting efficiency performance levels of insulation and air sealing specifications with less consideration for the potential air quality impact of materials such as spray foam and modified polymer and polyurethane sealants. These materials commonly contain isocyanates, flame retardants, and phthalates that have been linked to health problems.

There are opportunities to promote healthier retrofit materials through green standards, but a broad industry discussion is needed to build consensus around a common approach, according to an article at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, the most common financing source for building, renovating, and retrofitting affordable multifamily housing, for example, is a key driver in materials decisions. It could be used to promote the use of healthier insulating materials.

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American Concrete Institute Forms Committee to Investigate 3D Printing

The American Concrete Institute is forming a new committee to develop and report information on three-dimensional (3-D) printing and additive manufacturing with inorganic cementitious materials. ACI Committee 564, 3-D Printing with Cementitious Materials, will develop publications relating to the topic that will focus on impacts and challenges of the technology, and construction applications.

Other goals include:

· Collaborating with other ACI committees to disseminate additive manufacturing information
· Determining ways additive manufacturing may be integrated into the concrete community
· Collaborating with technical organizations to facilitate and coordinate information sharing
· Fostering discussion on research needs and challenges preventing additive manufacturing from wide adoption in concrete construction
· Developing guidelines to evaluate materials and technology for additive manufacturing

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RESNET and Pearl Certification Collaborating to Align HERS Index with Pearl Reports

RESNET and Pearl Certification are collaborating so that HERS Index Scores and Pearl Certification Reports complement each other in new and existing homes markets. Pearl Certification offers third-party labeling of existing homes that address overall health, safety, comfort, and energy and water efficiency. Pearl established its certification program on the East Coast and in California, and recently expanded into Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona. Often, Pearl uses certified RESNET HERS Raters to conduct inspections.

Pearl has four levels of labels according to the energy efficiency of a home: platinum, gold, silver, and bronze. The bronze level approximates the RESNET reference home.

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New Rating Organization Formed to Address Needs of Large Home Builders

Leading Raters of America (LRA), a new rating organization to address the needs of large U.S. home building companies, was recently formed. The four member companies, PEG, LLC, Energy Inspectors Corporation, TopBuild Home Services Inc., and US-EcoLogic/TexEnergy, aim to enhance awareness of the rating industry with production builders and to provide business support for rating companies of any size to compete for the business of larger builders.

LRA wants to get its rating services into the market quickly. It has put out a request for qualifications, seeking companies that want to become a Rating Certification Body for LRA member companies.

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Energy Efficiency will be Crucial for California to Meet 100% Clean Energy Goal

Making homes and other buildings more energy efficient will be crucial for California to meet its recently legislated 100% clean energy goal. The Golden State’s lawmakers passed SB 100, which requires that power generation in the state come solely from clean sources like wind and solar by 2045.

“Energy efficiency remains the cheapest and largest zero-emissions resource, and efforts to reach a low carbon future without it will be more expensive and less likely to succeed,” according to an article posted by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. Demand-side flexibility to shift electric use to the times of day when renewables are available or lower cost will be critical to meeting the clean energy goal. Efficient appliances and supporting technology is necessary to enable that flexibility.

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