Things I'm Looking Forward to at the 2013 ACI National Home Performance Conference.

The ACI National Conference is coming up next week in Denver. It's always a highlight of the year for the Home Performance industry and this year looks to be no different. ACI is always sensory overload on every level, but here are a few of the many topics/themes/memes/sessions and meetups that I'm especially looking forward to at this year's conference:

Crowdsourced Home Performance Storytelling

One of the projects we’ve been quietly working on here at the CirclePlex is a structured approach to gathering case studies of successful projects. Distinct from many of the data gathering projects going on, our objective is compelling, consumer-facing storytelling. Real data, of course, but delivered so that homeowners can grock the myriad benefits of home performance.  Although the Energy Circle PRO system already has a fantastic Case Study App within the system (see the CHERP Claremont Case Studies for example), we’re looking to take this to the next level, and at ACI we'll be talking with a wide range of industry thinkers and contractors to move this forward. The concept is a tool that would enable thousands of contractors to submit their case studies in searchable, structured formats for search on their own sites, but also as a roll up to nationally accessible platforms for all to see. A key focus for us is brand and link building for the contractors doing the work.

Planning the Next Set of Energy Circle PRO Features

We thrive on the interaction with the community of Energy Circle customers, and are especially looking forward to talking about the results of our most recent survey of feature/function priorities. Lots of exciting new lead-driving features and enhancements that we're excited to discuss. 

Shifting Mechanical Ventilation from Necessary Evil to Customer Benefit and Profit Center

Many of us think of mechanical ventilation as a necessary evil when buildings get to a certain tightness. There’s lots of well-justified skepticism about the bathroom fan solution (where’s that air coming from?) and retrofitting whole house ventilation is, well... just plain hard. But the indoor environment in mechanically ventilated homes is awesome, and I’ve thought for a long time that we’re missing out on selling the benefits of these systems. Why isn't MV more of an end game in and of itself? Why isn't this more of a demand driver on its own? Heck, there's shiny equipment!

Digging deep to figure out the communication, marketing and selling of MV is one of my big areas of focus this year, and there seems to be a real convergence on this topic happening at ACI. In particular, I’m excited for Selling Indoor Air Quality to Customers (which Casey Murphy has agreed to do a version of for the EC PRO webinar series.) Lots of others too: Advanced Air-Sealing Protocol: Transition from Air Leakage to Air Ventilation and Making Good HVAC Design a Reality among them.

The Re-gathering of the Home Performance Market Forum

I was part of an amazing group that convened in Nevada in March to plot the next 20 years of the home performance industry. Really excited to get back together with the group at ACI and keep the momentum.

Bringing the "Lean Movement" to Energy Efficiency Programs

At Energy Circle, we've always been advocates of the Lean Movement, starting with the Agile approach to software development, and in the emerging Lean Startup, Lean Entrepreneur and Lean Marketing movements. It's time for energy efficiency programs to start thinking lean, and not just because of declining federal dollars. Lean is not a starvation diet--it is a consumer focused, iterative, validated, fast methodology that gets more done with less dollars. Lean is....efficient. And isn't that we we all stand for? It is the polar opposite of some of the bloated efficiency programs that have not produced meaningful results. I'm excited to take some of the conversations started in Nevada to the next level. 

Software and Standards Meetup

Thanks to the hardworking crew (high five to Robin LeBaron) that has led the HPXML data standard, the industry is poised to start reaping the benefits of this work. We’ll be participating with a bunch of bright minds from across the industry to discuss the current state of these efforts and identify issues and action items to move things forward. Some of the topics include HES, Green Button, HPXML, and there are sure to be more. Our pals at Energy Savvy are organizing this one. 

Pecha Kucha

Speaking of storytelling, the Pecha Kucha that is happening Thursday night should be a hoot, and I’m excited to be presenting on the Mallett House Deep Energy Retrofit. If you don’t know about Pecha Kucha yet, it's a very cool multi-speaker presentation format in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each. That equals 6 minutes and 40 seconds per speaker, so it's a very concise way to get a ton of information. There's also one on Weds night for trainers. Great job by Chris Dorsi of Habitat X organizing this year's.

The Twitter Feed

With every passing year, the number of folks contributing to the ACI Twitter feed grows. (It looks like there are multiple hashtags floating out there at the moment--#ACI13, #acinational2013, #aci2013--so stay tuned for the final.) Given that it is impossible to be everywhere, Twitter is an awesome way to follow the event, and it typically includes all types of commentary, insights and discussions that you may not hear "in real life."

Speaking of things you probably won't hear in the buttoned-up official presentations, #ACIafterDark is the way to follow the nighttime shenanigans. Tweets in that feed can get a little irreverent, humorous and racy, especially in the wee hours.

Which brings me to my next point:

The Community

There's no doubt that the community aspect of the ACI National Conference is one of its most compelling features. In a still-nascent industry, it's incredibly inspiring to see the older experts working with the up-and-comers to drive the industry forward in a healthy and thoughtful manner. I love seeing and hanging out with so many Energy Circle PRO customers. There is much to be learned, and everyone at ACI seems to have something to contribute to the conversation. Thanks, in particular, to Mike Rogers, whose 21 Recommendations for ACI 2013 post earlier this week inspired this one and to Steve Byers of Energy Logic, a local Coloradan who has graciously given us his guide to how to have a good time in Denver. The home performance community excels at that. 

If you're looking for me, here are the events and workshops I'm delivering or participating in or drop by our Booth: #319.

See you all next week!


Great post! Looking forward to seeing everyone. "Sensory overload" is totally accurate.

The trainers' evening is now on Tuesday night and J.West and I are doing an awesome Pecha Kucha there. (P.S. This tradition at ACI originated from the amazing Kelly Cutchin)

Peter, Great post as always. Looking forward to seeing you and everyone else in Denver.

Efficiently yours,


Peter Troast's picture

Thanks, y'all! Fired up to see you. 

Amanda--appreciate the date correction. Hoping that means I can make and nice to know that a fellow Mainer--Kelly--had a hand in it. I did not know that. 

Great Post, Great Conference, Sad I'll miss it. Slammed with new Permaculture Ventures at two locations. Speaking of fellow Mainers….. Dont know if buying my second Maine foreclosure qualifies me …. ? But I'm having a blast designing HVAC in your not so mild climate. On our first one, 1800 sf 100 yr old farmhouse, we put in two Mitsu 18K Hyperheats, one upstairs one down. per Manual J. With good seal and dense pack, the downstairs unit kept everything toasty on both floors in this unusually cool winter. No back up required. Next house, same size … we'll downsize the HVAC. Tell my friends that from my perspective: 1. Manual J still oversizes, 2. The right HeatPump in a good envelope will work anywhere in the country

Peter Troast's picture

Hi Dave,

That's awesome to hear. It was a brutal winter here in Maine (still snow in my yard today) so especially great to know that the mini-splits held up. I'm hearing that from everyone, by the way.

Must say, however, that I'm in a bit of shock that you won't be at ACI. 

Let me know when you're in Maine next.

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