Proof is possible!  That's the motto and mantra of Corbett and Grace Lunsford, with the Chicago-based Building Performance Workshop. They are spreading the word in their Proof Is Possible US Tour.   They built a tiny house lab on wheels and are stopping at 20 major cities across the country to prove to home owners and realtors that they can expect better, healthier buildings, and that contractors can prove the quality of their workmanship.

Corbett describes the tiny house lab as This Old House meets CSI.  The Tiny Lab is loaded with diagnostic tools that allow him to measure air quality and pressures.  In his workshops for contractors Corbett shows how to use a variety of measurement tools, including IR cameras, blower doors, radon monitors, smoke pencils and CO detectors.

The Home Energy team stopped by the TinyLab to visit Corbett, Grace and their seven-month old daughter Nanette, while they were in Berkeley.  On entering the 210 sq. ft. lab, the six of us (plus their two cats) did not feel crowded in the well lit and ventilated space.  Despite being parked on a city street next to a school yard in full swing, the tiny house was quiet, with cool, fresh air.  "This is the sound and smell of a high performance house", said Corbett, "Even though we live in what's a big closet, with a kitty litter box for two cats, a composting toilet and a baby in diapers!"

Their key to quality is controlling air movement with thorough air sealing inside and out, and properly balanced HVAC systems, including a mini-split heat pump, energy recovery ventilator, range hood and vented composting toilet. 

How do you motivate home owners to invest in quality?  Corbett says one word: "fear"!  Fear of wasting money and jeopardizing the health of your family, and the durability and safety of your home. 

"Don't mention energy efficiency to home owners. People don't care about the features of new windows or more insulation.  They want proof that their home won't make their children sick or drain their wallet.  And in a tightly air sealed house, you can't have finishes or paneling with VOCs or formaldehyde."

Check out Corbett's videos to learn more about quality metrics so that you can prove to your clients the truth about the quality of your work, and the benefits of home performance. And look for their #TinyLab in a city near you!

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Corbett and Grace have a series of videos on home performance on YouTube. Really great stuff!

Home Performance Workshop Phoenix City Hall - Mon, Oct 17th 9am-1pm...

Excellent article Tom!
Please forgive shameless promo of visiting Phoenix, Arizoa Oct 16-22! ;-)

Thanks to APS, SRP and other partners, the training above (PDF) for building performance pros this Monday at Phoenix CIty Hall is free for the Proof is Possible Tour in Phoenix Oct 16-22. Come out and meet Corbett & Grace Lunsford with Q&A, respected building gurus. 14 separate events to help to advance home performance in Arizona. Hope you get involved as you can. Space is limited. Free registration online: 

Best Regards,

Heather Szymanski BPI BA/EP, PDC, Smartscape

Efficiency First Arizona
3418 S. 48th St., Ste. 8
Phoenix, AZ  85040


Fantastic work here but the answer to your question "

How do you define and guarantee quality?

Is that we need 3rd party verification and quality assurance programs utilized and hold people accountable. Programs LEED, GreenStar, PHIUS, LBC, NGBS, DOE HES and more! 

Very true Brett. Quality 3rd party verification/certification. Paired with homeowner education about what these programs are seeking to achieve for their home.

Yep, it's about telling homeowners what programs want to achieve with homeowners money.

Keep telling homeowners they're too stupid to know what they should want, and to worthless to be an active participant in the home performance process.

....And people wonder why Home Performance fails to be a thing?

Too many brainless hero's and narcissists unable to sell their way out of a paper bag, even with all kinds of free and cheap money.


People don't know what they don't know.

The program(s) guide one to spot obvious building failures and give recommendations to improve along with a mechanism for post-testing follow-up. Obviously, this does not get implemented unless it meets the homeowner's goals and budget of course.

Hi Tom,

I like what you've written here, and these folks are friends, but I'm not sure I see how we can clearly "define and guarantee quality" for homeowners from what you've written. Maybe if you explained it one at at time...

How do we define quality?

How do we guarantee quality?  


This is an awesome story, thanks for sharing. I would love to feature stories like this on my electric tankless water heater blog

I define quality as "standing by your level of service and putting the customer first." Whether you're selling gas tankless water heater or a different type of on-demand electric heater, if you treat customers like they're second to none you business will reflect that.


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