The Environmental Impacts of Building Materials: Comparing Concrete, Steel and Wood (Print Course)

In addition to performance, budget and aesthetics, design professionals are now being asked to evaluate the environmental burdens of their design choices. Measuring the impacts of buildings, assemblies and products can be complex. Every design decision, from material and product selection to envelope design and construction can have an impact on the environment and the methods used to evaluate those decisions are still not widely understood. This article will address critical issues the design professional should consider as he/she evaluates the environmental impacts of building materials to maximize performance and deliver lasting value.

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Introduction to Net Zero Energy Homes and Opportunities to Leverage High Efficiency Propane Systems

This course provides an overview of residential zero net energy (ZNE) homes and gives designers a sense of key issues and strategies for ZNE projects. It explores how ZNE projects may be defined along with the implications of the different definitions of "zero".

The course also characterizes the current ZNE housing market, the general design approach to ZNEs and the opportunities to integrate mixed-fuel home designs in ZNE projects.

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Performance Fabrics in Sustainable Design

Windows, views, and openings in buildings present the classic battle between form and function. The designer naturally wants the building’s occupants to enjoy views and light, but the solar heat gain from these openings can wreak havoc on sustainable goals; however, sophisticated and high-performing solar control fabrics can help reconcile the form and function of light, views, and sustainability.

There are many solar control fabrics on the market; wading through them can be overwhelming. This course aims to help educate the designer about what performance fabrics are, the content of various fabrics, how they work, and the benefits to a sustainable design in meeting and maximizing your goals of occupant health, safety, wellbeing, and sustainability.

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Propane as a Solution to Meeting Code and Above-Code Programs – Using High Efficiency Propane Systems as a Compliance Strategy

Nothing is driving greater change in the home building industry than energy efficiency, but prior to 2015 the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) didn’t address mechanical equipment such as furnaces and water heaters. The 2015 IECC now includes a new compliance path called the Energy Rating Index allowing builders more choices in how to meet the energy code.

This course will take a closer look at how high efficiency propane equipment such as furnaces and water heaters provide flexibility in meeting 2015 IECC standards and help reduce a home’s HERS Index, in addition to helping projects gain points in above-code programs such as LEED and the National Green Building Standard.

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Past as Prologue: An Examination of Natural Ventilation as a Proven Means to Help Meet Architecture 2030 Goals

The objectives of Architecture 2030 require strategies that rethink how we plan, design, and construct buildings in order to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas. One building strategy that has gained favor throughout some parts of the world and is currently growing in the U.S. is the idea of natural ventilation. This paper examines the case for natural ventilation—what it means for the build environment, how natural ventilation principles are applied, and a proven way forward for designers committed to the Architecture 2030 initiative.

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Energy Calculator

The Milgard Energy Calculator provides a quick and easy way to help you select windows and doors that can meet local energy codes and project requirements.

The tool gives you the flexibility to select the required ENERGY STAR® zone, u-factor, SHGC or VT, and determine which Milgard window and door products meet the selected requirements.

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Residential Water Heaters under the New 2015 Federal Standards

Water heaters are often the second largest energy user in the home, costing residents hundreds of dollars each year. Beginning in April 2015, the updated “NAECA” standards from the U.S. Department of Energy increased water heater efficiency requirements, driving major product changes in the U.S. market. “NAECA” stands for the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act and includes the federal regulations for water heater minimum efficiency levels.

The course reviews the new federal standards for water heaters, and describes the market implications for both new construction and replacements.

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Specifying Propane Standby Generators: Installation and Value Considerations

In the last 10 years, the demand for electricity has increased exponentially due to population growth and the increased use of power-thirsty devices, such as computers and flat-screen TVs. For homeowners in many areas, this has resulted in electrical service outages that cause major disruptions. A standby generator can ensure a homeowner's quality of life by keeping the electricity flowing in the event of a power failure, and it can even serve as a primary energy source for homes built off the grid. In this course, learn why many builders and homeowners are choosing to install propane standby generators and what to consider when selecting the best generator for the job.

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Propane-Enhanced Renewable Energy Systems

Most American homeowners, now acutely aware of fluctuating energy prices and the environmental implications associated with continued use of some conventional energy sources, are driving a demand for alternative energy sources for their homes. As a construction professional, it is up to you to propose alternative energy systems to be used in your homes.

In this course, learn why propane is an ideal backup energy source for a wide range of renewable energy systems.

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Analysis of Residential Energy Efficiency Upgrades

The energy use of a home varies widely depending on a number of factors, including the climate, number of occupants, resident behavior, and mechanical systems. Because there are so many contributing factors, decisions on where and when to invest in energy-efficient equipment can be tricky for a homeowner, especially when it comes to paying a premium for higher efficiency equipment.

In this course, which focuses on the typical energy use for average, single-family detached households, learn more about what factors to take into account when considering an upgrade of a home’s energy system or appliances.

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