Tei Explains It: Rater Class Distinction in Florida

March 1st, 2013

Question: Is there a rater class distinction in Florida?

The answer is YES! Only in Florida are there 3 distinct classifications of energy raters – Class 3, Class 2 and Class 1.

Let’s review these three classification as well as requirements for each.

Class 3

raterTraining

Class 3 ratings are ratings based on construction documents. A Class 3 Rater is only recognized in Florida and can only rate buildings from these construction documents alone. A Class 3 Rater is not recognized nationally by RESNET and can only perform ratings in the State of Florida.

A Class 3 Rater must obtain 12 CEU’s (Continuing Education Units) every three years. Currently these CEU’s do not have to be registered with the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) and allow the rater to get short trainings from suppliers of construction materials and processes as long as the courses are related to “green building”, construction materials, HVAC equipment, insulation, ventilation, IAQ and energy efficiency.

Class 2

Class 2 ratings are based on a site audit. A Class 2 Rater measures the windows, walls, floors, ceiling and doors. The equipment and systems in the home are documented by make and model number and all are documented by photographs which become essential if there is a problem. A Class 2 Rater, like the Class 3 Rater, is not recognized nationally by RESNET and can only perform ratings in the State of Florida.

A Class 2 Rater must obtain 12 CEU’s every three years similar to the Class 3 Rater. Currently these CEU’s do not have to be registered with DBPR and allow the rater to get short trainings from suppliers of construction materials and processes as long as the courses are related to “green building”, construction materials, HVAC equipment, insulation, ventilation, IAQ and energy efficiency.

Class 1

raterTraining1

Class 1 ratings are based on the site audit and include a building airtightness test as well as a duct leakage total test and duct leakage to outside test. A Class 1 Rater is the only one recognized nationally by RESNET and are allowed to perform ratings in every state except for California.

A Class 1 Rater can register the coveted tax credits for qualifying homes and are also eligible to register and certify homes for EPA’s Energy Star Version 3.0 (with special training) and DOE’s Challenge Home.

A Class 1 Rater is required to obtain 18 PDU’s (Professional Development Units) in three (3) years. These PDU’s can be obtained in three different ways.

  1. Attend a RESNET Conference and obtain 18 PDU’s by documentation of sessions to equal 18 hours. You can also attend the EEBA and ACI Conferences making sure that the tracks you attend are approved by RESNET
  2. Re-take the RESNET Core Exam and pass with at least 80%
  3. Take RESNET approved classes to obtain PDU’s

It is required that all raters regardless of classification will take a recertification test every three (3) years to retain their certification. At that time they will take a Recertification class and exams relevant to their classification. A Class 1 Rater will also show proficiency by performing a blower door and duct leakage test total and duct leakage test outside.

Questions regarding rater class distinction, contact Tei Kucharski.

In The Field With Neil: Depressurize or Pressurize Airtightness Test

March 1st, 2013

Question: Should the blower door test be performed in a pressurized or depressurized mode?

blowerDoortest

The blower door test follows ASTM standard E779 (Standard Test Method for Determining Air Leakage Rate by Fan Pressurization), which states that this test method consists of mechanical pressurization or de-pressurization of a building and measurements of the resulting airflow rates at given indoor-outdoor static pressure differences. From the relationship between the airflow rates and pressure differences, the air leakage characteristics of a building envelope are determined. It is intended to quantify the air tightness of a building envelope and does not measure air change rate or air leakage.

So the answer is… either method is acceptable.

In general, we tend to depressurize buildings as it prevents a jet of air from being blown into the house during the test process. However, under certain conditions it is necessary to conduct a blower door test by pressurizing the building. For example, pressurization testing may be used to avoid the possibility of pulling known pollutants into the building during the test procedure (e.g. mold from wall cavities or crawlspaces). The pressurization test also requires an additional outside reference hose connected to the meter.

Remember it is fan sensor with reference to fan sensor location. Therefore if we are using a DG-700 meter, the fan sensor would be installed on the B-side input tap and the outside reference connected to the B-side reference tap.

Tip from Neil:
When reporting your results – we assume that a depressurization
test was done. If you tested otherwise, be sure to document it.

In comparing the results of a pressurization test to that of a depressurization test, in general the depressurization test will yield a slightly tighter structure. The reason is quite simple. A depressurization test tends to pull dampers closed (i.e. bath fans, kitchen fans and dryer vents), whereas the pressurization test will tend to force them open.

Homeowners Have Shot at $1,500 Energy Savings Through UCF Study

June 4th, 2012

COCOA, June 04, 2012 — Want $1,500 worth of energy improvements to your home, for free?

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is seeking 30 homes in Brevard County and up to 30 from Dade or Broward counties to participate in an energy-retrofit study.  Those selected will benefit from the installation of energy-saving devices worth at least $1,500.

Photo of research knelt down adjusting controller of blower door for energy audit.

An energy audit will be performed on homes selected for the retrofit study.

A limited number of homes may qualify for a more extensive retrofit remodel worth $10,000 to $15,000.

Eligible participants are FPL customers in single-family, detached residences with only one electrical breaker panel, a single central air-conditioning system, electric space and water heating, and Internet service with a home Wi-Fi network.  Homes must be owner-occupied year-round and have been lived in for at least one year.  Preference will be given to homes built prior to the year 2000.

Those selected for the study, which begins this month, can expect the installation of such cost-saving items as: water heater blankets and pipe insulation, low-flow showerheads, CFL bulbs, and home and duct air sealing. Read the rest of this entry »

International Renewable Energy Speaker at FSEC on Monday, May 21, 2012 @ 3 p.m.

May 16th, 2012

What:
An opportunity to learn about a unique international sustainability project.

Title of Presentation:
Urban Energy Services through Stand-Alone Renewable Energy Systems

Speaker:
Dr. Priyadarshini Karve

Abstract:
Generally in the developing countries, stand alone renewable energy systems are associated with electricity generation for rural areas. However, many such systems have failed due to a variety of reasons. An assessment of the failures indicates several reasons, such as lack of technical expertise for operating the systems, difficulties in servicing and maintenance, mismatch between energy services available and energy services required, social, economic, political constraints, etc. Most of these problems would be avoided if the stand alone systems were based in urban areas. Furthermore, no government subsidy or grant will be necessary, as even normal banks can provide finance due to the relatively better creditworthiness of the urban proponents. To some extent the successful introduction of systems, such as solar water heaters in urban areas, is already pointing in this direction.

Read the rest of this entry »

FSEC Scientist Receives UCF Institutes and Centers Award for Excellence in Research

May 15th, 2012

Nazim Muradov, right, accepts award from UCF's Vice President of Research and Commercialization, M.J. Soileau.

COCOA, May 15, 2012 – A researcher who has developed a novel method that uses sponge-like carbon particles to clean up oil spills in water and among some other exciting work at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) has received one of UCF’s highest honors.

Nazim Muradov, a researcher at FSEC since 1990, recently received the UCF Institute and Centers Award for Excellence in Research.

Aside from the promising sponge-like carbon clean up method, Muradov also developed a novel high-energy density seawater-based hydrogen generator that can be used to propel Navy’s unmanned undersea vehicles.

“I am honored to receive this award because it underscores the high value and impact of research work conducted at FSEC,” states Muradov.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Homes Wanted for Energy Research Study

May 11th, 2012

COCOA, May 11, 2012 — The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is seeking homes to participate in a State of Florida-sponsored energy research study.  Homeowners of selected homes will be compensated $200 for completion of the energy audit and participation in the energy monitoring study.

Eligible participants are homes that were permitted and built after March 2009, have 1500-2300 square feet of living area, and are owner-occupied year-round.

The FSEC research team will conduct an energy audit within each home and monitor energy use for approximately a three-month period.  Testing will examine house airtightness, air conditioner performance and duct leakage.  The FSEC research team will also collect the previous year’s energy bills.

If you are interested in participating in this research project, please visit http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/go/CodeResearch or contact Jeremy Nelson at 407-243-8197 or jnelson@fsec.ucf.edu by May 31, 2012.

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PR12-03

EnergyWhiz Olympics to Showcase Students’ Solar Cars, Cookers and Hydrogen Experiments

April 20th, 2012

EnergyWhiz Olympics

The tenth-annual EnergyWhiz Olympics is a daylong event showcasing student projects in alternative energy. Activities include Junior Solar Sprint, Energy Innovations, Hydrogen Challenge, Bright House Solar Energy Cookoff, and new this year, the Electrathon.

More than 650 Florida elementary, middle and high school students—from as far as Tallahassee and Miami—will participate in the EnergyWhiz Olympics, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 5, at the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center. FSEC is located at Brevard Community College’s Cocoa Campus, 1679 Clearlake Road. The public is invited to attend free of charge. Read the rest of this entry »

Subrato Chandra Remembered

January 13th, 2012

Subrato Chandra, Ph.D., retired project manager for the Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership (BAIHP) and one of the pioneers of the building research division of the Florida Solar Energy Center, died Jan. 12 following complications from surgery.

A pioneer of buildings research at FSEC, Subrato Chandra, died Jan. 12, 2012 due to complications from surgery.

Subrato Chandra, a pioneer of buildings research at FSEC.

Subrato, who worked for FSEC for 34 years before retiring in 2010, was passionate about integrating energy efficiency into home design and, long before most people had ever heard the term photovoltaics, helped develop the concept of a PV powered house in Cape Canaveral in 1979.

One of his proudest achievements was highlighted in an email he recently sent a colleague in which several FSEC initiatives were touched upon in a listing of the most transformative homebuilding trends in the last 75 years.

Subrato’s compassion can be seen in the types of projects he championed:   As director of FSEC’s research and development division in 1995 he helped the Environmental Protection Agency launch the Energy Star Homes project that has become the most widely accepted energy-efficient green homes projects in the country.  The Building America project he led still works directly with Habitat for Humanity home builders throughout the country to help make housing more affordable for needy families and helps make manufactured or HUD-code homes more efficient.

Subrato led FSEC’s first major funded project in the buildings area with a $400,000 contract on passive cooling by natural ventilation received in 1981 from the Department of Energy.  During his career at UCF he was involved in $14 million of funded projects. In addition to his work at FSEC, Subrato served as a faculty member in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Subrato was able to succeed because he always championed the personal relationship over the pure technical work. He communicated equally well with a housing subcontractor and a renowned scientist. And in so doing he was able to have a number of happy employees and help funding agencies achieve their goals. His loss will be felt nationwide in the building research community.

“He was a great teacher, a respected scientist, and a classy gentleman, ” said Craig V. Muccio, a colleague from Florida Power and Light who first met Subrato in a solar engineering class Subrato was teaching in 1980.

Most recently Subrato was working with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as a senior buildings engineer.

Subrato’s wife Mitra works in the Office of Research & Commercialization and he has two grown children.

Florida Manufactured Solar Electric Panels

December 21st, 2011

Dr. James Fenton Speaks to Florida House of Representatives, Energy & Utilities Subcommittee on December 6, 2011

Below is the transcription of the 12-minute video recording, located here: http://vimeo.com/33415686.

My name is James Fenton, I’m director of the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center here today and I would like to talk to you about manufacturing, manufacturing renewable energy in Florida.  Specifically I’ll use examples of photovoltaics; solar to electric panels.

Which purchase is best for Florida?

Which purchase is best for Florida?

Let’s look at Florida manufacturing jobs as a tale of two salad bowls.  The $10.00 bowl made in Florida using Florida materials keeps all the money and all the jobs in Florida.  The $9.50 bowl imported from China, manufactured by Chinese, using Chinese materials sends most of the money and the jobs to China.  Which purchase is best for Florida?

Florida imports almost all of its energy resources.  The citizens of Florida pay $27 billion for electricity and $30 billion for gasoline for a total of $57 billion per year.  This compares to our state budget of $70 billion a year.  But unlike our state budget, which I hope by the way we spend all that money in the state, most of the $57 billion leaves the state of Florida.  We are faced with two energy challenges – How can Florida reduce its imported energy costs and how can Florida’s electricity and transportation fuel be manufactured in Florida?  Can we design an energy future which allows Florida to keep our capital in the state, increasing economic activity and produce high-wage jobs.  We can and there is a path to do it.  I would like to share such a path.
Read the rest of this entry »

Energy Research Study Seeks Two-Story Homes in 13 Counties

November 29th, 2011

COCOA, November 29, 2011 — The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is seeking qualified two-story homes to participate in a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored “wind washing” study that will begin next month.

Eligible participants will be compensated $50 for the initial study, and up to $680 for those who are selected to participate in the monitoring and repair portion of the project; repair costs will be paid by FSEC. Homes for the study are being sought in the following Florida counties: Brevard, Osceola, Orange, Seminole, Volusia, Lake, Marion, Putnam, Flagler, St. Johns, Clay, Duval and Nassau.

Diagram of how wind-driven attic air is pushed into the space between floors.

Wind-driven attic air is pushed into the space between floors.

Wind washing involves the flow of air from an attic space into the floor cavity between the first and second stories of the house. Homes with wind washing are likely to experience increased utility costs and, in some cases, indoor comfort problems. Read the rest of this entry »