Build Smart Newsletter

Welcome to the fourth edition of the Build Smart newsletter, brought to you by the Nicor Gas and ComEd® Residential New Construction Service. This quarterly communication is designed to update our builder partners on current services, provide insight into the new construction energy efficiency industry, and serve as a resource to assist you in achieving above-code levels of efficiency for your homes.

Building and Selling High Performance Homes – Advance Training

Back by popular demand, Todd Gamboa, President of Building Trust LLC, will lead a half-day session titled “Selling High Performance Homes: More Than Sticks and Bricks.” Todd will discuss not only how to sell the benefits of energy efficiency to homebuyers (as covered in his previous, popular 2-hour sessions), but also, the specifics on how to build more energy-efficient homes.

Todd has worked in the building industry for nearly three decades and has a wealth of building science and construction knowledge. In this session, he will talk about:

  1. How to “sell” these valuable assets to homebuyers
  2. The “how and why” of building high-performance homes
  3. How to hold your trade partners accountable for their work, help them to understand the “house as a system” approach, improve their quality of construction, and decrease their risk and liability.

The session will take place at Brookfield Zoo on June 23, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. with continental breakfast, refreshments and pizza lunch provided (check-in begins at 7:00 a.m.).

Space is limited. Call 651.200.3417 to register today.

Three Strategies to Improve Energy Efficiency

In the Midwest, the weather extremes often leave us choosing between comfort and saving money on energy bills. However, with an energy-efficient home, the best of both worlds can be enjoyed. Here are three strategies that can lead to lower energy costs and increased comfort.

  1. Balanced mechanical ventilation
    Mechanical ventilation systems must be installed in new homes due to the increased air-tightness of the building envelope requirement in newer energy codes. This allows for improving the efficiency of the building envelope while addressing indoor air quality. Common mechanical ventilation strategies include exhaust only, supply only, and balanced systems. A balanced system with a heat exchanger – either an HRV or an ERV – is the ideal approach to ventilation from a building science perspective. While these systems have a higher initial cost, they will save your homebuyers money on their monthly energy bills. Learn more about HRVs and ERVs from Green Building Advisor.
  2. Tighter building envelope
    Air sealing is generally a cost-effective method of increasing energy efficiency and comfort. In cold climates, a robust air barrier on the interior is needed to prevent warm, moist air from leaking through wall and ceiling assemblies and condensing on cold exterior surfaces. This can easily be accomplished using drywall as the main air barrier, along with strategic use of sealants, spray foam, and gaskets. Fine Homebuilding has a great article on the airtight drywall approach.
  3. High efficiency HVAC
    Optimizing the heating and cooling system will provide an energy savings opportunity as well as improve occupant comfort. Obviously, furnaces and air-conditioners with higher AFUE and SEER ratings will improve efficiency. Beyond that, accurately performing Manual J and Manual D calculations will result in reducing cost, improving control on air quality and comfort, mitigating moisture problems and reducing noise associated with the HVAC system. These benefits are primarily accomplished through right-sizing of HVAC equipment. 

Enjoy the Benefits of Contractor Circle

Contractor Circle members can take advantage of exclusive benefits, and enrolling is easy…and free!

When you join Contractor Circle, you can take advantage of many exclusive offers from energySMART, a Nicor Gas program. Benefits include:

  • “Find a Contractor” search tool:  Customers are able to search for Contractor Circle installing members on the energySMART website, increasing visibility to your business. Customers can search by company name, location, customer type and desired equipment/service.
  • Free marketing materials: Order free marketing materials and have them shipped directly to you. Some materials can even be customized with your company information and logo.
  • Logo use and co-branding opportunities: Only Contractor Circle members are allowed to use the energySMART Contractor Circle member logo and Nicor Gas name on their company websites and marketing materials.
  • Training: Access to energySMART-sponsored trainings and webinars on a variety of technical, business, sales and related topics.
  • Communications and updates: Be the first to find out about updates and special offerings.
Don’t miss out on the chance to provide more visibility to your business and increase sales. Enroll in Contractor Circle using our online form today!