Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What are the most cost-effective energy efficiency strategies for the Roaring Fork Valley?

Thanks to local architects Mark McLain and Angela Loughry for undertaking a detailed analysis of the cost, energy-efficiency and carbon footprint of various building shell configurations and mechanical systems for an affordable housing project in Carbondale.
Here are some highlights from their study:
1.  The best way to reduce the carbon footprint of a home is to reduce operational energy consumption, even if it raises the initial construction carbon footprint.
2. The largest factor in fuel consumption and construction cost is the mechanical system.
3.  Avoid active cooling. 
4.  Insulation continues to be a cost effective way to increase building performance. 
5.  Air Sealing is on par with insulation in its cost effectiveness in increasing building performance. 
6.  Volume is a luxury. 
7.  Photovoltaics are becoming a key component to include in any home shell beyond the basic code minimum.  
8.  Net-zero is not out of reach. 

Read the entire study to get the details!
This is great information that we will use to help direct our clients to select the appropriate systems for their homes.
Thanks to Habitat for Humanity and the Community Office for Resource Efficiency for helping to make this happen.

Here is a photo of the raw data from 117 home configurations.  As Angela described, it just looks like spaghetti.   However, once you understand the initial costs on the left-hand side, and the life cycle costs as the lines run to the right, it all starts to make sense!