Using the “house as a system,” how does one improve its comfort, health, safety, energy efficiency and durability? Learning how to answer that question was a classroom full of students in the St. Thomas/ St. John district last week and students on St. Croix this week.
They were taking a course — Energy Auditing and Building Principles — sponsored by the Virgin Islands Energy Office. The five-day course, presented by Southface Energy Institute, a non-profit leader in promoting sustainable homes, workplaces and communities, was held on the respective islands’ campuses at the University of the Virgin Islands.
Instructor Steve Herzlieb, a former resident of St. Thomas, touched on various elements of what he called home performance. Home performance relies on the approach of the “house as a system.” Its goals are to improve the comfort, health, safety energy efficiency and durability of a house.
The trainings provided the knowledge and skills participants need to assess and improve existing homes to reach those goals. The trainings also prepared students to successfully challenge the written exam for the Certificate of Knowledge by the Building Performance Institute (BPI).
Although much of the subject matter was technical, much was down-to-earth, practical information. In the first morning of class on St. Croix, a participant asked Herzlieb if he should turn a light off when he leaves a room, even if, he is coming right back. Herzlieb answered that myths have grown saying that it is better to leave things on, but they are just myths. He said if you are out of the room more than 10 seconds, you save energy by turning the light off. He added that was also true for computers.
The training at each location included a field trip to audit an island home. A Certificate of Knowledge will be issued to students upon successful completion of this training.