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Tony Marnella's Blog

By Tony Marnella | Builder/Developer in Milwaukie, OR

The Few, The Performing

I received a comment from a builder, on a post I wrote about home performance, that all new homes were ENERGY STAR certified.  It occurred to me that if someone in my industry didn’t understand the facts about the ENERGY STAR new home certification then I needed to clarify this further.  I agree that the energy codes for new construction have been elevated significantly in recent years.  However, so have the requirements for the new homes programs of ENERGY STAR, Energy Trust of Oregon, Earth Advantage and the like.  


ENERGY STAR rated homes perform to a minimum of 15% up to 30% more efficient than code built homes.   These are homes that have real performance and energy efficient features built in.  These homes are built using higher standards for the building envelope and HVAC system.  These higher standards and additional measures are verified through third party inspections utilizing duct blast and blower door testing.   In addition, if the builder is serious about performance, he will have had his homes rated with one of the performance measuring systems like EPS (Energy Performance Score) or HERS (Home Energy Rating System).  Here in Oregon we are utilizing the EPS.


The actual number of new homes certified in the United States each year is less than 20%.  Here in the northwest, the 2011 year to date percentage of new homes certified in Washington State is 12.7% and in Oregon it is 14.2%.


The bottom line is, don’t be fooled by “Green” marketing and assume that a new home is certified by one of the new homes programs.  Ask questions, have the builder or sales broker show you their certification.  The builder might have simply installed an Energy Star rated dishwasher and recycled the cardboard from the box.

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