Cash 4 Caulkers!

Homeowners Getting a Push to Caulk, Insulate Those Air Leaks

The proposed "Cash for Caulkers" program aims to encourage homeowners to invest in things like caulking air leaks around windows, doors and in crawl spaces and basements, adding insulation in walls and attics, and installing more efficient heating and cooling equipment.

Such unsexy-sounding home improvements can be some of the most lucrative in terms of energy savings and make a home far more comfortable. The federal Energy Star program estimates homeowners can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs just by sealing and insulating, or "weatherizing" against the elements.

Exactly how funds would be distributed and whether do-it-yourselfers could claim a piece of the action remain to be seen.

Under one proposed scenario, consumers would hire a professional "energy auditor" who evaluates where homes are most vulnerable to energy loss, said Adam Parker, president of Conservation Services Group Inc., which has been involved in discussions with the White House. Some tools of the trade: an infrared camera that produces images of warm and cold areas, and a fan contraption called a "blower door" that helps suss out air leaks.

These audits typically cost between $300 and $700, though aid often is available for low-income homeowners, and some utilities provide audits free. Afterward, the auditor would recommend a series of steps to improve the home's overall energy efficiency with caulk, insulation, updated windows and heating and cooling equipment. Key to the program's success or failure would be tracking and analyzing work so consumers don't fall victim to a rush of unskilled workers seeking to cash in.

Crime Still Pays

When will this type of Corruption reach into the Weatherization World!?

Corruption Probe Weakens Department of Buildings' Structural Integrity

The DOB is more like the MOB, according to shocking new revelations reported today.

At least six inspectors with the city's Department of Buildings have been videotaped taking bribes at construction sites, and some were seen dealing cocaine and prescription pills, according to the New York Post.

The workers, some of whom allegedly have ties to the Luchese crime family, will be arrested later this month, along with about two dozen mafioso, sources told the Post.

"This is going to be big," their source said.

The forthcoming arrests are the result of a two-year probe which spawned a 2007 New Jersey case involving a Luchese squad that ran a $2 billion-a-year gambling ring and supplied drugs and cellphones to Bloods members in state prisons, according to the Post.
As the investigation sprawled across the Hudson, probers began following buildings inspectors and captured crooked workers taking $50 and $100 payoffs to ignore violations. Then, even more shocking, several inspectors reportedly were videotaped selling OxyContin, Vicodin and cocaine while on duty.

Two inspectors are now allegedly cooperating with the investigation, sources told the Post.

A spokeswomen for the DOB said they would release a statement shortly.

Article from Dr. Tim Foresman


Thermal Infrared Applications

Figure 1 Airborne Thermal IR of homes, depicting energy loss differences with 25-cm ground resolution at 1000-meter altitude (courtesy of Jenoptik).

Figure 1 Airborne Thermal IR of homes, depicting energy loss differences with 25-cm ground resolution at 1000-meter altitude (courtesy of Jenoptik).

Green jobs are just kicking off in this nation, with Vice President Joe Biden holding the standard as the most visible of the administration spokespersons. Van Jones, the green collar guru, has been recruited into the White House, demonstrating further support for this societal transition to all things green and sustainable. The ship of state is large, however, and even with the stimulus, our national agenda is turning ever so slowly towards energy conservation and greener lifestyles. More money has been spent on ads by the energy companies touting their green credentials than has actually be spent on green investments, but the sentiment is there in the marketing/PR departments and that in itself is a harbinger for change.

Perhaps a revisit to the classic I Ching text offering metaphorical guidance through life’s seasons of change is appropriate for us now. Energy issues are reaching all Americans, as tracked by media headlines. As of this writing, Congress is wrestling with the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, which addresses a litany of issues from creation of a ‘cap-and-trade’ system to electric and hybrid cars to energy efficiency in homes and buildings. The fossil fuel companies are lobbying a tug-of-war with environmental and consumer groups, with consensus that coal will come out a winner for the foreseeable future. Energy efficiency, however, is being codified for building ordinances and is adding momentum to current programs by states and municipalities to measure and monitor the carbon footprints of their jurisdictions.

Figure 2 Hand-held thermal IR sensor image depicting energy loss areas, especially glazing surfaces in homes (image courtesy of FLIR Systems, Inc.).

Figure 2 Hand-held thermal IR sensor image depicting energy loss areas, especially glazing surfaces in homes (image courtesy of FLIR Systems, Inc.).

Carbon calculators are becoming mandated throughout country and were a hot topic at the National League of Cities (NLC) “Green Cities” conference held in Portland, Oregon, in April 2009. The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI,, with over 500 city members, is leading the parade of carbon calculators and garnering the market share by forging ties with NLC and the U.S. Green Building Council. In my state of Maryland, the governor has established a special task force to perform energy audits for all state buildings, with the goal of quantifying the state energy efficiency. Government managers throughout the nation are becoming occupied by the new trends for carbon accountability and are eagerly repositioning priorities to address the deluge of weatherization funds stimulated from our nation’s Capitol. All of these actions and policies should be viewed as good news for the remote sensing community, due to the intrinsic need to apply technology into this fray.

Thermal infrared (IR) remote sensing technology represents both low hanging fruit and a potential market stimulator for Imaging Notes readership. It is still early in the game, with many elements of legal instruments still remaining to make this topic interesting, but clearly, thermal IR holds great promise and utility in the energy conservation arena. First, we can think of applying thermal IR data collection over-flights for whole communities or cities as a precursor to establishing a baseline for the energy efficiency of homes and buildings.

It would seem logical that, if states, counties, and cities are going to expend millions of dollars for calculating carbon, a baseline quantification would be prudent. (Note: Current carbon calculators are spreadsheet-based approximations lacking any scientific calibration.) Large amounts of money will be distributed based on targeting goals for energy reduction, and baselines are requisite to this process. Thermal IR has been well demonstrated for its capacity to quantify temperature differences (one degree Kelvin) for surface objects (Figure 1).

Delineating the relative differences for energy loss in buildings and homes is straightforward and can be overlain for georeference with municipal GIS databases. County and city administrators can work with utility providers to link the energy loss data with customer billings to create a robust energy conservation profile for their jurisdictions. While privacy issues may be raised, the only winners will likely be plaintiffs’ lawyers, due to the forensic history in remote sensing.
The boost in small and large firms hawking their services is evidence that energy audits of homes are increasing. On a house-to-house basis, hand-held thermal IR offers a great way to assess energy heat losses in a building (Figures 2 and 3). Hand-held thermal IR sensors provide answers to the hidden clues regarding glazing losses, insulation gaps, empty wall cavities, and seam or joint leaks. This information is critical for the weatherization retrofit construction work that can most effectively address remediation of heat loss and thereby lower the building owner’s utility bill. Because there is a direct link between professionally executed weatherization and lowering of energy bills (estimates range from $500 to $1000 per year for the average home along the mid-Atlantic region), the impetus to market thermal IR to a larger but disaggregated customer base should be improving.

Figure 3 Hand-held thermal IR sensor for energy audits and building inspections (image courtesy of FLIR Systems, Inc.).

Figure 3 Hand-held thermal IR sensor for energy audits and building inspections (image courtesy of FLIR Systems, Inc.).

Is our industry paying attention to the energy conservation trend? At the March 2009 ASPRS meeting in Baltimore, a survey of the industry demonstrated only anecdotal evidence of interest in thermal IR sensors. No company represented there offered the services to the commercial market. Thermal IR sensors have held fast to the market needs of the Department of Defense and have not ventured out to the energy security of our nation. Perhaps, with the advent of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, the remote sensing industry will shift gears and make forays into the rapidly expanding market for home and community energy audits and into the longer term requirements for monitoring our nation’s buildings for ever-increasing energy efficiencies. We might start by introducing our technological prowess to the leading architectural and engineering firms and mayor’s offices.

Dr. Timothy W. Foresman is President of the International Centre for Remote Sensing Education. He has been director of United Nations Environment Programme’s Division of Early Warning and Assessment (Nairobi, Kenya) and national program manager for NASA’s Digital Earth (Washington, D.C.). He is editor of The History of Geographic Information Systems, 1998, Prentice Hall.

The "Bacon" Bites Back!

Unions in Nevada, have thrown down the gauntlet, ...The Davis-Bacon act. State of Nevada Weatherization agencies and their contractors have tried to skirt the prevailing wage issue, but not so fast!
The Nevada AFL-CIO contends that the Nevada Housing Division is not complying with a new state law that requires contractors doing stimulus-funded weatherization work to pay prevailing wage, offer health insurance and hire half of the workers from a training program that has not yet begun.
Actually, this is true.
Prevailing wage is determined by the state labor commissioner and is often close to the union wage in an area.

State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasuer Danny Thompson said the dispute is not a conflict between labor and management. It's about the reluctance of the housing division to follow the law.

"I have got people trained who could do the work if the housing division let them, and not just union workers," Thompson said. "This is not a union, nonunion issue."

Dianne Cornwall, director of the state Department of Business and Industry, said she can't understand why the union wants a restraining order to block the start of $10.4 million in "weatherization" projects.

The state risks losing the money if it's not spent.$$$$$$

Hmmmm??? Wonder how this will play out.

Radiant Barrier Study from the Smokey Mountains

Appalachian State University Study Quantifies Benefits of Radiant Barrier
For product information visit

The Energy Center of Appalachian State University (ASU) today announced the results of a case study to measure
the benefits of adding radiant barrier in home attics.

Key findings of the study include:

-- A 23-degree drop in the peak attic temperature occurred in a home
outfitted with radiant heat barrier versus a similar home without the
-- A 20 percent reduction in the run-time of the air conditioning unit
during the seven hours of peak attic temperatures; and

-- The radiant barrier improved the efficiency of cooled air delivered
through the air ducts by 57 percent during this period.

"This particular study showed the installation of a radiant barrier in an attic can make it easier for your air conditioner
to do its job in the summer heat," said Jeff Tiller, P.E., Appalachian State University. "That translates to lower electricity
usage, which also impacts the carbon footprint of homes."

The study was conducted in the summer of 2008 by an ASU team led by Tiller, chair of the ASU Technology Department, and
Bruce Davis, Building Research Scientist at the ASU Energy Center. The study was funded by a U.S. Department of Energy
Building America grant provided through the North Carolina Energy Office. The research team utilized two side-by-side,
four-bedroom model homes built by Centex Homes in Charlotte, North Carolina. A total of 61 sensors were installed inside
and outside of the homes to gather data.

"Radiant barriers are a key feature of our Centex Energy Advantage suite of energy efficiency features," said Clayton Traylor
who heads environmental affairs for Centex. "We're very pleased that this study validates the significant energy saving benefits
our customers can expect from owning a Centex Energy Advantage home."

"We're pleased to have been able to work with Centex on this project. They strongly believe in the value of research
to make decisions that help achieve energy efficiency gains - not just in the building phase of the home, but over its
entire operating life," added Bruce Davis.

Centex began building its homes with radiant barrier roof decking in January of 2009 as part of its
Centex Energy Advantage suite of energy-efficient features.* Centex sold 2,843 homes in the quarter
ended March 31, 2009. Homes with Centex Energy Advantage features have been shown to have an overall
energy efficiency gain of up to 22 percent over comparable homes built to the most widely used energy
efficiency code, according to the NAHB Research Center
For product information visit

The Stimulus Money Has Finally Arrived!


All across the country, State agencies are "Awash"
with Stimulus money for Weatherization

Ready or not, Here is comes! States are getting a massive boost in federal money to weatherize drafty homes, an increase so huge it has raised fears of waste and fraud and set off a scramble to find workers and houses for them to repair.

*The Only way to absolutely "Verify" both missing insulation as well as the completed job, is with an Infrared Thermal Scan! See more at
An obscure program that installs insulation in homes and makes them more energy-efficient is distributing $4.7 billion in stimulus funds -- dwarfing the $447 million originally planned by Congress this year and the $227 million spent in 2008.
That is enough to weatherize 1 million homes, instead of the 140,000 normally done each year.
President Barack Obama said pouring money into the program would lower utility bills for cash-strapped families, provide jobs for construction workers idled by the housing slump, and make the nation more energy-efficient.
"You're getting a three-fer," Obama said. "That's exactly the kind of program we should be funding."
But some worry states won't be able to keep track of the money.
Leslie Paige, spokeswoman for the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, said the program is open to fraud because of the way oversight is divided. The federal government passes the money to states, then states pass it to community action agencies, and the agencies pass it to contractors who work with customers.
"It's such a Rube Goldberg operation it should be setting off alarm bells," she said.
Energy Department spokeswoman Christina Kielich defended the program, saying the federal government monitors state operations and does a thorough review at least every two years of the local organizations. In addition, states are getting their money in increments and must demonstrate quality control to get more.
The program helps low-income families take steps to reduce their home energy expenses, from caulking leaky windows to replacing heating and cooling systems. The Energy Department says 6.2 million households have benefited since it began in 1976, saving the average household about $350 a year on energy bills.
In addition to receiving an infusion of stimulus money, the program was expanded to cover families making up to twice the federal poverty level, or $44,100 for a family of four. Also, the average amount that can be spent per house was more than doubled to $6,500.
The funding for New York is going up from $20.1 million last year to $395 million. California's share is soaring from $6.3 million to $185.8 million. Virginia's is going up 23 1/2 times, from $4 million annually to $94.1 million.