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LEAP Awards $5,000 to Homeowners

Marti Fucile and Eric Shor receive award to make home more energy efficient.

From left, Michael Sanio of the Reston Association Board of Directors, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), homeowner Marti Fucile, Cynthia Adams of the Local Energy Alliance Program, and homeowner Eric Shor. Fucile and Shor were awarded $5,000 to make their Lake Audubon townhouse more energy efficient.

From left, Michael Sanio of the Reston Association Board of Directors, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), homeowner Marti Fucile, Cynthia Adams of the Local Energy Alliance Program, and homeowner Eric Shor. Fucile and Shor were awarded $5,000 to make their Lake Audubon townhouse more energy efficient. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— Living on Lake Audubon, Marti Fucile and her fiancé Eric Shor have learned to love their view of the lake. But as environmentally-friendly homeowners, they also know the reality that comes with the high ceilings and large windows in their townhouse.

Thanks to the Local Energy Alliance Program, a nonprofit that advocates and coordinates energy savings for homeowners, Fucile and Shor will get some assistance in their quest to become greener. Fucile was one of the winners of LEAP’s Home Energy Makeover Contest, winning $5,000 to use to make their home more energy efficient.

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Michael Hogan of the Local Energy Alliance Program points out evidence of air flow in the utility room of the townhouse of Marti Fucile in Reston. Fucile won $5,000 from LEAP to make her Lake Audubon town home more energy efficient.

"We were formed to promote energy savings, which leads to sustainability, which is directly tied to economic prosperity," said Cynthia Adams, director of LEAP, which opened an office in Fairfax this year. "When you save money on energy, you have it to put to use elsewhere. And there’s a lot more to it than just turning off your lights and lowering your thermostat."

Contractors performed an energy audit when Fucile was named a finalist, and they examined the house for signs of energy waste.

"In this house, we wanted to stop the air movement, to stop what we call the stack effect," said Michael Hogan, a contractor with LEAP. "That’s where air comes in through the bottom of the house, is conditioned, then it rises and goes out through the top. This house has perfect pathways for the air to move upstairs, and we want to stop that, which will definitely change the weather in this house."

LEAP HAS A PROCESS by which they approve contractors who meet their standards when it comes to home repairs and procedures that use environmentally-friendly techniques and the correct materials in their work.

"Once we do our work, we’re not just saying ‘this house is better,’ we take exact measurements on what is happening. This is building science, not building voodoo," said John Wolfe, a combustion safety analyst with Energy Masters of Virginia. "We can back up everything we’re doing with hard data, and the person who comes behind us will get that same data.

Fucile said she heard about the contest after seeing an ad in the Reston Association newsletter. She filled out the online assessment tool that compares energy use and other factors against similar houses in the area to determine inefficiencies.

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From left, homeowner Eric Shor, Michael Hogan of the Local Energy Alliance Program, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) and LEAP Executive Director Cynthia Adams discuss energy saving strategies at Shor’s Lake Audubon townhouse. Shor and his fiancée Marti Fucile were awarded $5,000 from LEAP to improve efficiency in their home.

"I knew this house was drafty, and that it wasn’t as efficient as it could be," she said. "We’re definitely anxious to make our footprint smaller and make this place more efficient."

The work will be done on the townhouse sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

LOCAL OFFICIALS joined LEAP staff and several contractors for a tour of the townhouse Thursday, Nov. 8, to get a firsthand look at ways to save energy.

"The County has a clear sustainable energy goal, and conservation is a major part of that," said Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill). "A program like this allows us all to walk away and think about our own home, and what the everyday citizens can do."

Michael Sanio, member of the Reston Association Board of Directors, says he is intrigued with the possibilities of such a program.

"Within the RA, the LEAP program has initiated a lot of discussions about what a program like this can do for our community," said Sanio, who has a professional background in international sustainability. "We’re trying to make Reston a model for sustainability, and to not only protect our environment, but start to repair the damage we’ve done."

More information on LEAP, including their assessment tool for homeowners, can be found at www.leap-va.org.