By Barb and Greg Whitchurch
We both attended Better Buildings by Design (BBD) in Burlington, VT as representatives of Green Energy Times. Having attended many sustainable building events, we can agree with many BBD attendees and vendors that BBD is becoming the premier conference venue for building science education in the Northeast
This is the place where architects, builders, engineers, designers, contractors, vendors of services and materials and equipment, homeowners, government planners, educators, and students come to learn the current state-of-the art in building science and practice – as well as what’s new and upcoming. Continuing education credits are available for professionals through attending the many, tightly focused, presentations given by experts in their fields from all over the country; sometimes the world. Vendors from Australia to Europe to Burlington show off their wares. We ourselves fit into the category of homeowners, but homeowners who learned enough to choose to build a Passive House when the opportunity arose.
Efficiency Vermont puts on this two-day shindig, and they have somehow improved it every year since its inception 20 years ago. Breakfast and lunch are provided both days; there’s an enormous meet and greet networking event with a cash bar the first evening. This year saw almost 900 attendees from all over the U.S., and some from Canada. If you missed it this year, don’t miss it next year.
The range of topics and approaches varies from the theoretical to the most practical. They cover residential and commercial; new builds and remodels. They examine what is under your house, inside the walls and roof, inside the basement, the air you breathe, the appliances and lights you use, the types of energy you use, and the upfront and long-term financial and health costs of every choice that is made during the design and construction of a building. They cover what is coming down the line regarding specialized materials and HVAC equipment; how to help your children avoid asthma and allergies; how to replace explosive, poisonous, expensive onsite fuel storage (gas, oil, propane) with cheaper renewables; how to reduce your monthly housing and energy costs by building or remodeling to a modern efficiency standard.
Unfortunately, the building profession is not regulated like the medical profession, or even as much as getting one’s driver’s license! The Vermont building code (RBES – residential building energy standard) is almost never enforced; and even if it were, it’s not up to par with what is appropriate, affordable, safe and healthy. If you want to learn how to select a competent builder/designer/architect/contractor for something more complicated than a garage, come back in April when we’ll take a look at some of those issues in our next issue of G.E.T. Meanwhile, take a look here: https://contractors.efficiencyvermont.com/bbd.
For decades Barb and Greg Whitchurch have heated their house, water, and food with cordwood in a masonry stove, a parlor stove, and a cookstove. They are board members of Vermont Passive House and owners of a LEAF, a Prius and a net-zero passive house with solar PV and hot water in Middlesex, Vermont. http://bit.ly/2nRCdGL (802)223-2416