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DOE Challenge Home Gaining Recognition as a Leader Webinar (Text Version)

Below is a text version of the webinar titled "Gaining Recognition as a Leader," originally presented in May 2013. In addition to this text version of the audio, you can access a recording of the webinar.

Sam Rashkin:
Slide 1: 

This is about the DOE Challenge Home as a way for builders to be recognized a leader. Eventually Challenge Home is promoting zero energy ready homes across the country. I believe the business model that we're kinda tapping into is the old Apple business model, which is, they build products people didn't know they wanted but have to have when they try them. We believe zero energy ready homes are homes people have to have once they try them. Therefore, just an incredible business opportunity for the housing industry across the entire country. So this webinar is about how builders can get recognition for being a leader, taking it to this incredible level of performance. So if we go to the next slide ...

Slide 2:
What we'll do today is basically cover three topics. One is the Housing Innovation Awards at the Solar Decathlon as an incredible venue for attention about zero net energy ready homes, and then specifically the DOE Challenge Home Builder Awards that will be taking place at the Decathlon. And lastly, kinda a quick brush of the DOE Challenge Home marketing tools that are available to all the builder partners. Again, get recognition for being a leading builder in the industry. So I'm moving first to the next slide on the Solar Decathlon and the Housing Innovation Awards.

Slide 3:
This is an incredible opportunity for DOE to leverage an amazing asset within its program. The Decathlon as an event, attracts historically hundreds of thousands of visitors, millions and millions of impressions in media, just an amazing amount of coverage and interest on the web, in social media. It's a major event all about zero energy homes and how students are able to sorta creatively bring innovation to that space. So what could be a better setting for the Housing Innovation Awards that are trying to promote the development of solutions to the net zero energy ready home goal. On the next slide ...

Slide 4:
We have the Housing Innovation Awards as being set up in four major categories. We're going to recognize, first and foremost, of course, the DOE Challenge Home builders. More about that in a few moments. But in addition to zero energy homes for new construction, we also want to recognize homes on the path toward zero energy performance in existing homes. And that's done with recognizing the contractors from the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program. So contractors there who are leading the way toward whole house performance improvements in major sectors will be recognized, as well. On top of that, the Building America program is a critical program for the nation in terms of zero energy ready performance. Bringing innovations that otherwise are not likely to find their way to the marketplace. The reason for that is the housing industry, at no fault of its own, is a much more segregated industry than the rest of most of corporate America, where you normally have three, four, five major players, the housing industry, both new and existing is over a hundred thousand key contractors and builders. So you're dealing with companies that don't normally have the resources and often the built-in competencies to develop innovations, particularly whole house innovations. And Building America is that key hub for the industry, particularly for building science and whole house improvements. So what we want to do each year, starting with this year, the Housing Innovation Awards, is recognize the top innovations coming from Building America that we believe will be transformative in bringing homes to zero energy performance.

And then lastly, I think, we're going to recognize the Educator of the Year. (By the way, Walter, do you notice the slides are not showing?) While he's bringing it up, the Educator of the Year, is lastly, trying to recognize the educators out in the universities and colleges that are on kinda the leading edge of bringing the next generation of professionals who will be able to really support the move to zero energy home performance. That's a critical development, as well, that we want to recognize at the conference.

So the Housing Innovation Awards are very encompassing of both new and existing homes, of new innovations, and the educators. And if you go back one slide, Walter ...

Slide 5:
The venue for the event, of course, is the Solar Decathlon, is kickoff Friday for the Decathlon event, and there are the specifics where it's located. It's a morning event, from 8:30 to 10:30. Hopefully we'll see many of you there for that special recognition.

Slide 6:
And moving on, let's talk now specifically about how we'll also recognize leading builders there with the display. I'll let Christine Barbour speak to the details of this display.

Christine Barbour:
So all of the award winners will be notified prior to the Decathlon. (I'm getting static from someone. If everyone could put things on mute. Thank you.) So as part of the recognition, there will be a Housing Innovation Awards display, at the Competitor's Pavilion, which is part of the expo, the Solar Decathlon expo. There are a number of different pavilions. The Competitor's Pavilion, where the Housing Innovation Awards display will be, is located not far from the Solar Decathlon Village. and it will also [unreadable] the Solar Decathlon team. So the university teams will be in this tent as well. The display itself will have eight panels. You can walk around, and it will be an explanatory story of the winners. The conservative estimate for the number of people who are going to tour the display is a hundred thousand folks. So, it should be, I think it'll -- and also, it will be available throughout the entire Solar Decathlon. So we're kicking off in the beginning of the Solar Decathlon, within the Industry Weekend, the first weekend is the Industry Weekend, for building professionals, and then the second one is for educators. I mean, the Solar Decathlon is open to everyone, throughout the event, but there are specific webinar focuses within those weekends. So this will kick it off. The display will be up throughout. And I guess, at the end, if people have questions about the display ... (Put your phone on mute; I hear a couple folks there.) Unless you have a question now, we'll wait until the end. If you have any questions about this, go ahead and ask me, and I'll let Sam continue.

Sam Rashkin:
Stick with that slide for just a second, and I think what we'll do is let's save the questions for the end and have everybody go on mute, because the noise keeps drifing in and out.

One thing I want to mention about this display that's so important again, Christine mentioned conservatively a hundred thousand people, but remember again last Solar Decathlon had three hundred thousand people approximately come through, not to mention all the media coverage and television coverage that comes to the event as well. And the key thing why this display is so important is the Solar Decathlon shows amazing innovations on the depth and breadth of university programs, mostly here in the U.S. but also abroad. Bringing cutting-edge solutions that may or may not be ready for the marketplace, but they're extremely exciting. And new thought about going to zero energy performance. So what's so important about this display is this brings to this vast public amount of visitors the idea that actually zero energy performance is today, at market-based prices, all across the U.S. So this display is kinda that reality check that what you see at the Decathlon is really exciting. We're interested in a home that can do that today. These builders are here now at that level of performance. OK, so moving on to the next slide ...

Slide 7:
We're going to explain some of the details about how the DOE Challenge Home Awards work, within this larger Housing Innovation Award Program, so on the next slide ... (again, if everyone could mute, that would be really helpful for us).

Slide 8:
Again, so the Challenge Home awards are part of the larger Housing Innovation Awards. The design for our award categories are four categories. First is for custom builders. The second is for production builders. The third's for affordable home builders. And the fourth is for system builders, everything from modulars, manufacturers, advanced components like SITS and ICS. Whatever it may be. For all those four categories there will be up to three to five winners in each category depending on the submissions that come in. And then those will be announced ahead of time, ahead of the event. During the event we'll announce the grand winner, which is the most significant recognition for one recipient in each category. So the way the awards event will work is all the winners will be posted and listed and recognized, and then we'll announce the single winners in each category. Next slide.

Slide 9:
You'll see our website. Again, the website address will be at the end, if you want to take that down. You'll see our website information for getting you to the application and information about the Housing Innovation Awards. For all those interested in all the details and for the application itself, please go to our website, which will be listed at the end. When you go on the left sidebar you'll see an indication for the Housing Innovation Awards. When you click on that, this page will come forward and then you can proceed through to all the information that you might need. And so, one of the things I'll also call attention to is at the top, is the Housing Innovation Awards sponsorship opportunities. We can still use more sponsors for that event, again, in October at the Solar Decathlon.

Slide 10:
I want to bring some critical dates to your attention. The first date is that the applications, we're looking for a July 1 deadline for submitting the applications. The winners will be notified by September 1. Juries will be assembled, and the winners will be selected, and then the grand winners will be held and announced at the event on October 4. (Whoever's mentioning the conversation about the scholarships may want to go on mute.) OK, next slide.

Slide 11:
Christine Barbour:

Walter, can we go mute until a question period at the end for everyone?
Walter:
Sure, I can put that setting on now. I'm just worried it will cut Sam off, but let me try ...

Sam Rashkin:
OK, here is the application that you would pull up from the website. It's a very simple application. It's two sides. It asks for basic information about your project, location, your HERS score. Also, just so you recognize other special attributes that are part of Challenge Home, there's an indication whether you do Indoor airPlus, WaterSense, disaster resistance through the Fortified Home program, our Quality Management program that Challenge Home has set up, and also for passive house builders in the PHIUS program, they canl be recognized, as well. Now, if we move to the next page of the application ...

Slide 12:
We get a sense of the criteria we're looking at to judge these homes. And what you should note that's interesting is that the criteria are not just based on how much energy is being saved. What we're also concerned about is that we're looking at homes that are exciting homes for consumers that meet and exceed expectations for design, for land development and so forth. So under land development, we are concerned that the homes address the vistas that are there on the property that are appropriately addressed. The topography, orientation, the use of indigenous materials. If it's a water-constrained region, that the landscaping is maybe consistent with that concern, as well. So land development is the first criteria. The second is design. It's great that these homes are zero energy performance, but It's also important that they reflect a style that is exciting to consumers. That regional design factors are being integrated, natural comfort factors are taken advantage of. Other things are being done for disaster resistance and sustainability will also be recognized. Then under "Performance" we get to core essence of the zero energy house aspects of this, including the measures, the strategy for being energy efficient, how air quality was addressed, water conservation, disaster resistance, solar readiness, that are all core to the Challenge Home program construct. So that's really hit hard in "3. Performance."

Slide 13:
The last criteria on the last page here of the application address quality construction. Again, we know that zero energy homes will be most successful if they're built with good quality, so to the degree that applications can demonstrate effective coordination with all the players in a pre-construction set of meetings, that the construction documents are done in a very comprehensive way, other quality measurement plans are being implemented, are additional ways to get points for consideration on this award. It doesn't help to build a good grade zero energy home if you don't do effective sales techniques. So to the degree that under No. 5, that sales training is being deployed, displays, innovative warranty programs, use of displays on site like a deconstructed home. Any innovative sales process will be recognized and considered a very important part of this application. And lastly, it's real important to demonstrate to the rest of the industry that zero energy homes are a significant business opportunity. So to the degree that applications can provide really good insight into the incremental cost, the time to sale, the number of visitors that are being attracted as compared to normal, business-as-usual, any special media coverage, indications of consumer satisfaction, and any actual building data would be particularly strong evidence that the project is an important one to be considered for the award. This is the application, and we're not looking for extensive detail, but we find this information will be tremendously useful for something I'll mention later, called the zero energy home virtual tour. So we'll get to that in a later slide. OK, so moving on.

Slide 14:
One of the things I want to mention is that all of the winners and grand winners will be featured in profiles, our Challenge Home profiles, that show off their incredible leadership. And this profile that you see is a typical technical profile. Now I mention this virtual parade of zero energy homes concept. One of the things we also want to do is use the information provided in the award applications to generate a way for consumers all over the country interested in new homes, to tour and visit the exciting world of zero energy homes. And so the images that are provided, the amazing performance data, the important information about design and site, all those things will help create a very, very exciting page for consumers. So in addition to these profiles that will be more technical profiles, we expect to develop a consumer-based profile for each of the winners, as well. Next slide.

Slide 15:
OK, so moving on. Challenge Home has really worked hard to come up with a very strong set of recognition opportunities that are highly focused, and I'd like to go through those with you. And the next slide provides a list of benefits to our partners.

Slide 16:
They revolve around resources we provide, the technical support, and the recognition. Under "Resources," we'll talk about a customized homebuyer brochure in a few moments. We mentioned the case studies and the profiles we've developed to show the success of builders and the fact that they are true leaders in the industry. Under branding you get to use as a partner, all of our logos, certificates and labels that we're developing, that again help  differentiate you as builders in the top one percent of leading builders in the country able to build homes to this extraordinary level of excellence and zero energy performance. And then under "Resources," our electronic newsletters will be ones that I think every builder will want to get. As opposed to just a newsletter that might promote the program, it's a newsletter that is really about giving you the information that's most important to know to be successful. As I mentioned, the Building America program is a hub of innovation, and there are incredibly useful developments coming from that program every month, and we want to make sure that the summarized innovations and best practices coming from that program are available to all of our partners. So our newsletters will feature those developments as well as important new concepts and lessons learned about the program from our broad base of builder partners and provide that to everyone in the subscription list on our newsletter. So I think you'll find the newsletter extremely useful and not just a promotional kind of piece from DOE. So look for that as another resource that you'll find very helpful.

Under "Technical Support," we have a very game-changing new solution called the Building America Solution Center. The Solution Center basically takes the world's best experts' knowledge and content and makes it available to all of our users literally in seconds, so they can get the information they need to most successfully apply best practices and latest technologies that can support zero energy performance. The Solution Center is new in every way that I can imagine describing for you in terms of a DOE resource. As opposed to fixed content, it's content that actually is two-way, where it continually improves with input that we get from our users, it's getting you our latest developments about 75 percent faster than we used to get them to you, and it's also laid out in a way that you can get to it much, much more easily. It's an incredible new tool that I encourage everyone to go and visit. Again, the website at the end that I'll list will provide you the linkage to go and look at this. But the Solution Center is a true game-changer in terms of getting you the best knowledge in the industry on how to do high-performance homes. Now also, these same experts that are fundamental to the Solution Center and the Building America research in general come to you every year at a stakeholder meeting, and they answer the most critical questions confronting the industry on how to do high performance, and they present the leading new innovations that we consider the most transformative. So you should really look at these stakeholder meetings as a real partner resource where you can listen to the best and learn the most cutting-edge information that's available. So I also would suggest you do look for these meetings that typically happen every year about springtime. And lastly, Building America research studies themselves are a true resource for our partners that provide expert guidance on a whole range of topics around high-performance homes. Then, on the recognition side, we mentioned the Housing Innovation Awards, so you know about that. But the other recognition we have that's very important is we provide a direct link between our builder partners and consumers. And that's through the website locator tool. Let's go to the next page.

Slide 17:
The partner locator tool is essentially a very simple interface that allows consumers to find builders in their market who are building DOE Challenge Homes that are zero energy ready performance homes. It provides critical information here, your contact information. It also provides other information about commitments you've made to the program, such as the 100 percent Challenge Home, in other words, all homes you build meet our guidelines. Whether you're going to do WaterSense water conservation, Fortified Home for disaster resistance, and Quality Management for being able to portray that your homes are under a very rigorous quality oversight program. Our visitors to the locator tool also get to know the number of homes you've labeled, and have a direct link to your website. So this is very important information for consumers to get to find the leading builders in the country. Now, if you click on a state and go to a list of builders, the next page shows you what that list will look like.

Slide 18:
Essentially the builders will be listed along with icons showing their extra commitments, and their location so people can best find a good match for their needs. And if you click on one of these builders, the next slide shows you the information that you will get.

Slide 19:
Essentially you'll get a profile for each builder that shows who they are, again, who the contact person is, where they're located, and specifically the contact phone number, the labeled homes, then their website link that we mentioned earlier. In addition to that, if you look to the left, you'll see the builder's name also includes their logo because when you sign on as a partner you do download your logo. And wherever a builder has a profile developed around one or more of their homes, below that logo you see the box, a link right to that profile. Consumers can find a lot of great information about builders and the excellent work they've done from this locator tool. So it's a very significant recognition tool that the Challenge Home provides to partners. OK, next slide.

Slide 20:
Now, the way all this works, by the way, is you have to log in as a partner. You get a password and special access. You put your name and password in, and you get into the website for partners, and now you can access all the resources that we've mentioned above.

Slide 21:
On the next page it shows basically what we ask you to do to keep your account updated so that we can more effectively reach you and then portray your information accurately on the locator tool, other information we have about you. So we'll ask you as a partner at least once a year to update your company information, add, delete or edit contacts and make sure they're the most current, also update your logo in case it changes, and any commitments so we can provide all the recognition you deserve on the locator tool, and there's an access key that lets you get to the tools and resources you want to use. So maintaining your Challenge Home account is a very important function and it doesn't hardly take any time, but it's something that you should plan on doing. Next page.

Slide 22:
Now, one of the most significant things we have to do is convey the impressive value propositions that zero energy homes bring to homebuyers. And recognizing the Challenge Home label is new to many homebuyers, in fact most homebuyers, what we've done is we've integrated on a sticker the logo for the Challenge Home itself and a hopefully very simple way at-a-glance to understand the very significant value propositions. First and foremost at the top is that the Challenge Home is a symbol of excellence. So what this does is impact you with Challenge Home is you get recognized that you're in the top one percent of builders in the country that can build to this level of excellence is this zero energy home performance level. It's so exclusive among the builders, the 50, 80, or 100,000 builders in the nation, a very exclusive club, that are leading the industry down this path. So you're in that symbol of excellence is a value proposition all by itself.

And then there are six value propositions that speak to the home's very specific nature. It's "Healthful," and what you see under each value proposition like "Healthful," are three bars. The green bar is the DOE Challenge Home performance, the blue bar is the ENERGY STAR Version 3 home performance, and the gray bar is an existing home of recent vintage performance. And all of these calibrations are done in an analysis that's also on our website. We're going to be completely transparent how these calibrations are done about each item. If you're interested, on our website, there's a detailed report that features all the detailed quantification analysis that was done to determine each and every one of these bars. So I encourage you to look at that if you want. But for instance under "Healthful," there is no more healthful way to do a comprehensive indoor air quality package than the Indoor airPlus label, and the fact that Indoor airPlus is a requirement for the most part for the Challenge Home, means that we feel confident that our green bar for Challenge Home extends to the end of the graph. In contrast, other programs have lesser requirements quantitatively, so we list them based on how many requirements they do have compared to the entire Indoor airPlus package. Under "Comfort," we again have the comparison between Challenge Home, ENERGY STAR, and existing homes, and this is tied to the amount of insulation, and the amount of air-tightness, and the amount of closure features that really are part and parcel to delivering comfort and quiet in every home. "Advanced Technology" addresses the advanced technology requirements, another feature particularly for a lot of the Gen Y customers who are technology-centered. "Ultra Efficient" addresses specifically the HERS score, comparative between Challenge Home and all the other options. "Quality Built" addresses all the diagnostics and tests and quality requirements of program specifications. And then "Durability" addresses the durability features that are attached to each of the different programs. And again, at a glance you can see that you're getting such a strong package of attributes with every Challenge Home. And this is a sticker that will go on every house, most likely on a entry door glass panel, a side-light glass panel to the entry door, or the door itself. Next slide.

Slide 23:
And we follow through with the same messaging, so we consistently get to consumers with always a constant message about what's so impressive with the zero energy home performance associated with the Challenge Home. You see the same set of bars on the back of our brochure, which is all built around this concept of a symbol of excellence. A very exclusive club that each every Challenge Home builder is in. Right now, based on the number of builders again, it's about only one percent of builders, less than one percent of the builders in the country, are currently able to meet these extraordinary guidelines for zero energy performance. The other thing I want to call your attention to is the back of the brochure can be customized. And if you look at the back where it says "The Future of Housing -- Today," at the bottom you'll see as an example, a builder's logo and is populated on the back of the brochure. So the brochure's not just generic; it's also about a very specific builder. And to make the brochure as broadly applicable as possible, if you go to the next page ...

Slide 24:
You see the entire brochure, and mostly it's populated with lifestyle images, just showing the incredible increase in satisfaction living in such a special home. So it mostly tries to depict the lifestyle images, and very, very generic construction images that are not tied to any geographic location or type of construction. And again, once you're in the body of the brochure, on the inner pages, basically that real estate's used to profile a little more detail what the each of those value propositions means and what drives its presence in each and every Challenge Home. So all that's really important to understand. If the generic brochure, note that the back flap does not feature the builder's logo and label and contact information. So it would be up to each builder to get access to the resources and tools section with their special account number and then pull up this resource, and then their logo's already in our database so they can populate and develop the customized brochure instead of the generic one at their choice. But this again is a way to translate what we think are really powerful value propositions for consumers. And by example, what we would train builders to do is if the customer came in, and after conversations with the customer it's real clear (again, people aren't on mute -- it'd be good to do that), but if you came in, and after talking with the customer, and the conversation disclosed that this buyer was really concerned about the health of their children, trying to manage their health and various respiratory illnesses you take (Walter, just hit the slide again), you take your pen and circle "Healthful Environment" and mention that every Challenge Home has a comprehensive package of measures to minimize dangerous pollutants and provide continuous fresh air and effectively filter the air you breathe. Your family deserves the best of health; that's why it's required in every Challenge Home. And so the brochure becomes a vehicle for taking the value propositions that are most critical and making it personal, simply by having the salesperson circle that one that's most critical. Now if you have a buyer come in that's a first-time new homebuyer, and you can tell they're very nervous and they're asking lots of questions, and they're really fearful, don't understand what they're buying, you simply take your pen, Walter, again and hit the slide. "The Future of Housing -- Today," only a select group of the top builders in the country meet the extraordinary levels of excellence and quality specified by a voice of authority, the U.S. Department of Energy guidelines. And again, don't feel nervous. You're buying your first house; doesn't it feel great to know you're buying a home from a builder who's in an exclusive club of less than one percent of the builders meeting this level of excellence. And so the brochure becomes a vehicle to make your home relevant to each and every buyer, by using that very important pen the salesperson has to customize it for each buyer. So again, our job is to create these value proposition messages so they're done consistently and help guide you how to make them effective with each and every buyer. Next slide.

Slide 25:
Now, another very critical voice of authority piece about homes for recognition is the certification form itself, and that's basically driven by the HERS software. So when a rating's complete, the HERS rater can basically hit the print button on the certificate, which comes out looking like this and has the logo, has the HERS scale, it has the specifics about the home and its HERS score. And on the bottom left it also lists any other special attributes that might be part of what the builder's doing beyond Challenge Home, mandatory requirements such as airPlus the complete label, the WaterSense label, the disaster resistance for Fortified Home, and the Quality Management guidelines that we mentioned. Next slide.

Slide 26:
So there you see what I hope you appreciate as the really significant set of tools to be recognized as a leader if you want to move to zero energy homes. And I encourage all of you to go to our complete Challenge Home training program to really learn about the impressive business case, the full set of value propositions, and the very, very proven off-the-shelf innovations that simply and easily get you to Challenge Home zero energy performance with tried and true solutions. So that's a three-and-a-half training course we do that I again encourage everyone to go to. But for now I hope you appreciate that this program has an amazing road ahead to take our nation to zero energy performance. We're looking to have zero energy homes in all 50 states within the year, and I believe the fact that you're on the call means that you're kind of looking to be a leader, as well. So I hope this is helpful. Thank-you. Any questions?

Walter:
I have Carter Scott from Transformations.

Sam Rashkin:
Hey, Carter.

Attendee:
I have a question on a couple of our projects; we have one that's a municipality.So we've only done the, we haven't done the full Tier III with ENERGY STAR analysis but not all the requirements. We generated considerably more energy than we used over the course of the year. It'd be nice to include that.

Sam Rashkin:
So you're saying the only issue for you is you're not sure if you met the ENERGY STAR Version 3 requirements?

Attendee:
Exactly.

Sam Rashkin:
Which ones are the ones that were most difficult to complete?

Attendee:
I gave it to our ENERGY STAR rater, and there's a whole list of things that they just had question marks on because we weren't doing that particular program. There's also at our energy positive zero energy site.

Sam Rashkin:
So what I would recommend is (Walter, can you make sure that last slide is up again?) get that list of questions and either contact myself, or I'm likely to funnel it to one of the Newport Partners group team members who are a great team and really understand all the technical details. And I think that's best done offline. Give us the details of where the ENERGY STAR conformance is creating a little bit of a roadblock for you and let's see if we can't help figure out why that's a challenge. Because if your homes are producing more than they're consuming, they certainly sound like they're worthy of being in the program.

Attendee:
OK, sounds great; thank-you.

Sam Rashkin:
And again, that's doechallengehome@newportpartnersllc.com.

Attendee:
I'm wondering if there's been any progress made on Challenge Home certification for California homes that don't simply have a HERS index and don't use REM rater energy gauge. I know I saw some emails with the Newport Partners folks and so far the response has been, we'll be getting to that at some point.  

Sam Rashkin:
Thank-you so much for that question. As a matter of fact, I'll be out in Sacramento at the CABEC Conference during the three-and-a-half-hour training program on Saturday, May 31. Again, I think it's at the Sheraton Hotel. But we're at that session; it's again a week and a half away. I will have our first draft solution for California to show. And essentially, California is more difficult because they don't use a national HERS program so we have to figure out a way to benchmark our performance requirements to the Title 24 code. So we're working those solutions out now; it shouldn't be too complex, but I will have something for sure by May 31 because I'm doing the session in Sacramento. So you know if you contact us by that date that we have something to show you, or at least a draft solution. We'll be very close to final on this. A good question. Thank-you.

Attendee:
I just wanted to give you an update. We will have some metrics for you from the Z home project's first year of operation. Net zero energy is definitely achievable, and people are happy to get the rebates back from the facilities out here, and let you know also the materials you've got here are really going to be beneficial to us. We've got the same issues we talked about before in terms of driving home the value proposition. That's really the key. Everybody's so focused on replacement cost vs. what you can still buy here for short sales or foreclosed homes that are not to the energy level but certainly huge values in pricing.

Sam Rashkin:
Thanks so much for those kind words. That's great. We just did a class in Virginia here, in Fairfax a few weeks ago. And what I do with each class is I usually have the voice of a builder on the phone, to showcase a builder who's already doing zero energy homes now. To verify this is not stuff we're making up; there are builders already in this space, building these homes, often at prices that are shockingly not so much higher than traditional construction, and how their technical solutions are so simply understandable. And that we had the builder in the class in Fairfax get up and show off their zero energy homes they're doing in Maryland, in a suburb of Washington, D.C., and it was just incredible to me, what story there was, because essentially this builder's homes were about, the townhomes were about 350 and the single-family homes were 450, including the solar electric system. The utility bills, by precedence, on the homes already constructed are like in the 20-30 dollar range. And I thought it was remarkable. You take that townhome for 350, and you have Gen Y population group buying or renting homes in downtown Washington, D.C., at 2,500 dollars a month for a one-bedroom apartment, and what this builder can show to that demographic group is you're spending 2,500 dollars a month for an apartment that's maybe 800 square feet with a bedroom, and here you can own this three-bedroom house that has almost no utility bill. It comes with a special app for your smartphone that shows you all the PV  being produced, how you can turn the lights off if you're away, or turn the heating system on or off, or set it back, set your water heater off if you want when you're on vacation. It comes with all these air quality improvements. You're incredibly blanketed in no chemicals and an amazingly healthier environment. It has an amazing comfort level room to room, floor to floor. You have all this space. You have all this technology, and it's only going to cost you 1,300 a month in principal and interest on this house, compared to 2,500. What an amazing opportunity for you now to get into a house that will mean so much more in the future. To me it was just amazing what that builder had to offer in the marketplace. That's what's happening now -- many markets where downtown rents are getting so high, I think, if you go advanced technology, if you go zero energy, this bling to attract the Gen Y population, I just think there's incredible opportunities.

Attendee:
Well, just like the AM/FM radio used to be an option, eventually these will all be standard equipment items. 

Sam Rashkin:
Yea, and those that are there first will be the ones who will hopefully get the most interest by buyers, because they were there first.

Attendee:
Let us know when you get up to Seattle. We'll have our [unreadable] single family home done next month.

Sam Rashkin:
Yea, we're scheduling something for Seattle shortly. We just did something in Richland, inland, so we should be there within the next few months. Any other questions?

Attendee:
I have a question about zero plus energy based on what Ford, BMW and Honda are doing with their combining solar and powering their cars and having intercapabilities between the two. Is there any way of putting that into your program so that you can show that you're even beyond net zero and you're able to produce energy for vehicles?

Sam Rashkin:
We actually do have at least one, maybe more builders that actually power the house and the car with their Challenge Home, so that they're virtually way below even zero energy performance. But the bigggest thing I'd like to show today, is I like to start my seminars with the house of the future and why people who see it have to have it. And one of the things they have to have is the idea that they can pull their car in the garage, and if there's ever a power failure, flip a switch, and after a disaster or after a power failure, know that they can run their house for days off the sun and the car battery, and all of their neighbors don't have power. Already I'm seeing this, even after we've been presenting this, the Nissan LEAF commercials, where the car pulls into the garage in a neighborhood, and the neighborhood goes dark, and then that one house with the Nissan LEAF all the lights go on. You already know that the electric vehicle manufacturers are understanding that their car has another 10 to 15,000 dollars in value, as a power interruption supply source if it's linked to the house critical needs and to the PV system for recharging. That's just around the block. And all these features just keep adding more and more value, more and more excitement for the innovation audience. And we know we have basically innovation junkies as the next wave of buyers, as we look at the Gen Y population wants to wait around the block for the next new smartphone or tablet, you know that they embrace innovation. So all this is just waiting there to happen, because people will have to have it once they try it.

Attendee:
Can you give me that contact information on that last housing development you were talking about?

Sam Rashkin:
Yea, one I'm really excited about, Nexus Energy Homes in Frederick, Maryland, came to do voice of the builder in our last training class in Virginia. And their homes come with the app that comes with the PV systems, zero energy performance. Great, great partner for us to have with the program. Great leader.

Attendee:
Thank-you.

Sam Rashkin:
And I don't endorse them; I just mention them as they're a builder that spoke at the training class who is able to showcase these kinds of market prices.

Attendee:
You mentioned that you want to be in 50 states in one year. How do you want to accomplish that?

Sam Rashkin:
Essentially by engaging the home energy rating provider industry to realize this opportunity to upsell ENERGY STAR builders to Challenge Home. In many markets, the ENERGY STAR builders are doing great things. But there are a lot of builders who are moving past the other builders in the marketplace and need something else. And we want to make sure that all the raters in all 50 states understand that Challenge Home is waiting in the wings to be that upsell opportunity. It means they have tremendous extra value to offer their builder partners. It's additional revenue for the additional verification. And they're the front line with the builder. Twenty-four-seven they're out there working with them. The major tactic is to engage the raters. So when we do these training classes I mentioned, not only do we ask builders to attend, we make sure all the major raters are invited and hopefully attend each class we do. So they can introduce themselves as a local solution, and make direct connections with builders who are spending time learning about the value of building zero energy homes. That's the major strategy for getting into all 50 states.

Attendee:
So you have rating agents in all 50 states?

Sam Rashkin:
Yes we do. Understand this -- the program spec only launched at the beginning of the year, barely, into January. So though we've only had four months, five months of time since the specs were introduced, there were 17 homes completed in six states, so we have 44 more to go. So just in the first four or five months, even before we've had a chance to move the program full force into the marketplace, we've got six states covered.

Attendee:
Can you tell me the six states?

Sam Rashkin:
By memory, if I recall correctly, New Mexico is the big one, because of the very significant builder there. Connecticut, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida, and I can't remember the sixth one.

Attendee:
Thank-you very much, now. That's helpful.

Sam Rashkin:
Great.

Attendee:
I have a quick question -- can I ask a question?

Sam Rashkin:
Sure.

Attendee:
I'm in Columbus, Ohio. Sam, I met you -- is this Sam Rashkin?

Sam Rashkin:
Yes, it is.

Attendee:
I met you at a conference down in Austin years ago. I have a question. I've got a client that's interested in either SIPS, and we're looking at eight-inch wall SIPS and trussing the roof and blowing in R-60 or greater. And we're also looking at two-by-eight studs. Maybe we can go with two-by-six, but the Huber zip wall system with their R control or their R panel, which is the one-inch poly-iso on the outside wall sheeting. And do you know how they compare in prices, because by the time you get the lumber bill from the lumberyard and you start subtracting out the two-by-eights but you have to leave in the first and second [unreadable] trusses, and you look at the labor prices and everything. Is there any data out there showing any kind of comparison between SIPS installed and like a zip wall system two-by, with blown-in [unreadable]

Sam Rashkin:
That level of detail we don't have, but I do know it's going to be a complex analysis to do. With SIPS, basically, they go up, basically, in a few days, the entire house, and you need a lot less job site rules, a lot less people. It's also -- The walls are so inherently straight and true. You have less adjustments and less cracking of sheetrock, and the cabinets go perfectly at the ceiling lines. On top of that, you virtually, you have all the panels are preset for the wiring and everything. So you have to compare all those other savings with that construction option, with the framing, with the exterior insulation detail, and then with considering, count the time factor and with the other nuisance factors. You have all that worked out, then you can do a full comparison. Often, a lot of builders come to a determination after experimenting with both technologies and kinda making their own decision. So that takes a lot, sometimes, to do. But I think both ways, you're going in a great direction. SIPS are great; exterior-clad insulation is a great solution. They're all good, and you just need to somehow find a way to go and get into all the details, which are very difficult. I wish we could give them to you. A lot of it's very proprietary and very unique to a specific builder, a specific manufacturer. You really have to get into this personally. But just know you've got two really great options and more.

Attendee:
I see, so it's not like one of them blows the other out of the water in terms of ... You weigh all those factors from what you hear on the street from builders, it's not like one overpowers the other in terms of functionality and price and everything else.

Sam Rashkin:
My understanding of what I hear is it's not like there's a silver bullet, that one just jumps out as the killer application. Everyone can find their preferences based on sometimes their tolerance for risk, their tolerance for relying on labor of different trades to do the work. Again, the SIPS is an entire assembly; the other one requires four or five different trades in which to do it. It's all disposition and how you function and how you're managing a job. And so all of those things would be kinda unique to you, but you know you're looking at all good options there that can work if they're done right. The question is what it takes to do each right so you have a level playing field.

Attendee:
OK, one more quick question, Sam: In Climate Zone 5, Ohio, how much foam would you put under the concrete slab in the basement?

Sam Rashkin:
In the basement under the concrete slab, not much more than --

Attendee:
Is R-10 extruded OK, or should I go more?

Sam Rashkin:
It's plenty. R-10 is plenty. I think people doing a lot more than that, I can't understand the benefit. The ground's 55 degrees. The basin is going to be 70 degrees. You're looking at a 15-degree gradient. All you're looking to do is to mitigate the cold surface in fact so the basin feels like an above-grade space. What I always like to brag about high-performance homes is that your basement's every much as valuable a space as the above-grade space. And a high-performance home compared to a a standard home with a basement is so less comfortable and often can be musty because of other humidity flows and so forth. So what you're doing is by doing that insulation thermal break is you're creating that temperature control you need so the basement feels, smells, acts like an above-grade space. And R-10 is plenty below the slab.

Attendee:
OK, great, thank-you very much, Sam.

Sam Rashkin:
That's a good amount to do. You bet.

Attendee:
Can I ask a question, Sam?

Sam Rashkin:
Sure.

Attendee:
I'm currently building an actually LEED Platinum certified eco-home, and I'm using a product that is called SCIPS, which is a structurally concrete insulated panel. I've experimented with and studied quite a bit, you know, both the SIPS option, the two-by-eight wood stud option, the two-by-four staggered stud option, and really have come to the conclusion, as far as longevity of the product, durability of the product, resiliency of the product, and overall cost advertised out that the SCIPS panel is truly the better way to go.

Sam Rashkin:
What state did you say you're from again?

Attendee:
Vancouver, Washington.

Sam Rashkin:
Sure.

Attendee:
Washington state. So here we've done kinda a private project, all funded, you know, privately. .... I've been looking for agencies here locally, you know, to get involved with the project. And we've created a website, and a videographer, but to tell you the truth, I've found it difficult to find somebody to share this project with and help get involved, and I'm possibly looking for some subsistance to help finish the project. Can you point me in the direction, No. 1, locally, and No. 2, how do I register in your guy's program with this project, to share the results?

Sam Rashkin:
Again, go to that website address that was posted. I think the slide's off, Walter, for some reason. We should keep that up with the web address. And when you go there, there'll be a on the side a menu, and a partnership button, how to be a join menu item, and if you click there, it'll take you through the various -- it's a very simple sign-up form online to become a partner. But in terms of funding ... It's www.buildings.energy.gov/challenge. So essentially, if you go there, there'll be a side menu on your left side and How to Join or Partner will be one of your options, and then the online form is very simple. But in terms of funding for special projects, Building America does that, but it's part of a preset array of contracts with consortiums that have been formed to do the research. So one of the suggestions I might tell you to look at is to go to the technology provider. If you're using this kind of innovative technology, and it's really cutting-edge, maybe that technology provider and/or the concrete association, concrete home association, those groups might be interested in some way in helping promote or work on the project. But I know the only funding we do, for instance, at the Building America program, is with these existing contracts, to develop proposals to do certain kinds of work or certain kinds of technology research. So those are set, and those teams are in place right now we're going to I think the fourth out of five years, so that's kind of like already moving forward. So I think you have to find either an industry player or a local player like a utility or some other local program. That's the only recommendation I think I could give you on that.

Attendee:
OK. There's nothing that could be done in the way of -- I've read a little about a noncompetitive solicitation or contract. There's nothing in that avenue to pursue?

Sam Rashkin:
Not that would jump out for this kind of project, no. But you also do qualify for the tax credit, if it's built in, I know this year, anyway, the 50 percent tax credit, I mean the 2,000 dollar tax credit for homes that pay 50 percent of heating and cooling would apply, as it would for any Challenge Home.

Attendee:
Right, right. OK, yea. Alright, I guess that answers that question.

Sam Rashkin:
Again, the plan is mainly about the importance of Building America. Builders don't really have the research funds and innovation funds to kinda do these whole-house projects and so Building America is so important that way. But to the degree you think this is an important technology, we should know about, you could maybe send us the information you have, and we'll look at it. But our agenda does get set pretty far in advance, so it's hard to get in now.

Attendee:
I think I have sent you some information, as far as just a description of the technology that we're using here. Yea, it does encompass some really cutting-edge stuff. I think we've come up with a really good package that covers a great deal of questions that faces the building industry on, you know, how to do it better, and concerns with the grid and energy conservation and efficiency overall of the envelope.

Sam Rashkin:
Give me your name and I'll look for your email again and see if I missed it ... Thank-you. Any other questions before we wrap up? I know time is just about out. OK, Walter, I think we're on our own.

Walter:
OK, good job, Sam! Thank-you very much, everybody.

Sam Rashkin:
Yes, thank-you very much for attending.

[End of Audio}