In a landmark poll by Cahners Residential Group in 2004, ninety-one percentage of anglers stated that energy-efficient features in a home were extremely or very important to them. The requirement for new and old homes that use less energy continues to grow from a niche market in an emerging segment of the mainstream residential construction and remodeling business.
Now traditional builders and contractors can apply scientific techniques to make more energy efficient houses offering greater comfort, durability, health, and safety. Best of all, they are able to do it in a practical and reasonably priced way of using building performance techniques and technologies. This means looking at how all the components 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 construction science philosophy, there is always more to find out. The industry is continually evolving with more technology and best practices shared among construction science professionals. As a result of ACI’s regional and national conferences and a growing array of training and education initiatives, contractors and builders throughout the country are trained to use a”whole-house” systems solution to new construction and home improvement. That means more clients are getting a better overall home environment when contractors and builders incorporate comprehensive measures to deal with comfort, health and safety, durability, and energy efficiency. Check out Reid’s Heritage Homes.
Enhancing the performance of existing homes
Contractors nationwide are being trained and accredited in building functionality, the systematic method of improving the indoor environment by implementing improvements into the whole house, not only part of it. These builders utilize performance diagnostics to evaluate the condition of a home and confirm the effect of improvements. Blower door tests such as building shell leakage, combustion safety evaluations, duct leakage diagnostics, and infrared thermal imaging are all examples of diagnostic evaluations provided by building performance contractors to help ensure the health, security, comfort, and durability of a home before and after improvements. Once the initial assessment is complete, the contractor will recommend how to fix any issues they found and can complete the recommended work for the homeowner. The result for customers has significantly reduced energy bills and improved comfort and safety.
Building functionality techniques benefit contractors too by differentiating themselves in the marketplace. Contractors who use these comprehensive testing and installation techniques to treat the home as a system can differentiate their businesses from traditional contractors by providing their clients better, more informed solutions to common home problems, including high energy costs, uneven temperatures from room to room, moisture and air quality issues, as well as maintenance and endurance. Some contractors may have access to energy efficiency programs, including Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® and ENERGY STAR Qualified New Homes sponsored by local utilities and state agencies that offer technical instruction, certification assistance, marketing service as well as fiscal incentives including low-interest funding, money back, and tax credits for clients investing in recommended, eligible energy efficiency improvements.
Exceeding minimum construction standards
For new construction, builders can achieve substantial 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 determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ENERGY STAR Qualified New Homes are 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). ENERGY STAR qualified homes can incorporate a variety of energy-efficient attributes, such as effective insulation, high-performance windows and doors, well-sealed and insulated duct systems, efficient heating and cooling equipment, and ENERGY STAR qualified appliances and lighting. These attributes contribute to the improved home quality and homeowner comfort, and to reduce energy demand and reduced air pollution.
In addition to offering a high-quality product to customers, builders of energy efficient homes are entitled to a $2,000 federal tax credit under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. A brand new energy efficient home must achieve 50% energy savings for heating and cooling system within the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). At least twenty-five of the energy savings must come in building envelope improvements.
A bright future
Because the demand for high quality, more efficient houses gains momentum, more contractors and builders will appear to building performance in order to add value to traditional houses, setting a new benchmark in the home new construction and home improvement businesses and empowering their clients to make better decisions for their own, the economy and the environment.