In a landmark survey by Cahners Residential Group in 2004, ninety-one percentage of homebuyers said that energy-efficient features in a home were extremely or quite important to them. The requirement for new and old houses that use less energy continues to grow from a niche market in an emerging sector of the mainstream home building and remodeling business.
Now traditional builders and contractors can apply scientific methods to make more energy efficient homes that provide better comfort, durability, health, and security. Best of all, they can do it in a practical and reasonably priced method of utilizing building performance technologies and techniques. This implies looking at how all the elements of the housework together including the thermal shell, heating and cooling equipment, ventilation, windows and doors, and appliances.
For all those contractors who have embraced the building science philosophy, there’s always more to learn. The business is continually evolving with more technologies and best practices shared one of building science specialists. Thanks to ACI’s national and regional conferences and a growing range of training and education initiatives, both builders and contractors across the country are being trained to use a”whole-house” systems approach to new building and home improvement. That means more customers are getting a better entire home environment when builders and builders incorporate comprehensive steps to deal with relaxation, health and safety, durability, and energy efficiency.
Enhancing the performance of existing homes
Contractors nationwide are being trained and accredited in building performance, the systematic approach to improving the indoor environment by applying improvements into the entire house, not only a part of it. These contractors use performance diagnostics to assess the state of a house and verify the effect of improvements. Blower door tests for building shell leakage, combustion safety tests, duct leakage diagnostics, and infrared thermal imaging are examples of diagnostic tests provided by building performance contractors to help ensure the health, security, comfort, and durability of a house before and after improvements. When the initial assessment is done, the contractor will recommend the best way to remedy any problems they found and can complete the suggested job for the homeowner. The end result for customers is significantly lower energy bills and enhanced comfort and security. Click here to learn more!
Building performance techniques benefit contractors too by identifying themselves in the market. Contractors who use these comprehensive testing and installation techniques to take care of the house as a system may distinguish their businesses from conventional contractors by supplying their clients better, more informed solutions to common house problems, including high energy costs, uneven temperatures from room to room, moisture and air quality issues, as well as maintenance and durability. Some contractors may have access to energy efficiency programs, such as Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® and ENERGY STAR Qualified New Homes sponsored by local utilities and state agencies that offer technical training, certification assistance, marketing support as well as fiscal incentives such as low-interest financing, money back, along with tax credits for clients investing in recommended, eligible energy efficiency improvements.
Exceeding minimum building standards
For new construction, builders can achieve significant energy savings through Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and ENERGY STAR Qualified Home criteria.
The LEED Green Building Rating System® is a voluntary, consensus-based national benchmark for creating high-performance, sustainable structures. LEED provides a complete framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability objectives. Based on well-founded scientific standards, LEED emphasizes state of the art strategies for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. LEED recognizes achievements and promotes expertise in green building through a comprehensive system offering project certification, professional certification, training, and practical resources.
Newly constructed homes that earn the ENERGY STAR must meet guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ENERGY STAR Qualified New Homes are at least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). ENERGY STAR qualified homes can include a variety of energy-efficient attributes, such as insulation, high-performance windows and doors, well-sealed and insulated duct systems, effective heating and cooling equipment, and ENERGY STAR qualified lighting and appliances. These attributes give rise to the improved home quality and homeowner comfort, and to lower energy demand and reduced air pollution.
In addition to supplying a high-quality product to consumers, builders of energy efficient houses are eligible for a $2,000 federal tax credit under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. A brand new energy efficient house must achieve 50 percent energy savings for heating and cooling system within the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). At least one-fifth of the energy savings have to come from building envelope improvements.
A bright future
Because the demand for high quality, more efficient houses gains momentum, more builders and contractors will look to building performance in order to add value to conventional homes, setting a new standard in the home new construction and home improvement businesses and empowering their clients to make better choices for themselves, the economy and the environment.