Context: This work was done under RESAVE, a California Energy Commission (CEC) Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program. The overall goal of this program is to facilitate the reduction of energy and peak power spent in homes to condition air that enters from outdoors. Infiltration, the uncontrolled exchange of air through leaks and penetrations, typically accounts for over one-third of the total space conditioning energy. New homes typically spend the same fraction of energy on mechanical ventilation. This program aims to reduce ventilation and infiltration related peak load and energy costs by 25-50%.
This program will provide important research and technical tools to advance the strategy of "Build Tight, Ventilate Right". This approach combines high-quality building construction (low leakage, low emitting materials, etc.) with optimized ventilation systems to maximize energy efficiency while maintaining acceptable indoor air quality (IAQ). The program will develop new technologies and recommendations for improvements to existing technologies. The involvement of industrial partners in the program will ensure that these technological developments find their way into California homes. The program will leverage best practices and leading-edge building and ventilation technologies from California, the United States, Japan and Europe. A specific goal will be the optimization of hybrid, passive and active ventilation systems to facilitate their adoption in California homes. In addition to technology development, this program will make recommendations for changes to California State Energy Code for buildings (Title 24) together with providing the diagnostic and commissioning tools necessary to ensure code compliance. These tools will also help in market transformation by demonstrating the performance and value of good ventilation systems to consumers, contractors, building managers and other potential decision makers and beneficiaries.
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New technology will continue to bend the curve on these models. Vermont Energy Investment Corp (VEIC), Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) and others are developing these models, with HRVs/ERVs operating at .3 watts/cfm and with 90% ASE efficiencies as the basis for dramatically increased energy efficiency, comfort and IAQ. Additionally, NEEA has commissioned a residential ventilation study that should shed some light on the efficacy of ventilation schemes in various levels of tightness in these homes. I think that this will be one of the most significant conversations with regards to DER, NZE, retrofit and other programs in coming months.
Washington state is taking commentary on their adoption of new codes, and this subject is the one that is garnering the most attention right now as well. The NEEA study was prematurely referenced in a recent blog, as the study is just getting under way, and "results" were reported already.
LBL and other organizations studying this issue will be critical to avoiding unintended consequences that often follow new code requirement when the science has not yet caught up with the code. We can learn a lot from Europe, where they went down this road already, and in specific markets they made the same mistakes that we seem determined to make as well.