Studio21 Architects often collaborates with other businesses and one of these businesses is Energy Diagnostics Inc, located in Valparaiso, Indiana. They are what’s known as energy raters, a company that analyzes and predicts the energy use of a building and then follows up with actual testing and inspections. We’ve invited them to share their story with our readers.
In the early 1990’s the terms “Green Building, Energy Efficient Home Building, and Sustainable Building” were terms rarely used. During this time Jerry and Karen Thatcher, the owners of a small insulation company located in Northwest Indiana, were looking for a way to separate their insulation systems from others and prove the benefit of working with a company that prides themselves on quality installs. So, Jerry bought his first blower door. With this new device, the Thatcher’s proved Kermit the Frog’s saying “It isn’t easy being green” false. They used tried and true techniques with new technology to better the homes that they were working on. In doing so they made homes more energy efficient, and saved homeowners thousands in annual utility costs, not to mention the environmental impact of these efforts. This was more than a decade prior to any of the major “Green” programs that are available today. Energy Diagnostics, Inc. has since grown to 30+ employees, spread across much of the Midwest, and has completed projects throughout the continental US.
There are so many components to get right when building a home. Tight schedules and mother nature rarely see eye to eye, and the worst enemy to any project is not necessarily poor weather, but the upset homeowner when something isn’t “perfect” after closing. Therefore, the importance of a 3rd party energy rater is a crucial part of the project team. Energy raters are trained to identify items that could cause failed tests that will effect program compliance and will cause a comfort concern down the road.
Good energy raters don’t just find fault, anyone can do that, they also have cost effective solutions to solve those problem areas too. With every inspection, rating teams follow up with details and pictures of any inefficiencies along with correction notes. These inspections happen prior to drywall so the build team can rest easy knowing that what was installed behind the drywall will perform to its maximum ability and the program threshold will be met.
It’s not just new construction that can benefit from an energy rater. Remodels and additions typically must meet the energy code also. Prior to drywall, a 3rd party should be there to verify that the installed components match the code documents. While the energy rater is there, it doesn’t add much cost to include an energy audit on the rest of the home.
Services that Energy Diagnostics can provide include IECC code compliance, HERS Ratings, Blower Door and Duct Leakage Testing, Thermography, HVAC Design and energy audits. These services provide a valuable benefit to the lifetime of a building. Consider the add-on services of an energy rater when building your next home or addition.