Archived: Jan 2015 HIP Webpage

GHI Homes Improvement Program
Updated January 2015


At their meeting on December 4, 2014, the GHI Board voted on a set of proposed home energy efficiency upgrades that will be put to a membership vote in the late Spring / early Summer of this year.  The improvements are part of the GHI Homes Improvement Program (HIP) that was created in June 2013.  HIP includes upgrades to parts of our units’ “building envelopes” (i.e. the roof, walls, windows doors and other components that separate the living area of our homes from the outside). HIP also includes replacement of our current baseboard heaters, either with a new baseboard heaters or ductless heat pumps.    

HIP includes items that are part of the Replacement Reserves Program (such as doors and windows).  The items to be voted on this year are for energy efficiency improvements that currently are NOT included in our Replacement Reserves Program (RRP --see Chart 1, below). Unlike our doors, windows, and baseboard heaters, which we pay for over time through our monthly fees, the building improvements on which we’ll be voting this year would require some additions to our currently monthly fees.  The items, and their estimated costs per member, are shown in Chart 2.  The planned replacement of the items shown in the left column of Chart 1 are building components that do not require a membership vote.  Those replacements are scheduled to begin being replaced in 2016.  Some of the items in the right column of Chart 1 were selected by the GHI board as items that will be voted on by the membership this Spring, as denoted by an asterisk (*)

Chart 1:  GHI Building Components Included, and Not Included, in the Replacement Reserves Program

Funded under RRP

Examples of Items Not Funded under RRP

Replacement horizontal sliding windows (masonry units)

Installation of casement windows, instead of sliders (masonry units)*

Replacement doors

Storm doors

Replacement  of vinyl siding (frame units)

Installation of 1 inch of exterior insulation beneath new vinyl siding in frame units*

Replacement baseboard / ceiling heaters

Installation of vinyl siding over 2” insulation for block  unit exterior walls*

Replacement of waste water pipes (frame units)

Installation of bath vent fans with time switches*


Installation of bath vent fans in block units with automatic control*


Correction / improvement of crawl space insulation and vapor barrier in frame and brick units


Installation of ductless mini-split heat pumps

*denotes items that will be included in the membership vote in Spring, 2015

Chart 2, below, identifies the GHI Board’s recommendations for the HIP replacements in the brick, block and frame units.  The table shows what the specific recommended improvements are;  whether the Board voted that they be required for all units or whether they be installed only by each member’s choice; and the current estimated cost per unit for each upgrade.

Chart 2:  Building Envelope Improvements Recommended by the GHI Board in December 2014

 The recommendations to be considered in the HIP grew out of the GHI Buildings Committee’s work over the past four years.  The committee has been assisted by the Homes Innovation Research Labs (HIRL), the research arm of the National Association of Home Builders.  The assistance is being provided at no cost to GHI, through a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Labs. 

GHI is planning several information events so that GHI members can learn about the proposed improvements, ask questions, and make suggestions.  Information to the membership will be conveyed via town hall meetings, the GHI website, articles in the Communicator and GHI e-news, etc.

You can peruse the presentations about Pilot Program Phases 2 and 3 that were made by GHI board members and Buildings Committee members at the Town Hall meeting held on March 2, 2014, at  The following are some frequently asked questions about the Homes Improvement Program.



Soon many of the major components of our homes will be at the end of their useful life, and in need of replacement. Basic component replacement might not be enough, however. According to a member survey, many of us are uncomfortable in our homes in the summer and winter, and we are not happy about the costs for heating and cooling our homes. In the past three and half years, GHI (through the Buildings Committee) has been working with experts to determine what other improvements would be beneficial to members, in order to reduce energy costs and increase comfort. 

The Homes Improvement Program was intended to pair the replacement of these end-of-life components with additional energy efficiency improvements as voted on by the membership. The good news is that part of our monthly Co-op fee has always been placed in a Replacement Reserve fund in order save money to cover the cost to replacement of some these components.


Doing nothing, and allowing our homes to age and deteriorate, is not a realistic option as maintenance begins to cost more on older components. Many of the original doors in our homes will be due for an upgrade to improve protection against the weather. The vinyl siding on frame homes also needs to be replaced.  In terms of additional energy efficiency, we could add insulation to our crawlspaces, attics, and walls, and/or we could switch to a different heating system that also provides air conditioning in the summer. These are just a few examples of the challenges facing our aging homes.


GHI members do!  After examining the recommendations made by the Buildings Committee in Fall 2014, the GHI Board decided which building components will complete work on the Pilot Program and make recommendations for additional energy efficiency improvements beyond what is scheduled for replacement from the Replacement Reserve Fund. Town Hall meetings and other types of information sessions will be organized to inform all GHI members about the alternatives being considered and to answer all questions.  Members will vote in late Spring 2015 on what (if any) building components being examined in the Pilot Program that are not covered by the Replacement Reserves Program, should be included in the Homes Improvement Program.


GHI Staff and Building Committee members have been researching funding options to reduce the cost to members for additional energy efficiency improvements that the membership votes to include in the HIP. While grants or other funding options may be available to reduce some of the costs, members’ Co-op fees may need to be increased to pay for some improvements.

Read more about the Pilot Program and the questions this project hopes to answer to provide the best data in determining possible Program improvements. Sign up to receive emails from the Buildings Committee about work on this project by emailing Jim Cohen at

For more information about the Homes Improvement Program or the Pilot Program, please contact:

  • Steve Skolnik, Board of Directors liaison to the Buildings Committee:
  • Jim Cohen, Chair of the Buildings Committee: 301-345-0472301-345-0472 ,
  • Tom Sporney, Director, Technical Services: 301-474-4161301-474-4161 ,
  • Please help us spread the word by talking to your neighbors and friends in the community. If you have ideas for the Board or the Buildings Committee, please contact the people listed above.



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