On January 10, 2024
Letters

Building smarter, stronger: Vermont’s homebuilding dream team takes off

 

Dear Editor,

In the heart of Vermont, a market transformation is underway in the world of homebuilding construction, and it’s not your average headline.  This isn’t just about bricks and beams; it’s about creating homes that are healthier, more energy efficient, and built to last.

Picture this: The year is 2023, and the Legislative Committee’s Building Energy Code Study Committee has just released a report.  While it delves into the intricacies of Act 47, it takes an unexpected turn, shining a spotlight on something that affects us all — education and continuous learning with the building trades.

The committee’s findings are eye-opening. They reveal that a lack of understanding of building science is causing buildings to fall prey to costly problems like mold, mildew, and rot.  Building science you ask? It’s the secret sauce — the physics behind how water, air, and heat flow through a house, ensuring it meets the demands of energy efficiency, durability, indoor air quality, and more. Every component must interface with each other seamlessly, and how they’re installed matters. And as Vermont embraces more advanced energy codes, the risk of limited knowledge of these issues and the science behind them looms larger. The benefits to homeowners of advanced learning go beyond energy efficiency and comfort. You’ll have fewer callbacks, fewer examples of poor work performance, at the time of sale you’ll be reassured your home meets the energy standards if improvements have been made, and lenders and insurers may be more open given the certification of the builder.

The Legislative Committee did not identify what organization should assume responsibility for designing a state-recognized builder certification, so Vermont’s Sustainable Energy Outreach Network (SEON) has rallied the troops, pulling together a coalition of all homebuilding trade and nonprofit organizations in Vermont to help define what Vermont needs regarding the qualifications of our current and next generation of builders and carpenters.

The following organizations have agreed to participate: SEON, Efficiency Vermont, Vermont Builders and Remodelers Association, Vermont Chapter of Associated Building Contractors, Vermont Chapter of Association of General Contractors, Vermont Green Building Network, Building Performance Professionals of Vermont, Vermont Passive House, Vermont Talent Pipeline, ReSource, and Vermont Works for Women.

The dream team of expertise will have its first meeting on Jan.29, 2024 and will work together to:

Explore and define a state-recognized builder certification as a high performance builder, and increase outreach, education, and training. In simple terms – it’s your guarantee of a building professional for your home.

Launch awareness campaigns that shed light on the benefits of building science. Get ready to become a savvy homeowner who knows exactly what to ask for when it comes to your energy efficient home.

Many builders and carpenters haven’t embraced the high performance mindset yet, but here’s the truth: You can’t build to Vermont’s Energy Code or achieve net-zero without understanding building science. And as more techniques are made to meet the energy code, many of the old ways of building don’t even work with the new materials. We don’t want consumers to be left with the keys to a disaster rather than keys to a home that will last them a lifetime.

This transformation will be a cultural shift that needs everyone’s support and expectations – industry leaders, builders, the public, government, media, lenders,, insurers and local organizations. Join us in this exciting journey toward a better-built tomorrow, led by a coalition of professionals committed to applying the best practices of science.

Guy Payne,

Brattleboro

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