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    Credit: Eli Meir Kaplan

TOWARD 2020: The Path to Performance

Clearly we need to apply a much more widespread understanding of building science to every aspect of the building industry and, in my opinion, adopt principles found in the Passive House certification criteria based on a super-tight shell and site orientation to control solar gain. Properly applied, these can result in housing where heating and cooling loads are almost non-existent and where residents are more comfortable than in homes with traditional HVAC systems.

Codes must evolve significantly and continuously push levels of energy efficiency. Perhaps more important, future codes should be based solely on the performance path (no more prescriptive checklists), and indoor air quality and health will play a more significant role. This also goes for green building programs, which must take into account actual energy savings in performance, rather than optimistic projections.

We have opportunities here, not just to overcome the challenges we have in building systems, but to redefine every aspect of the home building industry.

Manufacturers can step in and lead the way with new systems, becoming a partner in performance with builders. And as for builders and remodelers, they have the opportunity to thrive, offering buyers and owners the kinds of homes they want, with new levels of performance, service, and value they will increasingly demand. We’re working with builders in our Best Practices Research Alliance who have achieved this. Even remodelers have opportunities since there are more than 120 million existing homes, most of which need enhancements at the whole-house level—from insulation and air sealing to lighting and appliances—to become more energy efficient. Right now, IBACOS is working with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to find deep energy retrofit solutions, sponsored by the DOE.

Our industry has an opening to forge the solutions for tomorrow, and the key to progress lies in all the parts of our industry working together to embrace change. This is the time for innovation.

Michael Dickens is co-founder of IBACOS and Vision 2020 chair for Building Systems Research.