April 19, 2010
Record number register for ACI Home Performance Conference; conference reflects tie between energy efficiency, economic recovery
Austin Energy Green Building hosts the 2010 Affordable Comfort Institute (ACI) Home Performance Conference this week, bringing about 1,800 building professionals to Austin and an estimated $1 million to the local economy, according the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The week-long conference, which begins today, April 19, is the largest to date. In 2009, the conference attracted about 1,100 attendees.
“Our attendance has always been healthy, but this year is exceptional,” said ACI executive director Amy Fazio. “There’s tremendous interest in energy-efficient home retrofitting. We’ve also heard numerous stories of people making career changes to the home performance profession due to job losses during the current recession.”
The home performance industry is gearing up to complete 10 million residential retrofits per year by 2020. That means more than 1.25 million American jobs will be created as contractors, energy auditors, and manufacturers work together to bring energy efficiency to American homes.
Energy efficiency has never been so closely tied to economic opportunity. The market for housing retrofits is estimated at $400 billion. With the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act, weatherization – including $5.8 million awarded to Austin Energy to weatherize up to 900 homes in two years – also has gained new momentum nationwide promising energy efficiency and comfort to qualified applicants.
The ACI conference reflects these new trends. Highlights include a keynote address by building science expert John Tooley, a two-day trade show, an auditing software showcase, networking receptions and more than 100 workshops. Attendees from the weatherization industry, which is benefiting from an influx of $5 billion in federal stimulus funds, will find a number of sessions designed for them. The agenda features a range of presenters addressing the challenges of weatherization, from minimizing the risk of indoor air quality hazards in older weatherized homes to more efficient administrative processes for utilities implementing weatherization programs.
With the conference in Austin this year, organizers placed a greater emphasis on building for hot and humid climates, such as those found in the southern United States from Texas to Florida.
“In hot and humid climates, you have lots of summer days over 100 degrees and occasional winter freezes. You have long droughts punctuated by torrential rains and flash floods,” said Mary McLeod, Austin Energy Green Building single-family program coordinator. “It’s an extremely challenging climate to build for.”
Austin Energy Green Building hosted the conference once before, in 2006, and the group was honored to be selected a second time.
“Austin Energy is an energy efficiency leader, particularly due to their successful green building program,” said Fazio. “Holding the conference here again made sense.”
The 2010 ACI Home Performance Conference begins Monday, April 19, ending Friday, April 24 and takes place at the Renaissance Austin Hotel. Registration continues online at www.affordablecomfort.org