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Energy and Our Homes

Henry MacLean

This year Sustainable Milton (SM) is proud to launch a series of presentations entitled Green Home Conversations 2019, focused on our homes in town which account for 56 % of our CO2 emissions from Milton, and over 80 % from our town’s real estate. This four part series is featuring four Milton architects presenting various aspects of greening our existing and new homes, from the level of simple renovations to homes that depend entirely on renewable energy. Each session will be outlining detailed practical steps in design and construction that homeowners can engage to enhance the value of their homes. The SM committee working on this effort over the last few months includes Louie Pierro, Tucker Smith, Daryl Warner and Michael Blutt, who will join the presenters Joseph Kennard, JB Clancy, Thomas Piatt and Henry MacLean for open panel discussions to follow. We will dive into the details of how the return on investment from insulating to installing solar panels competes with even aggressive investment strategies. Saving energy and money while increasing home comfort, also slows down the warming of the planet, a win-win-win scenario for all. It can also be seen as taking out an extended insurance policy for the next generation. While the average car efficiency is measured in miles per gallon (now 24.7 in the US in 2018), energy efficiency in buildings is measured in BTU’s, per square foot, per year.One BTU equals the heat of a typical kitchen match, and the figure is tallied per 1,000, as KBTU/ SF/YR. That average number, also called the energy utilization rate or index (EUI) is calculated for every climatic region. In the greater Boston area, the average existing home uses about 72,000, or 72 K BTU/ SF/YR.Homeowners can readily determine their own EUI by converting their gas and electric meter readings to BTU’s, then dividing by the square feet of the floor area of their homes that is heated or cooled. Signing up for a Mass Save no costs home energy assessment is the best starting point  to reduce your energy use by up to 15%, while making your home more comfortable. New homes built today must comply with the 2015 International Code Council (ICC), requiring higher levels of insulation and efficiency standards for mechanical systems, as well as what is called a Home Energy Rating System(HERS) index. This nationally recognized system for determining energy performance was introduced in 2006 and has become are cognized adder in the real estate market, with over 2 million US homes now rated. A house built to the new code will score 100, while a typical existing home of 72 K BTU/ SF/YR that will get a HERS score of 130. In this  upcoming series, as we delve into the particulars of greening our homes, we will keep a focus on the larger context of climate change that pushes this conversation. We are proud to be here in Massachusetts, which continues to hold the #1 state rank in the country on energy efficiency it has held since 2011. That was the year Milton joined the DOER’s Green Communities Program, now with 70% of this state’s towns and cities similarly designated. These have been critical steps in preparing the pathway to transition to 100% renewable energy for our homes and communities. All of us at Sustainable Milton are grateful to be part of the larger state wide teams working towards a net zero energy world. The third presentation, led by architect JB Clancy, will take place on Wednesday, September 18 at 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Milton Public Library.



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