Two weeks ago I was in Charleston, South Carolina for a meeting of the National Association of State Community Services Programs (NASCSP). Last week I stopped by West Coast Green taking place at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. NASCSP is a group of state managers for the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) for low-income families. West Coast Green is an interactive conference focusing on innovation for the built environment. From crawlspaces to sheep’s wool insulation, from composting toilets and rainwater harvesting to quick and easy multifamily building air leakage measurements, between these two conferences, it’s all about covered.

The NASCSP meeting was the largest ever; it included 350 people from 58 states and territories, including Saipan, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. The conference is a contrast to the 2009 NASCSP mid-winter meeting, when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was being debated in Congress. The Weatherization program went from $0 funding set aside in the Bush budget to $5-billion in ARRA funding. The state managers and the weatherization community is more mature, a little tired, more realistic, but still enthusiastic. Most of the people there last week were not there in 2009. Worries about succession among the old-timers are gone.

The focus in Charleston was on reporting on positive results—the numbers of homes weatherized and the amount of energy saved. There had been some bad press in the summer of 2009 about the lack of results—much of it true. There have been growing pains over the last 18 months. The Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws were applied to WAP technicians for the first time, and the Department of Labor had to step into to set wages by region. The Historical Preservation Act requirements also applied to WAP for the first time, meaning that weatherization measures cannot substantially affect the exterior or visible interior of an historic building being weatherized. This is a problem if window replacements are required, among other things. The accelerated ramp-up in hiring and job scope was a huge challenge, and new strenuous reporting requirements.

But the results so far are encouraging. Nearly 200,000 homes have been weatherized in 18 months through ARRA funding. And the pace of weatherizing homes reached more than 30,000 homes per month in July.

It was a different crowd at West Coast Green, but just as committed to greening the planet one building at a time. More architects and visionaries; less overworked government types and worries about funding when the ARRA money runs out.

I stopped by some of the many displays to talk with exhibiters about artificial turf, green paint (of many colors), photovoltaic window blinds, and water permeable asphalt pavement. I discussed the R-values of insulating window shades with Bryan Clabeaux of Hunter Douglas. And I had an interesting discussion with Thom Workman, a former carpenter, who with his father runs Oregon Shepherd Natural Wools Insulation. “The sheep have to be sheared every year,” says Thom, “and the wool industry in this country is really depressed.”

Oregon Shepherd uses scraps from the few wool-clothing manufacturers that still exist in this country, and the wool of Oregon sheep, to make their wool insulation product. Wool insulation does not off-gas anything bad for you, handles moisture better than any other insulation product I know of—it absorbs water when it is humid and sheds it when it is dry—has a higher R-value per inch than cellulose, costs about as much as recycled cotton insulation, and can be blown in to attics and walls with standard blowing equipment. And the sheep don’t mind—producing wool is a better gig than being Easter dinner.

And I met Aaron Baum of AlgaeLab. He wants to make outside walls into edible and carbon absorbing, algae growing chambers. He wasn’t quite ready to offer free samples.

Views: 9

Tags: building, green, home, weatherization

Comment

You need to be a member of Home Energy Pros to add comments!

Join Home Energy Pros

Home Energy Pros

Home Energy Pros was founded by the developers of Home Energy Saver Pro (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy,) and brought to you in partnership with Home Energy magazine.

Latest Activity

Mark Wozniak posted a status
"I am looking for energy efficiency software training in Massachusetts."
48 minutes ago
daniel manriquez replied to Trip Smith's discussion Starting a Home Weatherization Business. Considering it...
"Here's a contractor perspective on incentives. Not that I agree with all of it, but its a good…"
54 minutes ago
Rick Wertheim joined Kyle Brown's group
Thumbnail

Wrightsoft - Manual J / Manual D

If you use Wrightsoft to calculate loads or design ducts, you likely have questions.  Get answers…See More
2 hours ago
Rick Wertheim joined Leslie McDowell, BPI's group
Thumbnail

Building Performance Institute (BPI)

BPI is the nation's premier standards development, quality assurance and credentialing organization…See More
2 hours ago
Casey Gesell posted a video

How Dr. Energy Saver Helped Me Grow My Home Services Business | Dealer Testimonials

http://www.drenergysaverdealerships.com | 1-877-479-3637 Real Dr. Energy Saver dealers explain how the proven marketing, sales and training programs allowed ...
3 hours ago
Casey Gesell commented on Tom White's video
Thumbnail

Ducts in an Attic

"Hi Tom, Thank you for sharing our Dr. Energy Saver video!"
4 hours ago
Diane Chojnowski posted a discussion

EEBA 2014 Conference Presentations

EEBA has posted many of the presentations from their conference in St. Louis last week. Check them…See More
4 hours ago
Profile IconJames Tucker, Dean Brewer and CPB Mechanical joined Home Energy Pros
4 hours ago

© 2014   Created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service