EEBA's High Performance Home Blog

Building a Plan

For cities to reach their sustainability goals they will need to begin looking at innovative ways to speed up approvals and inspection processes.
Building a Plan

I’ve recently had dealings with the building department in a local jurisdiction. I’ve met with some of the officials. I like the people who work in the departments, but the antiquated processes holding up approvals is cringeworthy. I think it’s pretty rare to find a truly progressive building department anywhere in America (but please share if you know one and feel free to brag on them), and if nothing in the world ever changed, maybe that would be fine.

We all understand the challenges. They’re diverse and complex. Entrenched deep into our systems. The politics can be exhausting.

Many areas around the country are struggling with affordability issues - whether it’s the cost of land and building permits, the rising price of materials, the lack of labor, or all of the above. At the same time, cities and states are moving towards higher energy efficiency standards - many times creating higher building costs. California has obviously led the way with their own energy goals, with many states following behind.

With Phoenix’s 2050 Sustainability Goals, all new buildings will be required to be net positive by 2050. There were over 19,500 building starts in Phoenix in 2018. Although 30 years seems like a long way off, if nothing is being done to change the current systems, there will be no pathway to successfully reach a goal like that.

In 2017 Phoenix held a contest for architects asking them to design an affordable, “near net zero house” that would have the potential for widespread adoption. The plans are now available on the website. Take a look and provide some feedback. After the original building plans were uploaded, the winner was asked to put in another three months of work to reflect changes in the city’s building code. The winning plans required 600 hours for developing construction documents and getting permits approved - which seems like a ridiculously long time.

There are a few off-site construction companies also working towards creating pre-approved plans that will allow them to build faster and more affordably in multiple cities. This model seems to be one of the ways we can create more speed while taking out unnecessary processes.

What other innovative ideas have you seen at work in your local building departments? And if you haven’t signed up for the High Performance Home Summit, it’s not too late! We hope to see you in Denver next month.

Reaching the Summit

After all the work over the last few months, the High Performance Home Summit is just around the corner.
Reaching the Summit

It seems as though we were just in San Diego, sitting on a beach, listening to some fellow industry friends during a jam session. And now, in just one month, we’ll be in the mile high city taking in all that Denver has to offer.

If you’re attending the High Performance Home Summit, you’ve been preparing for the Trek In by committing to defining and building high performance homes. You’ve surpassed Base Camp and know exactly where you stand and what your goals are. And in the following weeks as you continue to Acclimatize and understand the methodologies, materials and strategies to achieve success, The Summit will be awaiting you - the place where you’ll find verifiable performance and measured success.

The 37th High Performance Home Summit will feature sessions on the latest and greatest in building science, combined with real-world application and problem solving. Network with others who have experienced success and learn more on these topics:

Healthy homes

How to build high performance and zero energy homes

How to succeed in the high-performance home building business

Designing high performance homes and neighborhoods

Building science research and innovation

Water efficiency and sustainability

Building codes, programs and policies

Disaster resistance, resilience, and restoration


There’s still time to register. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to celebrate The Summit with us!


2019 Housing Innovation Awards

The winners of The Department of Energy Housing Innovation Awards were recently announced with Grand Winners set to be announced at this year’s High Performance Home Summit.
2019 Housing Innovation Awards

EEBA’s High Performance Home Summit is a little over a month away. The Grand Winners of The Department of Energy’s Housing Innovation Awards will be announced the first day of the conference on Tuesday, October 1.

Many of the entrants are winners from previous years, but this year’s group of entries also features a handful of new participants.

The winners in each of the following categories represents outstanding innovation around the country:

  • Innovation in Affordable Homes
    • Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley: Hickory, NC
    • United Way of Long Island: East Patchogue, NY
  • Innovation in Custom Homes (for buyer)
    • Amaris Homes: Eden Prairie, MN
    • Bellingham Bay Builders: Seattle, WA
    • Clifton View Homes: Anacortes, WA
    • Deltec Homes: Mills River, NC
    • Ferrier Custom Homes: Mineral Wells, TX
    • Greenhill Contracting: Newburgh, NY
    • Health E Community Enterprises of Virginia: Hampton, VA
    • High Performance Homes: Easton, MD
    • Imery Group: Monroe, GA
    • Module Housing: Pittsburgh, PA
    • MantellHecathorn Builders: Durango, CO
    • S.D. Jessup Construction: Pinnacle, NC
    • TC Legend Homes: Bellingham, WA
    • Tim O’Brien Homes: New Berlin, WI
  • Innovation in Custom Homes (spec)
    • C&B Custom Homes: Clarkdale, AZ
    • Charis Homes: North Canton, OH
    • CVF Homes: San Antonio, TX
    • Gardner Custom Homes: Prescott Valley, AZ
    • Sareth Builders: Lorain, OH
  • Innovation in Multifamily Homes
    • Garbett Homes: South Jordan, UT
    • Revive Properties and Philgreen Construction: Fort Collins, CO
  • Innovation in Production Homes
    • Garbett Homes: South Salt Lake, UT
    • Insight Homes: Millsboro, DE
    • Mandalay Homes: Prescott, AZ
    • Thrive Home Builders: Denver, CO

We’ll see you in Denver!

Meet the New EEBA Board Members

Help us welcome the newest EEBA Board members and learn a little more about who they are.
Meet the New EEBA Board Members

For over 35 years EEBA has been a trusted resource for building science information and education in the construction industry. As a board-led organization, we rely on the expertise and commitment of these highly knowledgeable individuals. We are proud to introduce our newest board members - Tim O'Brien, Dennis Webb, and Adam Weinstein.

Tim O’Brien, Tim O’Brien Homes 


Prior to joining the EEBA Board, the lead building science team member at Tim O’Brien Homes had been asked to get more involved in their mission to learn, share, and contribute to the best practices in building a high-performance, value-based, home. When that person advanced to another position within the company, it made sense for Tim to continue along that path. When he’s not helping to improve homes he is spending time on the lake with his family.


Get to know Tim:

  1. If you were banned from the construction industry, what industry would you work in and why? “I would join an organization like TEC/Vistage, where I could help support and develop young business leaders by being a chairperson for a number of young entrepreneurial groups. I enjoy helping others grow and accomplish their goals.”
  2. Favorite quote: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives.  It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” -Charles Darwin.
  3. If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be and what 3 questions would you ask them? “Vince Lombardi. What did you find was the key ingredient(s) in getting ordinary athletes to be extraordinary? In a sport where there can be large egos and a mindset of individualism, how were you able to construct a vision that removed those obstacles to create one of the most legendary teams in NFL history? How did you stay so focused on the fundamentals of running a play, without constantly trying to take the playbook to the next level?”

Dennis Webb, Fulton Homes 


Dennis was inspired to join the EEBA Board after witnessing the infectious passion current board members expressed for building great homes. As the VP of Operations for Fulton Homes, he oversees Sales, Marketing, Operations, and the Fulton Homes Design Center. When he’s not helping to improve homes he is trying to help others improve themselves. Dennis is a graduate of Chapman University and currently resides with his wife, Janis, in Tempe, AZ.


Get to know Dennis:

  1. If you were banned from the construction industry, what industry would you work in and why?  “Retail, because I already know it. I spent my first 20 years in that industry.”
  2. Favorite quote: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” -Steven Covey
  3. If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be and what 3 questions would you ask them? “Abraham Lincoln. What was your vision for the United States? What was the most challenging aspect of your Presidency? What was your greatest accomplishment?”

Adam Weinstein, sonnen, Inc. 


As the Senior Sales Manager at sonnen, Inc., Adam chose to join the EEBA Board to expand awareness of the organization, help recruit high quality sponsors, and get involved with the education surrounding sustainable building practices and emerging technology in the building space. It was also important to him to align with those that share a similar mindset and passion for the industry and emerging technology. When he’s not helping to improve homes you can find him on the slopes snowboarding, hiking, traveling, and attending concerts.


Get to know Adam:

  1. If you were banned from the construction industry, what industry would you work in and why? “Technology in some capacity. Because technology is constantly evolving and helping to solve problems and improve lives.”
  2. Favorite quote: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” -Abraham Lincoln
  3. If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be and what 3 questions would you ask them? “John Lennon. What inspired you to write the songs you did? What are your favorite hobbies? What did you try to achieve with your music?


Acclimate Now to Get the Most Out of the Summit

In two months we’ll be traveling to the mile high city for the High Performance Home Summit so it’s time to start getting acclimated.
Acclimate Now to Get the Most Out of the Summit

Acclimatization: to adapt to a new temperature, altitude, climate, environment, or situation, allowing one to maintain performance across a range of environmental conditions.

We are just two months away from the High Performance Home Summit so it’s time to begin acclimating and preparing for everything the conference has to offer. Professional athletes often arrive days or weeks early to an event to adapt to a new temperature, altitude, climate or situation. It allows them to perform at their highest level and give everything they have when they compete. Most climbers who summit Everest spend 60 to 70 days doing so, in order to acclimatize themselves to the atmosphere at high altitudes.

As industry professionals, we can do the same kind of preparation. Whether you’re a seasoned high performance builder or you’re still deciding if it’s your thing, it’s time to begin thinking about what you want to get out of the conference.

Take a look at the Summit session descriptions and make note of presentations you don’t want to miss. Check out the presenters and see if there’s anyone on the list you’ve been meaning to network with. We can’t wait to see you at the top!

Nominate a Juror for Solar Decathlon Build Challenge

The 2020 Solar Decathlon Build Challenge needs your expertise.
Nominate a Juror for Solar Decathlon Build Challenge

Next summer, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Build Challenge will take place in Washington, D.C. as part of the 2020 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Participants in the Challenge will demonstrate various solutions for a number of building types, focusing on efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy.

The teams will compete and exhibit their solutions before a panel of industry expert jurors and will be working on their designs and build outs for two years - culminating in Washington, D.C. June 25 - July 5, 2020.

5 countries will be represented from around the world including the U.S., Netherlands, Chile, South Africa, and Canada. The teams who will be participating are:

  • Hogeschool Utrecht University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, Missouri
  • Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Valparaíso, Chile
  • University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
  • University of Denver, Denver, Colorado
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
  • Weber State University, Ogden, Utah

The Solar Decathlon is currently taking nominations for qualified and respected leaders to serve as jurors during the event. They are currently looking for jurors for the following contests:

  • Engineering
  • Financial Feasibility & Affordability
  • Resilience
  • Architecture
  • Market Potential
  • Presentation

Contact Rachel Romero to nominate a qualified candidate!


Next Step Towards the High Performance Home Summit

Now that you’ve trekked in, it’s time to take a moment at base camp and evaluate where you are headed.
Next Step Towards the High Performance Home Summit

Base Camp: “a main encampment providing supplies, shelter, and communications for persons engaged in wide-ranging activities: as exploring, reconnaissance, hunting, or mountain climbing.”

When trekking into high altitudes, climbers sometimes spend weeks at base camp while acclimating their bodies. It’s a great place to identify upcoming goals and re-evaluate where you are, and where you’re headed.

In just a few months the EEBA High Performance Home Summit will be taking place in the mile high city of Denver, Colorado. The theme of the conference is “Reach for the Summit: A Future Where Every Home is High Performing, Healthy and Resilient” and will be a great place to prepare for the next step of your journey towards high performing homes. The Summit is focused on providing the tools and networking that builders, raters, analysts, and architects need to take high performance, healthy, resilient homes to new heights.

Whether you’re just beginning or have “ascended” multiple times, you’ll have the opportunity to teach, learn, and network with others who are aiming to build healthy, resilient and affordable high performance and Zero-Energy Homes.

Join EEBA October 1 - 3, 2019 in Denver for the 37th Annual High Performance Home Summit. Next month we’ll look more at acclimatization - understanding the methodologies, materials and strategies to achieve success.

Zero Energy Ready Home Communities

A Virginia builder takes his long-time passion for energy efficient homes to Zero Energy Ready Home communities.
Zero Energy Ready Home Communities

Builder/Developer, Jay Epstein, owner of Health E Community Enterprises first began creating efficient homes in the 70’s. He won the very first Energy Value Housing Award for affordable homes in 1997 - the first year the program was offered. And after hearing about the U.S. Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home program in 2015, he built a home that eventually received a 2016 Housing Innovation Award.

Epstein’s first Zero Energy Ready Home community, Rocketts Landing, in Richmond, VA, consisted of 28 homes that all had solar panels installed. He was so convinced his customers would see energy savings that his company guaranteed to pay buyers’ energy bills if they exceeded $1.50/day averaged over the course of a year.

To achieve the Zero Energy Ready Home label, homes are required to have the following (as of May 1, 2019):

  1. ENERGY STAR for Homes Baseline
  2. Envelope - Fenestration shall meet or exceed ENERGY STAR requirements
  3. Duct System - Duct distribution systems located within the home’s thermal and air barrier boundary or an optimized location to achieve comparable performance. HVAC air handler is located within the home’s thermal and air barrier boundary
  4. Water Efficiency - Hot water delivery systems (distributed and central) shall meet efficient design requirements
  5. Lighting & Appliances - All installed refrigerators, dishwashers, and clothes washers are ENERGY STAR qualified. 80% of lighting fixtures are ENERGY STAR qualified or ENERGY STAR lamps (bulbs) in minimum 80% of sockets. All installed bathroom ventilation and ceiling fans are ENERGY STAR qualified
  6. IAQ - Certified under EPA Indoor airPLUS 10
  7. Renewable Ready - Provisions of the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home PV-Ready Checklist are Completed

Epstein’s current venture is Walnut Farm, a 75-home community in Virginia’s Williamsburg area that will be a Zero Energy Ready Home community. Homeowners will have three solar options: zero energy-ready, $1.50/day (with 5.4 kW of solar panels installed), or net zero (with 6.8 kW of solar panels installed). Without PV installed, the homes will have HERS ratings in the 40s.

Jay also recently made the switch to Trane’s XV20i and has taken advantage of the benefits of energy efficient variable speed mechanical equipment. Trane recognizes Epstein as a builder who understands it is no longer practical to separate the mechanical design from the building enclosure design.

“These systems are interrelated and therefore they must be designed simultaneously,” says David Maruna, Marketing Leader, Trane Residential. “The result is that we can build healthier homes, homes where people don’t get sick, where they feel comfortable, where they have very low utility bills and that have a lighter touch on the environment. Trane is proud to celebrate High Performance Home construction as it aligns with our overarching sustainability goals.”

Besides Virginia, Zero Energy Ready Home communities have also been built in Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, Florida, and California. Learn more about Zero Energy Ready Homes.


Photo: Health E Community

Energy Updates

If you subscribe to various newsletters you probably find your inbox overflowing with emails every week. Here’s a quick update of some interesting energy happenings.
Energy Updates

Finding the time to read everything you’ve subscribed to can be stressful (because you want to read it all, but rarely have time). This week we’re going to do a quick recap and look at who is making interesting moves in the energy realm.

Tech Giants

No matter how you feel about Facebook as a company, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a goal for all their data centers and offices to utilize 100% renewable energy by 2020. They’ve already signed deals to buy wind and solar power near their other data centers around the world. This latest move will be to build a solar farm on land in West Texas, named Prospero Solar, which will be about five times the size of Central Park with a capacity of 379 megawatts. The project has a financing package alone of $416 million.


ASHRAE president, Sheila Hayter, and Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), recently signed an agreement to collaborate, “in the development and implementation of the safe use of next-generation refrigerants and concurrently improve equipment energy efficiency." Here are some of the goals found in the agreement:

  • Encouraging the continued development of voluntary consensus-based standards related to energy efficiency
  • Encouraging the use of advanced energy design concepts
  • Cooperation to provide and encourage the use of clear and consistent information to the building industry about building energy rating and labeling
  • Work within the building community and related professions to encourage the interoperability of building related software and integrated solutions


New Jersey released its roadmap for the conversion of its energy profile to 100% clean energy by 2050. It features a series of seven strategies:

  • Reducing transport sector energy consumption and emissions
  • Accelerating deployment of renewable energy and distributed energy resources
  • Maximizing energy efficiency
  • Reducing energy use and emissions from the building sector
  • Modernizing grid and utility infrastructure
  • Supporting and incentivizing community-level energy planning
  • Leveraging economic and environmental opportunities of clean energy

In 2018 New Jersey generated 75.255 million MWh of electricity, mostly through a combination of natural gas (51.6%) and nuclear (42.5%) power sources.

Cool Stuff

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is improving upon a biogenic (produced by living organisms) solar cell made with dye-producing bacteria. Previously, these types of cells were created using expensive and very complex processes and toxic solvents were used in the dye-removing process. The new approach leaves the dye as-is which makes it “higher yielding and about 10 times cheaper.”

The biogenic material used by UBC, in this case, was E.coli bacteria that were engineered to produce lycopene - a natural dye. Apparently, lycopene is great at harvesting light and turning it into electrical energy.

The new solar cells supposedly work well in cloudy skies or in full sun. In early testing, the solar cells have generated an electrical current “twice as strong as any from similar devices, its capacity is constantly being increased.”

What else are you seeing out and about that’s worthy of noting?

Trek In to High Performance Homes

The first step is sometimes the most difficult. Are you ready for the Trek In to High Performance Homes?
Trek In to High Performance Homes

It’s hard to believe but we’re just 4 short months away from the next EEBA High Performance Home Summit, October 1-3 in Denver. This year’s theme, Reach for the Summit, focuses on looking towards a future where every home is high performing, healthy, and resilient.

Getting to that goal though can sometimes feel like you’re literally climbing a mountain!

In the next months leading up to the Summit, we’ll look at the different levels of climbing that High Performance Home mountain and how you can prepare for each part of the journey. We’ll be your sherpas and offer guidance, support, and teamwork as you prepare to ascend the mountain.

The first step is the Trek In. It seems easy enough but the Trek In is often identified as “a long and difficult journey, especially in the mountains, as an adventure.” You may not like the word “difficult” in there, but what’s great about the Trek In is that it doesn’t have to be alone! And if you’re reading this and ready to commit to defining and building high performance homes, you’re there! You are on the Trek In.

EEBA is dedicated to helping you work through any roadblocks you may encounter on this journey by offering an array of educational sessions covering topics from healthy homes and water efficiency, to Zero-Energy homes, resiliency and affordable high performance products. And it doesn’t stop there. Network with the brightest minds in building science and get firsthand knowledge from some of the best in the industry including builders, raters, analysts, and architects.

After the conference ends you can continue your journey by signing up for an educational session in an area near you. These courses are designed to further your high performance home education. We hope to see you in Denver!

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