Passivehaus Maine Fall Conference - Part 1

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Rob Conboy of Better BEE, Inc. (Better), a Vermont-based consulting firm committed to building energy efficiency, spoke about his work with the City of Burlington, VT,  which is committed to meeting the 2030 Challenge. The 2030 Challenge sets carbon neutral goals for all new buildings to be carbon neutral by 2030, and all existing buildings to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by the year 2030. Burlington is the only 2030 district to span an entire city. Most districts focus on their downtown areas.

Burlington is the first city in the US to run on 100% renewable electric power. Better found that the best way to attain a deep energy retrofit was to use passive house principles. His work with the city involved developing a deep energy retrofit platform consisting of 3 sectors; the program, training, and financing.

Better Bee Deep Energy Retrofit Platform:

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Program Component

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  • Lead paint / asbestos

Home owner goals

  • Financial reasons

  • Environmental reasons

  • Sustainable reasons

Program assessment tools

  • Blower door tests

  • Thermal imaging

  • Photo documentation of challenges

  • Code challenges

  • Historic challenges

  • Environmental challenges

Stepped approach

  • Original building documentation and baseline

  • Energy efficient appliances

  • Roofing replacement and life cycle

  • Building envelope replacement and life cycle

  • Increase of insulation and ventilation


  • Incentives (local, state, federal)

  • Policy and codes

  • Certified components

  • Project certification and commissioning

  • Renewables


Finance Component

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Asset transformation

Key components

  • Perform baseline

  • Certified products

  • Projects may/may not be certified

  • Trained and certified practitioners

  • Capital stack approach

Resale Value

  • Home appraiser training

  • Realtors know the value of energy efficient homes

Relative costs

  • Finance options

  • Home equity line of credit

  • Energy star incentives

  • Certified CDFI – US Dept. of Treasury

  • P.A.C.E. – Property Assessment Clean Energy Program

  • Build Forward – Financing building efficiency

Creative Financing

  • Healthy Homes Grant

  • Low income owners – CDFI

  • Weathering Programs – Diverted funds

  • Airport Noise Abatement

Capital Stack Approach

  • What are the marginal costs? – upcharge to improve a retrofit vs. what are the delayed/deferred maintenance costs


Training Component

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  • Yestermorrow

  • Resource

  • Vermont Works for women

  • LEED Program

  • VT Passive house / Vermont Green building network

  • VMEC – Lean Process (Adam Cohen lecture)

Skills Gap Assessment

  • Survey current practitioners

  • Architects

  • MEP

  • Trades

  • Consultants


  • CPHC

  • PHPP


  • Tradesperson – Classroom hands-on approach and onsite training

Form more information:

Better Bee Inc.

Passive house Principles

Burlington 2030 District

Passivehaus Maine