WSJ Enterprises Blog

Putting reality in real estate and green building

2016 State Code Changes; They are a comin’ so what’s in store for the Energy Code?


I loved my Razor flip-phone and when I had to get a new phone they told me I couldn’t get another Razor. It was small, easy to open, did everything I needed it to do. So now I have a Smart Phone. I can’t buy a big box television, but I can buy flat screen. I can’t buy a Ford Falcon, but I can buy a Ford Focus. The point is things change and marketing experts state that once a market commodity reaches a 25% market saturation point the market tips to the improvement. Building Science has improved over the decades with a combination of improved methodology and technology and High Performance Homes are reaching the 25% point. The result is healthier, more energy efficient, more durable homes that are more comfortable for the owners. The history of change is evident as consumers have changed their expectations by following product and practical improvements. In the 70’s only 18% of homes had air conditioning. Today 87% of homes are air conditioned. Today’s newly constructed homes have more windows, more insulation, have more complex heating/cooling systems and are larger. It naturally follows that as we strive for improved building practices and products that codes also become more stringent to the point where code homes will equal High Performance Homes.

On October 1, 2016 the State of Connecticut intends to adopt the 2016 Connecticut State Building Code[1].  The intention is to include the adoption of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code and International Residential Code (2012 IECC/IRC) with amendments. The amendments can be reviewed in their entirety at this link; . Mandatory compliance provisions for single family homes include labeling, air sealing, duct leakage, programmable thermostats, building cavity, equipment sizing using Manual J and Manual D, lighting, Ventilation (NEW) and Pipe Insulation (NEW).  A cursory overview is a follows;

  • Labeling- a permanent certificate posted on or in the electrical distribution panel with air leakage and duct leakage testing results
  • Air sealing mandatory with verification by tested leakage ≤ 3 ACH50 in Climate Zone 5 AND a completed Inspection Checklist (Table 402.4.1.1). This is a sea change to air sealing going from a relatively easy compliance standard to a very stringent level of tightness! Very important that the requirement for additions and alterations has been modified to; A visual inspection of the building envelope tightness and insulation installation shall be considered acceptable when the items listed in Table 402.4.1.1, applicable to the method of construction, are field verified.
  • Ducts, air handlers, and filter boxes shall be sealed. Duct tightness shall be verified by either of the following; Post construction test-total leakage shall be less ≤8cfm/100 sq.ft. of conditioned floor area. Rough-in test- total leakage shall be ≤8cfm/100 sq.ft. of conditioned floor area, including manufacturers air handler enclosure. If no air handler is installed at testing, total leakage shall be ≤4cfm/100 sq.ft. of conditioned floor area.

Exceptions: Ducts and air handlers located entirely within the building thermal envelope.

Duct Sealing has been part of the code requirement since 2003 but the fact that this will now be tested is a major change to the requirement.

  • Programmable thermostats are self-explanatory and is a common installation.
  • Building framing cavities shall not be used ducts or plenums.
  • HVAC equipment sizing shall no longer be created by “rule of thumb” but will be mandatory that heating and cooling equipment shall be sized in accordance with ACCA Manual S based in building loads calculated in accordance with ACCA Manual J or other approved heating and cooling calculation methodologies.
  • (NEW) Mechanical ventilation shall be provided that meets the requirement of Section M1507 of the IRC Code or with other means of ventilation. The whole house ventilation fans shall consist of one or more combination of exhaust or supply fans, with ducts and controls. Local exhaust or supply fans are permitted. Outdoor air ducts connected to the return side of an air handler shall be considered to provide supply ventilation.
  • (NEW) Mechanical system piping capable of carrying fluids above 105˚F or below 55˚F shall be insulated to a minimum of R3. Recirculating systems must have an automatic control or readily accessible switch that can turn off the hot water circulating pump when not in use and R3 insulation required.


The team at Home Energy Technologies offers pre-construction guidance and training to architects, builders, contractors and designers. We provide inspections services, both the insulation installation and then test the final results with blower door and duct testing. We also do IECC Code compliance testing, diagnostic review, Manual J creation as well as testing and certification for Zero Energy, Energy Star, National Green Building Standard homes. The “boots on the ground” insight from hundreds of homes in every type, size and situation has provided our team with a wealth of knowledge. It is why over the past few years we have been the largest provider of certification and testing services in the State of Connecticut.

Although there are some good and bad practices in current building there is the ability to achieve the upcoming higher standards without busting the bank. The key word is “diligence”. Construction has been “siloed” for too long. The framer never talks to the plumber who never talks to the electrician who never talks to the insulation installer, et al. The change required to achieve higher performance is for all trades to work toward a common goal with the same diligence paid to each trade equally with oversight and teamwork. Also, high performance is designed in, not pasted on at the end. It requires architects and designers to make the contractor their partner in design, not an opponent who has to figure out how to fit application into design.


Can the code compliance be done easily? For those who have been doing the same thing for 30 plus years and feel their method of building is perfect, the changes will be a challenge. I can tell you that Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County under the direction of Kevin Moore and working with our team has achieved under 3ACH air sealing for the last three years and under 2ACH/50 for the last year using volunteers albeit building simpler homes. So it can be done.


Some good practices and bad practice we have observed that will assist in meeting compliance is taught in a seminar called The Good, the Bad and The Ugly of IECC Code Compliance using examples of actual homes that we have inspected and tested.

[1] Notice of Intent to Adopt 2016 Connecticut State Building Code



September 8, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I have seen the future, and it is right around the nano-corner.



Reprinted from Green Living AZ magazine: Technology section

On July 20, 1969, President Kennedy’s forecast of men walking on the moon and safely returning to Earth came to pass. On that day in July, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., set foot on the moon, becoming instant poster boys for the advancement of American technology. That decade of invention introduced us to new wonders such as the audio cassette, halogen lamps, Astroturf, a handheld calculator, the very first artificial heart, the first video game, and ATMs. Yet if you told a person in 1969 that one day wireless communication would make it possible for every person in the world to communicate seamlessly, they would have laughed at you. I had the pleasure of speaking to one of the most fascinating men I have ever met–Justin Hall-Tipping is the CEO of Nanoholdings, a commercialization network of leading university scientists working in the fledgling field of nanotechnology. We met at his headquarters in Rowayton, CT, and sat in a conference room with a white board. Within the first ten minutes of sitting down together, we had filled the board with ideas and explanations about technology and future possibilities. When asked about the term “commercialization,” Justin commented, “Technology is a wonderful thing, but creating a breakthrough has to be tempered by being able to use that technology to help people, and that is derived by commercialization of the process.” And helping people is one of the main tenets of Nanoholdings, especially in the area of energy technologies. According to,

“The real potential of nanotechnologies is in the field of energy and our goal is to find ways to re-engineer at the nano-scale. We will be able to create energy technologies that are far cleaner, more efficient and therefore cheaper, than any of the fossil fuels or alternative energy technologies around today.”

Imagine being able to use any surface to absorb sunlight and convert the energy collected into electrons at the nanoscale. Your entire house, not just the windows, could become its own solar collector. Then, take the generated electrons and send them to a storage unit about the size of a refrigerator. For example, the average home is 2200 square feet and uses approximately 18-21Kwh per day. This storage device could hold weeks of energy at one time and distribute it back to your appliances and lighting as needed. And if you are storing excess energy and your neighbor is deficient in stored energy, you could transmit electrons wirelessly through a glyph or small patch on your window to your neighbor and receive energy. You could also sell excess power back to the grid or local provider. The power company’s infrastructure would become less relevant, and every home would become a stand-alone energy plant–no more power outages and no more fossil fuels. This process would revolutionize the generation, transmission, storage and conservation of energy as we know it. The amazing part is that most of what I have just described is already here and working in laboratories around the world through Nanoholdings… and energy is just the beginning.

Nanoholdings is using nanotechnology to take regular sand and create “supersand” by coating each granule with carbon to create a filtration medium that will remove not only bacterial contaminants, but also certain heavy metals like mercury from water. This advancement could mean an enormous step forward in preventing millions of deaths around the world that occur because of contaminated water. The practical solutions don’t stop there.

Let’s look at night-vision and the potential of decreasing the need for street lights which drain our energy resources and add CO2 to the environment. According to, “Nanoholdings is working on creating a medium using nanotechnology to develop flexible, thin films to replace existing night-vision technology. The films use several nanobased components to convert infrared light into visible light that we can see and understand. The first is a photo-detector film that converts invisible infrared light into electrons. These electrons then stimulate an optical film, like a thin flexible display, to create a visible image. The overall technology will be less than 1/2000th of a millimeter in thickness, more sensitive than conventional night-vision technologies, and will use just 1/40th of the energy.


“The films will be very flexible and lightweight and can be incorporated into standard glasses or even vehicle windscreens to create night-vision head-up displays. They will also cost a fraction of what it costs to produce conventional night-vision technology. The technology has exciting potential in all security applications. NIRVision technology should be ready for field testing by 2012.”


Justin went one step further, adding, “The visible spectrum we see is a small portion of the total light spectrum. From ultraviolet to infrared, our vision only sees a minute portion, but what if we could convert UV and infrared into visible light in a living setting? We could eliminate our normal methods of lighting by harvesting the “invisible” portions of the light spectrum at night and light our homes by converting the electrons into visible lighting. I would love to create a scenario in those countries where the basics of food, water and energy are far below the average and create a system of eBox energy conversion and storage providing low-cost heat and refrigeration along with a water filtration system to provide potable water while allowing healthier living.” Existing technologies, like carbon nano-tubes which are 1000 times more conductive than copper and harder than steel, supply some of the answers.

When you consider the challenges we face as the world population expands by an additional two billon people over the next 30 years, the answers may lie in developing these new technologies…in looking at life at the nano level. The advancements already made seem like answers looking for questions since so much can be accomplished. Is nanotechnology the next silicon chip? We can only hope that humanitarians like Justin Hall-Tipping and Nanoholdings with their team of scientists continue to think out of the box and create solutions before we run out of time.

Go to: http://www.  to view Mr. Justin Hall-Tipping’s lecture describing nanotechnology at the TED conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, held July 2011.

Comment on this article at

William Janhonen teaches green building at several colleges and universities in the Northeast.






living | January 2012

March 10, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where is Green Building Going?

As an instructor for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) I am asked at some point during every training session, “Where is Green building going?” As consumers we are bombarded daily by new green products, energy saving devices, government incentives and articles telling us how we simply must change our ways.

I can best answer the question by giving an analogy. One day in the mid-Sixties a person woke up one day and exclaimed, “Oh my God, cigarettes can kill you!” From that day forward our country has embarked on a campaign to reduce ETS or Environmental Tobacco Smoke. It began as areas in restaurants designated as NO SMOKING. It rapidly expanded to no smoking in public buildings, then to planes, trains and last year Mayor Blumberg announced that smoking would not be allowed in any New York City parks. We have accepted the ETS ban on smoking as a standard, as a mandatory given, to the extent nobody would think to spark one up in a public building.  It only took about 45 years to get this far and not every state is on board.

Green building (by the way I dislike the term immensely and would prefer it be called common sense building, but that would be another article) in comparison to ETS is at the point of nearing no smoking in public buildings. We all know about sustainable building to differing degrees and have heard about solar power and passive solar heating and geothermal but may not understand it. Recycling has been either mandated or made an option to the majority of us. Building certifications by such groups as LEED, NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), Energy Star, Green Globe and as many as 90 other certifications vie for significance. The U.S. Green Building Council projects $60 Billion being spent on Green building in 2010 and approximately $240 Billon on renovation projects with a projected $430 Billion spent on remodeling and replacement by 2020. NAHB estimates that 10-12% of new homes will be “Green” (there’s that word again) by the end of 2010.

In McGraw Hill’s, Greening of Corporate America 2007 Report, they estimate by 2010, 80% of Corporate America is expected to be engaged in green at least 16% of the time and 20% engaged 60% of the time. With building construction and use consuming 40% of our primary energy use*, 72% of our electrical consumption* and 13.6% of our water consumption** the need for our attention and participation is becoming obvious.

We are a country of largesse. We have everything and what we don’t have we historically have gone out and taken it. We don’t worry about climate change or global warming because it didn’t come up while we showered this morning and had breakfast and drove our car to work. Environmental problems aren’t something we must deal with, until gasoline became $3.00 per gallon and we decide enough is enough.

You need to educate to create the incentive for green building. If people don’t understand it they aren’t going to do it. Too many people see green building as a premium, an extra, an added cost that won’t bring any payback, is too difficult or takes too much time or effort. The definition of intelligence is behavior modified by experience. We all need to experience the benefits of green building and sustainable practices before we will start acting more intelligently in our daily lives. Information isn’t enough, if it were, we would never see another person smoking.

So, to answer the question, where is green building going? I have to tell you about a vendor from Finland I met at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas. He had a method of creating pressure treated wood without any chemicals. I asked him if this process he had been doing for 80 years in Finland was part of their green building program. He looked at me with a confused expression and said, “Green building, what’s green building? In Finland we just call it “building”.” We need to go to the point where we just call it “building”.


 *EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2008

**US Geological Survey 2000 data

July 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Fall 2016 Courses

  • The following  courses  are available this Fall:
  • Understanding Green Building  
  • LEED Green Associate Core Concepts
  • Understanding a Sustainable Home  
  • Green Finance
  • Green Appraisal
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of IECC Code Testing

The description for each of these courses is listed below. If you have any questions about any course please don’t hesitate to contact me by commenting to this blog or by emailing me at:

Understanding Green Building   RE- CEU: 3, APP-CEU:3, ARCH-:3, LEED AP/GA:3

This course will provide any building, real estate or related industry professional, or any interested party, with an understanding of LEED, NAHB & EnergyStar building certifications, the measurements used to determine each certification, green washing,  how to evaluate green benefits, tax incentives and green insurance. You will learn the difference between “being green” and sustainability and the difference between conventional and green building methods. This is a “green basics” course and anyone can benefit by getting a better understanding about sustainable. This course will include updated code change information as it applies to the 2012 IECC and 2012 IRC codes.

3 hrs. Cost: $50.00/pp

LEED Green Associate- Core Concepts   RE-CEU:6, APP-CEU: 18, ARCH-CEU: 6

This course provides an overview of sustainable building, including environmental imperatives driving the industry, the paradigm of integrated design, and the role of USGBC and the LEED Rating System. It explains the intent of each LEED Credit Category, identifying best practices, related key terms and concepts, regulation and incentives, and concepts in practice. This course will prepare you for taking the LEED Green Associate Examination and becoming nationally accredited as a LEED Green Associate, the first step in becoming a LEED Accredited Professional.

Cost: $395.00/pp

This course consists of (5) five segments.  A list of collateral material is available for free download to students at this blog. You should review  two websites for more information concerning LEED accreditation: and . This course will qualify you to sit for the LEED Green Associate exam.

Course segment schedule:

Segment One     Overview of LEED, USGBC, GBCI  and Sustainable Sites

Segment Two     Water Efficiency and Materials & Resources

Segment Three    Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation in Design

Segment Four    Energy and Atmosphere

Segment Five     LEED App. process, Synergy,  Green Building Benefits

Understanding a Sustainable Home   RE-CEU: 6, APP-CEU: 12, ARCH-CEU: 6,  LEED AP/GA: 6

This course is designed to explain the elements that comprise a sustainable home. This course explains how “Green Homes” incorporate multiple components that when integrated, make the entire building energy-efficient, resource efficient and minimizes environmental impact. Categories include: Energy, Water, Materials and Resources, Indoor Air Quality, Siting the home and landscaping, Green products,  Understanding  LEED, NAHB and EnergyStar.  Key components of a green home will be covered in each segment. These will include methods and products that relate to each category. We will cover the 2012 IECC and 2012 IRC, both have the potential to change the face of real estate as we know it. Builders, architects, home owners, appraisers, brokers and salespeople, interior designers and any person with the desire to become familiar with the rapidly growing area of green homes would benefit from this course. Collateral material will be provided.

12 hrs.  Cost: $175/pp

Green Finance      RE-CEU: 3  APP CEU: 3    ARCH: 3

Whether commercial or residential, funding for green measures is a main concern for owners.This course will cover government incentives, both state and federal, tax relief, and favorable renovation loans including  203k and 203h programs, plus many more. These programs can be complicated and difficult to find. We will examine the types of funding available, funding levels,and how, when and where to apply. Each student will be provided the tools to perform funding research and applications on their own. We will cover the new 2012 IRC adoption and the 2012 IECC codes.

This course is a must for any contractor, owner, broker, architect or lender who wants to learn how to be an advocate for their clients by understanding how funding works with green building and renovation. Everybody wants to do it, but nobody knows how to pay for it.

3 hrs.  Cost: $50.00/pp

Green Appraisal

How much is my “green” home worth? How can I determine the right selling price? How can I sell a “green” home to get my investment value? These questions and more including  HERS ratings, Green MLS listings, Appraisal Institute’s “Green Addendum” will be answered. Things change and so do expectations, building codes and the methods by which we value and appraise houses. This course will supply the basic building blocks of building science, appraisal valuation by measured improvements and most of all, how to sell high performance homes.

3 hrs.  Cost: $75/pp

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of IECC code testing  ARCH CEU: 3

Connecticut is adopting the 2012 IECC code into the 2016 State of Connecticut Building Code effective as of Oct.1, 2016. Bill Janhonen of Home Energy Technologies will discuss the results of testing hundreds of homes throughout the state and give a “boots on the ground” analysis of what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to air sealing and duct sealing showing actual tested homes.

Photos of every type, size, building material, insulation type and configuration will be represented with an example of best practices shown in the work place along with some of the dangerous and disastrous. What building inspectors are looking for and what’s to come in the future will also be discussed along with time for questions and answers.

3hrs. Cost: $50/pp



May 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LEED Green Associate Collateral material list-free downloads

For students taking the LEED Green Associate course at Norwalk Community College, Middlesex Community College or at the Ring’s End Education Center a list of links to download collateral material for the course is attached.

 You have two options:

Option One: Go to Fedex Office Print & Ship Center (Kinko’s), 777 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06854 Phone  number: 203-299-1616,  and request the collateral material under the name: William Janhonen. Request that they print out the pages of collateral material in B&W, double-sided and hole punched for you. Individuals attending outside the Norwalk/Fairfield County can contact the Kinko’s listed above to have the downloaded materials emailed to a Fedex/Kinko’s nearest to you.

Option Two: You can download the information direct from the websites and print out the pages yourself.

LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations (101 pages):

LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations checklist (1 page):

LEED Green Associate Handbook (29 pages):

Minimum Program Requirements (6 pages) :

Any questions can be sent by commenting to this blog or by contacting me at: .

May 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mortgage rescue and foreclosure solution plan

In light of the recent announcement of Bank of America and President Obama to reduce principal on mortgage debt I thought I would re-publish my original blog from 2008 concerning this matter. It is also significant that I sent this open letter to the heads of the five major lenders in 2008 as well.

November 6, 2008

Re: mortgage rescue plan and foreclosure solution

Dear Lending Institutions;

In the recent election voters were polled prior to voting and asked what character qualities were first and foremost in determining their elected representatives. The top two choices were honesty and leadership. Those top two characteristics were named in another poll as most lacking in our current leaders. In the attached mortgage rescue plan a very simple process used very often in municipal loans can solve the mortgage crisis, bring an end to the foreclosure dilemma, and return trust to our banking institutions by providing honesty and leadership.

The outline of the plan is to announce publicly that all institutional home loans will be cut by a minimum of 10% immediately and the current payments will be recast reflecting the new principal. The percentage reduction amount will be put into a five-year subsidy or “set aside” mortgage. The benefit to homeowners will be stated in the subsidy mortgage that if the mortgagor makes every payment on the reduced principal first mortgage on time and without fail, each month for five years, then the subsidy mortgage will be forgiven in full.

This will create an incentive to reward good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior.
Liquidity to the bank will increase immediately and dramatically because all loans will be on time and in full. The lower payments reflected in the lowered principal will allow mortgagors previously relegated to the ranks of foreclosure to stay solvent and in their own home. This will promote honesty because the lower market value reflected in today’s home values is at least 10%, so by reducing the principal the bank is merely reflecting the actual market valuation on it’s secured collateral.

Imagine being the first lender to announce on public television to 300 million Americans a plan to cut it’s mortgage base because it wants to lead the way out of the crisis and promote an honest and value driven solution to homeowners problems. The public relations generated by the good will of the act will demand that other lenders follow suit.
And even if they didn’t, the financial direction of your institution will be secured by future Depositors.

The mechanics of the program are very simple since the existing loans could be modified internally without need for closings or title searches or additional fees. The subsidy mortgages could be handled individually with a last owner search and new note/mortgage combination recorded in bulk.

What about owners who sell their home prior to the 5 years? Both liens exist as recorded debts and become due. For each full year an individual has paid their mortgage payments on time they get one year off of the subsidy mortgage. If someone sells their house after year 3 is over they owe the balance on the principal loan and two-fifths of the remaining 5 year subsidy loan to be paid from proceeds at closing.

What about assignments of mortgage? Normally assignments of home loans don’t occur, but if they did, the assumption would require the hypothecation of both debts to the new lender.

What would be the result of an additional default by the borrower? Both the principal loan and the subsidy loan would cross default and subsequently become due and payable and a regular foreclosure would occur.

What about refinancing? Again, the debts are of record and they would reflect the loan to value debt underwritten by either the existing bank or any new lender.

The mechanics can be refined and the percentages can be adjusted to reflect actual reductions necessary to allow borrower’s to recast their payments depending on the reduction in market value by area or region. The principal is sound and often the simplest solutions are the best. I am a regular working guy who happens to have worked in the title insurance, mortgage, property management/development business for decades and I see the need for someone to take the leadership role with honesty and integrity to solve this ever-widening crisis. Imagine it could be you.


William S. Janhonen

March 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Changing Green Building to Common Sense Building

USGBC 2008 Incentive Award winner for education was Ying Hua of Cornell University. My lecture to her class on “Understanding Green Building  Certifications” last week went very well and I was amazed at how bright her students were and how eager they are to learn. I was welcomed warmly and can’t wait to continue with the next lecture.

During our class discussion of the current state of green building and the influx of tax incentives, both for green education and buildings, it has become apparent that green building really should be called common sense building.  If the Cash for Clunkers program was such a success by giving away $4500 for you to spend $18,000 on a new car, imagine the success a program to give you a check for $1200 per year by spending $8000 on a new high-efficiency furnace would produce.  Throw out that old boiler and water heater both and replace them with a new boiler and hot water storage only tank and save $100.00 per month in lower heating costs. That’s $1200 per year for approximately the next 22 years. Add new windows, insulation, sealing gaps and cracks in foundations and the building envelope and we start talking big money. And since money talks it becomes common sense to do those things that will not only save you money, but allow you to be more sustainable at the same time.

The key phrase is;  You need to educate to create the incentive for green building! If people don’t understand it they aren’t going to do it. Too many people see green building as a premium, an extra, an added cost that won’t bring any payback, is too difficult, takes too much time and effort. The definition of intelligence is behavior modified by experience. We all need to experience the benefits before we will start to act more intelligently in our sustainable practices.

I welcome my recent LEED Green Associate course graduates to spread the word on green building benefits. The next semester class begins soon. 


November 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments