Compact funds home energy overhaul

By Patrick Cassidy, Cape Cod Times
pcassidy@capecodonline.com

October 11, 2010 2:00 AM CENTERVILLE — With his clothes covered in bits of insulation, and the air around his wavy, white hair filled with cigarette smoke, Tim Tudor wasn’t exactly the picture of eco-chic during a tour of his home Friday morning.

“I teach this, and the cobbler should have shoes, I suppose,” he said of the environmental overhaul he has given his home as part of a Cape Light Compact pilot program.

Tudor, 63, teaches journeyman classes, a LEED-accredited professional exam preparation course and a weatherization green building course at the Boston Carpenters Apprenticeship and Training Fund. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is used as a standard to judge the energy efficiency of buildings.

On Friday, Tudor’s home on Clipper Lane in Centerville was surrounded by stacks of white insulation panels and a team of workers who are helping transform it from a typical drafty Cape to a tight, energy-efficient model for the future.

The so-called deep-energy retrofit is the first under the Compact pilot program and a helpful experiment in how materials, labor and plans can be brought together to reduce a home’s energy consumption by 50 percent or more, said the organization’s energy efficiency program manager, Kevin Galligan.

“There are a lot of details that these guys are looking after,” Galligan said.

While Tudor’s is the only deep-energy retrofit pilot program on the Cape, there are another 10 such projects that have taken place across the state, Galligan said. If Tudor meets the goals that have been set he will receive about $17,000 in assistance, Galligan said. The Compact has $492,000 to spend on the program, he said.

Tudor, who expects to spend $75,000 on the retrofit and other improvements to his home, said he expects to easily surpass those goals.

The retrofit is a series of steps, said Conor McInerney with Frontier Energy Solutions LLC. A home-energy-rating-system expert first establishes a baseline to compare the movement of air and heat out of the home, he said.

The home is then completely weatherized, making the existing envelope as tight as possible, McInerney said.

The walls are filled with dense-pack cellulose, which is made of recycled material blown into the walls or behind a webbing to keep it in place, he said.

One place where this is especially important is behind so-called knee walls that come down from the roof to create crawl spaces that are typically poorly insulated and a major source of heat loss, he said.

“You can put your hand on it and feel the cold,” said Rick Engermann, an apprentice carpenter working for Tudor.

Once the envelope of the home is well-sealed, an additional layer of Styrofoamlike structural insulated paneling is added to the home.

Several layers of shingles had to be removed from the roof of Tudor’s home first and then a 12-inch layer of the panels was added before new shingles were installed, raising the home’s profile, which became an integral part of Tudor’s architectural plans to make the building a more “classical” Cape.

The walls of the home were also pushed out using 4 inches of the insulated paneling.

“In all fairness here, in deference to my crew and my wife, the siding was in need of being replaced,” Tudor said. “While it’s being replaced we might as well make it look better.”
During the retrofit Tudor did other aesthetic work on the home’s exterior and installed a gas insert for his fireplace, he said.

“It’s a good fit for a house that needs some rehab,” McInerney said of the retrofit.

Even before the retrofit is finished the home is already more energy-efficient, Tudor said.

The goal for the pilot program is at least 50 percent energy savings, but Tudor said he is shooting for 70 percent.

Already the amount of air flowing through the home has been reduced from 4,000 cubic feet per minute to under 1,000, without a large door in the basement being finished, which is part of the retrofit, said Chris Mazzola, a home-energy-rating-system rater with Building Diagnostics.

The amount of air that the home was losing was equivalent to leaving a double-hung window open year-round, he said.

“Tim’s shutting the window a little more than most people would,” he said of the retrofit.

But homeowners can do less work and still get a lot of bang for their buck, he said.

“There’s a lot of little things you can do, and it’s not a deep-energy retrofit, but it’s a shallow-energy retrofit,” Mazzola said.

Tudor has been able to beef up the so-called R-value of his home’s walls to R-25, which is what most people have in their attics, Mazzola said. The roof’s R-value could equal 60, Tudor said.

“He should be able to heat this with a candle,” said Benjamin Tilton, training director at the Boston Carpenters Apprenticeship and Training Fund.

Energy-efficient building and retrofits are the future for many in the building trades, Tilton said.

The apprenticeship and training fund is using a three-year, $235,000 stimulus grant to train 251 carpenters in the expanding field of energy efficiency upgrades, Tilton said.

“It’s everywhere where there’s a building,” Tudor said.

On the web
www.capelightcompact.org

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