The Building Performance Institute (BPI) recently announced the creation of Efficiency First; a new trade association representing the home performance contracting industry and BPI has joined the association as a supporting sponsor. Efficiency First is a not-for-profit organization with the mission to provide the tools and market drivers to enable the creation of a national infrastructure to retrofit America’s 128 million existing homes. Efficiency First is dedicated to combating climate change while reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil, creating green collar jobs, improving homeowner comfort, health, safety and financial security, as well as spurring innovation in clean energy technology.

“I encourage everyone associated with BPI to join this association,” said BPI’s Chairman Laverne Dalgleish, “so that our industry will have a voice in the development of energy efficiency and environmental policies in Washington, D.C.” Efficiency First was launched at the Affordable Comfort Institute’s (ACI) Northwest conference in Portland, Ore.

“Efficiency First is dedicated to improving the energy efficiency, sustainability, and affordability of America’s existing housing stock,” said co-founder Matt Golden, president of Sustainable Spaces™ Inc., a California-based home performance retrofit contracting firm. “Our mission is to grow the home performance contracting industry, help America achieve its energy and environmental goals, and be involved in state and national policy development.”

“We strongly support Efficiency First’s mission to promote high standards and a smart, comprehensive approach to improving America’s homes,” said Mike Rogers, senior vice president of GreenHomes America®.

“It helps homeowners save money, leads the country to energy independence, and creates good local jobs rather than sending money overseas for oil.”

The organization is designed to give all stakeholders in the home performance industry, from contractors in the front line of the climate battle to product manufacturers, vendors and program administrators, a legitimate vehicle and a seat at the table to work with policy-makers, influencers, and incentive providers at both the state and national levels to ensure that the improvement of existing homes is a priority.

Space heating and cooling accounts for 41 percent of the average American home’s energy bill. Energy use from residential buildings accounts for approximately 36.5 percent of electricity consumed in the United States every year, along with 21 percent of carbon emissions in the United States.

The average American home uses 10,700 kWh and 830 therms of natural gas every year, while generating approximately 26 tons of CO2. Making homes 25-50 percent more efficient could reduce total U.S. emissions by 5-10 percent and save the average homeowner $734 a year or $21,000-$38,000 over the life of a 30-year mortgage.

Home performance contractors conduct a comprehensive energy audit that may include occupant interviews, blower door depressurization, infrared thermography, energy bill audits, duct testing, combustion/back-draft testing, and physical inspections of insulation, HVAC systems and appliances, as well as other aspects within the home, to diagnose a home’s problem areas and prepare a work plan that allows the homeowner to proceed with improvements at their own financial pace.

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Publication date:03/02/2009