5 Critical Take-Aways from the 2020 BUILDER Concept Home

Hear Sekisui House, Ltd., Marketing General Manager Norio Adachi on what bringing Chōwa to the United States market means to Sekisui House, its leaders, its partners, and its worldwide team of associates.

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Energy Options for Off Grid Homes - The Role of Propane in Off Grid Designs

Off Grid Homes, or homes that are completely independent of traditional utilities like the electric grid, are an increasingly popular design option. There are several motivations for an Off Grid Home design, such as a remote location or very expensive costs for a grid connection.

The energy systems for an Off Grid Home differ significantly from those used in most grid-connected homes, and typically incorporate renewables, battery storage, and a back-up power generator. The selection of appliances and other energy-consuming devices in an Off Grid Home is a detailed process that relies on energy efficiency, non-electric alternatives for thermal loads, and careful design of the home’s envelope. This course discusses all of these issues.

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Uncovering a Building’s Heartbeat Sensormatically

While energy use is a key component in building management, it is important that resource use not overshadow a building's purpose: to provide an adequate (or even enhanced) space for humans or machines to operate. Managing this interdependency between comfort and energy is not easy, but it's essential for high performance spaces as changing occupant comfort demands can consume significant amounts of energy. While optimizing each in isolation is simpler, the results could lead to less than ideal outcomes.

As managers seek to optimize both energy use and comfort, well-placed sensors and data collection systems can provide objective, useful, and actionable information. Building energy meters separated by panel, circuit, or receptacle are useful in determining, where, when, and how energy is being used. Comfort can be divided into visual, thermal, acoustic, and air quality categories. Sensors are able to measure each category in order to determine which aspects of comfort might be insufficient. Ultimately, the sensor data can be analyzed to establish linkages and tradeoffs and can lead to solutions that optimize both factors. Four different projects are presented to demonstrate how energy and comfort can be balanced at a building, campus, and program level.

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A Holistic View of Carbon in the Built Environment

This course examines the principles associated with carbon emissions over the life of a building. The carbon footprint of a building does not begin when the building becomes operational but rather during design and continues through demolition or deconstruction. The role that design and construction professionals play in regard to product transparency will also be discussed.

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Strategic Electrification, Decarbonization, and the Role of Advanced Heat Pump Technology (Print Course)

Some areas of the country, such as New England, New York, the Mid-Atlantic states, and California, are moving progressively towards adopting clean energy with the ultimate goal of reducing their carbon footprint. Strategic electrification, which includes building decarbonization and the adoption of heat pump technologies, is one of the ways in which states and organizations are striving towards a cleaner, sustainable, and economically beneficial future.

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Collaborating for Sustainability in Leased Space

Energy efficiency and sustainability have multiple benefits for commercial building occupants. Now, many forward-thinking corporations are employing sustainability tactics and focusing real estate strategy to attract and retain top talent, minimize operating expenses, and drive occupant comfort, health, and productivity. New technologies, a rapidly developing business case, and increasing research are making it easier for more organizations, across sectors, to leverage sustainability to capitalize on the same trends that are rapidly becoming the norm in top-of-the-market, class-A real estate. However, as tenants progress from site selection to occupancy, it becomes increasingly difficult to invest in sustainability. Tenants and landlords should collaborate early to maximize sustainability throughout the life of the tenant-landlord relationship.

In 2015, Congress passed the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act, which directed several federal agencies, including EPA and DOE to identify and employ appropriate strategies to incentivize and engage commercial landlords and tenants to collaborate towards energy efficiency. This panel will discuss the opportunities that legislation will create for tenants and corporate occupiers to leverage energy efficiency and sustainability to meet corporate social responsibility goals and earn public recognition for their success. Panelists will also introduce a variety of tools and resources that are currently available to the market.

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Exploring Advanced Technology of Modern Energy Efficient Gas Fireplaces

Gas fireplaces are an energy efficient and sustainable home heating solution. This course will provide a clear understanding of gas fireplaces, home heat management, and the associated benefits, including home energy savings, safety considerations, installation options, and common gas fireplace solutions. After taking this course, architects, designers and builders will be able to deliver informative solutions to clients about heat management and gas fireplace installations in their homes.

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Why Exceed the Code: Maximizing Energy and Cost Savings in Pipe Insulation

Thermal insulation aids in stabilizing process temperatures; can minimize moisture condensation on below ambient temperature piping surfaces; increases fire protection; and contributes to noise abatement. Personnel protection against burn injury is a major benefit from thermal insulation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that “all exposed steam and hot-water pipes within 7 feet of the floor or working platform or within 15 inches measured horizontally from stairways, ramps, or fixed ladders shall be covered with an insulating material, or guarded in such manner as to prevent contact. In addition, the Insulation Institute provides other succinct reasons for insulating pipes beyond many current state and local code thickness requirements.

ASHRAE 90.1 minimum pipe insulation thicknesses are required for compliance with energy-efficient building design relative to many new buildings, building additions, and retrofit construction. A vapor retarder, which is required in addition to the insulation, will further reduce the likelihood of corrosion due to condensation on cold pipes. Finally, while insulation cannot prevent standing water in pipes from freezing, it can slow the process. This course will enable learners to analyze material types that may ultimately affect the long-term safety and wellness of occupants. By thoroughly examining ASHRAE 90.1, the need for building professionals to exceed the local code requirements will become apparent. Finally, the course will focus on utilizing software to specify pipe insulation, which will influence the project budget, energy-efficiency of a structure, and the long-term safety and wellness of occupants.

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RMI's Innovation Center: First-Year Lessons Learned

The Rocky Mountain Institute’s (RMI) Innovation Center illustrates the potential of achieving net-positive-energy performance in a replicable manner, serving as a demonstration project for the design and construction industry. Its first year of operation has offered many lessons around technological incorporation, financial replicability and incentivizing an integrated design process.


With four decades of leadership and advocacy for hyper-efficient buildings and economies, RMI is the ultimate client and occupant for such an innovative project. First-hand staff video interviews will address design process, system integration, performance and occupant satisfaction. RMI researchers guide attendees through the building with interactive video technology, providing commentary to frame the experience. Observations will be contextualized by members of the architecture and engineering team, translating lessons that can—and should—be applied to the next generation of high-performance buildings.

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Innovative Materials Help Energy Innovation Center Earn LEED Platinum Certification and Historic Tax Credits (Print Course)

The newly renovated, LEED Platinum Energy Innovation Center (EIC), is a collaborative hub that supports the Pittsburgh region’s emerging clean technologies. High-tech building materials can be found throughout the historic facility, showcasing chemistry as a sustainable solution and helping the Energy Innovation Center maintain its sustainable footprint.

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