Builders Workshop Focuses On Energy

net Plus Energy School For Builders

A new energy-efficiency educational program for builders gets launched April 22 and 23 at the Inn at Charles Town, with the first 20 builders who sign up receiving free admission. The net Plus Energy program has been assembled by Professor Andrew McCoy of Virginia Tech and Al Cobb, who runs the Structural Insulated Panel building firm Panelwrights and SIPs School—a training program on the SIPs building techonology.

“We all follow or are involved with design and build projects that are some shade of green,” said Cobb. “net Plus Energy School is the convergence of building science, project management, and best practices necessary to succeed in making low-energy, high-performance buildings.”

Cobb says many builders have watched trends in building, and are likely keen on the advancement of low-energy, high performance construction. Many may have attained certification for projects through Energy Star, EarthCraft, the NAHB’s ICC Green Standard, or Passive House.

Many also may know about the new launch of DOE’s Challenge Home: Zero Net-Energy Ready. “With interest or experience in programs like these, builders want to know how they are similar and different, how they compare on a common scale, how they might be integrated,” said Cobb. Specific to their projects, builders want to assess different enclosure assemblies such as double-stud walls, Larsen trusses, SIPs, ICFs, and OVE.

“A lot of builders have wondered about the comparison of the energy impact of products A to B, or system Y to Z, as well as the material and labor costs associated with each,” said Cobb.

So Cobb, partnering with McCoy, has crafted what he says is a clear, practical, and comprehensive curriculum, packed with solid take-aways that can be applied in the field.

Here is the curriculum:

Key Learning Objectives, Day 1

  • Understanding ‘Low-Energy’ Programs in Context: Energy Star, Passive House, Builders Challenge, NZE.
  • Compare & contrast using a common scale; Prioritizing Core Concepts of High-Performance Buildings.
  • Identify / Specify Materials & Assemblies suitable to Low-Energy, High-Performance building.
  • Utilizing a Designers Build Report to assess project plan sets and ensure complete specifications.
  • Clarifying project roles and responsibilities to establish authority and set appropriate expectations.
  • Discussing project bidding and contractual concerns.
  • Examining moisture and heat flows through common assemblies, identifying likely problem areas.
  • Assessing whole-assembly R values & permeance.
  • Understand framing factors for assemblies.
  • Analyzing strategies for eliminating thermal bridges.
  • Differentiating the language: barriers and retarders.
  • Evaluating air-tightness metrics: know what the target should be, why, and how to achieve it.
  • Mastery of Details: Fenestration.
  • Applying performance factors to buildings.

Key Learning Objectives, Day 2

For information on the net Plus Energy workshop, contact Al Cobb at