5 Things We Learned at the 2019 Home Efficiency Forum

5 Things We Learned at the 2019 Home Efficiency Forum

As part of our expansion into the Northwest, Ekotrope sponsored and attended the 2019 Home Efficiency Forum (HEF) in Portland, OR which gave us the opportunity to learn from home efficiency industry leaders, as well as demonstrate our software and share our story. Our team was represented by Brian Cope, Nick Sisler (pictured left) and Jacob Kamen (pictured right) who networked with other attendees, attended panel discussions and visited an energy efficient Habitat for Humanity development. We were also able to share the exciting news that raters will now be able to use Ekotrope for Energy Trust of Oregon’s (ETO) EPS program starting next year. Attending events like HEF allows Ekotrope to remain an industry leader and we are grateful to Better Built Northwest, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) and the Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO) for hosting us and for facilitating our commitment to continued learning and subsequent growth.

Here are a few things we learned that we’d like to share with our Ekotrope community:

1. Thermal Break Shear Wall Has a Seismic Benefit

The homes demonstrated in our site visit had a Thermal Break Shear Wall (TBS). While rigid foam is often attached outside of the sheathing, TBS assembly differs in that the foam goes inside the sheathing. Under seismic testing, it was found that a TBS wall is significantly more resilient in an earthquake than a conventional wall. The contractor leading our tour said the construction cost was comparable to a traditional wall with outboard foam, but they did have to use about twice as many fasteners through the foam which will reduce the thermal performance of the wall.

2. NGBS 2020 introduces streamlined certification for Single Family Homes

More than 90% of all dwelling units certified through the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) to date have been in multifamily buildings. In an effort to get more Single-Family homes NGBS-certified, a new compliance path has been added in Chapter 12 of NGBS 2020 intended to streamline the certification of Single-Family Homes, Townhomes and Duplexes.

3. Smart Ducts

As home envelope performance continues to improve, it reduces the amount of conditioned air that needs to be transported throughout the house making ductless mini-split systems more feasible in larger homes. While at HEF, we saw firsthand that it also allows for new, smaller duct systems, such as the Dettson’s Smart Duct System. We saw this system in action at a field site visit and attended a session with Dettson representatives, where we learned that these small ducts can easily be installed in interstitial spaces within the thermal envelope of the building which further improves energy performance and reduces labor costs (but, keep in mind that flexible ducts can also go wrong).

Smart duct branch coming off of the Supply plenum at Denney Gardens in Oregon.

4. Low Capacity Modulating Furnaces

HEF speakers stressed the benefits of right-sizing heating and cooling systems. Properly sized systems are more energy efficient, durable, comfortable and cost effective. We’ve heard this story before, but for years there haven’t been many (or any) gas furnace options with low enough capacity to match the heating design load of high performance homes…until now!  While at HEF we learned about Dettson’s Chinook Compact furnace with a maximum capacity of only 15 kBTU/hr that can modulate down to 7 kBTU/hr.

Dettson’s Chinook Compact has a capacity of 15 kBTU/hr, modulates down to 7 kBTU/hr and is only 23” high by 10” wide.

5. Ekotrope is sexy!

One of the most authentic compliments we’ve received by far 🙂 We were proud to not only sponsor HEF but to share our own innovations and projects with other industry experts. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to learn a lot at HEF, and to have received such positive feedback and encouragement from our existing and potential customers. We hope to see you again next year where we’ll share our newest innovations and hopefully be even sexier!