Wednesday, February 16, 2011

KB Homes Partners with RESNET

In the USA Today's money section, the cover article was about KB Homes, a national builder who builds has a large presence here in North Carolina.  They plan to partner with RESNET to have their energy rating solely based on the HERS index score.  The article does not completely lay out how the program will work, nor does the RESNET website.  However, it must be a cost effective idea because RESNET lists 4-6 other large nation wide builders that they are in negotiations with to also sign onto the program.   

Is this the end of ENERGY STAR?  I personally do not think so but it might be a hiccup for the EPA's popular program. 

Builders offer MPG-like home efficiency labels

By KB Homes
Just as cars are sold with miles-per-gallon labels, more new homes this year will sport labels estimating monthly energy bills.

KB Home, one of the nation's largest builders, announced Monday its plans to have an EPG (Energy Performance Guide) on each of its U.S. homes by the end of this month, and other production builders plan to follow.
"This is a game changer... Once it's out there, everyone will do it," says Jeffrey Mezger, the company' CEO. He says consumers will now understand that KB's homes, all of which meet Energy Star standards, will "perform better than resales down the street."
The push for an MPG-like label comes as U.S. home builders seek a competitive edge against low-price foreclosures, and as the U.S. government develops an efficiency score for existing homes.
"We're rolling that (label) out this year," says Jim Petersen of Michigan-based PulteGroup Inc., which includes Pulte Homes, Centex and Del Webb. He doesn't have a specific timetable but expects California, Phoenix and Las Vegas will be among the first markets to feature the label.
Meritage Homes has been marketing all its homes, which are built to Energy Star standards, with such a label since 2009, said C.R. Herro, the company's vice president of environmental affairs.
Lennar Corp. is taking steps as well to offer the label, says Steve Baden, executive director of RESNET, the Residential Energy Services Network, a private, non-profit industry group that has developed the label as part of its Home Energy Rating System (HERS).
The label features a home's HERS score, determined by an independent auditor, that shows its energy efficiency (the lower the score, the better) and projects utility costs. Its look may vary lightly by builder, but its data are based on a common standard that is used by the U.S. government.
While this label applies only to new homes, the U.S. Department of Energy is developing a home energy score for existing homes. DOE is beginning pilot projects as early as next week in 11 U.S. communities and will launch a national standard this fall, says spokeswoman Jen Stutsman. DOE will rate homes on a scale of 0 to 10 (the best) and will estimate how much money consumers will save annually by making certain upgrades. It will not estimate monthly utility costs.
The U.S. government currently requires its new Energy Star homes earn a HERS score of 85 or lower. This means they're at least 15% more efficient than homes built to a 2006 international code, which would earn a score of 100. Existing homes score an average of 130, while homes that produce as much energy as they use score a zero.
Some homes that meet DOE's Builders Challenge with HERS scores of 70 or less already carry efficiency labels, but the move by KB Home will increase the number of U.S. homes offering them.
How much energy a home actually uses depends on the occupants' lifestyle, so the label is no guarantee. "It's a comparison tool," says Petersen, adding: "Everybody uses their home differently."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Financing Efficient Homes

If you want your mortgage to reflect the fact that your house will be more efficient (and therefore your utility bills would be lower), for years your only real option was the energy efficient mortgage from the Federal Housing Administration.

These mortgages covered the cost of improvements to new and existing homes, but were slightly more expensive to cover their insurance premium. They were not widely sought - only around 3,000 energy efficient mortgages were issued in 2009.

However, this new article by the New York Times indicates that things on this front may finally be changing.
Fannie Mae, the government-backed company that sets lending standards for mortgages, said that by this summer it would unveil incentives for those who use part of their mortgages for energy-related improvements. And EnergyStar, a joint effort of the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, is expected to introduce borrower incentives in New York, after running pilot programs in Colorado, Maine and Pennsylvania.
If a large organization like Fannie Mae can start recognizing the savings of energy efficiency, it could affect smaller lenders.

Another market barrier - the fact that appraisers do not necessarily quantify the value of energy efficiency modifications on homes - is being confronted as well :
At the same time, the Appraisal Institute, an industry trade group, said it was training members to better quantify the value of energy-efficient homes. It also said that it was developing a certification program for appraisers who want to specialize in energy-efficient homes.
Change isn't always swift, but it is coming!


Check out this fresh video about weatherization from some great organizations out of Asheville NC. For more information fromt the Western North Carolina Green Buildign Council check them out at .  Nice job folks.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

North Carolina Energy Efficiency Alliance on the Web

Today is a good day.  We at the North Carolina Energy Efficiency Alliance Finally have a web presence.  It is still a work in progress so look for things to change in the upcoming weeks.  The website will feature a calender with relevant happening that will be taking place in North Carolina energy-efficient home market, as well as events like the RESNET conference.  We will also be adding builder resources including a page dedicated to drawings of how to implement energy-efficient framing,flashing, insulating and air sealing methods into your next building project.     CHECK it AT

Also keep up with the blog as we will keep up with the latest and greatest happenings in and with energy efficient housing sector.

Finially for your visual pleasure I will leave you with a sweet photo of someone in the alliance EFFICIENTLY slashing this beautiful wave.

Landon Williams
Assitant Program Director
North Carolina Energy Efficiency Alliance