Most existing buildings are in need of improvements in comfort, energy performance, durability, or indoor air quality. Quite often, solutions to those problems are easier to achieve than expected, and investments in improving the performance of the building will not only improve the comfort, safety, and longevity of the home, but will pay for themselves in reduced energy costs. As Certified Building Analysts and Envelope Professionals by the Building Performance Institute (BPI), New Frameworks Construction is equipped with both the knowledge and equipment to effectively diagnose problems with the building and implement solutions appropriate to your budget and goals. An initial performance audit will identify the root causes of the following common problems:
We will then develop a proposal for addressing the problems, which includes itemized and prioritized recommendations for action items and an account of the cost, energy savings, carbon savings, and projected payback of each item. We will work with you to access financial incentives, free installations, and low-interest financing for making improvements to your home.
Components of the performance audit include:
1. Client interview – we begin with a conversation. What are your goals in wanting to improve your building? What problems are apparent to you? What is the building history, and what work has been done to the building? We will collect relevant information to assess your energy consumption profile, building information, and contact information.
2. Building inspection – upon arriving at the building, we start the on-site audit with a thorough visual inspection of the exterior and interior of the building. We identify obvious signs of moisture damage or moisture sources, structural damage, and information about the building concerning the location of the building’s thermal envelope, potential heat loss locations, and mechanical systems and fuel supplies. We also identify potential hazards that would potential affect conducting the work, such as knob-and-tube wiring, vermiculite insulation, asbestos, or lead paint. Depending on the season, we may use infrared (IR) thermography to help identify heat loss and air leakage.
3. Ambient carbon monoxide (CO) monitoring – once we enter the building, we begin monitoring the ambient CO levels in the building to ensure worker and occupant safety. We pay particular attention to the ambient CO levels in the vicinity of combustion appliances, such as gas ranges, wood stoves, and boilers/furnaces.
4. Blower door test – we will conduct a test consisting of a large fan hung in a frame in a doorway of the building, hooked to a pressure gauge. This test quantifies the amount of air leakage in the building, which allows us to compare between different buildings, develop a relative scale of importance of air sealing, and facilitate implementation of the incentive program. Additionally, the test allows us to simulate air leakage in the building to help identify specific points of leakage in the envelope and develop a clear strategy of intervention.
5. Combustion testing – if a combustion appliance such as furnace, boiler, or water heater is present, a ‘worst-case depressurization test’ is conducted, in which we force the worst-possible scenario for “backdrafting” the appliance
to ensure safe operation of the appliance. Pressure difference relative to outdoors, fuel spillage, draft, CO, and efficiency are all tested to ensure occupant safety.
6. Fuel line leak check – if fuel such as propane or natural gas is distributed within the building, all joints are tested to ensure there is no gas leak.
7. Exhaust fan/furnace airflow test – we will conduct flow tests on fans and furnaces, when appropriate, to assess flow rates and efficiency of the units.
8. Infrared thermography – depending on the season and when appropriate, we will use infrared cameras to help identify heat loss in the building.
9. Electric consumption evaluation – we will survey the appliances consuming electricity in the building, including lighting fixtures, kitchen appliances, and other “plug loads”, to identify places for energy savings and
potentials for incentive eligibility.
Contact us today if you are interested in making your home safer, more comfortable, more durable, and more affordable to operate!