Avian influenza can’t make humans sick, but it has driven the cost of eggs up and will result in consumers paying more for their holiday turkeys. Avian flu has affected 21 states and 48 million birds to date since the discovery of the current outbreak of the disease on North American shores in December 2014. Commercial and backyard poultry in Georgia have gone untouched so far, but the state’s agriculture industry is preparing for the potential arrival of the pathogen.There have been no cases of human infection by birds because the H5N2 strain of the virus is not zoonotic, meaning it cannot pass between humans and animals. (Zoonotic avian influenza, also referred to as “bird flu,” can be transmitted from birds to humans.)Strictly an animal health issue and not a food safety or public health issue, avian flu still impacts consumers, especially those who enjoy eating eggs. The price of eggs has increased this year because the U.S. egg-layer industry has lost 10 percent of its average inventory to the disease. The U.S. turkey industry has lost 7.45 percent of its average inventory. As a result, consumers can expect higher prices for this year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys.Commercially produced poultry is tested for avian flu in the U.S. prior to being processed, so poultry products are safe to eat.Agriculture is the largest segment of Georgia’s economy, and the poultry industry tops the commodity list. Georgia’s poultry/egg industry contributes an estimated $28 billion annually and supports nearly 109,000 jobs in the state. Believed to have originated in Asia and spread through wild waterfowl to northern North America, avian flu has been spread across the U.S. by migrating birds.The virus cannot survive above 65 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 10 days, which helps to safeguard Georgia poultry. However, as birds begin migrating south this fall, Georgia will become more susceptible. Before now, the disease has been concentrated in the Pacific Northwest and upper Midwest. While Georgia’s commercial poultry industry has the greatest risk in terms of potential for loss, it also has multiple safeguards in place and limits commercial birds’ exposure to migratory birds. However, avian flu can easily be introduced into Georgia through backyard chicken flocks. For more information on avian flu, call the Georgia Department of Agriculture at (404) 656-3667 or see the UGA Extension website at extension.uga.edu/topics/poultry/avian-flu.For information on keeping backyard poultry flocks healthy, contact your local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent or read UGA Extension publications at extension.uga.edu/publications.
Christa DietzenIndoor VolleyballHopewellMiddle Blocker Katelyn FalgowskiField HockeyLandenbergMidfielder Amanda PolkRowingPittsburghWomen’s Eight Taylor Ellis-WatsonTrack and FieldPhiladelphia4x400m Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf Morgan CraftShootingMuncy ValleySkeet Glenn OchalRowingPhiladelphiaMen’s Eight Name Nia AliTrack and FieldPhiladelphia100m Hurdles Josh RichmondShootingHillsgroveDouble Trap Jackie BriggsField HockeyRobesoniaGoalkeeper 31 Hometown Athletes Making PA Proud in the Rio Olympics By: Governor Tom Wolf Jill WitmerField HockeyLancasterStriker Hometown Phillip DuttonEquestrianWest GroveEventing Boyd MartinEquestrianCochranvilleEventing SHARE TWEET Katie ReinprechtField HockeyPerkasieMidfielder Tyler NaseRowingPhoenixvilleLightweight Men’s Four Kelsey KolojejchickField HockeyLarksvilleSriker The Blog This week, 31 Pennsylvanians will be headed to Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics and we couldn’t be prouder. Out of all the states, Pennsylvania is sending the 4th most athletes to Rio. Their achievements are a shining example of what we can achieve with hard work and dedication. On behalf of all Pennsylvanians, I would like to thank each and every athlete for making us proud and wish them the best of luck.Check out a list of the talented athletes that will be representing our great commonwealth at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio: Event/Position/Class Joe KovacsTrack and FieldNazarethShot Put Bobby LeaCyclingToptonOmnium Meghan KlingenbergSoccerPittsburghDefenseman Kyle LowryBasketballPhiladelphiaGuard Hali FlickingerSwimmingSpring Grove200m Fly Kathleen SharkeyField HockeyMoosicStriker Matt BaranoskiCyclingPerkasieKeirin Julia ReinprechtField HockeyPerkasieDefender Lauren CrandallField HockeyDoylestownDefender Alyssa ManleyField HockeyLititzDefender Katie BamField HockeyBlue BellStriker Cierra RungeSwimmingCochranville4x200m Free Darrell HillTrack and FieldDarbyShot put Casey EichfeldCanoeDrumsC1/C2 Ajeé WilsonTrack and FieldPhiladelphia800m Sport August 05, 2016 Leah SmithSwimmingPittsburgh400m Free, 800m Free, 4x200m Free SHARE Email Facebook Twitter
“I believe typhoon Ursula in Decemberlast year has brought the presence of fall armyworm in my farm. The BPI hasalready provided me with some sprays. If left unchecked, this could propagateto vegetables and even palays,”he said. KALIBO, Aklan – A sweet corn farmer in thistown aired his concern about the presence of fall armyworms that could damagethe agricultural products in the province. The BPI personnel who visited Cesar’splace came from DA’s regional office in Iloilo. Cesar said they will study howto effectively eradicate the presence of fall armyworm here. Farmer Nestor Cesar shows sweet corn leaves partly eaten by fall armyworms at his farm in Barangay Mobo, Kalibo Aklan. JUN AGUIRRE/PN Nestor Cesar, a corn farmer thatcurrently manages his seven hectares of farmlands in Barangay Mobo here, saidthat personnel of the Bureau of Plants and Industry (BPI), a government agencyunder the Department of Agriculture (DA) already visited his farm and confirmedthe presence of the armyworms. The fall armyworm is a species thatfalls in the order of Lepidoptera (order of insects that includes butterfliesand moths) and is the larval life stage of a fall armyworm moth. The term“armyworm” can refer to several species, often describing thelarge-scale invasive behavior of the species’ larval stage./PN
A British tabloid has faced fierce criticism from a popular Arranmore resident after claiming the Donegal Island was “anti-British” following a recent campaign launched by the Islanders. In a recent Daily Mail article, Associate Global Editor, Jake Wallis Simons, branded the island as ‘a tiny outcrop off the Irish coast’ before going on to say how Arranmore ‘snubbed’ the British and ‘begged’ Americans to move there.It comes following an open invite to attract more residents to visit and work on the island. Arranmore is home to 469 people and measures just five by three miles.But it recently acquired uncontested 100MB high-speed internet to make it an attractive destination for remote workers to come and visit.Originally, calling out to the people of the United States and Australia, the Islanders, according to the journalist, have ‘upset their nearest neighbours Britain’ by failing to extend the invite to them.However, Islanders say the letter has spiralled beyond their control and the lack of invite for Britain was only ‘an oversight’. One of the authors of the letter told MailOnline: “We can’t handle new arrivals and I’m sure that many of them couldn’t handle island life, especially in winter.”“We never meant for them to move to Arranmore.‘”it’s not that they’re not welcome, but there just isn’t the infrastructure. We only meant for them to come visit.”An open letter issued to Australia from Arranmore IslandMeanwhile, one popular resident, Jerry Early, has already made his disdain known towards the article.Speaking after it was published, Early, who owns Early’s Bar on the island, said the tabloid was ‘bang out of order’. He said: “Somehow this journalist made out that the people of Arranmore were/are anti-English, this could be no further from the truth.“And if (this) goes unchecked then perhaps it could be construed as being the case.“The fact is, every other newspaper, radio, and TV station that reported this story has reported it in a positive light, yet the Daily Mail put their own slant on this story that is neither accurate or fair,” he added. “Adrian Begley and Seamus Bonner are two men of the highest standing and have the full support of Arranmore Islanders home and abroad in their endeavours to address the population decline on the Island. “Some may say that when the media is used to gain positive publicity then it’s fair game to put a negative slant on a story but when the story is full of lies and inaccuracies then it’s wrong,” Early said. “Arranmore Island has a proud history of welcoming visitors and residents from all over the world. “The Daily Mail is bang out of order in my opinion.”British tabloid slammed by Arranmore resident for branding the island ‘anti-British’ was last modified: June 24th, 2019 by Shaun KeenanShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)
CLICK HERE if you are having a problem viewing the photos on a mobile deviceSANTA CLARA – Tom Brady tore the ACL in his left knee in 2008 – against the Kansas City Chiefs.Jimmy Garoppolo tore the ACL in his left knee Sunday – against the Kansas City Chiefs. Garoppolo, through his previous 3 1/2 seasons at New England, saw first-hand how well Brady recovered and recaptured elite form. Now it will be Garoppolo trying to follow Brady’s lead once again after an injury that’s floored …
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest For thousands of years, farmers have used cover crops to help manage pests, reduce weeds, improve rainfall capture and enrich soil health. In addition to all of those benefits, today, there is renewed interest in using cover crops as a modern farming practice to help reduce carbon emissions.“Cover crops have been somewhat limited in adoption with about 3% of farmers utilizing them, but we are seeing a lot of interest these days,” said Mike Lohuis, Monsanto’s Director of Ag Environmental Strategy. “It’s not easy for a farmer to go from not using cover crops to full adoption so I think the practice is something that farmers want to try out on some of the more challenging acres of their farm.”Interest in cover crops are growing more rapidly in parts of Ohio and Indiana because of nutrient management issues, in Kentucky to mitigate soil erosion and in the Chesapeake Bay region where incentives were put in place to promote cover crop adoption. Lohuis says that getting started with the implementation of cover crops should utilize a crawl before you run mentality and he recommends using local knowledge and expertise, such as universities, government agencies and seed companies to find out what the correct cover crop to use for a particular situation and set long-term goals for using cover crops.Another reason for an uptick in cover crop interest today is their possible role in reducing carbon emissions.“A recent study by ICF International showed that cover crops have a very large potential with over 100 million metric tons of carbon emission reduction attainable across the U.S. agriculture system,” Lohuis said. “That could mean somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 kilograms to over a ton of greenhouse gas reduction per acre per year.”One way that Monsanto is hoping to expand the interest in cover crop use is with the Soil Health Partnership, which is a joint venture project with the National Corn Growers Association. The ultimate goal of the Soil Health Partnership is to measure and communicate the economic and environmental benefits of different soil management strategies, and provide a set of regionally specific, data‑driven recommendations that farmers can use to improve the productivity and sustainability of their farms.“This program is incredibly important to demonstrating the use of cover crops, reduced tillage or no-till on actual farms,” Lohuis said. “The participating farmers can see first-hand, the actual results with soil conditions, what happens to water quality and what happens to the bottom line.”That concept is being put into action in Northwest Ohio on the farm of Ryan Sanders in Edon, who has been using cover crops in one form or another for about eight years.“The Soil Health Partnership is a long-term commitment on our end as we will test cover crops and their impact on the soil versus no cover crops,” Sanders said. “We have those strip trials broken out into several different zones and plan to be a part of the project for five years and maybe longer.”The unique aspect of these cover crop trials being done inside of a real farm scenario makes it easier for nearby farmers who are curious about the practice to ask questions to their peers and get real results and data.“Everyday someone will ask me what I am getting out of the use of cover crops,” Sanders said. “My answer is that planting them does come at a cost and using cover crops has to be worth more than just the feel good aspect of bettering your soils, so at the end of the day it has to earn more bushels too.”One of the main reasons that Sanders got involved with the Soil Health Partnership is that it will turn all of his data into yield data on his strips and really show what the long-term impacts will be environmentally and economically.“The partnership allowed us to set up our trials the way that would work best for our farm and we took the simple is better approach,” Sanders said. “The program has created a really nice network of farmers and has also involved some heavy hitters that are looking deeper into the sustainability and soil health as a piece of the puzzle.”Being a part of the Soil Health Partnership also puts farmers like Sanders on the front line of the cover crop conversations as he shares how he does, why he does it and the results he is seeing from their use. It also gives him a platform to share his advice to farmers who are looking into starting a cover crop regimen.“The first piece of advice I would give is to have patience and flexibility,” Sanders said. “I don’t want to claim to be an expert because I am not. I have gained my knowledge by using cover crops on my own farm, by going to the same meetings as many other farmers to learn more about cover crops and by always visiting with those that are experts to glean more information every chance I get.”Figuring out how cover crops will work with everything from your herbicide programs to your fertility programs is key and Sanders says that the first thing farmers need before starting a cover crop program is an open mind.“You’re not going to be successful if you just put out 20 acres of radishes and don’t see any immediate results because we’re talking about building soils that have been farmed for decades,” Sanders said. “Farmers have always had a long-term vision and I think that is why a cover crop system will work for many of the folks ready to give them a shot.”
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomistLake Erie wasn’t as bad as expected this year with harmful algal bloom severity coming in below expectations — at a 4 when it was predicted at 6. I have seen several remarks as to why. It wasn’t due to reduced nitrogen or phosphorus flowing into the lake, it was due to windy conditions this summer.But we are under a pending distressed watershed order for eight watersheds in northwest Ohio. We will see what happens next February when the Soil and Water Conservation Commission meets again.For the rest of Ohio outside of the Lake Erie Watershed, the area of concern is the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA-supported scientists have determined that this year’s Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” — an area of low oxygen that can kill fish and marine life — is approximately 2,720 square miles, an area about the size of Delaware. This summer’s dead zone size is the fourth smallest area mapped since 1985 and is smaller than the 5,780 square miles forecast by NOAA in June. It is much smaller than the record setting size in 2017 that hit 8,776 square miles. Researchers said the same thing for the Gulf that was said for Lake Erie, strong westerly winds reduced the size of the dead zone.We at OSU will continue our efforts to share with producers and consulting agronomists how to reduce the water quality concerns for both northern and southern Ohio. I think there are new tools that we can put in place to start movement towards reducing nutrient loss to our waters. They are:The updated Tri-State Fertilizer recommendations, data is being shared now for the Ohio portion and it is hoped to be published in late winter next year: https://soilfertility.osu.edu.The updated Phosphorus Risk Index for Ohio. This should also be out by the first of the year. This looks like a neat tool that lets us do some comparisons to show how changing management practices can reduce P loss: https://nutrientmanagement.osu.edu.Application risk management tools. There are a couple of these to help you plan when a fertilizer or manure application is suggested including the Ohio Applicator Forecast (from ODA) https://www.agri.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/oda/divisions/plant-health/resources/ohio-applicator-forecast and the OSU Field Application Resource Monitor (F.A.R.M.) that can give present (and past) forecasts https://farm.bpcrc.osu.edu.
The status quo of newly constructed homes here in America is, well, disappointing. Despite some strong market-transforming rating systems (such as LEED, Energy Star, Passivhaus, etc.), the classic American home is still being designed and built exactly as it was 20, 30, or even 40 years ago. Why?There’s a few reasons, the biggest of which is market demand. People buy what’s on the market, and builders build what sells. The only ones pushing the market are those few who are willing to go the extra distance, and do that extra homework to make their projects substantially better. This is actually a very small percentage of those building or buying a new home.The second biggest reason is that these rating systems often put builders and designers at arm’s length. Let’s be honest: there’s a lot of work involved with these systems. For example, LEED requires substantial fees and administrative work. Passivhaus requires rigorous energy modeling and detailing that sometimes is not the most cost-effective approach (buying $6,000 worth of added insulation to save the amount of energy that one more $400 solar panel would provide, for example). This is where the “Pretty Good House” concept comes into play. This topic has been covered before here at GBA. (Be sure to check out the links on the sidebar to the left.) But it is an evolving, living concept. The linked articles trace the evolution of the idea and its transformation into a set of guidelines that are still being honed. It’s even become a “coloring book.” That’s right: Helen Watts, a structural engineer who is a regular at our building science discussion group, has put together a graphic handbook.The concept is still evolving. In this podcast, Phil and I pour ourselves a cocktail and give you an update on where the idea is today.The Highlights:Origins: Hear the story of how Dan Kolbert, a builder frustrated with LEED and Passivhaus, simply states, “I just want to build a pretty good house,” and asks the question, “What does that look like?”What is the Pretty Good House? It’s not a rating system; it’s a set of guidelines.Considerations: The designer of a pretty good house needs to consider many different issues and may handle each in a way that is right for a particular homeowner. These issues include:Design: Size, orientation, and aesthetics.Climate: Know your climate and design to it.Envelope: Insulation and air-sealing.We’ll pick up the conversation later in Part 2, when Phil and I will discuss other design considerations such as materials, mechanicals, electrical consumption, verification, and return on investment.Thanks for listening. Cheers. Subscribe to Green Architects’ Lounge on iTunes— you’ll never miss a show, and it’s free! An Update on the Pretty Good House — Part 2Pretty Good HouseThe Pretty Good House, Part 2Martin’s Pretty Good House ManifestoIs the Pretty Good House the Next Big Thing?Is the Pretty Good house the Next Big Thing? Part 2The Pretty Good House: A Better Building StandardPODCAST: How to Choose the Right Mechanical SystemPODCAST: Net Zero Energy Homes: Part 1 TRANSCRIPTChris: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Green Architects’ Lounge podcast. I’m your host, Chris Briley.Phil: And I’m your host, Phil Kaplan. Hi Chris.Chris: Hi Phil. How’re you doin’, man?Phil: I am doing excellent this evening.Chris: Excellent. It’s been a while since we’ve been on the air.Phil: It’s true. What are we going to talk about today, Chris? I know, but… a little softball for you…Chris: Thanks. I’m going to try to hit this one. We are going to talk about the “pretty good house.” It’s a phrase that’s become its own thing, and it’s not that well defined out there. Mike Maines has a great blog on it. You can Google it; you can put it in the search bar up there on Green Building Advisor and you’ll get a few hits. But we’ve decided it’s time to really talk about it on our podcast, especially because it was in the New York Times – sort of – within a conversation about Passivhaus.Phil: Yeah. It was really nice that Martin Holladay – our very own Martin Holladay – was interviewed by the New York Times, and was asked about Passivhaus – I don’t know how the Passivhaus folks feel about it, but… – he talked about Passivhaus and said, “It’s interesting, but not right for everybody…”Chris: Maybe not the most cost-effective approach…Phil: “… but you know what is really good? Have you heard of the Pretty Good House?”Chris: Yeah. And that was a “Wow!” And then (if you were reading the New York Times article online) you click on “Pretty Good House” and – Boom! – it goes to Green Building Advisor and there’s Dan Kolbert at the blackboard at the Maine Green Building Supply, at one of the building science discussion groups that we have here in Maine.Phil: One of the interesting things about the Pretty Good House is that it’s got this elusive nature that is really kind of wonderful. People have talked about it for a long time, have referenced it – John Straube was talking about it when we interviewed him several episodes ago – and yet, when you look online about “Pretty Good House,” there’s not a lot there.Chris: That’s right. In fact, its non-defined nature and its elusiveness are probably its best assets.Phil: Right. Are we going to screw that up and define it?Chris: Yeah, probably.Phil: But that’s one of the things you’re working on, isn’t it, Chris?Chris: When you say, “me” … I’ll let the cat out of the bag: there’s a book in the works. And there’s no one true author. And it might all fall apart and not happen – but, I have a feeling it will. It’s going to pull in a lot of resources and bring in a lot of names of a lot of people that everyone’s heard of and it’s going to have a lot of contributors and no one person’s going to get rich off of this thing. It’s going to be one of those books that’s going to hopefully hit a lot of shelves and act as a reference and a guide.Phil: It sounds pretty good to me.Chris: Alright. Well, I hope so.[The guys jaw about this episode’s cocktail.]Phil: Tell me about the origins of this.Chris: Alright, that’s a great start. As many of you know, here in southern Maine we have a building science discussion group. Every month we get together – I know, it sounds boring, but it’s not, it really isn’t.Phil: It’s a lot of fun.Chris: It is! There are no name tags – most of us know each other by now; we’re all building professionals. Honestly, there are no clients there, so we’re allowed to make mistakes; we’re allowed to ridicule each other and tease each other. It’s a great atmosphere: there’s food and there’s booze. If clients come, they’re warned, “This is not…” (I’ve had Roger Normand there, he’s a client of mine…) As soon as you have an architect saying, “I know exactly what…” No; no; no. The second you think you know something, that’s when life hands you humble pie. And then you eat it. And then you move on. I’ve had my share.In one of the discussion groups, Dan Kolbert – who is a builder and the lead moderator (I’m his understudy when he’s not there, so every once in a while I get to moderate) – almost as a joke, he said, “Imagine a builder frustrated with LEED and Passivhaus.” And, like Martin’s comments, “Passivhaus is not for everybody. It’s like summiting a mountain. Not everyone likes to go all the way to the top of Mount Everest – or can. There’s a point at which – I’m going to diverge a little bit, but I think Roger would be fine with this – the Passivhaus that I worked on, we found ourselves spending about a week tweaking windows. We were looking for 6 BTUs per square foot per year. So we were fussing and fussing and moving things around and Marc Rosenbaum just said, “You realize we’re talking about the equivalent of $6 a year in kilowatt hours.” (Maybe I have that wrong, but it was such a small amount.) Wow! One more solar panel, and we could all just shut up and stop!For the amount he spent on consultants muscling out this last little thing – tweaking the design – he could have bought one more panel and done it. Or not done it, but generate the equivalent amount of energy. It’s that point that Martin always makes about Passivhaus: there’s a certain point where you are no longer doing the most cost-effective thing, but you are doing the purest thing where you are reducing demand – it is the shell; it is energy demand, and that’s what Passivhaus is about, not generation. Alright; small diversion.So, imagine Dan doing LEED. His house is way greener than a LEED-whatever house. It’s just ultra-green. And it almost feels silly to be working so hard to do the paperwork that you send in to LEED – I’m not bashing LEED. Maybe I am, but…Phil: Right. There’s this crazy rigor to both LEED and Passivhaus.Chris: Exactly. And especially, when in the case of LEED: is the paperwork changing your house? Is it modifying it? In this case – no, it’s not. It’s not adding or contributing, it’s just giving you a third-party certification.Phil: Right. If you’re doing this anyway…Chris: So, at this particular building science discussion group, he said, “I just want to build a pretty good house. What does a pretty good house look like?” It’s a statement about the status quo. There’s a lot of crap out there, Phil. I don’t know if you’ve gone outside our circle…Phil: Yeah, I’ve smelled it.Chris: Yeah. Phew! Oh man – I mean, you see some of these houses that are being built in some of these subdivisions and you’re like…Phil: It’s painful! And I want to yell at these people, “Don’t you realize what you’re doing? These houses are going to be obsolete in a few years.”Chris: Right! “And aren’t you embarrassed?” And it’s not like they’re intentionally going out and… They’re building what sells, and that’s why they’re doing it. People are buying what’s offered – which is that.Chris: So we started this discussion with, “What should the status quo be? What should a pretty good house be?” And it’s a bit of a trick, because the pretty good house is actually a damn good house.Phil: It’s a damn good house! Yeah. I remember making the list on the chalkboard. What does that mean, to be “pretty good”?Chris: It turns out, it needs to be really darned good – a cost-effective bang for the buck, a really good house. I mean, smart!Phil: Right. “Pretty good”: when I first heard it, it’s got this pejorative smack on it.Chris: Yeah. I told my wife we’re writing a book, “The Pretty Good House,” and she said, “Well, that doesn’t sound very ambitious at all. You’re setting the bar kind of low, aren’t you? Who’s going to buy that?”What it is… it’s not really standards; it’s guidelines. When you’re doing a pretty good house, you’re not submitting a checklist in to some third party for certification. This is a way to get everybody on board. Imagine a book or a movement that’s very similar to Sarah Susanka’s…Phil: “The Not So Big House” – the biggest-selling book of all time for architecture and building.Chris: Right. And it’s a very simple message, which is: quality, not quantity (Do you really need all that stuff?). And if we focus on details and quality – it’s the same thing, only with energy efficiency – can we do that same thing? And that’s what the pretty good house is.So, we’re about to take you down the journey about what those guidelines are shaping out to be right now – subject to change as all these experts chime in.Phil: Wonderful! Take me on that journey, Chris. Where does the journey start?Chris: Imagine – and in the end, maybe there is a checklist, and – instead of saying, “a pretty good house does these things: Check! Check! Check!” it’s really, “a pretty good house considers these things.” Thermal bridging would be a great example, like, “A pretty good house takes thermal bridging into consideration and does something about it.”Phil: But it doesn’t get into the level of rigor, per se, and quantify it.Chris: Exactly. It doesn’t say, “You have to do this or you have to do that.” It’s more like, “If you’re a pretty good house, you’re considering that.”So, in your checklist, you have three or four things to check off. Maybe you’re wrapping this thing on the outside; maybe you’re doing double studs; maybe you’re doing horizontal strapping. And maybe that’s where the builder, the owner, the architect, somebody writes in what you actually are doing. And maybe it’s clever and better than all those other things and maybe it’s unique to your project – and aren’t you awesome? – and you’re not submitting that to anyone. You’re just – as part of your meetings or something – using that as a guideline as part of the construction process.And maybe, homeowners out there are going to buy this book. They are going to read it, they’re going to go to their builder and they’re going to say, “Do a pretty good house.”And the builder’s going to say, “Oh yeah, I know what that is, I’ve heard of that.” And they’re going to be handed this checklist, they’re going to be kind of familiar with it, and they’re going to say, “Yeah, we’re going to address all these things and we’re going to do a good house. A pretty good house. A damn good house.”So, let’s talk about the guidelines. One: of course, it’s going to be designed. Right, Phil?Phil: Right. Design is such a broad thing. How do you quantify a pretty good design?Chris: That’s the hard part. And that’s going to be the hard part of every single one of these things. We’re not going to put a particular thing on it. But you’re going to consider things. There are guidelines. For example: size.Phil: So, big is bad; small is good. Right?Chris: Pretty much.Phil: Right. LEED does that.Chris: LEED does that, but we’re not going to penalize you because there’s nothing to penalize. There’s just going to be this conversation that you are going to have about it. Look, if you’re a family of two and you have a 6,000-square-foot house, that’s not pretty good. That’s a little wasteful, to be honest. (And if that’s not for you, you’re going to skip over this section.) A pretty good house is not going to do that.Phil: A responsible professional who talks about a pretty good house is going to talk about these things on this design checklist: “I’ve got it; I’m starting to learn here.”Chris: Exactly. So there’ll be a chapter in the book where size is going to be one of those things. The same with shape and orientation. There’s going to be a little quick primer about – stuff we’ve talked many times on this podcast: Orienting to the south. Sheltering from the prevailing breezes. Put your living spaces to the south, but your support spaces to the north. Glazing. That sort of thing.Complexity: keeping your house simple and not doing all of the overly expensive things. That’s not to say you can or can’t. It’s just that a pretty good house is going to recognize complexity as – not necessarily waste, but – something that there’s a premium for.Phil: Right. You’re making a very clear judgment on a lot of these things. Complexity is not something you want to strive for, period. “I like the look of lots of dormers.” Well, sorry. You can have whatever you want, but that’s not what the pretty good house is all about.Chris: Right. There may be a dormer. There may be a couple of dormers. You’re considering this thing in terms of “how complex,” and so there will be guidelines about the complexity of your house and keeping things simple.Likewise, having an integrated design process. I mean, we’ve talked about that. LEED talks about that.Phil: Right. Bringing everyone on the team on board early and together.Chris: Right. And having all trades in mind while you’re moving forward. You can’t just plop things in at the last minute and expect it to go smoothly, because someone’s going to have to move a beam to make room for something else.Phil: Right. So, consider everything.Chris: Right. And then, of course, one of the things that you’re going to do in design – this is a pretty good house – is actually do an energy audit. “Nah, you’ll be fine. We’ll put a boiler in there; that’ll take care of it. No worries. What are your energy bills going to be? Eh, I don’t know. Whatever.” No. We’re going to have a pretty good idea. And, honestly, you and I do it all the time and it makes sense to us – a lot of times we’re doing Energy Star or we’re doing inspections along the way. It’s part of what we do; it’s actually part of the design in the beginning. And a pretty good house is going to do that.And then, of course, with the design part, yours and my favorite topic when it comes to green design is: beauty and aesthetics. Because, let’s be honest – an ugly house is not going to last long. Someone’s going to knock it down. There’s a reason why, when you go to these old towns in Europe you say, “Oh man, every single one of these buildings is gorgeous!” That’s because, over a thousand years, the crap gets torn down and the gorgeous things stay.Phil: Right. It doesn’t matter how energy efficient it is, really. If it’s an eyesore, nobody wants to be near that house, much less in it.Chris: Right. And likewise, if it’s really not energy efficient, but yet still beautiful and everyone loves it, and functional, it stays and becomes a burden that way.Phil: Well, one of the other certification systems that’s out there is Living Building Challenge, and they have a “petal” of beauty. And for a while, I’d question that. How are you going to quantify that? But the truth is, it doesn’t matter. Again, they’ve opened up the conversation – and I really respect that – and they make people think about it. It empowers designers to put that on the table.Chris: It’s important.Phil: It’s so huge; it’s so huge. And, if anything, it’s such a critical part of the heart of pretty good house, because you can never quantify beauty. You’re not going to try to pin it down. But, you kind of know it when you see it.Chris: Yeah. That’s the real design part – with a capital “D” – to make sure it’s thought out and not slap-dashed together.Another big component is climate. You have to know the climate of your house. There are a ton of builders who don’t even know what climate they’re in.Phil: So you’re saying that pretty good house is going to vary based on the climate that you’re in.Chris: That’s exactly right. Which means, I can’t write this thing. Right? I’m Mr. Cold Climate. I need people from the South. There are going to be guidelines for every zone. It’s not like there’s anything new in this book or this concept. It’s the way it’s assembled. It’s almost like the Seinfeld episode – this pretty good house is about nothing. Nothing new.Phil: Have you thought that maybe your wife is right, Chris?Chris: Yeah. That always happens. Yeah. So for every climate there’s going to be some guidelines in terms of what you should be aiming for. You know how we talk about the 10-20-40-60?Phil: Yeah. We had somebody write us from Costa Rica at one point. Boy, we are absolutely telling you the wrong thing!Chris: Exactly. What do we do for you in Costa Rica?Phil: Please tell us what you do so we can include you as a co-author.Chris: Yeah. Well, maybe…And then, of course, in the climate chapter – in the subject of climate – we’ve talked in the building science discussion group about climate change. Does a pretty good house consider our changing climate and what we’re going to be faced with in the future? For example, for us – in the North – we don’t have termites.Phil: But, they’re moving up this way.Chris: Are we going to? Probably. We’re probably going to have them. That’s going to be a problem for a lot of the houses that are here, that we’ve built without regard to that insulation that’s just buried and not protected and… Won’t that be curious?Phil: A big eye-opener.Chris: Yeah. And then we’re going to have a subject regarding the building envelope. There’s lots to talk about there, and that, in and of itself, is a podcast. There are basic subjects like insulation, Phil. The pretty good house is probably going to follow the same 10-20-40-60 rules, with some numbers becoming less critical as you get warmer.Phil: Yes, that seems like a good guideline. One of the things I’m interested in, Chris, because we’ve had this conversation… And there are some Passivhaus folks out in the audience. (And you’re one of them too, and I can’t say I’m not, either. I have a foot in multiple camps. We’re doing them as well.) But I, again, wonder where our limits are. And if you ask: if Passivhaus said R-40 walls, are you up to R-60 walls? R-70 walls? R-120 in the roof?Chris: Yeah. Again, it’s a guideline thing. It’s not going to be right for everybody to do any one particular thing. To say it must be R-60 and you have an R-58, do you fail? No! You did good for what was right for you and your climate and your owner and all of that. What we’re trying to do is elevate that conversation.But, it’s interesting: we hear a lot of people talk in the Passivhaus camp, saying, “Why are you setting a low bar? The bar should always be just as high as it can be. You should always be striving for that.”Phil: Right. Because that’s what pushes people. That’s what pushes the envelope further. When you strive to hit 180, maybe you’ll hit 120 when you’re starting at 60.Chris: Exactly. And that was Jesse’s point when we were talking about that at the NESEA forum. People always feel like they have to choose the middle. If they are choosing the highest part, then they are being the ones who are out there on the cutting edge and all that. And some people spend more because, at least they’re not getting the $24 lobster.Phil: That’s right. People like the second-most expensive thing on the menu. They’ll never order the first-most expensive thing.Chris: Exactly right. In a way, the pretty good house. What it’s really doing is, it’s setting the higher bar. It’s recognizing that the status quo right now is really low. And that’s what we talked about in the last discussion group. You leave our circle, you go out into what’s…Phil: Right. And there’s a lot of production-housing in different parts of the country – and even in the Northeast, for sure.Chris: Oh yeah. And a lot of it is “meets code, maybe” – which means they’re just not breaking the law.Phil: And the killer is that this is not affordable housing that we’re talking about.Chris: No! No. We’re talking about…Phil: …the standard of what most people would consider high-quality houses.Chris: Right. Market-rate, custom home design. Well, see… I say “custom” and it gets a little crazy, but… Just a market-rate, newly-built home. I’ll finish up envelope and then we’ll take a break and come back.With the envelope, of course, there’s insulation and there’s air sealing. We’ll have guidelines for airsealing. One thing that Passivhaus has really been good for is elevating that. By having a standard for that (0.6 air changes per hour at ach50), it’s gotten a lot of builders and local people here to really start buckling down and trying to at least come close to that. So, there’ll be guidelines in there.Phil: And, what is that? I remember having this conversation, specifically, and I remember throwing out either 1.5 ach50 or 1.0 ach50.Chris: Right. Interestingly enough, I think the Maine Housing Authority – or Maine Housing, as they’re called now – they said that if you had 2.5 air changes per hour at ach50, then you had to have an ERV. To you and I, that’s almost humorous. It was like an indoor air quality measure. And so, I think, you and I before, we’d said – and in the building science discussion group, they said – 1.5 is a great number that we should all be shooting for. Shoot for 1! And if you get 1.5, feel good about yourself.Phil: Right. Every single builder that we’ve introduced this to – that tried to do a tight, superinsulated home – they’ve all hit 1.5.Chris: Yeah. It’s almost like an awakening where, when builders soak it in and they decide, “We’re going to try and do this. We’re going to try and build this thing tight,” their numbers are amazingly different. And what a difference it makes in the house and in energy performance. I mean, you put that in the model and BAM! Huge difference. Go builders!Thermal bridging: like I mentioned, if you can minimize the conductivity through your envelope – that’s a guiding principle that you’re going to have to do. A pretty good house is going to actually consider that. So many of these houses out there, they don’t consider it. “Thermal bridging?! What’s that? Oh yeah, we’ll insulate the headers. Done.” There’s more to it than that.Phil: It’s not enough.Chris: No. You’re going to have to wrap the outside, or you’re going to have to – we’ve talked about that before – offset: do some double studs, do some horizontal strapping on the inside, or something else clever.Phil: I really just think you’re on the right track with this. And, I think, once builders see this and are aware of it, I think it’s going to be a matter of pride. Paul Eldrenkamp has been a big advocate, and we’re grateful to have Paul’s backing, because he’s just a wonderful builder and we really respect the guy. When we had the pretty good house presentation at the NESEA annual meeting last year, that was his point. There are a lot of great builders out there, and it’s a matter of pride. They want to do the right thing. You’ve got to show them what the right thing is, and they are going to figure it out.Chris: And as much as we bash builders every once in a while – I mean, they bash us ten times more than that, but – we have some of the best builders in the world here in Maine. (I mean, in New England.) Honestly, they are top-notch; great; stubborn as hell. Damned Yankees.Phil: That’s right. Because they’ve been doing it the right way for thirty years and learned from their grandfather.Chris: Right. Generations. But, boy – once they learn that new way, then that is the thing. Then they’ll be stubborn on that.One more thing about the envelope and then we’ll take a break. There’s also the roof and radiant barriers and reflectivities of roof. It’s less important here, and that’s a climate thing. For us, the heat island effect in Maine? Not a big deal. In Atlanta – big deal! San Antonio?Phil: It goes back to your “concentrate on the climate.”Chris: Right. So, a lot of this is going to matter to you; it’s not going to matter to us. That’s one disadvantage that LEED tends to have.So, we’re ready to take a break. Let’s refresh these cocktails and get back to this.Phil: Sounds good.Chris: Alright.Part Two is here: An Update on the Pretty Good House — Part 2. RELATED CONTENT
One reason that existing solar and wind incentives will continue, according to The New York Times, is the rising influence of the renewables industry, even among Republicans. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Dean Heller of Nevada, for example, both objected to the rollback of incentives in the House bill. Grassley may not be convinced that global warming is a problem, but Iowa gets more than one-third of its electricity from wind turbines. Heller’s home state is where Tesla is building a giant factory to make batteries for its electric vehicles.Wind and solar together accounted for about 6.5% of all U.S. electricity in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.“As wind and solar projects have soared in the U.S., in both red and blue states, so has the industry’s influence in Washington, D.C., on both sides of the aisle,” Dan W. Reicher, director of the Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford, told The Times. Expired tax credits lower salesUntil the end of 2016, consumers could take advantage of federal tax credits for energy-related improvements made to their primary homes, including heating and cooling equipment, water heaters, windows, and insulation. Those benefits have expired.Ground-source heat pumps (also called geothermal systems) had been eligible for the 30% credit, and the industry experienced a sharp decline in sales after it expired. Manufacturers were encouraged by an early version of the tax bill in the House of Representatives, which restored the credit and made it retroactive to the beginning of 2017. But in the end, the provision was not included.“It was a kick in the pants,” said Ryan Dougherty, the chief operating officer of Geo Exchange, the trade group representing the ground-source heat pump industry in the U.S.Along with other “orphan technologies” like fuel cells and small wind, the industry has been left behind, despite what Dougherty said was support from a “broad coalition” of Democrats and Republicans in Congress.The 30% tax credit was especially useful for heat pump manufacturers because it made the relatively expensive systems competitive with other HVAC options, Dougherty said by phone. When the credits were no longer available, sales fell by as much as 50%. Allowing tax credits to expire amounted to the government telling consumers the “technology is not worth your money,” he said. “It’s leaving the little guys behind. Our industry is the little guys.”Mike Bergey, president and CEO of Bergey Wind Power, a manufacturer of small wind turbines, expressed similar views. The loss of tax incentives was “pretty devastating,” he said in a call, and “completely killed” the company’s residential market. Loss of sales persuaded many of Bergey’s mom-and-pop distributors to begin selling PV modules instead of wind turbines, and rebuilding the retail network won’t be easy.Bergey found the disparity between continued tax credits for PV modules that are largely made overseas and the lack of any credit for residential wind turbine buyers in the U.S. disturbing. “It’s just not a good narrative,” he said.A sliver of good news for the small wind industry, however, is a continuing tax credit for small commercial customers, such as ranches and farms. That credit is 24% this year and will drop by 6 points per year until it’s gone. That appears to be untouched in the new tax bill. Some concerns remainOne sour note for environmentalists is the provision that will open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and other Republicans have been pressing for the change for years and argue it can be done without harming the 19.6 million-acre refuge, what has been described as one of the most pristine regions in the U.S. Democrats have fought the move.Another sticking point for renewable energy advocates was the Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT), a provision designed to prevent big corporations from moving their profits overseas to avoid federal taxes.The American Council on Renewable Energy had warned in November that BEAT would have “a devastating if unintended impact” on the solar and wind industries by undermining the use of renewable energy tax credits to pay for new projects.The final version of the bill, Greentech Media said, lets corporations continue using the Investment Tax Credit and the Production Tax Credit to lower taxable income, although at a lower rates.BEAT is not something, however, that residential renewable energy customers are going to spend much time worrying about. (For a detailed explainer on how BEAT works, read this.) The tax overhaul passed this week by Congress leaves tax breaks for solar and utility-scale wind projects in place, but does not restore tax credits for ground-source heat pumps and small wind turbines as those two “orphan technologies” had hoped. The Associated Press reports that the $1.5 trillion package does nothing to change tax credits for the wind and solar industries. Under terms of a bill passed in 2015, the incentives for utility-scale wind run through 2020 and solar benefits until 2022.The bill also includes a tax credit of up to $7,500 for plug-in vehicles, despite earlier attempts in the House to kill it. (If you’re interested in wading through the 560 pages of the bill, you can find it here.)Of key importance to homeowners is survival of the 30% federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for photovoltaic (PV) systems and solar hot water systems. The ITC will drop to 26% in 2020 and 22% in 2021. After that, the residential credit drops to zero while the commercial and utility credit goes to 10% permanently, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.While the solar industry benefits, the bill does nothing to restore tax credits that would have helped manufacturers of small wind turbines and ground-source heat pumps — a bitter pill for both of those industries. Still a ‘glimmer of hope’Dougherty sees a “glimmer of hope” in a House bill sponsored by Tom Reed, a New York Republican, that would restore tax credits for geothermal and small wind systems. But, Dougherty said, Congress is unlikely to consider stand-alone bills — that is, bills with a single purpose rather than proposals that become part of omnibus legislation — and the chance of passage at the moment looks “slim to none.”“It’s not that heavy a lift,” he said of the bill’s $2.3 billion price tag over five years. “It won’t break the bank.”But the situation appears fluid. Dougherty and Bergey were hoping to get language to restore the credits into an “extender bill” for the federal budget that could be considered in January. Bergey said he understands there’s interest in that approach, and its chance of approval could be as high as 60%.“These are tough times,” he said. “We’ve seen tough times before. We’ll come out of this OK.” RELATED ARTICLES Tax Bill Would Deal a Blow to RenewablesDeciphering the Tax Credits