Due to the terrible destruction caused by last week’s tornadoes, thousands of homes across the South will need to undergo substantial repairs if not be completely rebuilt.  Given this fact, might this also be an opportunity for those of us interested in increasing home efficiency?  


I live in Birmingham, AL, scene of some of the worst of the tornado damage.  Even before this tragedy, I was planing to seek certification and begin a second career as a home energy auditor.  Now, after surveying the massive destruction, I’m wondering if that plan is still the wisest course to follow.


Those thousands of damaged or destroyed homes can be rebuilt in much the same manner as they were or they can be rebuilt as efficient savers of energy.  My goal is to become a valued resource to the community for anyone interested in home efficiency issues.  I am just getting started and realize I have much to learn so any advice you might have would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you in advance.

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Hi Bill,


We published an article last year about Greenburg, KS. I hope that this article will help give you some direction.


It may be smart to immediately sense your preference of focus, repairs or replacement.  If replacement, learn about PassivHaus as soon and as much as you can, and become at least an advocate for its acceptance.  Start a PassivHaus group here if there isn't one; you don't have to be the expert to be the founder.

Whatever your choice, learn about best practices in hot climate design with respect to roof color(s), shading, insulation and ventilation.  Encourage people to replace what they lost with a smaller, but better designed/built, building.

It's wonderful that you wish to serve!

Man talk about a bunch of loaded questions - yes it is a great opportunity to build & push for better & more efficient homes. In some cases, many insurance companies wont have a choice in the matter as the rebuilt or repaired structures must meet the minimum codes. Fortunately some cities like Vestavia Hills have adopted the 2009 IECC, with many more well under way. On the other side of the coin, many locations could care less, so it is up to the consumer to push for things to be built right.

 Is it a great time to become an auditor, i would say you are in for a tough time in the Alabama market for numerous reasons. Is it a great time to learn more & applying that info - always. Feel free to email me or call if you want to talk about the market in this area.

Good for you for thinking ahead as your community rebuilds.  I would highly recommend that you seek out training to become a HERS rater and BPI building analyst.  Local community colleges are a good place to start.  Also, talk with your local builders about incorporating building science principles into their work.  I joined my local homebuilders organization.

How can we let the consumer Know to push for things to be built right??????

I am in Alabama and a HERS rater ........... and have had NO calls from people who want to rebuild or renovate energy efficiently. It is VERY frustrating knowing what needs to be done but no building codes or energy efficient construction taking place. HELP please.


Writing commentaries for local newspapers to print near editorials might be good.  Might certain office-holders or agency heads speak to the matter?  Would a resolution have a chance of passing in the legislature?

At the right moment (whenever that is!), people might attend an educational public session put on jointly by you and your competitors.  The mere fact of that cooperation would be attention-getting.


Stacy that's a great idea, unfortunately while Community Colleges might be good in your area and some others, they are almost worthless here. Occasionally a group with a grant (i.e. USGBC) might host a few classes (good luck hearing about them), but those are pretty rare. We do have a few groups like the local Habitat that promote & put on the local Green & Blue Conference, but overall they are almost always limited to special grants to.

Craig, same offer - feel free to call or email me and maybe we can brain storm some ideas one day. As I love to joke about, there is a reason we are tied for 48th in the nation. One of the best ways is simply to get the info out, offer to do a few free seminars, blog about it, talk to everyone - it is a slow process in this state, but progress is being made.

what about a social media campaign on rebuilding. Maybe you could get Habitat involved see if there are any local universities that have building science courses. Talk to Southface in Atlanta, FSEC in FL. It takes work, but might be worth it. Keep a running journal of what you are doing and talk Jim Gunshinan, Home Energy's Editor about an article. We have been publishing articles about rebuilding New Orleans for a few years now.


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