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By: valuethinker Sun, 09 Jan 2011 20:13:56 +0000 TFF

You then have the EU problem. The EU has to have a rule that legislation adopted at the EU level is reflected in local national legislation.

So to achieve national standards on housing (remember AFAIK some states do not even have housing codes) the US Federal Government would have to enact legislation requiring a certain level of energy efficiency in housing.

The states could then be left to the actual implementation *but* there would have to be some penalty for states that failed to effectively implement/ didn’t inspect properly.

Otherwise you get a ‘race to the bottom’ with some states, responding to lobbying for cheaper buildings (in purchase cost, not necessarily Total Cost of Ownership or Lifecycle cost) just don’t implement.

You can’t get to an improvement in national energy efficiency without centralized regulation of some form. A similar problem was encountered in almost any pollution regulation (although cars are easier to sell across state boundaries, and industrial effluent like acid rain moves across state boundaries). Of course things like appliances you have to have national standards for the same reason.

Passive efficiency is something you can write into a building reg– I think California does.

By: TFF Sat, 08 Jan 2011 19:19:05 +0000 valuethinker, I’m not opposed to housing standards, and I’m definitely in favor of energy efficiency in new construction. But why must they be managed at the national level? It seems to me to be something that is appropriately left to the states.

One area that merits greater attention is “passive efficiency”. Once upon a time, houses were built with large south-facing windows, window/porch overhangs, strategically planted shade trees, and so forth. These days it seems most builders work from stock plans, without any thought to orientation or landscaping.

By: valuethinker Tue, 04 Jan 2011 23:14:04 +0000 TFF

National housing standards can adjust for degree days etc.

The reason to have these things is because the additional cost, if built in at the start cost a fraction of what they do to retrofit.

And the efficiencies (or inefficiencies) last essentially forever. A house will last at least 50 years (my last one was 190 years old and that’s not uncommon here).

Studies show homeowners want a 30-40% discount rate on energy saving.

Build it into the house and you can get a discount rate equivalent to the cost of the mortgage.

By: TFF Tue, 04 Jan 2011 18:04:12 +0000 Maybe 10 million manufactured housing units nationwide? It isn’t common practice here either (more typical for rural areas where housing values are too low to justify more expensive construction practices).

I’m not sure why we would WANT national housing standards. Standards that are appropriate for New England might not make much sense in Florida. Those that are designed to withstand a California earthquake aren’t sensible in Iowa. National housing standards make more sense for countries that are the size of a small US state.

By: valuethinker Tue, 04 Jan 2011 17:04:37 +0000 bidrec

Manufactured housing is almost unknown here. At a guess, it’s 10% US housing market? UK is probably sub 1%.

So it would appear that the US does indeed have no national housing standards? (except for the mfrd housing subsector)?

Canada I think it is entirely at the provincial level.

By: Mark94131 Sun, 02 Jan 2011 06:18:31 +0000 The situation in San Francisco is very similar, though modern or renovated construction typically features insulation and central heating.

My home is from 1950. It was completely uninsulated when I moved in, and had a single inefficient gas heater in the middle of the main floor. The interior temperature ranged from about 53 degrees in the winter to 97 degrees in the summer. I insulated the attic, which reduced the range to approx. 60-87, and added a weak radiant heating system that runs roughly 100 days per year.

By: bidrec Sat, 01 Jan 2011 21:09:48 +0000 ValueThinker, the US does have a national code for manufactured homes on chassis’ (known as mobile homes prior to 1976).

“A manufactured home (formerly known as a mobile home) is built to the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (HUD Code) and displays a red certification label on the exterior of each transportable section. Manufactured homes are built in the controlled environment of a manufacturing plant and are transported in one or more sections on a permanent chassis.

Manufactured homes are constructed according to a code administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD Code). The HUD Code, unlike conventional building codes, requires manufactured homes to be constructed on a permanent chassis.

The “HUD code” is a set of manufactured home industry standards. Published and maintained by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the code establishes the required standards for design and construction, strength and durability, fire resistance, energy efficiency, transportability, and quality control. It also sets performance standards for the heating and air conditioning, plumbing, thermal, and electrical systems.” signing_remodeling/index.cfm/mytopic=102 20

By: valuethinker Sat, 01 Jan 2011 19:53:58 +0000 Felix

If you’ve ever tried to source materials ‘out of standard’ in a building industry part of the economy, you’ll learn just how expensive expensive can get. Then find someone to install it– even harder.

That’s certainly true of the UK. If the builders don’t know the technology, it will cost you a fortune to install it.

Since it’s not a competitive advantage in homebuilding to provide heating in Mexico, I suspect it is just not offered. The customers don’t value it, so it’s not provided.

I know from friends in the USA that in places that ‘don’t have a winter’ (Arizona, Florida, Alabama) there can be a complete lack of insulation (the US unusually has no national building codes, apparently) and of any form of central heat (at least in very low income housing and rental housing, eg student accomodation). So you can see the same phenomenon.

As you do in Johannesburg, which is plenty cold in winter, and is an elevated plateau. Even in middle class housing.

There is enough commercial expertise in AC now in the UK to mean that it’s possible to get a residential installation. And there is cheap Japanese kit of decently high quality (Japanese and Korean– I’ve not seen any American AC kit, I suspect because the US equipment just did not optimize efficiency, and electricity is twice as expensive here on average). Air Source Heat Pumps (probably the predominant form of US HVAC) are just beginning to have an impact here.

So I think we’re down to path dependence in the case of Mexico. That perhaps and low incomes.

The UK broke path dependence on Central Heating (rare in the UK before 1963) that winter of 1963 when the freezeup was so bad it suddenly became middle class OK to have central heating. The mentality of post war austerity was thrown off beginning at that moment, to the point now where c. 80-90% UK dwellings have central heat (about 65-70+% of all housing uses natural gas for heating and water heating– that switchover was achieved by national programme by the then state-owned British Gas, when North Sea gas was discovered in the late 60s).

Interestingly the mean UK living room temperature has risen by 4 degrees C since 1990 (?1980)- quite a testament to the income effect.

By: valuethinker Sat, 01 Jan 2011 19:42:28 +0000 ameyer32

London: almost all offices (except very old ones) now have air conditioning (old converted 19th century offices tend to have room air conditioners). That’s a given now. Most are glass boxes, and they heat up like greenhouses on a sunny day (we can wind up running the AC in mid winter, it gets so hot).

The problem in London theatres is they weren’t built with air conditioning in mind, and it would be expensive to retrofit (or impossible) and they are generally now listed buildings, and they are privately owned by 2-3 theatre companies.

Cinemas are air conditioned, new ones, and so are stores (new ones and refurbished ones) although not to American tastes. Part of the problem is no 2 layer entry doors as are pretty universal in North America (if you leave the doors closed, you lose customers: people assume you are not open).

Homes are not, although the latest homes are (with the very hot summers we have been having)– it’s a growing trend and in fact official government publications anticipate that 50%+ of London houses may have air conditioning post 2050.

Rest of the UK generally it’s not hot enough for long enough in summer to have air conditioning for homes, although some new houses at the executive end do. Remember forced air heating is almost unknown, here, so you’d have to build or add a separate air cooling system.

So I would conclude the main barriers to air conditioning in the UK are:

– absence of forced air heating (which could easily be made double purpose) except in modern shops and office buildings (which tend to have AC)

– absence of experience of really long humid N. American style summers (which would create a home demand)

– a North American would generally perceive UK air conditioning (and home heating) as inadequate by American standards== the specs are lower

Note that UK housing (and building generally) insulation and air tightness standards are well known for being poor. The latest building regs have not quite caught up to the Swedish 1975 standard (I am not joking). Until the 1990s, there were no Building Regulations regarding insulation AFAIK.