Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MPG Ratings for Homes? They're coming!

This entry written by Michael Sigmon, Communications Coordinator for the Residential Green Building Committee

Alissa Whiteman and Ben Pignatelli from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (Mass. DOER) made a presentation to the Residential Green Building Committee on their pilot program on the Home MPG (Home score card). It was a well-attended meeting with over 20 people arriving to connect on the topic. As soon as the first slide was up, the rowdy bunch was firing off questions and making their own analyses of the project. Alissa and Ben were great, very able to handle the "shark tank" of residential energy efficiency sharpshooters in the room. All in all it was a great discussion and everyone learned something new. Hopefully, the group was able to provide some useful feedback as the DOER looks at expanding the program to other areas of the state.

The pilot took place in the Springfield Mass. area and surrounding towns. The data collection took place in conjunction with the free MASSAVE energy audit that all rate payers of public utilities can ask for. The pilot was funded by the U.S. DOE and is taking place in 9 geographic locations across the US. Read about the pilots across the country here.

The idea behind the pilot was to create a straightforward way for the average consumer to identify the important components of a home based on apples to apples comparison. Using a prescriptive method, the DOER identified HVAC systems, domestic hot water systems and envelope insulation values for formulating their scoring system. Their thought was that by using this metric they could make a fair comparison across dwelling unit types. This also leads to consumer education that is crucial for good decision making in selecting energy efficiency measures for a home.

After getting their audit and initial score card, the plan is to render a second score after weatherization and equipment upgrades have been completed. A part of the score card is a projection of a home’s carbon rating which can inform the occupant even further about the impact of their house's energy performance.

Organizations that cooperated with the pilot are the Center for Eco Technology and the Pioneer Valley Planning Council.

The program results are for the Springfield area:
2116 Score cards
799 Retrofits

Thanks again Alissa and Ben!

The Residential Green Building Committee holds a meeting every month, usually on the second Monday of the month, at the USGBC MA offices in Boston. Each meeting has a presentation on a relevant and timely subject from experts in the field. Then various aspects of committee business are attended to, such as our advocacy work, communications, creating resources for the community at large, and other work which supports the Chapter's mission. Feel free to come check us out - our next meeting is Feb. 10th.

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