ASC Partners to Pilot Green Home Renovation Program

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Some types of sustainability are obvious—things like reusable shopping bags, super fuel-efficient cars or roof-top solar panels. Others may not be easily spotted from the street or by neighbors, but they’re a vital step in saving energy and living a more sustainable life.
Working on the Green Home
Agnes Scott College has partnered with Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL), Southface Energy Institute and Renewal System Solutions to significantly improve the energy efficiency of five houses near campus owned by the college. The houses are home to several Agnes Scott faculty and staff in Decatur.

The recently completed, energy-focused home renovations near Agnes Scott are part of a larger, 10-home metro Atlanta area project designed to improve each home’s energy consumption by 30 to 50 percent, as well as collect verifiable data on how effective these techniques could be in other homes.

“Agnes Scott is proud to partner on a project that will not only help make homes owned by the college more energy efficient but also could be used to do the same in houses all over the country,” said John Hegman, Agnes Scott’s vice president for business and finance who helped lead the project. “This partnership with Oak Ridge and Southface also has given us a model we plan to repeat with other homes owned by the college.”

Buildings currently consume 40 percent of the nation’s total primary energy and are responsible for half of all greenhouse gases emitted by the U.S., according to Southface Energy.

While the most of the changes aren’t visible from the outside, the homes have received improvements ranging from more efficient hot water heaters and new attic insulation to caulking around windows and humidity control.

Before work began this summer, each home was evaluated for energy efficiency by Southface Energy and ORNL. Problem areas were identified and Renewal, the selected contractor for the project, began work to correct each home’s specific energy challenges. Now that work is complete, a special device, called a HOBO, is tracking each of the homes’ energy use and transmitting that data to researchers at Southface and ORNL.

“Not only will we help homeowners save energy and lower their utility bills, but this work will also provide solid, verifiable evidence of how to achieve energy savings of 30 percent -50 percent,” said Roderick Jackson, buildings researcher in the ORNL’s Buildings Technologies Research and Integration Center. “Moreover, it will boost the national goal of advancing residential retrofits to save energy, create jobs and, ultimately, make homes a part of the climate solution.”

Through a partnership with the city of Decatur, Agnes Scott also will receive financial support for the project through the city’s DecaturWISE program, energy conservation rebates for Decatur home owners.

Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location—offering myriad social, cultural and experiential learning opportunities. This highly selective liberal arts college is known for its diverse and dynamic intellectual community. Through SUMMIT, it provides every student, regardless of major, with an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that develop leadership abilities and understanding of complex global dynamics.