Our ultimate goal, here at Retrofit Baltimore, is to convince homeowners to retrofit their homes so that they can immediately feel more comfortable and eventually save a significant amount of money for themselves and energy for the environment. We want homeowners in Maryland to take advantage of the state’s Empower Maryland Act (that Matty discussed on this blog back in December) because it provides an amazing monetary opportunity that can contribute to lowering the state’s energy use. One home retrofit equals taking half of a car off the road. This means that 100 home retrofits equal taking 50 cars off the road!
The neighborhoods where we focus our canvassing efforts are made up primarily of older homes (built in the first half of the twentieth century and earlier) because the homes have obviously aged physically and technology has certainly changed. However, while we joke that homes built at the end of the twentieth century were built with less care, it is definitely true that newer homes have significant energy issues. During the periods of lightning-fast sprawl from around the 1970s-on, neighborhood developments were built for the purpose of being very fast and easy to construct in order to fulfill the huge demand. For this reason, many newer homes are not constructed anywhere near as solidly as older homes once were. Building materials tend to be cheaper and of poorer quality, and homes generally have common air leaks.
The demand for energy assessments has increased not just in Maryland but all across the country. Since Hurricane Katrina gave New Orleans the opportunity to rebuild much of the city, New Orleans has begun to focus efforts on energy-efficient homes and “green” buildings. Groups of students at Tulane University are interested in seeing the results from these “green” buildings and determining if they fulfill their promise of sustainability and energy savings. By measuring relative humidity, temperature, and light inside these buildings and surveying the buildings’ occupants, the students are able to put together energy assessments of their own that even buildings labeled as “green” could use significant energy retrofits: