By Steve Sullivan
For more than 20 years, energy experts at Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company have worked to optimize
Steve Sullivan, OG&E
the energy performance of homebuilding construction and provide a certification program that lend consistency and consumer expectation of green-building practices.
For this reason, we have been supporters of the Oklahoma Green Building Summit from its start three years ago, and we'll be there next Tuesday and Wednesday as well for this year's Summit.
Our program known throughout the industry as the OG&E Positive Energy Home has proven to perform at least 50 percent better in energy efficiency than standard home construction. OG&E building science approaches the entire system as an integrated, compounding efficiency solution that will pass the most rigorous blower door and
duct blaster tests. These building practices save money with lower energy costs and improved comfort that feature an improved indoor air quality. When prospective home buyers see the OG&E Positive Energy Home designation, they have the confidence they
are buying a comfortable, energy-efficient home that will have lower energy bills.
All OG&E Positive Energy Homes are inspected by a third party, a licensed HERS rater, who inspects thermal-envelope sealing and insulation to verify it is there and installed properly, and energy-efficient windows with low U-value and low Solar Heat Gain
Coefficient. But there is more to the OG&E Positive Energy Home that makes it a showcase for building best practices.
For example, energy efficient building practices feature tighter construction, such as increased insulation levels, extensive caulking and foaming all penetrations to stop air infiltration, and energy-efficient ducts that are better sealed and tested for leakage.
Using high performance, energy-efficient windows greatly impact a home's comfort and energy usage, as does using energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment.
Framing techniques using continuous air barriers help to reduce leaks and drafts because three primary forces affect durability of building materials - air, heat and moisture. The air barrier, thermal barrier and moisture barrier work together as a system to manage air flow, heat flow and moisture flow. It is important to control
moisture and vent cooking and bathrooms with Energy Star rated fans to vent outside of the house.
Improved thermal systems with enhanced insulation techniques require special attention to gaps, voids and compressions so as not to reduce the effectiveness or insulating power of the insulation. The OG&E program requires insulation be in physical contact with the air barrier as the primary means of preventing air movement between
conditioned and unconditioned space, which can diminish the insulating power.
When it comes to tightly constructed energy-efficient homes, bigger is not better. Oversized equipment operates less efficiently and can cause humidity problems in addition to costing you more to purchase. When systems are oversized, moisture problems can lead to high humidity and create indoor air-quality problems affecting
the home occupants' comfort and health. In addition to using less energy to operate, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems can be quieter, reduce indoor humidity, and improve the overall comfort of the home.
Duct connections must be sealed with mastic and boot-to-house connections must be foamed or caulk to the sheetrock. This technique combined with a maximum of 5 percent of duct-leaking testing to outside helps keep dust and other air-quality hazards out of your house thus improving indoor air quality and HVAC delivery efficiencies.
Energy-efficient homes feature testing at the end of construction with a blower door and duct blaster. This is like a report card to make sure the home functions as designed.
OG&E is proud to serve as title sponsor for the upcoming Oklahoma State Homebuilders Association Green Building Summit and to contribute our expertise to the industry.
Hope to see you at the Summit in less than a week!
Steve Sullivan is Coordinator/Builder & Developer Programs, OG&E
GREEN BUILDING SUMMIT SPONSORS
AdvanTech ZIP System