In this webinar, Darrel Kelly Sr. Energy Analyst - Builders Energy Services Inc. talks about the importance of energy while building your dream home.

Livio and Builders Energy Services Inc hosting webinar to help you build your custom home


Darrel Kelly


Rob: All right. We will get started here in just one minute.

Darrel: You're faster than I am.

Rob: Everybody's grabbing their lunch and really making their way back to the webinar here. We're at a couple minutes after the hour, just to give everybody a chance to join. If you've already joined us, welcome and thanks for taking the time out to make this meeting, make this webinar. Give everybody just one more minute.

Darrel: Have you seen people logged on? Because I just see you.

Rob: There are a few folks. Yeah, we'll only see each other, but everybody else will be able to see both the US and the screen that I'm presenting, hopefully. And if anybody doesn't see it, just let me know. But hopefully everybody sees it just fine. All right. Well, let's jump into it and get started. Oh, there we go. Perfect. You got a little cover on your camera there, right?

Darrel: Yes.

Rob: There we go.

Darrel: I'm eating my sandwich. Try eating my sandwich.

Rob: Eating your sandwich. Well, thanks again Darrel for taking the time to join us today. We got maybe not the, I hate to say this Darrell but it might not be the sexiest topic. But it's one of the more important topics when you're deciding to build your dream home. And it weighs into a lot of different decision-making processes and it has to be done early on in the whole process. And that's why we're lucky enough to have Darrel join today and hopefully inform everybody who's listening about what are those important decisions that need to be made early on in that process and hopefully give everybody at least a very high-level overview of some of the factors that go into making those decisions. And hopefully, we only have an hour today. I'm sure Darrell could talk about this for a week.

Darrel: Oh, trust me, absolutely every one of these topics I could spend a day on without even trying.

Rob: We're going to kind of breeze over. We might not get to each and every item, but hopefully, this gives everybody good understanding at a high level about some of those important decisions that need to be made. Without further ado, we'll kick it off. I'll start just by letting everybody know a little bit about how we're going to and kind of the format of this webinar in the next hour. I'm going to introduce Livio a little bit. Hopefully, I think most of the folks who have joined us probably already know a little bit about us. But I'll give an overview for anybody who might be new. I'll let Darrel introduce Builder Energy Services, and talk about his vast experience in the industry and share his background.

Then we'll get into a 10-minute overview, where we just kind of talk about, hey, well, what is energy conservation when it comes to building a new home? How does it weigh into some of the decisions that are have to be made? What does it mean in California, specifically? Since I think a lot of and really, as a caveat to this, most of what we're going to be talking about if not all of what we're going to be talking about is going to be pretty specific to California. However, it could vary outside of that. But really his target audience, we're going to try to stick to primarily the Bay Area climate in conversation. We'll talk a little bit about batteries. That the hot topic these days. Like everybody's asking us and so we figured we'll take about five minutes to chat about that. Insulation, five minutes. Again, Darrel could probably spend a couple days on that topic. But I'll try to owner the five minutes. Talk about windows and doors, talk about HVAC heating and cooling, and then talk about water heating.

And then we're going to leave about 15 minutes at the end of the presentation just for Q&A and to ask any questions you might have. At that time, you'll have the opportunity to virtually raise your hand and I can essentially give you the mic and you can ask the question either directly to Darrel or I. Or as you're listening to the presentation, if something comes to you and you have a question about a particular topic that we're discussing, at the top of your screen, there should be a Q&A box. You can simply open that box up and type the question and I will try to get to all of the questions at the end of the webinar.

To talk a little bit about us. We are Livio. We're a general contractor in the San Francisco Bay Area. We essentially specialize in building custom, new single-family homes for our clients. We do that by partnering with some of the best folks in the industry, Builder Energy Services included, who help us to ensure that we can deliver some of the best products to our customers as possible. So really, we're here as a part of this webinar series to inform you about one particular topic. But we've got a number of other topics that we've covered in the past and will continue to crank these out to hopefully keep our customers either current, future, past informed on topics that are critical to the decision process and moving forward with customer home construction.

We have a distributed model. We have an office in Los Altos, of course, where the all of our projects are taking place. But we also have a distributed team in India, which allows for us to have a very vertically integrated project delivery method where we're able to take on a lot of the engineering that otherwise may have to be outsourced. And we'll talk about some of the importance of making sure that the general contractor and the design professionals, including Darrel are all kind of synched up and how that can make or break a project. So, by being able to provide kind of a design build service, where we're both engineering the project and working with experts in the field like Darrel, how we can hopefully save all of our clients a lot of headaches when it comes to actually breaking down. So, looking forward to that.

And of course, it wouldn't happen without the fantastic team that we have and everybody who's there to help. By the way, I'm Rob Dawling, if I can introduce myself. I'm the director of operations. I oversee all the projects that are actively in construction. And also, I'm here to answer any questions you might have during this presentation. Without further ado, I'm going to pass it off to Darrel. Darrel, if you don't mind of just taking a minute to introduce yourself and talk a little bit about Builder Energy Services, that'll be great. Darrel: Great. Well, thanks, Rob. It's fun to be here. We've been around since, oh god, 1978. Started out just doing Title 24. We've done projects as literally I was telling Rob as small as 10 square feet to a little retail bump out in Los Altos, to little over a million square feet for a big hospital. Somewhere in between, there are a lot of custom homes. We did just energy for the longest time and decided that we would expand that because we're involved in so much. The insulation, the heating and cooling systems, the water systems, we got involved in green building, which put aside, looking at irrigation systems and materials that you're going to pick for your jobs.

And then we expanded out into doing the home energy rating services, inspections like testing the ductwork to make sure it doesn't leak, verifying the installation has been done properly, making sure that the solar systems are installed the way they were designed. So, we've really turned into a one stop shop for everything related to the green energy, the Title 24 and verifying that everything on site has been done right. And we're a small company. There are four of us. And there may be six pretty soon because I went on a two-week motorcycle ride two weeks ago, got back a couple of days ago and the number of jobs in the office went from 12 when I left to 52 when I got back. So, I'm thinking that it's time to expand.

Rob: It's a good problem to have.

Darrel: Yeah, it's a great problem to have. But we answer the phone, it seldom goes to voicemail. Almost 24/7. I kind of draw the line at 11:30 at night but I'm up at 5:00. It has to be important though, guys. Don't call me to ask me whether the paint's been delivered or not because I don't know. Yeah, that's us. We're a lot of fun and we enjoy working with people. [inaudible 00:17:25] That's Um, I've just yeah. We like being part of a team and I will say that as people who are going to build your dream home, you're going to have 1000s of decisions to make, the process is going to be exhilarating, it's going to be fun, it's going to be frustrating, and at times it's going to be overwhelming. But you just have to remember that standing behind you is a great team. These guys have put together a super team of knowledgeable people, and they're going to be out in front clearing that path for you. At times, you're going to be able to flip a coin on a decision. What shade of white do you want your paint to be? Trust me, don't spend an hour trying to go back and forth. Toss a coin. With that said, let's hit it. We've only got time.

Rob: Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And just to reiterate on everything that Darrel's team brings to the to the picture. I mean, having a partner like them just from a quality inspection standpoint. And Darrel, it doesn't seem like you have that many projects when we coordinate and discuss with you folks. Enough can't be said for the work that they do. I'm curious how you got the URL title24.com. That's what I'm curious about. That must be a hot commodity.

Darrel: Quite honestly, in the early 80s, we went all electronic. We had three storage units full of plans, we had eight file shelves, file cabinets, three drawer file cabinets. And in the course of a year, I went from that to whatever was on our computer. We're doing email when you heard the doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo.

Rob: You're on the cutting edge and I'm always impressed when I see you guys have title24.com. That's an impressive one.

Darrel: I'm on the cutting edge. But the only problem is that I set my Alexa to answer to the word computer.

Rob: No worries, no worries.

Darrel: Oh, yeah. She's just chatting away in the background.

Rob: I'm glad she's able to--

Darrel: How to feel like Scotty when I just say, computer, blah, blah, blah.

Rob: So it's clear, Darrel. You already mentioned some of this. But yeah, there's tons of decisions throughout the entire process and oftentimes it feels like it's a little time which often builds up that stress. But hopefully, by walking through this process early on with Darrel and myself, you kind of understand what are some of those decisions that need to be made and we can get on the forefront of helping our clients and future clients hopefully make some of those decisions early on to facilitate a seamless process and project. With that said, Darrel, first thing, I guess whether it's a cabin in the woods or a modern home in the city, it seems like energy is there regardless. You mentioned it very briefly, but Title 24, can you just explain to the folks who are listening, what is title 24? I guess, start.

Darrel: Pretty easy. Back in 1978, the California Energy Commission was formed and the state made a decision to conserve energy rather than build out new coal plants or hydroelectric systems. And they just started very small and it's just as all bureaucrats do, they love to add to it. And essentially, you have to meet the code so much energy per square foot for your house whether it's a little cabin in the woods or whether it's... I just finished a 19,000 square foot house today. Well, I counted the garage in the cabana, but 12,000 square foot house. They still have to meet the energy code. So how many BTUs per square foot. And how you get there, there are 10s of 1000s of tradeoffs. And that's what we do. We look for the most cost effective and energy efficient way to achieve meeting the state code.

Rob: So, the Title 24 document is included in the building permit submission package that we submit to the city that's required as a part of the building permit package. Is it required across all cities in California at this point, Darrel?

Darrel: Every city, every county. It's statewide, it's the same rules for everybody.

Rob: Got it. So as a part of our building permit process, first step is... we have a couple other webinars to kind of talk through the whole permitting process. But we start with planning, where we're kind of going through and defining the envelope. As soon as we think of that as the skin, as soon as we get into the bones and we start to submit for a building permit application, that's where a lot of those conversations with Darrel take place. So actually, a lot of those decisions that we're going to be discussing right now are happening, as we're and when we're submitting for the building permit. Of course, things can happen after the fact but it's our job at Livio to help you and try to save you as much time as possible so that we're not having to go back and change anything and have to rehash any decisions that might have been made early on. So awesome. From the ground up, it all matters. This is obviously a critical slide. And Darrel, maybe you can just talk quickly about just kind of the importance and when it all starts and how these decisions are made

Darrel: Well, I try to encourage our architects to start literally at the tissue paper sitting down with the client and scribbling out things on tissue paper, trying to get an idea. Once they've got a good idea of what the windows are, we'll run through way early, long before you start construction drawings to tell them whether they're close to complying with Title 24. And then we talk about things like, will the duct work if you have ductwork? Will it be in the basement? Will it be between floors or will it be in the crawlspace? Where are you going to put your ducts? In the attic. And from there, we start to talk about what the options are. And I can't emphasize more how important it is to try to keep your ductwork if you have any in conditioned space where the temperature difference is minimal. An attict can get up to 140 to 150 degrees in this area. And you're running your nice cool air-conditioned air through 100.

Rob: It's working hard.

Darrel: Essentially, it's through an oven. Or you can do running it through your nice 72-degree temperature house which is where the attic would be. We encourage that. It is from the ground up. The earlier you start talking to us, the easier it becomes to make decisions down the road. And speaking of that, Rob is exactly right. If you're building, try to make all your decisions before they get the permit because when you change something in the field if you say oh my eight-foot patio door, I think I really want a -foot patio door. Well, that changes a lot. You've got to go back to the structural engineer, you've got to come back to your Title 24 guy, you've got to talk to the electrical people, you've got to go back and get an amendment to your permit. It's a nightmare and it holds you up and your frustration levels go up. Right, Rob?

Rob: It does, no doubt. I mean yeah, enough can't be said for making those decisions early on and we'll be there to guide you throughout the process but ultimately and hopefully it doesn't come across as too overwhelming but we'll go through and hopefully by the end of this presentation you'll understand why we're asking you to make some of those decisions that we are. Darrel, just one quick question. So Title 24, for layman's terms like lame people like myself, I think of it as just a scorecard or checklist. Is that a good way to think about it you're going through and depending upon different energy methods that are being used essentially different points or aggregated where and you have a target number in mind. Is that a good way to look at it, anything to add to that?

Darrel: The finish report, yeah. Once it complies and it matches the plans, it is literally a one-stop shop to see what you're doing. You can tell what your framing materials are, you can tell the spacing on the wall frame and you can tell the insulation levels, what performance levels you need for your furnace, for your water heater, for your windows. You can tell whether you have a special ventilation or any special inspections that have to go on. All in that anywhere from six to 14 pages of Title 24 report. Yeah, it's a checklist to give you an idea. It's a road map for you.

Rob: Yep, yep. And I guess one thing that's... and I'm glad that you also included this slide for us to talk about it. But where the majority of these decisions come from and what are the most important to hit on, I think this slide will help cover that a little bit. But Darrel, if you wouldn't mind walking through.

Darrel: No, I don't mind at all. The very first one believes it or not has absolutely nothing to do with our end of performance. All the electrical lighting stuff is mandated by law. The electrical contractor and the billing inspector work it out together. They've got all the forms. We used to have to do everything but now they put it all on the electrical contractor and the guy in the field doing the inspections. The rest of it though is very interesting. Your space and heating about 25% of your budget. Air conditioning up in climate zone three Palo, Alto and Menlo Park and the coast up in San Francisco about call it 30%. Air conditioning 4 or 5%. But check the last one. That very last one right here, 25% of your energy budget, 25% in water heating. And that's because most people are using storage water heaters, a tank that sits there 24/7 losing heat, losing energy all day long, all night long. Whether you're home or on vacation you're paying for water heating. So that's the takeaway there. This figure right here water heating.

Rob: Yeah. No. Absolutely. And Darrel, as far as the decision-making process, I want to reiterate for anybody who missed the very beginning but a lot of what we're going to be talking about today is catered around the San Francisco Bay area climate as well. So, depending upon what climate you're in, some of these items may change. I just want to reiterate that for anybody who might have just joined us.

Darrel: Sure. Just imagine this ratio, this little bit of air conditioning is not true in Walnut Creek and it's not true in San Jose. It's definitely true in San Francisco and Santa Cruz, on Half Moon Bay but that baby in San Jose, they're almost equal.

Rob: They're almost equal wow. Is that right? Okay. So, it's that big of a discrepancy to just climate to climate even throughout the Bay Area.

Darrel: It's climate to climate.

Rob: Got it. Understood. Well, hopefully, depending upon anywhere, I guess earlier you talked of Livio. Earlier, we can connect with Darrel, earlier we can tell you what are those important decisions based on your specific climate zone. Energy. There's a lot of conversation around. I know some folks in particular are bummed about natural gas and their maybe inability primarily to cook with natural gas. But Darrel, maybe you want to talk a little bit about where we will be getting our energy from?

Darrel: Well, it's pretty obvious we're moving away from natural gas and oil. In fact, I was just reading a couple of days ago that all the cars are going to be produced probably by 2030 or maybe as late as 2033 will all be electric so natural gas is taking a big hit on their end and it's being driven by both climate zone and politics. Climate change and politics. But you're going to either get your power from a grid like PG&E or you're going to be or maybe and going to be producing your own power. And so, some of your decisions will come down. New homes are going to have solar panels on them. Period. And I will say Rob, along with those of you who still think that gas cooking is the best, I was in that camp for the longest time. I'm now dating a woman who is a graduate of French Culinary school and she pointed out to me that all the top chefs have changed to induction cook stock tops and I'm going oh, an electric deal. And a lot of cities are now switching to saying if you're building something new, no gas connections. So, you're going have to get used to not having gas available.

Rob: That's a big one Darrel. I'm just curious of this. I know we've come across in a couple of our projects already Sunnyvale being one of them where they actually mandated us to go all electric, Palo Alto I think is another one.

Darrel: San Jose just did it

Rob: San Jose just did it as well so slowly and slowly as folks are... if you're watching this webinar now and you haven't submitted building permits, I think it's pretty safe to assume that if it's not already a mandate it'll definitely. I would imagine they might make it challenging to have it go through with natural gas. I think one challenge that we'll talk a little bit about is from the builder's perspective side of things a lot of the industry has been geared towards having natural gas available. For things like water heating, furnaces and industries starting to come around but it might mean having to look at some different options that otherwise maybe weren't uh top of the list even three years ago.

Darrel: Yeah. Exactly.

Rob: Cool. We’ll jump in onto our first agenda item I guess, batteries. And this is one that exciting especially the one that I think gained a lot more traction with the PG&E shutdowns of the grid and something that people are paying a bit more attention to. But Darrel, talk to us a little bit about batteries.

Darrel: Sure. Because new homes are going to have to have solar panels in California, you have a choice. You either do or don't do a battery or more than one battery. My feeling is personally, I'm going to build a small unit for myself and battery is going to be part of it. There's nothing like being out of power or rolling in at home at 5:00 o'clock at night and finding jeez, I forgot to stop by and get my electric vehicle charged. Oh, guess what? You've got a battery so you don't need to worry about it. Another thing too is that I just learned recently that when a battery in one of the electric vehicles hits about 70%, it's no good for a car. It doesn't have the range; it doesn't have the power to move that car the way you want it to but that 70% capacity is more than enough for homes. So, the more of us who are putting batteries, the more we can recycle those vehicle batteries into another use.

Your next car is going to be electric probably an 80% chance, my grandkids will probably only have electric cars. I would recommend a battery but it also means you have to plan well ahead. It means coordinating with the electrical guys, it means coordinating with the architect making sure that everybody knows that this is an option. And if I recall right, some of the cities require that you pre-wire four batteries--

Rob: Yeah, we had that come up in one project this far. But yeah, they definitely make you pre-wire for car chargers of course that's now a requirement. I think cities are slowly starting to ask for pre-wiring of batteries as well. I think some of that importance so everybody knows is you essentially need to create another subpanel so that you can actually choose what circuits are going to be powered by your battery. If you don't pre-wire for that, it becomes a real challenge. You're having to essentially having to do that after the fact and once drywall's up and it's always a bit more of a challenge to add those sub-panels. Even to Darrel’s point from a builder's stamp we have gone back and done retrofits to add batteries and it's invasive. It's not. Even if you're considering it, think about certainly the technology for batteries is going to continue to improve, the capacities are going to continue to improve. And yeah, at least thinking about putting in a provision like Darrel mentioned for some of those critical circuits like your appliances and maybe your water heating. It is a great idea.

Darrel: Well, this house I just mentioned that 12,000 plus square foot house included solar batteries, three solar panels, three battery banks and a 12 KV generator. His basement's four times the size of my house but what can you say?

Rob: Sure. Yeah, that of course cost considerations. It's definitely a factor still hopefully with the technology hopefully that the price comes down a bit but definitely still a consideration. And if a client adds a battery, are they able to... everything's a balancing act, if we add this, maybe we can go a little bit more lenient on the efficiency of something else. So how much does it help?

Darrel: Anywhere from 5 to 20%.

Rob: Wow.

Darrel: It's a big credit. Yeah, they call it a self... all right geez, I forget the technical term now. Anyway, you're providing your own electricity, they give you a pretty darn good credit.

Rob: Self-generation.

Darrel: Yeah, there you go. Thank.

Rob: Yep. Awesome.

Darrel: It's great.

Rob: Cool. Well, moving on to the next topic in our agenda here. So far, we're doing pretty well on time. Insulation, this is a big one and one that again I talked about retrofitting for batteries but insulation is definitely another one where relatively even lower of an initial expense to do it during the construction but almost impossible to do after the fact so Darrel, go ahead.

Darrel: Okay. Well, it's one of the two big things, that and windows. Cheap, easy, bad insulation everybody's familiar with it. Those that pretty what they what they used to say was think pink on these guys right here super easy to do. Insulation actually is nothing more than a filter air can go right through it. So sealing up your house is very important before you install the installation. And you can see here these guys have done a really good job but I have seen some nightmare jobs. In fact, I have a whole two-hour presentation just on insulation so, yeah.

Rob: I believe it.

Darrel: The next one is pretty straightforward. It's blown in insulation. They put these thin nets up and then they actually have little holes in it and they blow the insulation inside of it and it fills it all up like... it's almost like cotton candy. Just blows in and it's nice and smooth and covers everything. The wood is the least of your insulation values. Some people do16 inches on center, some will do 24 inches on center. It's a matter of your preference or your structural engineer. 2x4 are the most common 2x6 are becoming almost what everybody's doing. Rob, what do you guys do mostly? 2x4, 2x6? Or mix?

Rob: Yeah, mostly 2x6 on exterior walls and exactly to Darrel's point, not only to accommodate insulation but also making sure that we leave enough room in the walls for running any sort of plumbing or anything else that might be there.

Darrel: The next one is spray foam and there's two kinds. There's an open cell which gives you about the same insulation value per inch as the bats are blown in and then there's the closed cell which is really good. I can get an R32 on a 2x6 wall with the spray foam and the spray foam will actually air seal the house where you have to worry about manually air sealing everything, every edge on the bats. You don't do that. You just come in and this baby seals it up, it expands and you're good, you're done.

Rob: What's the difference between... you mentioned open cell and closed cell. Can you explain that?

Darrel: Sure. It's actually the density of the material. One has more air space. The open cell has larger air spaces. The closed cell is much more dense like a dense board that you would see at Home Depot or something when you buy rigid insulation, which is another way of insulating but heavy on labor. So, you don't want to mess with it and hard to do in small spaces. The last one which I've only seen three or four so far in all my years of doing this are these structurally insulated panels. They eliminate the framing as you can see it's two pieces of plywood one on either side filled with insulation and I've never had anybody use them as my client. I've just been on job sites where I've seen them. At the cost of framing materials now at what three to four times what it was a year ago. I'm wondering if I'm going to see more of these guys. They're going to look at the cost of framing material and then they're going way give me some of these.

Rob: Absolutely. And we have a webinar series about how we're using like gauge steel and I know one of the challenges with light gauge steel is the fact that it's less efficient than wood and how we go about solving for that so anybody who's curious about that, I definitely encourage you to go back and watch the light gauge steel presentation and certainly we're making a strong push towards using different materials other than wood and still doing it in a way that meets all the Title 24 requirements of course. Darrel, one thing you mentioned is R values can you explain to everybody just brief overview, what is an R value and what does it mean?

Darrel: It's a measurement of heat flow and it's so much resistance R is for the resistance. The higher the number, the better. 2x6 walls have a minimum value. In California you can't install anything less than R19. You can get that insulation at R19, you can get it at R21. If you need something more than that, you have to go to open cell. Yeah, and that's it, it's resistance to heat transfer.

Rob: Awesome. That helps. Thank you. So higher the number, the better.

Darrel: The higher the number, the better. Unlike windows.

Rob: Not like golf. It's not like golf. It's like that.

Darrel: All right, not at all like golf. Yeah, this one's easy. Where do you insulate? Everywhere. No question about it. From the stem walls, in your crawl space or your basement walls to a vented attic where you get some outside air coming through here to what I think is the best way of doing it and that's putting everything into conditioned space and putting your insulation at the underside of the roof. Yeah, you insulate everywhere. The more you insulate, the better. Period. Easy. Next client.

Rob: Darrel, I know you mentioned some of the other implications I guess of course with if you're not insulating a conditioned space and you have let's say hot water lines or ductwork running in those spaces that are unconditioned, what are the implications there and what provisions need to be put into place on those lines?

Darrel: Well, duct work in unconditioned spaces you'll take a hit on complying with the code but you're going to also want to have the ductwork can come with insulation on it. You can get up to I think about an R8 this is the biggest I've seen but it makes the ducts a lot bigger so you need to have enough space in those unconditioned areas to reasonably move the ductwork and get it through. I have another whole day seminar on ductwork. And there are some nightmares, real nightmares because they're so big and then the trusses and the framing and everything's cut up so badly that you bend and twist and block and yikes.

Rob: It's really tough. It's really tough. I'll be the first to say that especially with everybody wanting higher ceilings, modern architecture making its way into the forefront, we're having to fit a lot into a very small space. And yeah, to Darrel's point as soon as you add that installation around that ductwork, it only adds to those sizes and all of a sudden what you thought was a decent sized ceiling space to run all your ductwork and then also you have plumbing running in there and all of a sudden, you're dropping ceilings as a result which nobody, well, shouldn't say nobody the HVAC guy might like it but nobody else likes dropping ceilings.

Darrel: Well, I'm seeing a lot of people doing soffits now. I'm also seeing a lot of higher ceilings with flat attic spaces above them but the key to most of it is people are doing their HVAC design work during the architectural planning time before you send it out to the structural. You say, hey we need this much room. How you trust guys is you tell the trust people this is what we have, here's our duct layout and they work around it and then you don't have a problem when you wait until you get your building permit to do your duct design. Yeah, that's the thing.

Rob: Yep. Absolutely. Yeah, we'll take the first even on these residents in one thing at Livio that we do is, one of the benefits of having this vertically integrated process of design and build is where on a typical residential job you may not even have a mechanical design. You might show where a mechanical unit is going but as far as an actual design goes, there's some projects that if it comes to us post design, sometimes they'll have one, sometimes they won't so, where the ducts are actually running and what it's coordinated with and what it's clashing with is a whole engineering exercise that definitely the earlier, we can get involved in helping that process, the better.

Darrel: Rob, interesting enough, the energy code and the California green building code both require that the active manual [inaudible 00:48:45] and the sizing of the duct, the heat loads the location of the duct and the selection of the equipment all happen before you submit for building permit. And some cities are beginning to require... a lot of cities just kind of ignore that and say oh, when the mechanical guy comes in, he knows what he's doing. He's had years of experience; he just doesn't have any space to put his stuff.

Rob: He doesn't. No, he doesn't. And that's why we work early on with our subcontractors and even if it's not required as a part of the building permit process, we encourage to have part start putting in all the MEP systems first. So just like Darrel mentioned, we can work with a structural engineer early to make some of those decisions. All right. Next slide. This is a big one. Windows and skylight.

Darrel: I can tell your clients loudly enough pick your windows, pick your doors and don't change your mind. Just stick with it because it changes everything. I'm going to be able to tell you in your title 24 report these two numbers. The U factor which is how much heat you're losing out of it and your solar heat gain coefficient which is how much heat is coming into the house. Those two numbers play a huge factor in the performance of the house. I see home normal and I put that in air quotes. You normally see 18 to 22% glazing. Most of the custom homes I see are 30, 40, 50, and 60% glass. And that's glass to floor area. Incredible but that making sure your windows are good all the more important and because you're working in that Bay Area, the climate zone three. This number, the higher it is, the better.

If you go just into San Jose, where heating the summer heat is high. In San Jose, the opposite is true. If I tell you 0.30 is good in San Jose and you put in a 0.40, it's going to hurt. You put in a 0.29, a 0.20, well, I can't write very well with this. That's a 9. It's not going to matter because in San Jose these numbers are better. In San Jose these numbers are worse, B but in the Bay Area if I give you an answer of 0.45, and your window manufacturer says to you oh, these are much better windows, look how good the solar heat gain is 0.30. You might not comply any longer because you're losing the benefit of the heat coming in and warming your house during the predominantly cool time so there you go.

Rob: It's a really climate specific. Unfortunately, it's not a one result.

Darrel: Yeah, exactly. And by the way skylights, I’ve run some analyses to see what impacts skylights have. One square foot of skylight is equivalent to anywhere from 4 t0 6 square feet of window. So, you go oh, I'm putting in a 4 square foot skylight. Well, you might as well be putting in a 24 square foot window as far this goes.

Rob: And as far as the some of the where it falls in relation to importance on your points when completing your calculations, how much weight is given to windows and skylights?

Darrel: I would say that windows. well, again it depends on your percentage of windows. If you have a house with 30 to 40% of windows or 50% windows, it's a big consideration. If you've got 18 or 20, not so much. You want to put in a huge skylight that's going to matter. Skylight performances are nowhere near this. They're more like 0.54. Now that's 60% worse. And multiply that times the fact that they're 4 to six 6%, they're four to six times the impact. That's a bad number. So yeah, skylights can play a big part.

Rob: Awesome. Cool. HVAC. This is another important one and one that I think finally where there's more and more electric options out there that are becoming available but Darrel it will be great if you could maybe first explain what is HVAC and what are some of the options out there and what's the performance difference between them?

Darrel: Sure. Well, HVAC, Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning equipment, pretty straightforward. It's how you can move the air around your house or heat and cool it if you're interested in doing that, I hope. The old-style gas furnaces, you burn natural gas, you blow air past it and the nice warm air comes into your house. You'll find a place where the air comes back and there you go and it's a cycle. You can replace this with a heat pump and a heat pump is no more than an air conditioner that works both ways. You walk by an air conditioner in the summertime and you feel the heat coming off of it. You turn around you turn that heat back into the house in the winter time and it heats the house.

One of the things I'm seeing a lot of are these little mini split heat pumps both heating and cooling, no duct work. These go on the wall and a lot of people don't want that but there are also ducted mini splits with just-- they look normal. I'm seeing more and more and this is a very high-end option for people putting hot water. You do a heat pump and you heat your water with it. A lot of people are using a storage tank to feed the house and then the heat pump runs the water and there you go warms your floors. I'm also seeing some applications where they're using this to cool also.

Rob: That’s going to be my next question.

Darrel: I've only seen one so far where they're both heating and cooling with a hydronic system. Most of the time I see a boiler, a heat pump or and sometimes a gas spoiler but more and more heat pump matched with a heat pump air conditioner or maybe just a regular air conditioner and then you're back to ductwork again and you have that same problem we talked about earlier. I'm watching the clock.

Rob: We'll keep going. Thank you. Hot water heaters. Yeah, similarly, if you wouldn't mind jumping through that'd be great.

Darrel: I definitely can go through this quickly. Everybody's hearing about tankless water heaters. Your cold water comes in, a gas fired unit sends your hot water out. There are electric hot water heaters but in California they're a little bit behind the curve. I have never seen an electric water heater comply by code. It takes you 80 to 100 points out of compliance and you just can't make an electric water heater work whether it's instant or whether it's a storage type, can't do it. I seldom see solar although back in the 70s and 80s, our company actually was installing solar and I drove by two of the houses and they're still on the roof and they're still working. But you don't see much of that. The big thing you're going to see now are heat pump water heaters. And the little mini heat pump goes right on top and you can if you want, I've seen one model that puts this outside so it gives you a little less space being taken out and it works just like a regular water heater except your energy source is coming from a heat pump.

If you're doing a radiant floor, you can do radiant heat and domestic hot water. You can heat your house with that and then connect in your hot water going out to your showers and stuff there and that way you don't have... you saw on that previous slide where we had a heat pump and a storage tank with the combined systems, it takes up a lot less space. Yeah, right here. See there?

Rob: Yep.

Darrel: So that goes away and you just have a single unit actually technically that goes away and you only have a single unit. So that's it for water heaters.

Rob: One quick question on the heat pump. I see heat pump here right on the HVAC side of things and then I see heat pumps here on the water heating side of things. Can those units can be combined in any way? Do you know of anybody making both?

Darrel: That's the first time. I've not seen one and Rob, congratulations. That's the first question about that. I'm going to write that one down. Yeah, I don't know if anybody's doing that but you're right. There is waste heat. Yeah.

Rob: Got it. Just kind of curious. Cool. Well, again, that's constantly evolving. I know for the cities that are still allowing natural gas. We still see a lot of tankless water heaters of course because they are efficient. For those that are not allowing tankless water gears, it sounds like or sorry natural gas, sounds like heat pump is going to be likely the direction where when most options are--

Darrel: It's going to be your only choice

Rob: Yeah. Recirculation systems and hot water. This is an important one.

Darrel: It is and it's a big hit. This should actually be approximately not exactly equal to instant hot water. Essentially you add a little pump to the system, no control gets you a big penalty because the pump is running 24/7. Motion control's where when you walk into the kitchen or the bathroom, it turns on and by the time you're ready to wash your hands you've got hot water. And the other one as my friends say it's for energy geeks, walk in, push a button, wait a minute you've got hot water.

Rob: I think the challenge that you're bringing up right now is a really important one is electric tankless water heaters that are on demand water heaters. Don't calc out, right? From an energy perspective and you're using a heat pump system, that heat pump system for hot water heating has to be coupled with some control mechanism, right? Otherwise, you're running it constantly. Is that right?

Darrel: Actually, it's just like you notice your storage gas water heater goes off, comes on, and goes off. It's the same way for your heat pump water heater as long as the water's hot, it's not going to run but when it detects the water's cooled down to a certain degree, the heat pump will kick back on and warm it again.

Rob: So, the advantages of having the motion control push of a button essentially, it's just a more efficient way to heat the water when you need it.

Darrel: Exactly. Because I don't know about you guys but I'm in an old house right now and when I turn the shower on, I have time to shave, brush my teeth, read the morning newspaper, then the water shows up and all the rest of the cold water is going down the drain.

Rob: You might you mentioned an important one as far as some of the duration of how long it takes certainly design choices are critical to that right the shorter the run of that hot water inevitably more efficient it's going to be.

Darrel: And I've got a half day class on plumbing design so let's move on.

Rob: Perfect. Well, I'm going to stop there and I'm going to allow... I asked a couple questions actually that had come in during the presentation because it melded in well with the topics we were going through. I'll just remind everybody we have five minutes here at the end because I got through a few of them during the presentation but we have five minutes here any questions from the audience. You essentially have the option of asking at the Q&A bar up top. You also have the option of virtually raising your hand and I can call you from there. But let me start with the first question that I have for you here Darrel. This has to do with tankless water heaters. And this is a tough one but it's essentially asking, if you're going through the building process right now, will a tankless water heater be allowed? This is a tough one but go ahead.

Darrel: Of course, you can always put in a tankless water heater. You just can't switch to an electric tankless water heater. If you're putting in a gas storage water heater and decide I'd rather do tankless, yes. But you have to be aware that the demand for gas on this I think is about 200,000 BTUs an hour. Yeah. These are more. I don't remember these are a lot less though so you got you need to make sure your gas line from the street will service it.

Rob: Yep, and I guess the only caveat to that being the natural gas being there as another as another item.

Darrel: But if you're already building and you have a gas storage tank, yeah, you can put a tankless in. And I would do it in a heartbeat.

Rob: Another question. What's the earliest for window design? This is pertaining specifically to window and door design. Do you start by providing the values of... how does that interaction work if it's early on in the design process? When can you get involved? When's the earliest you can get involved essentially?

Darrel: I can get involved as soon as you know the rough side. You may not have made your final decision but as soon as you know what your windows are going to be size-wise, I can run the calculations and then we can play with which manufacturer, then we have all the options open to us. So really at what they call DD or design drawing stage, that's pretty much as soon as you've got a window size set, I can do it.

Rob: Awesome. Another one that just came in is folding doors. What impacts folding has obviously folding doors larger the opening but any other consideration that needs to be made.

Darrel: I see lots of nano doors going in and we treat them just like we would any other window product. They get that NFRC sticker and that's what you can play with. And if we know you want nano doors, I'll go up on their website and pull down some of the real numbers.

Rob: Got it. Makes sense. Darrel, another question. When it comes to insulation--this is a question and as pertains to different not insulation per se but actually more exterior sheathing sealing alternatives to wall sheathing and shear walls essentially. There's a couple systems out there like--I think what this is getting at is there's a couple systems out there like zip systems, where it's not exterior sheathing but you're actually sealing between the seams or maybe an exterior applied rigid insulation but Darrel I don't know if you want to speak to either of those as opposed to being on the inside cavity.

Darrel: Well, the advantage of putting and I'll just use this, if this was where your insulation was going, then all of these would be insulated on the other side you would really be isolating the wood studs from instead of putting your insulation just on the inside, the stud gets insulation on the outside and is a better performance. They can act structurally and I'm not a structural engineer and couldn't answer that part of it. But yeah, it also presents some issues though. You put in one or two inches of rigid insulation on the outside, you're then changing all the dynamics of all your openings. Your windows and your doors and how they're installed. How deep your seals are. It's doable but you have to make that decision early because the architect and everybody else needs to know how to design your windows and doors.

Rob: Absolutely. Another question that came in is, what's the requirement for solar in California?

Darrel: It varies depending on the size of the house. I've seen them as little as one and a half kw and as much as five or six. It's not so much the code requirement finding somebody who will put in any solar system less than 4 Kw is really hard. It doesn't pay commercially, financially for these small companies to come out or even the big ones to come out and put in a tiny solar system.

Rob: There's kind of those like those economies of scale I guess if you're putting in some might as well retro.

Darrel: Yeah, and I got to tell you, it used to take three days to put up solar panels on a house. It takes four hours now. The systems have changed and it's no longer a matter of labor cost which is what it used to be and now it's just a matter of roof space and panel costs and those are coming down. They're down 80% from when I first started.

Rob: Yeah, it’s huge. One other quick question asking about cost of batteries. This is an important. Darrel, I don't know how much experience you have on this one but I think we spent about $,8000 a battery is what ended up spending on our last project but I don't know Darrel if you have any other insights that you might--

Darrel: Luckily, for me I don't go out buying batteries. I just know that I hear wallets occasionally crying when they say oh, that much?

Rob: Yeah, they're not cheap like I mentioned but they're becoming more and more efficient and hopefully over time I think batteries will become more cost effective. So just to reiterate the point if you didn't catch it before maybe you put in the provisions now and you add it later.

Darrel: That's a good possibility. One thing I didn't mention, when it comes to HVAC and I should have had a slide on this. Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems are cost effective and really reduces your cost in energy heating and I apologize. I will add that Rob to the slide.

Rob: No, no, no, no. Absolutely. We're out of time now but for anybody who—I’m going to go back to the contact slide real quick. I'm going to clear your--There we go. For anybody who didn't get the opportunity to ask a question who still has something on their mind, can recommend Darrel enough for his expertise and getting involved early on in our project. Darrel's a great resource for any questions that might come up or any projects that you have upcoming that you'd like to engage Darrel on. I couldn't recommend him more and hopefully this was an informative and helpful presentation and webinar and we look forward to the opportunity of building your home for you. Thanks for allowing us to chat with you here for about an hour. And Darrel, I want to thank you again for you taking your time out of your busy schedule to inform everybody.

Darrel: You're welcome and by the way even if you're not a client and you just have a question, call me. As long as I'm not asleep, I'll answer the phone.

Rob: Awesome. Well, thank you Darrel. I appreciate your help.

Darrel: Take care.

Rob: All right. Take care. Bye.