Ever heard of the Patagonian Toothfish? When restaurants tried to sell it, they failed miserably. But when they changed the name to Chilean Sea Bass, sales exploded. Same fish, same taste, different name. This is the example Sam Rashkin loves to tell when he makes the case for re-imaging confusing building-science terms.
It's words like "jumps ducts" and "transfer grilles." Do customers know what these are? How about CAZ testing? Huh? But when you say "comfort vent" and "combustion safety testing," the light bulb goes on.
After a gathering of experts (many from the Building America and Zero Energy Ready Home programs) to discuss "power words," the U.S. Dept. of Energy launched a draft Building Science Translator (currently only in Word) that identifies technical jargon that needs clarity, and begins to suggest alternatives.
The goal of the project is to make it easier for building professionals to communicate the value of high-performance homes to consumers. Towards that end, the Dept. of Energy is inviting all interested stakeholders (including JLC readers) to review the Power Words document and provide feedback. The team expects to incorporate all the remarks into a final Building Science Translator this summer, and introduce an exciting web tool sometime in the fall.