Showing posts with label Build Green. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Build Green. Show all posts


Saving a Deck From the Landfill Part 3-

Day 4 Photos of the Structural Deck Repair- 
Installing the Handrails
Rebuilding the Lower Staircase
Simpson Strong Tie Connectors

 "Bring the Deck to Current Building Codes or Tear It Down

Part 4- Saving a Deck from the Landfill will post soon ( Power Washing and Paint Next Steps)

Day 4

  • Upper Staircase
  • Hand Rail
  • Bracing
  • Clean Up
Upper Staircase Completed

  • Simpson Strong Tie Connector for Post Beam Location
Simpson Strong Tie Connector Post Beam Location

  • Simpson Strong Tie Connector for Staircase Stringers
Strong Tie Stair Stringer Support Straps 20 ga

  • Lower Staircase
  • Hand Rails
  • Bracing
Completed Lower Staircase 

  1. All Structural Issues Passed Inspection Mar 5, 2012
  2. Power Washing and Paint Next Steps

Thank you for stopping by St Louis Renewable Energy. Feel free to comment in the section below or contact Scotty for any Home Improvement Projects or Energy Reducing Needs and Scotty, Scotts Contracting will respond ASAP. Company Web Address:


Part 4 in Weatherization Series

If you have the question:
Why is my house so Cold? Why are the walls so cold? Why are the outer rooms of my house so cold? Where are these cold air drafts coming from? Why is it costing me so much to heat my house? Why is my Heating Bill so high? How do I lower my heating bills? What are the recommended ways to lower my heating bills?

I've designed this CAD Diagram to explain how hot and cold temperature seeps into a home with 2x4 walls with 0 (zero) insulation.

You can see by the blue areas how solid materials transfer the temperature.

Standard or Minimum Code Wall Framing consisting of
Siding on Exterior of Building
1/2 in Plywood or OSB Particle Board
2x4 Framing Member Wall Stud
1/2 in Drywall or Sheet Rock

The hot/cold temperature (Blue Areas in Diagram) on the Exterior of the Building is transferred to the Interior of the Building by Conduction The simplest explanation I can use to demonstrate and explain this is too use this example:
"...when you are using a Metal Cooking Utensil to stir a pot of chili. If the utensil is left in the pot of chilli for any length of time. The heat will eventually transfer up the utensil handle and will usually burn your hand or fingers. Heat and Cold enter a Building in the same way; unless, there is some form of Insulation or Thermal Break to prevent the conduction of energy..." from article--> Part 3 How to Build and Remodel to reduce Energy Loss / Gain in Todays Modern Buildings

Now that your understand how Energy is transferred thru building materials I'll explain the various ways that Insulation:
Slows down and Reduces this form of Energy Loss in an upcoming post.

If you have any questions or comments about this article or schedule an appointment use this link to schedule a
Free Proposal on Weatherizing your Building to save money and reduce your Winter-Time Energy Bills
and Scotty, Scotts Contracting will return your Weatherization request asap.

I will save you money, Scotty

CAD Diagram courtesy of Scotty, Scotts Contracting explaining how hot and cold temperature is transferred thru building materials into your home.


How to Stop Energy Loss or Gain in a Building

How to Stop Energy Loss or Gain in a Building ~ St Louis Renewable Energy

How to Prevent Heat Loss with 4 Examples-Diagrams-Drawings for your Building Projects

In recent conversations with customers and peers about Reducing Energy Loss in Buildings / Structures and how heat and cold are transferred into a Building via Conduction. I explained and made reference to using a Metal Cooking Utensil to stir a pot of chilli.

If the utensil is left in the pot of chilli for any length of time. The heat will eventually transfer heat up the utensil handle and will usually burn your hand or fingers.

Heat and Cold enter a Building in the same way; unless, there is some form of Insulation or Thermal Break to prevent the conduction of energy.

Cooking utensil manufactures solve this issue by adding handles made of Wood, Plastic, etc.

The Building and Remodeling Industry combats this energy loss/gain in various ways. Here a few examples, diagrams, and drawings that show how this loss or gain is minimized.

When this heat/cold gain and loss is minimized you will save money on your Heating and Cooling Bills.

By renovating and building using these examples and basic design principles you will save money and reduce Global Warming / Climate Change.

  • Example 1. Adding Insulation on the exterior of the Building normally behind the exterior wall finish. This is normally used in conjunction with Insulation in the Wall Cavities.

    • Example 1 top view
      Example 1 Top View
      ISO View Example 1
      Example 1 Adding Insulation on the Exterior of Wall Framing

  • Example 2 – Staggered Wall Studs

  • 2x4 Staggered Studs to prevent Energy Loss and Gain
    Top View 2×4 Staggered Studs to Prevent Energy Loss and Gain
    2x4 Staggered Studs
    2×4 Staggered Studs Prevent Energy Loss and Gain

  • Example 3- Double Wall Construction

  • 2x4 Double Wall Construction
    2×4 Double Wall Construction to Prevent Energy Loss and Gain
    2x4 Double Wall Construction
    2×4 Double Wall Construction to Prevent Energy Loss and Gain

  • Example 4- Creating a Thermal Break by Adding Wall Channels

Thermal Break created by Wall Channels to prevent energy loss
Thermal Break created by Wall Channels to prevent energy loss
Thermal Break created by adding Wall Channels to prevent energy loss and gain
Thermal Break created by adding Wall Channels to prevent energy loss and gain
The above illustrations are just a few examples of how to prevent Energy Loss in a Building by adding: Insulation, Providing a Thermal Break, and Creating Dead Air Space. Examples 1 and 4 are used mostly in Remodeling and Renovation Projects. With examples 2 and 3 are used mainly in new construction of Buildings. For detailed information, proven scientific facts, about how energy is transferred I suggest reading the Article at Wiki on Heat Transfer at:
If you live in the St Louis Area and are interested in Saving Money on your utility bills by any of the above mentioned diagrams or illustrations I can be reached via:


Insulation, Energy Audit, and Weatherization Services for St Louis

If you are interested in Saving Money on your up-coming winter time heating costs Scotts Contracting offers: Weatherization, Insulation, and Building Maintenance Services that will save you money on your Heating Bills.

Offer is available for Residential and Commercial Buildings in the Greater St Louis Area

Scotts Contracting supplies:

Cost Effective Solutions that will save you $ Money $ on your Heating Bills.  My motto: Affordable, Experienced, and Punctual.

General Rule of Thumb for Energy Efficient Up-Grades for Buildings: For Every Dollar you spend you will save between $2-$3 Dollars on your Heating Bills.

  • $3000.00 Dollar Attic Retrofits Costs for Average 1,100 Sq. Ft. Residential Home
  • With my Preliminary Figures using a Guesstimate ($400) on your current Energy Bill and using the Dept of Energy's Estimate of 20% Savings for attic retrofits. I've determined that by Sealing your Air Leaks and Adding Insulation to the Attic the Attic Retrofit will pay for itself in 2.6 years. [ I would wager that it will be closer to 1.75-2 years with the yearly utility rate increases by Ameren UE and Laclede Gas.]
Attic Retrofit Consists of:
  1. Adding Insulation to meet the US Dept of Energy Guidelines for the St Louis Area
  2. Sealing all the Air Leaks that are allowing the Cold Air into your Building
  3. Adding Proper Ventilation
I've published many handy how to articles on Saving Money on Energy Bills if you choose to DIY or would like to research articles on Saving $Money$ on Utility Bills click here to browse these articles on my Green Blog 

Energy Audits are also available



Go green with your building project

– How to build your green building business 

In the building industry, green business is the only good news that is left for the consumers. Are you a promoter who is looking for constructing buildings and still struggling within the sluggish market conditions? Though traditional buildings may no more seem to be a hot cake anymore, you must try your luck in going green. Sustainable business firms can boost your profits as it has been said that getting into green building can certainly boost your income during tough economic times. Here are some green home building tips that you must consider if you're interested in going green with your building.

1. Do enough research: Every salesman wants to know about the most important skill that he may need in order to make extra profits. You have to make a market research so that you get to know what the actual things are that are needed in order to boost their profits. See what your competitors are doing so that you may get an idea regarding your faults and try to make your weaknesses your strengths.

2. Know what is selling in the market: The recession has got a very diverse impact on every part of the economy and you must make sure that you clearly know what are the products that are selling in the market so that you may comprehend the inabilities of the market and the according steps that you're supposed to take in order to make the most out of the market situations.

3. Specialize in the subject: When you're looking for ways to start off with green home building, you must always make sure that you specialize in this particular field so that you do not fall short of ideas that can make your building a sustainable one. You must get to know all the details that can help you with the business project and make you earn better returns.

4. Get yourself certified: After you have all the plans in your head, you need to get yourself certified and getting the Green Advantage certificate is a necessity. Remember that doing green things doesn't make your house green and thus you have to be a witty and a better builder in order to be a true green builder.

Therefore, if you're planning a sustainable home building project, make sure you follow the tips mentioned above. Every bank and financial is adopting green methods so as to save money and energy. Green building is an important way of handling your talent and using it to its best.

 Article by: Mr Peter Harper
Peter Harper
Marketing Head & Editor
Chicago, Illinois – 60607, USA
Phone :  9167458161
Skype name : peterharper99
mail :
Guest Post provided by Scotts Contracting

Energy Efficient Home Statistics for Missouri Residences

If you are considering building a 'New Energy Efficient Home' in Missouri I have some statistics-cost saving analysis that I guarantee will please your Bank Account.
A New Home Built using the International Energy Conservation Code- IECC. provides a cost effective payback on Energy Efficiency, with the average pay back time of 3 ½ years (3.5) Not bad for an initial investment of $818.72. The Missouri Pay Back-'ROI' is even faster! BCAP used a baseline for energy efficiency consisting of:
  1. Efficient Lighting and Windows,
  2. a Higher Grade of Insulation and
  3. HVAC Duct Sealing and Testing
The Missouri Statistics are:
  • $875.28 Initial Investment Returns
  • $459.00 per year with a
  • Payback under 2 years (1.91 years)
  • $459 x 20 years = $9,180.00
x 25 years = $11,475.00
x 30 years = $13,770.00
  • These Figures are based on: $267,451 for a 2,400-square foot home and a 4.14 percent mortgage interest rate
For the Future St Louis Area New Home Builders I have additional cost Saving Measures that will give you additional areas to save money without sacrificing your Comfort Levels. Email: to find out how.  With Savings like this consider adding a Renewable Energy System designed especially for your Future Property and you could possibly Eliminate ALL the Utility Bills for your Home by Generating your Own Clean Energy!

Scotts Contracting works with local building material suppliers in the St Louis Area.
Note: The Statistics used in this post were provided by: 1- and 2-

Scott's Contracting



Scotts Contracting, Updated Training Certificate-Master Insulation Certificate

Home Repair and Green Building Services-Scotty, Scott's Contracting GREEN BUILDER, St Louis 'Renewable Energy' Missouri- Find Us at:,,;
contact for additional information or to Schedule a 'Green Site Evaluation'--

Scotts Contracting Certainteed Insulation Certificate

Green Building Tips-Long Haul Durability

Green Building Priority #6 – Ensure Durability

Number 6 in my list of the top-10 green building priorities is to ensure that the home is durably built or renovated.

Posted on Oct 13 by Alex Wilson

A green home should last a long time. Living in a timber-frame home in Dummerston, Vermont that was built in 1785 and having grown up in a log home in Berwyn, Pennsylvania that was built in 1710 (three centuries ago this year), I think a lot about durability. It shocks me to realize that some of the homes being built today are designed for just a fifty-year lifespan. I feel that homes should last a minimum of 500 years. My friend (and leading building science expert) Joe Lstiburek once told me that a well-designed home today should last 1,000 years.

Creating durable homes involves a two-part effort: the first is designing it right with proper construction details; the second is selecting durable products and materials.

Use construction details that control moisture

Careful design and construction is the top priority in creating a more durable home—and often the most important issue is how we manage moisture. This is a big part of the focus of "building science." The building enclosure (walls, foundation, roof) has to be designed to a) keep moisture out, and b) allow any moisture that does get in to dry out. As we have made our homes tighter and better-insulated over the past several decades, this has become even more important. (The leaky, unheated homes our grandparents built could easily dry out because air readily flowed through the walls.)

Building science is a complex field that is evolving quickly as we learn more about moisture and air movement through buildings and building assemblies—far beyond the scope of this column. But here are some examples that will help to illustrate the concept:

  • Provide deep roof overhangs to keep moisture away from the walls and foundation.
  • Provide good drainage around the foundation, and slope the ground away from the house.
  • Always provide a "drainage plane" or "rain screen" when designing and building walls. This air space between the siding and sheathing allows siding to dry out between rain events and prevents water vapor from being driven into the wall cavity from the exterior.
  • Properly flash around windows and other wall and roof penetrations. Specialized flashing products are available to make this process a lot easier than it used to be.
  • Provide an "air barrier" in the building enclosure that blocks air flow. Experts used to suggest a "vapor barrier," but blocking airflow is more important than stopping vapor diffusion. An air barrier can still be vapor-permeable, allowing moisture to escape over time.
  • Avoid moisture sources in the home (for example, provide quiet bathroom fans that will be used while showering, install an outside-venting range hood fan, and in humid climates insulate even cold water pipes to prevent condensation).

Select durable products and materials

Along with design and construction, the products and materials we install in a home can influence durability. We focus a lot of attention on selecting green building materials (see my #8 priority). When a product has high recycled content, for example, it not only reduces the energy and environmental impacts of extracting the raw materials that would otherwise be required, but it also helps keep material out of the waste stream. In my opinion, though, it's an even higher priority to use very durable materials.

If material A will last three times as long as material B, we have three times as long to amortize the environmental impacts that were involved in producing that material. So even if material A took twice the energy to produce, our selection of that material will have a net benefit over the long term.

Fiber-cement siding, for example, costs a lot more than vinyl siding, but it should last a lot longer. The same goes with high-quality, standing-seam metal roofing or slate shingles, compared with asphalt shingles. There is usually a higher up-front cost for more durable materials, but that extra cost is repaid over the long term—both monetarily and environmentally.

Hire someone with expertise in building science

Very connected to the above two priorities, relative to durability, is to hire someone with expertise in building science. This applies equally to new construction and remodeling. It's complicated—and it's important that your designer and contractor understand what's involved in building (or remodeling) a home in a way that will keep it going strong for hundreds of years.

-- Scott's Contracting


Guest Post: Green Recycled Luxury Kitchens

On Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 2:43 PM, Mary - Green Demolitions <> wrote:

Dear Scotty,

Thank you so much for your interest in Green Demolitions.
Our president, Steve Feldman, wanted me to thank you and share about how Easy and green it is to find a recycled luxury kitchen from Green Demolitions (and get it shipped anywhere in the USA).
Here is my 10-Minute Guide from the Green Demo Blog.
With guide in hand, go to the All Kitchens List on the Home Page of the Green Demolitions website.
Click on any kitchen and all the specs will appear. 
Need more information? Call the store where the kitchen is located, or better yet go and see it (we are open 7 days a week.)
Love it and don't want to lose it? "Make a Deal" by clicking on the "Make an Offer" icon.
We can deliver it locally (price of delivery not included in kitchen price) or ship it (also not included in price) anywhere in the USA.
Love Luxury AND a great bargain? Join the Luxury Bargain Hunters Club and get the inside scoop on what's coming before everyone else does.
Buying Recycled Luxury at Green Demolitions: It's Easy and it's Green!
Please feel free to contact me anytime.
Thanks so much,
Mary Mendez
Green Demolitions
888/887-5211 ext. 107


Scott's Contracting


Pros and Cons: Asphalt Roofing vs. Metal

Product Pros and Cons: Asphalt Roofing vs. Metal

Asphalt shingles, such as these from CertainTeed, dominate new home construction and even the reroofing market because they are economical, easy to install, and last about 20 years. 
Asphalt shingles, such as these from CertainTeed, dominate new home construction and even the reroofing market because they are economical, easy to install, and last about 20 years. 
If you were to ask a sampling of production builders what is the best roofing material on the market, they're likely to tell you asphalt. The average residential architect, on the other hand, would probably say metal is the real deal. Heaven only knows what a home buyer or custom home client will choose—slate, clay, concrete—or if they'll even care.

The roof is arguably the most important surface in a home, perhaps even more essential than the exterior walls. As the most exposed plane, the roof has a mammoth task. It's under constant assault from the sun and rain, and, if leaky, could result in thousands of dollars worth of direct repair as well as ancillary damage. Still, a roof is one of those things that many consumers don't think about until there is a blizzard, hail storm, or rainstorm.

So what accounts for the discrepancy in material tastes? That builders, architects, and home buyers have opposing views of roofing material is telling, but their preferences speak to individual agendas as much as it speaks to the materials.

Most home buyers, for example, care mostly about price and don't care as much about material as long as the roof functions properly and for the foreseeable future. Production builders care about looks and function, too, but affordability is top of mind. And architects want a roof to function well, but they are concerned that it be aesthetically pleasing.

Naturally, the asphalt industry says its product is the best roofing you can buy. "Asphalt roofing is easy to find, easy to install, and easy to maintain," the Washington, D.C.-based Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association says. "It's also incredibly easy on the eye. And let's not forget, it's easy on the wallet, too!"

Indeed, asphalt is easy to install and produces a decent-looking roof, but most architects and builders say the product is popular mainly because it's economical.

Depending on the product line, shingles come with warranties lasting anywhere from 20 to 30 years, though builders in the field say the numbers are often shorter depending on the location of the country and maintenance.
The asphalt roofing industry makes a good case for its product being No. 1 because its product is No. 1. Industry estimates claim four out of five roofs are covered with asphalt, though if you drive around most subdivisions—new or established—that number seems woefully low.

Asphalt's market share notwithstanding, the metal people say their product is much better. According to the Metal Roofing Alliance in Belfair, Wash., "Longevity is one of the top reasons consumers report choosing metal roofing for their homes." The group says "metal roofing can last as long as 50 years or more, requiring very little maintenance and looking beautiful all the while."

When HUD's Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing launched the Concept Home program some years ago, the group's mission was to use the best available materials, products, and technology for the homes it builds. The group settled on metal roofing for its subsequent homes in Omaha, Neb., and Charleston, S.C., because of the looks and the longevity—benefits that architects often cite as their reason for choosing the material. They are mesmerized by the crisp, contemporary look; that it lasts forever is gravy.
But longevity and good looks come with a very high price, one that turns off even ardent admirers of metal. "I use asphalt on all my projects," says Texas-based builder Robert Aiken. "Metal is a better roof, but it costs three times as much."

So where does that leave you? The tradeoffs are not so simple. Both materials are versatile, offering a variety of looks. But is it enough to specify an asphalt roof that should last 20 years or more? Or is it worth it to pay three times as much for metal that could outlive the homeowner and the house? Considering how long the average home buyer stays in a house, the answer may be simple.
Here's a handy guide that outlines the pros and cons of asphalt versus metal roofing. Use it to evaluate the options for your customers, and let us know what you use and why.

Asphalt comes in basic three-tab products, but higher-end, laminate shingles are also available.
Asphalt comes in basic three-tab products, but higher-end, laminate shingles are also available.

Pros for Asphalt Shingles:

An accepted and proven material that builders know and trust. There's a reason so many builders use the product, and it comes down to 100 years of service in the home building industry. Plus, home buyers are comfortable with it, which is extremely important.

Economical. The low cost of asphalt is probably its biggest selling point. A basic three-tab shingle roof might set you back about $100 to $200 per square (or a 10-foot-by-10-foot area), making it ideally suited to production housing or to entry-level housing.

Easy to work with and handle. Perhaps no other roofing product is as easy to install. In some cases, a house can be done in one day by professional contractors. Even serious DIYers have been known to tackle roofing projects, though it's highly recommended that they don't because of warranty issues.

Easy to repair. As easy as asphalt is to install, it's equally easy to repair if it gets damaged.

Style options. Asphalt comes in basic offerings for the cost-conscious, but it can be ordered in fancy styles that mimic wood shakes or slate. Basic three-tab shingles dominate the category, but thicker, high-end laminates are available in many colors and with deep shadow lines.

Good performance record. Depending on the product line, asphalt shingles come with a 20- to 30-year warranty. Many are fire-rated (as high as Class A), and require minimal maintenance. Some manufacturers offer products that meet Energy Star requirements and qualify as a cool roof under federal standards, making them eligible for tax credits.

Cons for Asphalt Shingles:

Can be boring. Though snappy colors and styles are available, builders tend to select basic single-color products that have a tendency to look dull.

Susceptible to severe weather. In general, asphalt provides good uplift protection, but the product does not hold up well to severe weather such as hail. The NAHB Research Center says wind- and impact-resistant shingles are available, but they cost about 50 percent more than conventional products. Moreover, asphalt roofs that do not get adequate sunlight can be vulnerable to moss, mildew, and algae, which can shorten lifespan.

Longevity questions. Warranties on asphalt roofs are relatively high, but performance is closely tied to a well-ventilated roof deck and homeowner maintenance.

Can be heavy. While basic shingles weigh about 200 pounds per square, some laminated, textured, and higher-end architectural shingles can clock in at close to 500 pounds per square.

Nascent recycling. According to the Northeast Recycling Council, the U.S. manufactures and disposes of about 11 million tons of asphalt shingles per year. Most—about 10 million tons—is from installation scraps and tear-offs from re-roofing. Moreover, the group cites EPA studies that shingle waste makes up 8% of the total building-related waste stream. The asphalt recycling industry is still young, however, though manufacturers are developing ways to find uses for the material including pavement, new roofing, and road and ground cover, says the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.

Pros for Metal Roofing:

Lightweight. Metal is about the lightest material you can install on your roof. Though weight varies based on type, contractors and manufacturers say aluminum varies from about 50 pounds per square, while steel can be anywhere from 100 pounds to 250 pounds per square, says

Longevity. Metal offers good weather resistance and can last a long time. There are rumors of copper and zinc metal roofs in Europe lasting well over 100 years. Though this might be possible with care and maintenance, you can reasonably expect a metal roof to last about 60 years, give or take.

Long warranty. Many metal manufacturers offer limited warranties that last up to 50 years.

Stellar extreme-weather performance. Contractors say metal is excellent at preventing leaks, offers good wind resistance, and is fireproof. In fact, says the Metal Roofing Alliance, some insurance companies offer home buyers up to 30% reduction in premiums for weather-resistant metal roofs .

Environmentally friendly. One of the most energy-efficient roofing materials, metal reflects heat and helps keep houses cooler in the summer. Plus, the product often contains high, recycled content and is itself recyclable.

Cons for Metal Roofing:

Very expensive. Metal's biggest drawback is the cost. Though manufacturers say prices have come down, metal, on average, costs three times as much as asphalt. Pricier metals such as stainless steel, copper, and zinc can cost way more.

Can have a harsh appearance. Metal has a long history on barns and agricultural buildings, but for those who aren't familiar with this look, it can be harsh in a residential subdivision.
    Scotty, Scotts Contracting-- I have to chime in here: I don't agree with the Authors choice of words 'Harsh' "Metal Roofs come in every type of Designers Choice and Style and can mimic the "Look" of: Slate, Tile, Asphalt, etc.  They also come in every color in the Color Wheel and in some applications Custom Colors can be Ordered, with most manufacturers Guarantying the Color for 20 years.  The new metal roofing products when installed correctly can mimic any type of Asphalt Roofing materials; therefore, "A Home with a Metal Roof can blend in any Neighborhood".] 

    CLICK HERE to Email Scotty, with Scotts Contracting for any additional Comments, Questions, or for a Green Proposal for your next Roofing Project.

    Extreme expansion and contraction. Critics contend that some metal roofs expand and contract quite a bit, which compromises their long-term performance and their ability to remain water tight. This is often a function of the installation.

    Past failures and perception issues. Architects say there was a time when basic corrugated metal roofs corroded in 10 years or less. In some seaside applications, rust on some roofs is visible. Most products today, however, are made with alloys and specialized resin paints that can handle salt spray, extreme heat, and heavy precipitation without issue, the industry says.

    Product selection is important for good performance. Though high-performing materials such as stainless steel, copper, and zinc are available, low-end steel products are still available. Architects advise against low-grade metals that are thinner and less durable, especially near seaside locations.Article by: Nigel F. Maynard is a senior editor for Builder magazine.

    CLICK HERE to Email Scotty, with Scotts Contracting for any additional Comments, Questions, or for a Green Proposal for your next Roofing

    • I have a local recycling source for Asphalt Shingles. 
    • Tamko- Roofing Supply Manufacturer I consider a Local Company (within 300 miles)
    Scott's Contracting


    Insulation-If Walls Could Talk Part 1

    If Walls Could Talk

    Insulation: A tougher code necessitates more remodeling training

    Roofing & Insulation
    Credit Available30% of cost (product only, no labor)
    $1,500 maximum for all improvements combined
    TimelineMust be "placed in service" (ready and available for use)
    Jan. 1, 2009 – Dec. 31, 2010
    Metal and Asphalt RoofsEnergy Star–qualified
    InsulationMeets 2009 IECC & Amendments
    Must be expected to last five years or have a two-year warranty
    Primary purpose must be to insulate. As of May 31, 2009, IRS has not ruled on SIPs or insulated siding, but it is believed that SIPs are eligible
    Provided by Scotts Contracting 

    Dollar for dollar, insulation and weatherization deliver more bang for their energy-efficiency buck than almost any home improvement. Happily for manufacturers and installers, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's $1,500 tax credit can be applied, in theory, to a broad array of materials and methods — batts, spray foam, loose-fill; wraps, sealants, tapes, and flashing; even structural insulated panels — that are primarily designed to reduce the heat loss or gain of the nation's estimated 80 million underinsulated homes.
    On its surface, the insulation provision is simple: Homeowners can take a tax credit of 30% of the cost of materials only, to a maximum of $1,500, for insulation work performed this year and next. That's triple the credit available since 2005. The sum of the resulting "insulation material used in layers" must meet the R-values prescribed by the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

    "We think the recovery bill is a great opportunity to move forward" toward a more energy-efficient housing stock, says Gary Nieman, vice president of government policy initiatives at Owens Corning, feature one of several insulation manufacturers that were interviewed for this article.

    Guardian Building Products' "customer base has expressed heavy interest in several areas of the ARRA," says Aaron Hock, national sales manager.
    Code of Conduct

    More on the Building Envelope

    Things start to get sticky with the IECC. Published by the International Code Council (ICC) and based on goals set by the U.S. Department of Energy, the 2009 IECC will produce 15% in energy-efficiency gains over the 2006 version, according to the DOE. (To purchase the 2009 IECC, go to

    Regarding insulation, the 2009 IECC is considerably tougher than the previous version, particularly in colder parts of the country, where R-values (thermal resistance) are now as high as 21 for wood frame walls, 38 for floors, and 49 for ceilings and attics. "The new code requirements make it tough for builders to do things as usual and still meet the code," says Bob Burgess, president of Accurate Insulation, in Upper Marlboro, Md., whose 65 installers work all over the mid-Atlantic region. This is especially true in remodeling, when insulation is sometimes compressed into small cavities, potentially compromising R-value.

    Numerous products meet the specified R-values, including fiberglass and cotton batt insulation with ratings of R-21 or higher that can be installed in a 2x6-framed wall cavity, plus several loose-fill products using fiberglass, cellulose, or other materials that can be installed behind netting in open framing or used to fill cavities in existing walls.

    Such products likely won't be as inexpensive as the old mainstays, however, or necessarily prove as easy to find, at least based on a few calls to building supply retailers.

    In some cases, in fact, meeting the prescribed R-values becomes almost cost-prohibitive. Ironically, it may even deter homeowners from choosing what many green remodeling advocates believe are the best (but most expensive) insulating products: water-based spray foams that expand to fill gaps and holes.

    "They're speaking batt language," says Laura Calfayan of Calfayan Construction and AirTight SprayFoam of Southeastern PA, in Huntingdon Valley. "If I were to spray R-38, I'm literally forcing people to spend more than they need to," she says, to achieve the same comfort effects that can be achieved with 2 inches of AirTight's water-based, closed-cell foam, whose continuous air barrier reduces energy use beyond its stated R-value of 7 per inch.

    Even so, business is up for spray foam companies. An Icynene product, for example, has a 3.7-per-inch R-value, allowing 2x6 walls insulated with it to meet the 2009 IECC in zones that require R-20.
    By mid-April, downloads of the Icynene manufacturer's certification statement (needed for tax documentation purposes) had risen by 68% since January, according to Teresa Crosato, the company's marketing communications supervisor.

    If homeowners must dig a bit deeper at the point of sale, that's the price of progress, says Darren Meyers, technical director of energy programs with the ICC. "[The 2009 IECC] is a paradigm shift because the nation and the home-building community have not understood how far behind our construction practices are. We've never had a call to action [to be very energy efficient]," he says. The DOE's goals, and the resulting code, are the call to action.

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