Dow Embarks on Living Energy-efficiency Case Study

Dow Building Solutions, a business unit of the Dow Chemical Co., and Cobblestone Homes, a Great Lakes Bay Region home builder, have joined together on a living case-study to broaden awareness of opportunities for energy efficiency in retrofits. Revitalize Home is a remodeled demonstration home that showcases practical, energy-efficient remodeling projects that help builders and remodelers “revitalize” the renovation process and offer homeowners solutions with tangible benefits in the areas of comfort, indoor air quality and energy savings. The energy-efficient upgrades demonstrated in the Revitalize Home will enable approximately 30 percent in energy savings annually, a significant improvement made with no other mechanical or structural upgrades, only insulation and air sealing.

“The Revitalize Home is a true ‘living’ case-study that demonstrates real-life remodeling techniques and solutions to help solve some very common homeowner challenges,” says Kaethe Schuster, retrofit market manager, Dow Building Solutions. “Remodelers, contractors, builders and homeowners will be able to learn how energy-efficient remodeling projects deliver real value in terms of comfort, health and financial return. The project serves as an educational tool to help homeowners understand how their homes work and how they can enjoy their home more while protecting what is likely their largest single investment.”

The 1,500-square-foot home, located at 2250 Jefferson in Midland, Mich., showcases solutions from Dow that work together to seal the entire building envelope, bringing the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index score of the home down from 131 to 85. The Revitalize Home is also expected to reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 33 percent per year, significantly lowering its environmental footprint.

From FROTH-PAK Foam Insulation for air sealing to THERMAX Sheathing for insulating below-grade walls, the Revitalize Home features a range of energy-saving insulation, air sealing and weather-barrier solutions from Dow. The most impactful applications were air sealing and adding insulation to the basement, resulting in approximately 14 percent of the 30 percent in annual energy savings. Basements are also one of the easiest areas to access in most homes and, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, while many air leaks and drafts are easy to find because they are easy to feel (like those around windows and doors), holes hidden in attics, basements and crawlspaces are usually bigger problems. Sealing these leaks will have a great impact on improving indoor comfort and reducing utility bills. This is consistent with the results from a 15-home study conducted by Dow and D.R. Nelson & Associates and estimated using REM Home Energy Analysis Software, which illustrates that air sealing basement rim joists alone helps save $125 per year in energy bills.

“We are trying to help redefine how homeowners typically think of renovation by collaborating with Dow to go beyond typical, surface renovation upgrades to address and improve the energy efficiency of the existing homes’ entire building envelope,” says Mark Wahl, co-owner of Cobblestone Homes.

“The Dow Revitalize Home is exactly what we need to be doing with the country’s 130 million existing homes, many of which were built before modern energy codes were implemented. Of those homes, 100 million are 20 years or older. Dow’s efforts to revitalize not just one house, but their ongoing collaborative efforts to retrofit many, provide an extraordinary example of what we can accomplish in retrofitting the nation’s housing stock,” says Larry Zarker, CEO of the Building Performance Institute.

The home is open to the public to serve as an educational center, providing tours, training and hands-on demonstrations.

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