23

Dec

Merry Christmas from Performance Point!  

Written By: Athena Seay

A well-known hymn….” Westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light” talks about being guided by a certain light.  Our customers are our north star here at Performance Point and delivering outstanding customer service is what guides us. During this season we reflect on what is truly important both professionally and personally. 

Sam Galphin, President of Performance Point shares ….”What is truly important for Performance Point is that we are doing an exceptional job servicing our customers.  My desire is for our customers to look back on their year and recognize that we were a big part of their success.  When they succeed we succeed!”  

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the supply chain for home builders, and that is especially highlighted during this time of year. With material shortages and production disruptions, builders are stressed.  Performance Point strives extra hard to be a partner with our builders, to help them overcome this lack of capacity.  “We may feel a little stretched right now to get to all of the scheduled homes, but we do, while other companies are falling far behind,” says Sam.

Personally, during this time of year, Sam focuses on the importance of family time and to reflect on another year gone by.  “We try to live a financially and environmentally friendly lifestyle, values that glorify Christ”.   

Performance Point also is intentional about giving back to the community.  We tithe 10% of our profits to Habitat for Humanity.  We also support Dream On 3, a charity that provides assistance to children that are sick in the hospital but can not have visitors because of Covid.

Professionally, Sam is thankful for the success of Performance Point!  For example, the jobs completed this week compared to the same week in 2018 have increased over 230%!

Also, Sam is grateful for the employees and staff that work at Performance Point.  “They are people that I enjoy and look forward to seeing and interacting with every day.” 

And still proceeding, Performance Point is exploring ways to leverage technology to service our customers even more. “We’re going to have a year focusing on expanding our capacity to service our customers in new ways.  I look forward to growing in the markets in which we currently participate by providing additional services to our customers.”

08

Dec

What Makes Us Different? A Customer’s Perspective…

Written By: Athena Seay

A lot of factors go into building a home; the site, the size, the structure, and the specifications.  Making a home that is extraordinary, built to the highest standards, is what you can find with Linnane Homes.  

Linnane Homes, LLC has been in the home building business since 1989 in the Charlotte area.  With homes ranging from $800,000 to $3 million, Linnane’s customers expect exceptional built houses for living. These homes are not only beautiful on the outside, but are comfortable and above the standards of the average home. For example, Linnane homes are 35% more energy efficient than the standard home. They are so confident in their homes that they provide a 10  year structural, insured, and transferable warranty.

Performance Point helps this custom builder do just that…by providing the services that make homes a lasting investment. Billy Linnane, the President of Linnane Homes was impressed with the knowledge and insightfulness of Sam Galphin, the President and founder of  Performance Point, since first meeting him at an industry function in 2009. Since then, they have collaborated on close to 100 homes. 

Both Linnane and PP have the same goals: to maximize clients’ investment with quality performance homes. Performance Point consults with Linnane Homes on the following  services: 

  • Blower Door & Duct Leakage Testing 
  • HERS Ratings (Home Energy Rating System) 
  • ENERGY STAR 
  • Building Performance Reports 
  • HVAC Design  
  • Air Sealing 

This intense attention to detail requires day to day communication between the two companies. In fact, Billy says, “Performance Point’s personal attention, their schedule flexibility,  and industry knowledge has made the perfect relationship”. 

It’s this partnership that helped Linnane Homes win the best Energy Star Certified Home 2013,  2014, and 2015. Also, they have earned the highest level for client satisfaction for 5 years straight on Houzz.  

Performance Point mirrors Linnane’s winning leadership by earning NGBS Green Partner of Excellence and is the market leader for Energy Star Certified Homes. 

To be a leader in a competitive home building market, Linnane has trusted Performance Point to work seamlessly with them, from pre-construction design to finish construction inspections.  “It’s an ongoing relationship for today and tomorrow”, says Billy Linnane. 

We are ready to start a relationship with your new residential construction business!  Performance Point is in NC, SC, TN, and Richmond (VA). 

Give us a call today (704) 563-1030

01

Dec

Performance Point – The Future and What Makes Us Tick

Written By: John Jeppesen

A lot has changed since we opened our doors. We’ve grown, adding new customers and services, but those are just a few of the changes.  We’re excited about that and all the new technologies and construction techniques in the industry.

Sam Galphin looked into his crystal ball and noted: “I want to continue to grow geographically and in our scope to offer what our industry wants and needs and build the systems that allow us to provide that service effectively. I am 100% committed to helping my customers be more successful, and using those returns to provide opportunities for our people. I want to operate a business that leads by example in the area of environmental and human stewardship.”

Just as a building is only as strong as its foundation, we value integrity as our bedrock. “No one will see most of what we do or how we do it. That creates an environment ripe for cutting corners and falsifying inspection information,” says Galphin. “Many in our industry do this as part of their business practice. At least once every few weeks a homebuilder tells me he is not going to follow the code because no one enforces it or a competing rater brags about a shortcut they’ve found to beat the system. The construction industry (aka “the industry”) is kind of funny in the sense that we are here to build long-lasting structures, but tend to focus on only the shortest term gains. The industry fights against the adoption of practices that can make operating a house more affordable for the occupants and environment under the notion of affordable housing; The industry champions rebate programs that benefit utilities and raters but may actually cost the consumer more.  Commitment to fighting the shortcuts and fighting for the truth in our larger industry is what I mean by integrity in our industry. It is a distinctive of ours and our employees personally.”

We care about the environment. We want our children and grandchildren to have clean air and water in the future. One step is converting to an all-electric fleet. “The technology that allows us to get from job site to job site with minimal environmental impact has come a long way,” Galphin notes. “And we believe we are about to see a tipping point in the auto industry. A 100% electric vehicle can have a lower carbon impact than an efficient gasoline vehicle, but not in every case, it is actually quite complex. We have been running a Nissan Leaf for a while now and we are impressed with its capabilities and efficiency, but the range just isn’t enough for some people to get through the day.  The same goes for the Tesla vehicles that meet the space needs of our workers. We have found the Prius to be an outstanding vehicle in its reliability, efficiency, and range.”

While we strongly encourage Energy Star type construction, the “green” movement is a mixed bag in building construction, says Galphin. “The trend toward more energy-efficient construction falls in and out of popularity driven by, you guessed it, the consumer. As consumers demand more efficient homes builders deliver them. Right now in major markets builders can sell anything they build and the demand for new homes is huge so above-code energy efficiency is not something people have to do.  The other entity demanding more efficient construction is the government.  We do see many states adopting codes that promote efficiency, but these are hard-won battles with a lot of politics and money involved in fighting on both sides. As much as we see people complaining about energy codes they do remain some of the easiest, inexpensive, and impactful codes to adopt. There are also those builders whose values and identity are wrapped up in the quality and efficiency of their homes and they are strong right now, so that is great to see.”

Last and by no means, not the least, is the Performance Point’s soul – our culture and how it plays out.

It starts with the Performance Point culture. “We pride ourselves on providing an atmosphere where people are empowered to do their jobs,” Galphin asserts. “I view myself as working for the people who work here. I enjoy looking for ways to promote the success of those on our team. People are accountable, but they are so valued, they are not afraid to admit mistakes and areas where they need to grow. So if you came here to work you’d find a wide variety of outside interests from athletics to comics, a wide variety of experiences from a lifetime of experience in the industry to fresh out of school, a wide variety of physical characteristics shapes, sizes, and ages and a wide variety of education levels – but everyone must have integrity, humility, and the drive to be the best.”

It’s no surprise the corporate culture fuels a strong sense of corporate citizenship. We care about our neighbors, the city, and the country. “This is one of my favorite things to not talk about,” Galphin modestly says. Here are a few things from the past year as examples of Performance Points giving aside from the ways we encourage our employees to be active givers. We have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, we tithe (give 10% of our company profits), and we made hundreds of sandwiches for a local food bank and challenge others to match our contributions. We are putting together a box for a Dream On 3 kid who is stuck in a hospital without visitors because of COVID. We have donated money toward childhood cancer research and we seek to give employment opportunities to those in our community who have been passed over.  We buy everything local that we can, even though it often costs more. We provide sponsorships to a women’s conference for mothers who have lost children. Not overlooking kids, we made a significant donation for some park equipment in an underserved community.”

Even though we strive to be profitable and successful, we are holistic, more than the sum of our parts.

And if you want to get to know us better, call us at 704.563.1030.  Leave a voicemail and I’ll get right back to you.

18

Nov

The Performance Point Difference

Written By: John Jeppesen

We take great care to provide you with more than building inspection services. There are dozens In Charlotte. So what makes Performance Point different?

Quite frankly, a lot.

It has been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. So, let’s start at the beginning of 2008. That’s when Sam Galphin hung up his shingle, so to speak. He looks back: “At the time I started Performance Point I was working at Sealing Agents.  Sealing Agents is most known for spray foam, below-grade waterproofing, and material spreading. I was running the Sealing Agents Building Performance division at the time. When the housing bubble bust impact reached Charlotte in 2007 and 2008 and the owner of Sealing Agents asked me to trim my team down to save costs. I understood where he was coming from They had to make cuts everywhere. I thought this would harm the fledgling building performance division so I suggested Sealing Agents consider allowing me to buy them out of that part of the business. I went to some banks, found one that was dumb enough to lend me the money, and off I went. I had what felt like a huge loan, a new baby on the way, an economic crash in the news, it was a scary time for me.”

It was a prime example of risk versus reward. The risk has paid huge dividends. “In 2008 I thought we’d have some home builder customers,” Galphin notes “But the majority of our work would be focused on the residential side. That means I thought we’d be working directly with homeowners on their efficiency, comfort, and IAQ problems. While that is a huge market, I found that even people with big problems didn’t want to spend what it takes to fix the problems. It is tough to convince someone to spend $5K to air seal their attic and ducts for what could be a minimal utility bill reduction. We did have a lot of traction with people who had comfort problems and IAQ issues, but because we are not an HVAC company, that line of work never generated a lot of revenue for the amount of work we had to put into selling and performing it. We actually used to do a fair number of skylights and sun tunnels for new construction and existing homes alike. That work on the roofs of existing homes led us into a brief solar career.  We decided to exit solar and all the existing home work a couple of years later as new construction work was growing again.

Performance Point has evolved since then. “Now we focus on new construction inspections and energy modeling and try to avoid existing home projects,” says Galphin. “We work directly with single and multi-family home builders on code compliance, quality inspections, safety inspections, energy ratings, air sealing, above code programs (ENERGY STAR and Green), and rebate programs.” That said, “There are a lot of things that have not changed, for example, we work for the same people we did then,” Galphin said and added, “plus a lot more and in a lot more areas.”

Every company has its share of pivotal moments. Performance Point is no exception. Galphin notes: “Yes, thousands. There are those moments in a meeting, an interview, or an idea in the middle of the night; that you look back and realize that moment was a turning point to being what you are now. I call that a turning point. To me a key moment isn’t necessarily the point where things changed, it is all those moments that led up to the turning point. A key moment is when you decide to read a leadership book instead of watch TV, pray and seek guidance rather than sleep in, actually pay attention to someone rather than nodding along while you are mentally checked out.  To me, those are the key moments because they are the moments that a turning point is built on.  That said, I know what you are asking and I have.  I would say we have pivotal moments when we’ve made key hires or promotions, expanded services, and with our tech.”

Several years ago, noted business leader Naryana Murthy famously said that “Our assets walk out of the door each evening. We have to make sure that they come back the next morning.”

Sam Galphin couldn’t agree more: “In my opinion, every hire is pivotal. Our people are what make us what we are – we are our people.  Any person we hire shapes us for accelerating toward that next turning point or avoiding it.” +We have been expanding our services and territories over the last two years in a way that we have not done in the previous 10.  The decisions required to move in that direction were absolutely pivotal and the result of many preceding key moments.”

That’s just the half of it says Galphin: “There have been several pivotal moments in our tech story that have propelled us forward.  I think we are on the precipice of another one right now that involves getting our information where it needs to be when it needs to be there.”

Stay tuned. Learn where we’re going in Part Two of our story.

02

Nov

Pushing the Envelope

Written By:  Moment Palmer

Learn about the importance — and benefits — of Performance Point’s air sealing services, effective techniques, and superior products

WHAT IS AIR SEALING AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

In this context, air leakage is the unwanted infiltration and exfiltration of air through a home’s envelope. Roughly stated, the envelope is what separates indoors and outdoors. Knowing this you can now work to pinpoint the areas of a home where leakage can happen. From the foundation to the roof every crack and crevice can be a candidate for air leakage (Think: vents, ducts, exhaust and furnace fans, crawlspaces, attics, and small openings around/between doors and windows).

Air sealing is important because a leaky or drafty house will cost more to operate, be less comfortable, and may have worse indoor air quality than a well-sealed house.  Drafty homes often have higher indoor humidity in the summertime and lower humidity in the wintertime which leads to other problems resulting from expanding and contracting wood like cracks in wood trim, cupping/crowning hardwoods, and creaky floors.

Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions for reducing air leakage. Air sealing is one major way builders deal with air leakage. Spray foam insulation, Zip Systems, SIPs, AAC block, and ICFs are other solutions but it may be outside the cost constraints or other goals of the project. With the help and expertise of the professionals at Performance Point and our access to industry-leading technology, your project will be more air-tight resulting in the most comfortable and cost-efficient home to build and live in.

“Our methods and purpose are far more valuable to a home’s performance and the occupant’s comfort than a typical insulation contractor’s attempt,” Jeremy Price, Performance Point’s Regional Field Manager explains. “A contractor, such as Performance Point, with our scientific knowledge and experience of where, how, and why, will provide an air seal that is the most effective, most attractive, and with the least amount of waste.”

 

FEATURES AND BENEFITS OF AIR SEALING SERVICES

Energy contractors generally start by performing an energy inspection to assess problem areas that need to be addressed. Most home builders have a criterion to meet (that is usually dictated by state and local building codes) regarding the amount of air leakage that is permitted.

The general consensus is that the tighter the home is, the more energy-efficient and comfortable it will be. With a well air sealed home, it is important to have a dependable ventilation system to bring in fresh air for the occupants. ACH is how we scale airtightness. We consider a home “well air sealed” under 4 ACH. A good air sealing job will get you in the 4 ACH range, better in the 3 ACH range, while best is below 2 ACH.  Simply put, ACH is the number of times all the air in the house is exchanged while running the blower door at 50 Pascals. Below 2 ACH is possible with fiberglass insulation and advanced methods of air sealing, but it is uncommon to achieve this due to the complexity of trade timing and the many interconnected systems that interact with the air sealing systems.

Performance Point goes above the typical air seal service offered by others by assessing and focusing on the whole home.

As Jeremy explains, “When we are onsite to perform an air seal assessment for a builder, not only are we there to air seal the house to limit unwanted air infiltration, we are also able to observe and inspect the framing of the structure and all of the other mechanical components. This is beneficial because the early opportunity we have to call out deficiencies in the framing or duct system to a builder prior to insulation can save everyone from trouble down the road.”

In addition to energy and cost savings, air sealing also plays a huge role in Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), which is more essential than ever since we are spending a lot more time working and learning from home. “The importance of good Indoor Air Quality has risen in the mind of the American homeowner since COVID has made us acutely aware that what we breath can make us sick, and now we are breathing more air at home than ever,” says Sam Glaphin, Performance Point’s Founder and Owner. “This making us more aware of our heating and cooling energy consumption and comfort level at home, which has created a prime situation for manufacturers to come out with new products or polish up old products to fit our new awareness of IAQ and energy efficiency.”

 

PRODUCTS AND TECHNIQUES

Once an inspection is completed, Performance Point can make recommendations to address problem areas that need the most attention or even perform the air sealing service turnkey. Effective techniques and durable quality products go hand-in-hand in creating the optimal air and moisture sealing that increase a home’s energy efficiency and building performance.

“A very specific test (Blower Door Test) is used to test the home for how ‘airtight’ it is, and the results are interpreted in a metric called Air Exchanges per Hour (ACH), and depending on what that building code dictates — a passing grade could range anywhere from 3-7 air exchanges per hour — usually depends on what part of the country the home is being built in,” explains Vinny Savelli, Regional Sales Manager (for the Southeast territory) with TYTAN Professional, one of the vendor’s Performance Point partners with.

TYTAN makes a wide variety of polyurethane-based products including adhesives and air sealing foams. “There are numerous competitors out there who produce similar products, so we differentiate ourselves by providing some of the best technology, performance, and value on the market,” Savelli explains.

One of the most popular air sealing products TYTAN offers is single component aerosol polyurethane foams. These products are extremely effective as they provide a quick and easy way to seal off points where air can move through the envelope such as exterior penetrations around windows, doors, and plumbing fixtures.

Jeremy stresses that using the correct foam sealant makes all the difference during the application, and it ensures the effectiveness of one’s effort and material. “For instance, one would not do well to choose draft-stopping foam to seal windows, as this product expands significantly, and it may interfere with raising and lowering a window sash smoothly.” And while these foams are extremely effective, the application process is also just as important.

One of the premier products TYTAN has developed is an air sealing system called the TYTAN UP! System. TYTAN UP! bundles air sealing products into a package for home builders or building performance contractors. Several benefits of using the TYTAN Up! family of products include having the right product for the specific air sealing need,  easier application than competitors’ products (which saves time and labor), and reducing overall home air leakage and blower door test results.

The products the TYTAN UP! System consists of include:

  • Tytan Window/Door Pro – Polyurethane air sealing foam with low expansion properties that will not bend windows/doors. It provides a better seal than traditional fiberglass insulation, is UL Certified, and exceeds AAMA 812 requirements.
  • Tytan Fireblock Extreme Pro – Polyurethane foam with low expansion properties that adheres to most common construction materials and classified as a Type V Residential Fireblock.
  • Tytan Gasket Foam – This polyurethane foam is used for top/bottom plate sealing made with a formula that cures with rebound and memory — helping create a better seal against drywall to help prevent air leakage. It does not require a special dispenser gun compared with competitors who also use water/latex-based foams.

 

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED

Providing exceptional customer service and quality products is a cornerstone for any business, but exceeding expectations is the foundation of Performance Point’s philosophy.

“Creating and sustaining relationships between material suppliers and applicators is something to find value in,” Jeremy emphasizes. “Sure, it can easily be discounted as company A sells product B to installer C, but it doesn’t need to be that cut-and-dry. I think it takes an appropriate amount of communication between the two parties to make sure the materials being supplied are correct and that the materials supplied are being applied and installed correctly.”

Sam points out that, “Manufacturers are looking to installers and experts like Performance Point to help direct their efforts to fit techniques that are effective for the homeowner and cost-effective for the builder. Partnering with manufacturers helps with their product development because as inspectors we see what’s missing and as installers, we know what is possible to implement. It’s great when a product comes together with a need and we can see the effectiveness of it.”

Working with material developers, manufacturers, and trusted suppliers such as TYTAN, who care immensely about their products’ effectiveness, helps us provide top-of-the-line air seal services and procedures. Plus, we are able to demonstrate how their products are applied and how they actually work in the hands of the installer, which speaks volumes to each of our commitments to perfection and success. This close relationship to builder customers and manufacturers makes Performance Point a great choice for air sealing your project. Give Performance Point a call or email us to get a bid for air sealing on your next project.

 

 

 

 

Websites/Online resources:

https://www.theperformancepoint.com/services/air-sealing

https://www.energystar.gov/campaign/seal_insulate

https://tytan.com/

https://www.thespruce.com/air-seal-home-4174533

https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/weatherize/air-sealing-your-home

19

Oct

COVID Industry News

Industry news has been encouraging, The Washington Post recently wrote: In April, housing starts in the United States on a year-over-year basis declined 29.7 percent to 891,000, according to the Census Bureau. During that same period, housing completions fell 29.7 percent to 891,000. And in April, 1.1 million building permits were filed, down 19.2 percent from the previous April.

Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, anticipates about a 20 percent decline nationally in single-family construction this year “with a rebound taking hold at the end of the year and gains in 2021.”

Specifically, the housing market is beginning to show signs of stabilizing and is moving forward from the pandemic. By mid-May, the latest NAHB-Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, which depicts builder confidence in the construction of single-family houses, increased seven points to 37.

“But being below 50, it is still in negative territory,” Dietz said.

In a research note, Thomas Simons, a money market economist with Bloomfield, N.J.-based investment bank Jefferies & Co., wrote that he’s “optimistic” about the home building sector and that he expects a “sharp rebound” in sentiment in the June data.

“Coming into the COVID-19-induced shutdown of economic activity, there was a housing shortage in the U.S. that was driving prices steadily higher and led this index to reach its highest level since 1999,” Simons wrote. “Despite the massive surge in unemployment caused by the policy response to the virus, we don’t think the fundamentals in the housing market have changed all that much. With most of the job losses either temporary or at the lower end of the income spectrum, they are unlikely to affect the demand for single-family housing.”

But Joel Kan, associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting at the Mortgage Bankers Association, was less rosy. In a recent statement, he said the loss of 1 million construction jobs “may potentially slow the rebound in new construction that will be needed to completely revive the housing market.”

For more go to https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/11/business-our-new-normal-pandemics-effect-home-construction-market/?arc404=true

Over at Marketwatch.com, the situation is improving: “The numbers: Home-building activity has staged a significant turnaround from the coronavirus-related slowdown.

U.S. homebuilders began construction on homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.496 million in July, up 22.6% from the previous month and 23.4% from a year ago, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday. The pace of home building is now 7% down from the pre-coronavirus high.

Permitting activity occurred at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.495 million, up 18.8% from June and 9.4% from July 2019.

The numbers: Home-building activity has staged a significant turnaround from the coronavirus-related slowdown.

U.S. homebuilders began construction on homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.496 million in July, up 22.6% from the previous month and 23.4% from a year ago, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday. The pace of home building is now 7% down from the pre-coronavirus high.

Permitting activity occurred at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.495 million, up 18.8% from June and 9.4% from July 2019.

All regions experienced an overall uptick in housing starts despite rising coronavirus cases across many parts of the country, led by the 35.3% increase in the Northeast. However, single-family starts actually fell slightly between June and July in both the Northeast and the Midwest. Permitting rose relatively uniformly across the country, with all four major regions seeing upticks.

Big picture: Americans’ demand for homes was at a fever pitch before the pandemic, and it’s now returned in earnest. Low mortgage rates have made buying a home a more affordable proposition for millions of Americans, while the reality of living, working, and attending school at home has prompted many households to search for bigger properties, particularly in the suburbs.”

For more, go to https://www.marketwatch.com/story/housing-starts-soar-226-in-july-as-americans-head-for-the-suburbs-in-search-of-larger-abodes-2020-08-18

Make no mistake, the pandemic has changed the way we live and work. Galphin offers this: “I hope we as a company will continue to grow in our understanding of our impact on each other from a corporate and individual perspective.  For example, we’ve seen mental health effects and the impact of charity.  We had several employees who suffered serious mental health effects and/or have been impacted by the mental health of loved ones as a result of COVID.  I want to facilitate an environment that fosters mental, spiritual, and physical health.  We did some outreach efforts like making sandwiches for a homeless shelter and I’d like to see those activities continue as partnerships more than just one-time events.  I personally lean pretty far toward the introverted end of the spectrum so I have appreciated the isolation, but I have come to appreciate my face-to-face interactions with customers and co-workers more than I ever thought I would.”

05

Oct

What has Performance Point learned about COVID 19?

Written By: John Jeppesen

Who knew a microscopic bug would bring the world to its knees? It has devastated everything…how we interact, how we shop, how we work, how we worship, how we play, how we go to school, and most importantly what we are doing about it. And finally, toilet paper is now back on the shelves.

It shut everything down a couple of months ago. Businesses were shuttered, many permanently, costing millions their jobs and livelihoods. Dark days indeed. The good news is our country is slowly and deliberately coming back. Knee jerk reactions could set the progress back to zero if we’re not careful.

The workplace is drastically different. Morning drive times instead of being miles in a car are now a short walk from the kitchen to the home office. Anybody with the foresight to buy Zoom stock is now cashing in big time. Parents with school-age kids may have to share some of their space and time homeschooling their children. It’s a brave new world these days.

So this is what we at Performance Point have been doing. Sam Galphin, the Performance Point president offers some of his insights

“The company has felt the stress of the pandemic, Galphin says: “The biggest stressors for our employees vary depending on if they have kids at home.  For employees with kids who are doing virtual school (as opposed to in-person school) managing schooling at home and childcare is probably their biggest COVID-related stress.  For employees without kids at home, I understand that social isolation has been difficult.  At this point, many people are venturing out into social settings or getting together in small groups in their homes where they can keep a safe distance or be outdoors so that helps alleviate some of the stress from social isolation.”

While some companies were blindsided, Performance was naturally ready for the “new normal.” “We were actually ready for COVID without needing to put special measures into place,” Galphin notes.  “Performance Point has operated with a paperless and distributed workforce since opening the doors in 2008.  It was easy for our office staff to work from home because most of us already did operate from home 1-2 days a week.  We have a large group of office staff that only come into the office once or twice a year; that kind of flexibility has always been a benefit to our office people.  At the very beginning of the pandemic, we did decide to continue operating a minimal staff from the office to help with some tasks that benefit from the physical presence of teammates such as our scheduling/dispatching people.  Our customers benefit from our decision to operate in this way because it allows a real-time response to customer communication.  For example, one person can look up the details on an unpaid invoice while the other person is talking to the customer and scheduling their job – we can give the scheduled date of the job they called in before they are off the phone as opposed to going back and forth.”

The field staff has also adapted. “Our field staff work independently for the most part.  The timing of our inspections on homes requires we are not in a house with other trades working as it is so that never really changed field operations.  We have had to reschedule jobs if other trades are working in the house when we arrive to prevent exposure to COVID, but in many cases, we would have had to reschedule those for other job-related reasons.”

Performance Point has learned a couple of lessons in the process says Galphin: “First, this whole situation has reinforced the understanding that we are all in this (life) together and we as individuals hold the power and responsibility to make our world better or worse.  We can choose to use our individual freedoms and resources to impact climate change, economic opportunity, and COVID for the good or for the worse.  The government isn’t or can’t ever do as much as the people acting for the good of each other.  Taxing and distributing wealth will never be as effective as people giving to the deacon fund at a local church where it can go directly to helping those in need in their local community.  The problem is that people don’t often act in a way that is best for everyone so the government has to do something.

Second, I learned we apparently work at the pleasure of our local government.  I think it is an unfortunate situation when our state and local officials have to force businesses to close for a period of time or at least force them to change their operations.  I’m not suggesting this step was not necessary, it probably was, but I would have preferred to see companies and business owners be proactive and change their operations so the government would not have a need to shut people down for weeks at a time.  I do think some research-based guidance to affected small businesses would have been helpful to prevent a mass shut down as we saw in some places.”

26

Aug

Architects and Interior Designers Warming to Mini Splits

Written By: John Jeppesen

Performance Point has long supported energy conservation and green technologies.
We are always looking for ways to support those initiatives. In fact, we are in the
process of replacing our service vehicles with electric-powered vehicles as existing vans
and escapes age out. We see it as our contribution to clean air.

That said, we featured mini-splits as one technology that can make a difference in our
last blog post. There is a growing trend in that direction, but there’s a sticking point.
Architects and interior don’t like the aesthetics of an air handler on a wall that affects the
“look” of their designs.

The good news is that even those skeptics are coming around and have created ways to
minimize or conceal air handlers in a room.

We talked to Justin Fulford at Fulford HVAC (www.fulfordhvac.com) again. He has
noticed an uptick in architect and interior designer acceptance but there’s still room for
growth. “We’ve talked to architects and interior designers but we also talk to contractors.
If you believe in the product, we’re the ones that bring it to the table as options. Some
people are acceptable to the new technology while others are still on the old
bandwagon and don’t like change and with some houses, there is no other option other
than mini-splits. A lot of people are acceptable to the new technology. I’ve got a
homeowner right now with a house that was built in the mid-sixties and on one floor
there’s no way to run ductwork to it. I proposed mini splits and the builder is old school
minded and is afraid that it might not work, but it will work and he keeps saying: ‘gotta
find a way, gotta find a way to use ductwork.’” Even so, Fulford will continue to propose
this technology to his customers.

Next, we did some digging. We found ideas on how to squeeze air conditioning in
century-old brownstones. This “how-to” provides ideas on ways to incorporate mini splits
in a renovation. Note: you might have to cut and paste this link into your browser.

https://www.brownstoner.com/interiors-renovation/air-conditioning-renovation-ideas-historic-architecture-mini-splits-interior-design/

Jodi Laumer-Giddens is the President of LG Designs, an Atlanta architectural firm, posted a “confession on homeenergysaver.com:

“GUILTY! Once upon a time, I would have scoffed at mechanical engineers and contractors if they’d ask me, as the design architect, for a bigger room to put the HVAC (heating and air conditioning) equipment in.

“Are you crazy? And give up valuable storage space???”

They might have also asked me for dropped soffits and vertical chases to run the ductwork through. To which I would reply:

“What?!?! That’s not consistent with my innovative and beautiful design! The audacity!!!”

OK, so maybe I wasn’t quite THAT oblivious and arrogant, but I was definitely not as aware of the importance of the HVAC systems and integrating them into the design of a home as I am today.

My, how the tables have turned.

I’m still an architect and I’m still designing homes, but I’m also designing, specifying, and integrating the HVAC Systems for those homes. I also design them for homes that other architects or designers have done. Sometimes it’s the architect that hires me, and other times it’s the HVAC contractor or the home’s builder.

No matter who it is, most of the time it’s too late to influence the architecture and interior design to smoothly integrate the equipment and ductwork because the house is already framed up. The HVAC system is typically one of the last things to be installed in a home, just before insulation, drywall, and finishes. Oddly, it’s also one of the last things to be designed, and it’s done on the fly. Too often the architecture and interior design did NOT account for the integration of a mechanical system and its ductwork, so installation becomes a challenge.”

More details follow. You might have to cut and paste this into your browser:

http://homeenergysaver.ning.com/profiles/blogs/why-don-t-architects-and-interior-designers-care-about-hvac-syste

We also found an interior design perspective on mini-splits:

“Ductless mini-splits are the in-thing these days because of their reduced electricity bills and a wider cooling coverage. Maybe, mini-splits were not around when your house was constructed, hence it was not included in your design. But these units are great for reducing electricity bills and cools a wider area.

Build a false beam to surround the unit and you won’t notice the appliance. Combine this with sunken lighting or mount it above the window to make your space look great without sacrificing functionality.

Great spots for mini splits are above the doorway, bookshelves, cabinets, or bed. Housing this in an open shelf integrated into the wall creates a visual interest that harmonizes with your interior design.

Keep the design simple and cheap by matching the color of the wall with the unit. Install a decorative element for a smart and chic accent to enhance the existing decoration.”

https://www.urdesignmag.com/architecture/2019/08/08/why-is-it-important-to-include-your-ac-design-in-your-interior-plan/

So there you have it. Hopefully, this will help architects and interior designers get over the resistance to mini-split systems. They are creative people by nature and all it takes is a bit of creativity to integrate mini-splits into their repertoire.

28

Jul

What are Mini Splits Good For?

Written By: John Jeppesen

The short answer is A lot. Mini Split, also called Ductless HVAC systems have been around since the ’80s but have not been popular until the last five years. At Performance Point, we have discovered several reasons for the increased use.

We talked to Rob Howard, a Charlotte, N.C. Sales Manager at Yandle-Witherspoon Supply, and a Mitsubishi Mini Split dealer. He compared them to conventional central HVAC systems. “It does a good job of keeping a portion of your house comfortable, usually close to the return and where the thermostat is located but the extremities are not as comfortable as you want them to be. It’s not uncommon to see those areas drift three to five degrees off what the thermostat is set to.” He called that “custom comfort.”

Second, he says Mini Splits improve indoor air quality: “Everywhere you have an air handler or a Mini Split you have filtration in that zone because it has a filter built into it.” Central systems have just one filtration point for the whole house.

Then there’s increased efficiency. Most central heat pumps have a mid-range 14 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). Higher efficiency systems can push to 17-20. Mini-Splits can have a 20-30 rating. Contractors and developers use this as a key selling point.

Some builders and developers say Mini Splits are too expensive. Not so says Howard: “While the equipment may be more expensive, it (Mini Split) requires little or no ductwork to install. The labor and materials for installation should be significantly less.”

Justin Fulford, Fulford Heating and Cooling in N.C. has installed Mini Split systems all over the world. He too has noticed a significant uptick in Mini Split systems and agrees with Rob Howard.  He also notes that these systems are significantly more expensive in a total retrofit or remodeling. That said, Mini Split systems can provide air conditioning to older homes with hot water or boiler heating systems. In those situations, they are the most cost-effective, inobtrusive solution to adding air conditioning compared to window units. They make a lot of sense in an addition or bonus room.  Fulford cited his own home: “I put four of them in my house and increased the square footage by 1200 square feet. By increasing footage, putting high-efficiency systems, my power bill went from $270 down to $120.  I went from a small house to a big house and saw a huge drop in my power bill.”

Both Howard and Fulford say their customers are amazed at how quiet Mini Split systems are.” The biggest thing I like to talk about is how quiet they are,” says Fulford. “The indoor unit and the outdoor unit are practically silent. You don’t hear moving parts or compressors. That’s a really good feature for people that have a patio or go outside and they’re tired to hearing a loud unit rattling away.”

It has been noted that some architects and interior designers don’t like the aesthetics of a unit hanging on a wall. Fulford says this about that: “I have several architects that are promoting it (Mini Splits) because there are ways to be creative to hide the indoor units and have a lot of indoor options. They need to find a way to hide the equipment. We’ve got several building high-end beach houses and that’s all they want to put in.”

Commercial buildings are yet another application of this technology. “When you get to the commercial level, they don’t call them Mini Splits, the call them VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow),” says Howard. “You’ve got two levels, VRF heat pumps and true VRF which offers simultaneous heating and cooling. That’s where you get into your highest cost and highest efficiency. This technology takes heat from one part of the building and moves it to another. Maybe you’re in a commercial space where you want cooling in the offices but they want heating in another part of the building. Rather than making the heat, you’re just moving it from one space to another. You’re paying for the cooling and getting the heat for free or vice versa.” Howard shared a Mitsubishi case study on this topic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeEDFVmvtsk

There are a lot of design considerations with ducted and ductless Mini Split systems, especially in low-load new homes or renovations requiring Manual LLH.  Even conventional equipment can benefit tremendously from professional design expertise.  In future articles, we will talk about some of these design considerations!  This is where Performance Point can help. We are fully up to speed on this technology and can consult with your team if you’re considering a Mini Split system or having trouble squeezing conventional ducts into your house plan.

 

Visit our website www.theperformancepoint.com or call 704.563.1030 to get started.