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Efficiency Vermont program recognized for saving energy, improving health

Burlington, VT

The American Council for and Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) yesterday recognized an Efficiency Vermont program for improving health while saving energy in buildings.

ACEEE, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, and technologies, named Efficiency Vermont’s Zero Energy ModularSM (ZEMSM) home program as a winner of its Health & Energy-Linked Program (HELP) Award for Overall Excellence. ACEEE launched the HELP program last year to help people understand how energy efficiency benefits human health.

The ZEM program helps low to moderate income Vermonters move into energy-efficient, solar-powered modular homes that produce as much energy over the course of the year as they use. The homes are built with:

  • Triple-glazed windows
  • High attention to air-sealing details
  • Continuous insulation with double-stud walls
  • Efficient mechanical systems (for example, energy recovery ventilation)
  • An air source heat pump
  • A heat pump water heater
  • Tier 3 ENERGY STAR® appliances
  • LED lighting
  • Grid-tied photovoltaic (PV) solar cells with an optional backup battery

“Efficiency Vermont is honored to receive the HELP Award on behalf of the many partners here in Vermont who have worked together to make Zero Energy Modular homes affordable and accessible to Vermonters,” said Efficiency Vermont Director Karen Glitman.

The ZEM Program is a joint initiative among Vermod, a company that designs and builds ZEM homes in Vermont; Efficiency Vermont, and the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB). High Meadows Fund supported a preliminary effort of these organizations, the Modular Housing Innovation Project, and the first phase of the ZEM Program. Although financing was not specifically created for the ZEM Program, participating homeowners have access to additional subsidized financing and incentives from VLITE, USDA Rural Development, and Efficiency Vermont.

By using low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials and avoiding products containing added urea and formaldehyde, ZEM homes reduce off-gassing and provide good indoor air quality. Enhancing indoor environmental quality gives program participants a more healthful home environment. The program’s health benefits also include Universal Design and Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility designs at no (or negligible) added cost. Ensuring that all homes meet current health and safety codes is a priority.

“The ZEM Program is powerful example of how energy-efficient design and practices can help support better health, in addition to saving families money on their energy bills,” said Glitman. “This award helps raise awareness of the connection between energy and health. We hope it will encourage more Vermonters to take advantage of Efficiency Vermont programs and services to make their homes more efficient, and more healthful.”

Although the ZEM Program does not routinely track health outcomes, in 2016 it collaborated with the University of Vermont to conduct a qualitative survey of ZEM homeowners who had been in their homes at least a year. The researchers found that 81 percent of respondents noted improved air quality in their ZEM home relative to their previous homes. They also found that 56 percent of respondents felt that the air quality in their ZEM home positively affected their health, citing easier breathing for individuals experiencing symptoms related to allergies, sleep apnea, and COPD.

About Efficiency Vermont

Efficiency Vermont is helping our state transition to a more affordable and cleaner future. Since 2000, Efficiency Vermont has brought Vermonters together to reduce the cost of energy. We work with our partners to provide incentives, technical advice, and efficient products to help customers save money, and lower carbon emissions. For more information, contact Efficiency Vermont at (888) 921-5990 or visit www.efficiencyvermont.com

Efficiency Vermont
Jeff Buell
Phone: (802) 540-7662
jbuell@veic.org