Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Meet the Contestants; Hiisi

With the first Wood Stove Decathlon only a couple weeks away, we are profiling the remaining teams in the competition. Take this opportunity to learn more about the design teams and their stove’s innovative features.

“It’s so Hiisi, anyone can do it!” The Finnish stove is marketed as easy to use, inspiring the homonymic name Hiisi. The Hiisi is Finnish company’s Tulikivi's smallest hybrid heat-retaining fireplace and is especially well suited to modern low energy construction projects. The upcoming 2015 wood emissions restrictions in Germany has challenged Tulikivi engineers and innovators to meet the high standards. After years of development the stove is ready meet the world's tightest emissions standards set for 2015 and to compete in the Wood Stove Decathlon this November.

Lab technician Onni Ovaskainen and a Hiisi prototype
The Hiisi differs from standard room-heating stoves in that typical wood stoves are not normally heat-retaining units. The Hiisi's heat-retaining soapstone releases heat more slowly, and in the form of soft, pleasant radiant heat and it can heat water. This is a major design point since this stove won't over heat new energy efficient homes. These types of homes are quickly becoming the norm so Tulikivi has worked to minimize the convection heat into the room using thermal radiation and a double glass door. Despite its compact size, the Hiisi is a hybrid fireplace, meaning that both pellets and wood can be burned in their firebox without the need for any further equipment, accessories or even electricity.

The model that Tulikivi is bringing to Washington D.C. has already been sold in Europe for the past 5 months. Only taking a brief pause to celebrate Hiisi’s success, Tulikivi is getting ready to launch the next generation of Hiisi models this coming January. The new model promises to burn even cleaner than the original.

Tulikivi hopes that their Hiisi stove will help promote the benefits of residential biomass heating. They work hard to ensure that consumers are aware of these benefits. While selling these masonry heaters in the US, Tulikivi educates their consumers of the long tradition of masonry heating and the pros and cons of thermal mass radiant heat compared to dry hot convection heat. Over the past two years, insight from consumers and Tulikivi’s importer network has led to developmental and design changes to get the look and feel of the Hiisi just right.

We are looking forward to seeing Hiisi in action at the Wood Stove Decathlon November 16-19, 2013. Vote for your favorite stove at Popular Mechanics

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Media Advisory: Wood Stove Decathlon to Inspire New Wave of Renewable Energy Generation

MEDIA ADVISORY for November 15-19, 2013

Patricia Brooks,, (202) 351-1757

The Heat is On: Wood Stove Decathlon Held on National Mall to Inspire a New Wave of Renewable Energy Innovation

Modern wood stove technologies provide a low-emission, high efficiency, and affordable solution to meeting America’s home heating demands

Washington D.C. – Modeled after the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, the Wood Stove Decathlon, taking place on the National Mall in Washington D.C. from November 15-19, is the final event of a technology challenge for teams to design and build next-generation clean burning wood stoves.  The event is hosted by the Alliance for Green Heat, a non-profit which promotes the use of advanced wood stove technology as an affordable energy source and dispels myths about wood and pellet heating.

The Wood Stove Decathlon will showcase technology which drastically reduces pollution from wood stoves, makes them more efficient and helps the average American family save up to $1,000 dollars each winter on heating bills. In addition to the 13 wood stoves in competition in the Decathlon, exhibitors will feature wood and pellet stoves and retrofits, and panelists will speak on state and federal policy, resource sustainability, modern wood stove technology and related services.

The Partners and Sponsors include Popular Mechanics, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Brookhaven National Lab, NYSERDA, several universities and state agencies and many others. A full list of sponsors can be found here:

WHAT: Ten judges will test and assess 13 finalist stoves based on their ability to meet pollution reduction, efficiency, affordability and other criteria. A winner will be announced on November 19.

WHEN: The event will take place from Friday, November 15-Tuesday, November 19. Media highlights include:

·          Friday, November 15, 10:30am-12pm--Opening Ceremonies
Saturday, November 16, 1:00 pm--Panel: How Sustainable are Firewood and Pellets in the Long  Term?
·          Sunday, November 17, 3:00pm--Panel: What Makes EPA Certified Stoves Cleaner and More Efficient?
·          Monday, November 18, 9:00am--Panel: Congress, the Administration & Thermal Biomass Policy
·          Monday, November 18, 10:00am--Panel: Future of Wood Stove Technology
·          Monday, November 18, 12:00 pm--Panel: Developing a Green Label for Wood Stoves
·          Monday, November 18, 2:00 pm--Panel: EPA Emission Standards: A Looming Battle
·          Tuesday, November 20, 4:00pm--Final Awards Ceremony

A full schedule of activities can be found here:

WHERE:  The National Mall, 12th & Jefferson Drive SW, Washington D.C.

WHO:  The full list of 13 finalists can be found here:  

The Alliance for Green Heat is a non-profit that promotes high-efficiency wood heating as a low-carbon, sustainable, local and affordable heating solution. The Alliance seeks to make wood heat a cleaner and more efficient renewable energy option, particularly for those who cannot afford fossil fuel heat.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund Helps Support the Wood Stove Decathlon

The Alliance for Green Heat and the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund (WPPSEF) are working together on the Wood Stove Decathlon to help make affordable wood stoves cleaner and more efficient. Wood heat is a vital source of renewable energy for homes across the state of Pennsylvania and throughout the mid-Atlantic region but technology advances are needed.

The Wood Stove Decathlon, modeled after the Solar Decathlon, is a technology competition to see which team can best design and build affordable solutions to making wood stoves less prone to operator error.  Even today’s EPA certified stoves perform poorly when loaded with unseasoned wood and not given enough air, which results in excessive air pollution.

The Wood Stove Decathlon was partially inspired by the legacy of Ben Franklin, who in 1744 launched what has become known as the “Franklin stove” – considered by many to be the forerunner of American-designed efficient stoves.  In 1826, the Franklin Institute sponsored a contest with a $100 purse for the best cookstove design of the year, during a time when the price of wood was skyrocketing due to deforestation.  There have not been any other stove competitions until now, when the motivation for a technology challenge has more to do with the necessity of reducing fossil fuel use and improving air quality.

 At the Decathlon, there will be a series of educational panels on innovation in wood heat technology.  Joel Morrison, Director of WPPSEF will be speaking on a panel Tuesday morning, Nov. 19.  Mr. Morrison said, “WPPSEF is delighted to support the Wood Stove Decathlon which will drive innovation and lead to cleaner, more efficient stove designs.”

Between 2000 and 2010, wood heat grew 65% in Pennsylvania, nearly double the national average and nearly three times faster than any other heating fuel.  As of 2012, 145,000 or 2.9% of Pennsylvania residents heated primarily with wood or pellets and more than half a million use it for secondary heating.

The Wood Stove Decathlon is being held on the National Mall in Washington, DC from Nov. 15 – 19.  Partners include WPPSEF, Popular Mechanics, USDA, DOE’s Brookhaven National Lab and state agencies in New York, Washington, Oregon and the District of Columbia. For more info:

The Alliance for Green Heat, the organizer of the Wood Stove Decathlon, is a non-profit organization promoting cleaner and more efficient wood heating. Visit for more information.

The West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund invests in the deployment of clean energy technologies throughout the West Penn Power service region. Investments are made to promote: the use of renewable and clean energy, energy conservation and energy efficiency, and the attraction, establishment and retention of sustainable energy businesses. Visit for more information.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Behind the Scenes Look at the Wood Stove Decathlon

The lead-up to most big events is full of planning, fundraising and trying to foresee the unexpected.  The cost for running the Wood Stove Decathlon alone is daunting: this event would cost north of $250,000 in hard expenses – not including salaries of staff – but the generosity of so many in and outside of the wood stove industry is bringing the hard costs down to about $100,000.  We will publish the complete budget, but we also wanted to describe what’s going on behind the scenes with the teams, testing, exhibits, VIPs and panels.

The DOE organizers of the Solar Decathlon warned us that the first time attempting to stage a competition like this is by far the hardest.  After all, as far as we know, the Decathlon is the first such wood stove competition since the time of Benjamin Franklin.  We don’t know yet if there will be a second Wood Stove Decathlon.  That depends in part on you and the feedback we get afterwards. (You will get a survey.)

Testing: At the core of the Wood Stove Decathlon is the testing of 13 very different wood stoves.  These stoves have been selected, from a pool of nearly 50 designs, as finalists of the Next Generation Wood Stove Design Challenge, a year-long, international competition.  The results of the testing will be publicly posted each day in the tent and on our website. 

One of the biggest strengths of the Decathlon has been the judges who have donated hundreds of hours of time to ensure that the rules and testing is accurate and fair. Testing is being done primarily by Tom Butcher and Rebecca Trojanowski from DOE Brookhaven National Lab (for more about the testing process, click here.)  The real challenge at the Decathlon will be testing so many stoves multiple times in a period of 5 days.  We cannot afford to miss a single day due to faulty equipment so we are going to have back-ups for key instruments.

Fair and accurate testing of the stoves’ particulate emissions is by far the most complex challenge of the Decathlon.  And, it would be the most expensive aspect of the Challenge if we had to pay market rates for it.  Fortunately, we do not.  The Judges will be using recently released equipment on loan from Wohler and Testo mobile particulate analyzers – developed by competing German companies – to test the stoves to exacting German standards.  Through a grant from NYSERDA, the Alliance for Green Heat is covering $25,000 in expenses by DOE Brookhaven National Lab to test and calibrate the particulate analyzers.  

Set up: For the organizers, the Decathlon will begin on Monday the 10th when the tent is set up on the National Mall.  The tent, generator, lighting, etc. is the biggest single expenditure at $36,000.  We are using Tents LLC for the majority of our logistical needs as they are a very experienced company who’ve often worked with the National Park Service and are very familiar with the extensive rules and regulations that come with hosting an event in the shadow of the Washington monument.  On Tuesday, the teams and their stoves will begin to arrive.  By Wednesday, all the stoves will have arrived.  The challenge here is installing 13 stoves in only 2 days, and ensuring that we have all the right equipment.  Even one trip to the hardware store will slow us down considerably.  The installation process would have been very expensive but for the generosity of ICC Chimney who is overseeing installation and donating all the chimney pipe.  Chimney Safety Institute of America trained chimney sweeps are generously donating the skilled labor to do the installations.  And, Hearth Classics is donating the hearth pads, a vital piece of every safe stove install.  Lastly, two cords of seasoned wood, donated by Chris Holmgren at Seneca Creek Joinery, will be delivered and stacked in a firewood room prior to testing.  

Fueling:  After much debate, the judges decided to use cord wood to test the stoves to best simulate their performance by consumers and to test using a cordwood testing protocol, which is currently not used by the EPA.  Ben Myren, who has run one of the EPA accredited wood stove test labs for decades is in charge of fueling and prepared a draft fueling protocol for the judges.  Ben is generously donating all of his time to be part of this unique and educational event.  The fueling protocol will undergo further testing at Brookhaven National Lab prior to the Decathlon.

Exhibit Area: There are about 15 exhibit spaces for companies and organizations to showcase innovative products, ideas and services.  This is not a trade show, and while exhibit space is being purchased, no sales, solicitations or any other commercial activity is allowed to take place at the event (per National Park Service Rules and Regulations).  You will see some very exciting new equipment, projects and components!

The Speaker Area: We are hosting 25 panel discussions on a wide range of issues related to innovative stove design, cutting edge policy discussions and education for homeowners.  The panels will be an hour in length, and begin around 10am and conclude around 4pm running from Saturday through Tuesday.  Speakers include partners, exhibitors, judges, teams and experts who will participate in panel discussions about topics such as the sustainability of biomass, the future of wood stove technology and innovation in stove design.  Weekend panels tend to be more general and designed for homeowners and consumers.  Panels on Monday and Tuesday are more specialized, and designed for a policy, industry and professional audience.

VIPs: We are extending invitations to Secretary level officials, some of whom have indicated an interest. One member of Congress has already accepted to speak at the Awards Ceremony and many more are considering it, and we are still getting our invitations out.  We are also reaching out to about a dozen Ambassadors from countries where wood heating is very popular. Please invite your member of Congress to attend.  You can get a sample letter and tips to contact your representatives here.

Education, Door Prizes, etc.: The entire Decathlon is about education, and we are fortunate to have Popular Mechanics as one of the founding partners of the Design Challenge.  They are hosting People’s Choice Award where you can vote for what you think is the most innovative design.  There will also be door prizes, quizzes to test your wood heat IQ, and hopefully even an appearance by Smokey the Bear, thanks to our partners at the US Forest Service.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

BPI Energy Auditing Standard and Analysis of Buildings Includes Wood and Pellet Stoves and is Open for Public Comment

On Oct. 4, the Building Performance Institute (BPI) released BPI-1100-T-201x: Home Energy Auditing Standard and its companion, BPI-1200-S-201x: Standard Practice for Basic Analysis of Buildings for public comment for a period of 45 days.

These standards were developed in an effort to standardize and clarify what is included in a whole-building, science-based energy audit of existing homes and include assessments of wood and pellet stoves for the first time. Up until now, hundreds of thousands of home energy audits have been done without any provisions to inspect the efficiency and safety of wood and pellet stoves.  Audits often lead to upgrading old and unsafe heating appliances and can involve subsidized or low interest financing.

The Alliance for Green Heat identified the omission of wood stoves in energy audit standards in 2011 and began campaigning for their inclusion. In the spring of 2012, an Alliance article about this systematic omission that particularly impacted rural, low and middle-income households led to serious talks with BPI who agreed to work on it. The Alliance and BPI built the Solid Fuels Task Group, inviting representatives from EPA, HPBA, CSIA, and the Washington State Department of Ecology along with Scott Williamson and Mike O’Rourke.

The standard will direct BPI certified energy auditors to do a visual inspection of wood and pellet stoves and how they are installed. It will outline the indicators that will guide the audit process and tell the auditor when a recommendation should be given to the homeowner to call in a trained hearth professional with either National Fireplace Institute (NFI) or Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) Certification.

The Home Energy Auditing Standard addresses energy usage, occupant health and safety, and includes a cost-benefit analysis. This standard has received wide interest and has undergone multiple rounds of public review. 

The Standard Practice for Basic Analysis of Buildings parallels the Home Energy Auditing Standard. This standard is primarily focused on energy conservation measures and criteria.

The standards are undergoing American National Standards Institute (ANSI) review, which includes a 45-day public comment. Comments are being solicited from stakeholders and the general public.

To view the standards, visit: Standards Under Review 

To submit comments, visit: Formal Public Comment Process.