Sustainable Design for the 21st Century

Southeast Building Conference – Orlando, Florida

by Brent Sauser


DSCN3427I attended the Southeast Building Conference (SEBC) last week.  It was held in a remote location at the cavernous Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.  The SEBC has been much larger in years past, occupying more exhibit space and more attendees.  My first impression was underwhelming.  I was expecting more.  As I walked the exhibit floor it appeared that the SEBC is DSCN3422now a means for contractors to obtain a lot of continuing education credits quickly, with a few exhibitors sprinkled around.  I did find, however, a jewel of an exhibit that I have already addressed on  I invite you to read the article to learn more about this exciting new electric tankless water heater.

DSCN3418The SEBC occurred last Thursday and Friday, but also included a special Wednesday all-day seminar on construction energy efficiency.  That was a good opportunity for me to observe how many contractors attend and how many have an interest in implementing energy saving construction practices.  It gave me an idea of how many Florida contractors are aware of building more efficiently.  I was pleased to see that the seminar was not only well attended, but the contractors were aware of current energy regulations and had DSCN3425many questions regarding pending legislation.  Several state politicians and bureaucrats were present to provide ample confusion to any issue.  They reminded me why simple issues end up in the meat-grinder of  special interests and politics.  They consume themselves in splitting the “pie” into ultra-thin slices, thinking each slice is an end in itself.  As one rather cynical state bureaucrat stated,  “The objective is NOT to solve the issue, but to leave something out to be taken care of in the next legislative session.  That way we keep our jobs.”

We listened to several worthwhile presentations that deserve mention.  The first presentation was a spur-of-the-moment decision that happened because of a scheduling error.  The subject was “Home Energy Rating”, by Tiger Adolph.  Tiger did a remarkable job to walk us through the DoE’s relatively new approach to giving an “MPG” type rating to house, in the form of a Home Energy Rating.  CLICK HERE to learn more about the DoE Home Energy Rating.  Later on was an excellent presentation by Abby Schwimmer (Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance) regarding “E2R3: Energy Efficiency in Remodels, Retrofits and Renovatioins”.  CLICK HERE for more information.  Lastly, Karen Sutherland (Florida Solar Energy Center) gave a presentation on home soft and deep retrofits.  For more information CLICK HERE.

Change 04As I was making the long walk to my car to return home, I concluded that Central Florida has a long way to go to understand the level of urgency we need to address the transition from non-renewable energy resources to sustainable renewable energy.  We are still nibbling around the edges.  Too much friction carrot-with-stickand grandstanding on each needed step and not enough focus on the urgent objective.  Time is running out where federal tax incentives will expire at the end of 2016.  After that . . . . what?  Quite possibly the DoE will eventually use the Home Rating Score to assess conformance to a government imposed determination of energy usage.  If our home energy score falls below the determined rate, perhaps we can expect to pay an energy consumption tax.  The CARROT that expires in 2016 could become the home rating STICK.   Better to be aware and plan to do something about it NOW.  We have a lot of work to do.  Let’s get going!

Category: Editorial
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