2014 April Newsletter

Energy Rated Homes of Utah Receives Energy Star Market Leader Award

In recognition of their commitment to providing Utah’s homebuyers with Energy Star certified homes, Energy Rated Homes of Utah earned an Energy Star Certified Market Leader Award for 2013.  This award, formerly called the Leadership in Housing Award, recognizes Energy Rated Homes of Utah‘s work in promoting energy efficient construction and helping homebuyers experience the peace of mind, quality, comfort and value that comes with every Energy Star certified homes.  Through the Home Energy Rating System (HERS), ERHU is also providing families with homes that use less energy and have lower maintenance costs while helping to protect the environment.
During the year 2013, Energy Rated Homes of Utah certified 476 homes as Energy Star certified, which is equivalent to:

  • Eliminating the emissions from 170 vehicles
  • Saving 863,940 lbs of coal
  • Planting 667 acres of trees
  • Saving homeowners $142,800.00 on their utility bills

For this outstanding acheivement in supporting homes built better from the ground up, Energy Rated Homes of Utah will be listed on Energy Star’s Market Leader Award Web page among this year’s award winners.

April 28, 2014: Deadline for Input on Improving the National Consistency of the HERS Index Score

Across the nation the RESNET HERS Index Score is fast becoming a mainstream in the housing market.  Homebuilders are having their homes energy rated and marketing the HERS Index Score of their homes, Multiple Listing Services (MLS) are incorporating the HERS Index Scores in their listings, and code jurisdictions are recognizing a HERS Index Score as a building energy code compliance option.  With the increased visibility of the HERS Index Score, RESNET is obligated to ensure that HERS Index Scores are as consistent as possible.  This need has been made more important with the International Code Council’s recent adoption of an Energy Rating Index option in the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code. RESNET has begun a transparent process to adopt changes to the RESNET rating quality assurance standards and procedures.  RESNET has posted a new web site to provide the rating industry with the latest information on this process.  To view the web site go to http://www.resnet.us/professional/about/process The first step in this process will be for the RESNET Quality Improvement Working Group and Rating Software Technical Fixes Working Group to develop options on implementing the policies on improving the consistency of ratings that were adopted by the RESNET Board of Directors.  Those policies are as follows:

  1. RESNET certified Quality Assurance Designees must in the future:
    1. Serve as agents of RESNET
    2. Have neither a financial interest nor an employee/employer relationship with the entity performing the rating
  1. That the RENSET quality assurance standards maintain the current requirement of annual quality assurance review of raters consisting of 1% field reviews and 10% building file reviews with provisions through modification to the standard to add additional oversight of HERS Raters when errors are found in these reviews.
  1. RESNET incorporate changes to rating software standards that would include:
    1. Establish limits on input variables for whole-house ventilations systems and other in the RESNET Standards
    2. Determine bounds checks that can be incorporated into software to limit or warn users when input values are beyond reasonable limits
    3. Enhance rating software tools to enable Quality Assurance Designee flags to be set for internal inconsistencies that should be checked prior to entering a building file into RESNET registry
    4. Modify RESNET registry XML schema to include reporting of the Quality Assurance Designee flags to RESNET staff

To be clear, the Quality Improvement Working Group will be addressing policy recommendations 1 and 2 and the Rating Software Technical Fixes Working Group will be addressing policy recommendation 3. Before the Working Groups begin their deliberations, RESNET would like your input and recommendations on options for implementing policy recommendations 1, 2 and 3.  RESNET has posted an online forum for you to submit your input. To submit your options on the implementation of policy recommendations 1 and 2, go to http://www.resnet.us/professional/about/inputQualityAssurance Recommendations regarding quality assurance should be limited to options for how RESNET could implement quality assurance so that Quality Assurance Designees can best serve as agents of RESNET and also not have a financial interest or an employee/employer relationship with the entity performing the rating.  Recommendations related to other specifics of the RESNET quality assurance policies and procedures, as outlined in the RESNET Standards, should be submitted separately via the RESNET website (http://www.resnet.us/professional/standards/submitting_amendments). To submit your options for implementing the sub-points under policy recommendation 3 related to software fixes, go to http://www.resnet.us/professional/about/inputSoftwareFixes Comments are posted real time and you will be able to review comments that were submitted by clicking on http://www1.resnet.us/comments/quality/comments.aspx?CommentType=Quality%20Assurance   and http://www1.resnet.us/comments/quality/comments.aspx?CommentType=Software%20Fixes The working groups will use your input in considering the options they will identify for the RESNET Board. Suggested will be accepted through Monday, April 28, 2014.  Only input made through the online system will be accepted.  This online forum is not for commenting on the policies adopted by the RESNET Board of Directors, but rather to submit your ideas on options for implementing the Board policies.  An opportunity to comment on the policies adopted by the Board will come later, during the standard amendment review and comment period at the end of this process.

2014 RESNET – CRESNET Cross Border Building Challenge Awards Announced

The award winners of the 2014 RESNET Cross Border Home Builder Challenge, which helps promote the utilization of the HERS Index have been announced by Steve Baden, Executive Director of RESNET, and John Godden, President of the Canadian counterpart CRESNET at the 2014 RESNET Building Performance Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Cross Border Challenge is a competition among U.S. and Canadian Builders on achieving the lowest HERS Index Scores. There are six categories of awards:
RESNET President’s Award for the American Production Builder with the highest percentage of homes rated under HERS score 55 was issued to KB Homes. RESNET Board President Jim Petersen along with the co-sponsors of the award Rod Buchalter if RenewABILITY Energy, Inc. and Paul Duffy of Icynene presented the award to Jacob Atalla of KB Home and Galo LeBron of Energy Inspectors.
CRESNET President’s Award for the Canadian Production Builder with the highest percentage of homes rated under HERS score 55 was issued to Brookfield Residential. CRESNET Board President John Godden along with the co-sponsors of the award Rod Buchalter if RenewABILITY Energy, Inc. and Paul Duffy of Icynene presented the award to William Greig and Bob Stewart of Brookfield Residential.
Lowest HERS score American Production Builder (>50 homes HERS rated per year) was KB Home with a HERS 42.
Lowest HERS score American Custom Builder (< 50 homes HERS rated per year) was Cobblestone Homes with a HERS 40.
Lowest HERS score Canadian Production Builder (> 50 homes HERS rated per year) was Brookfield Residential with a HERS 36.
Lowest HERS score Canadian Custom Builder (< 50 homes HERS rated per year) was Hunt Homes with a HERS 36.
“With well over 1.5 million homes have been rated in the US and issued a HERS Index Score. The Home HERS Index is the industry standard by which a home’s energy efficiency is now being measured in the US and Canada. It’s also the nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance” noted Steve Baden.
“The Index is based on an assessment by a certified Home Energy Rater who evaluates the energy efficiency of a home and assigning it a relative performance score. The lower the number, the more energy efficient the home. The energy efficiency score is based on variables such as exterior walls (both above and below grade), floors over unconditioned spaces, ceilings and roofs, windows and doors, vents and ductwork, HVAC systems, water heating system, and your thermostat, among other elements, commented” Steve Baden.
“This being in its first year, the RESNET Cross Border Challenge is a friendly competition between American and Canadian Home Builders to determine just how energy efficient builders can build,” noted John Godden. There were a total of six builder awards presented for this year’s competition; four were based on having the lowest HERS score for their specific category, sponsored by Power-Pipe® , and two were special President’s awards based on a fleet of HERS new home ratings, sponsored by Icynene.
“It’s no surprise the 2014 awards included some of the largest, and most respected, US and Canadian builders”, continued John Godden.
Winners in all Lowest HERS score categories each won a free Power-Pipe® Drain Water Heat Recovery System donated by RenewABILITY Energy Inc. as part of their awards.  In addition, winners of the President’s Awards each won an insulation package from Icynene.

EPA Announces Energy Star Scores for MultiFamily Housing

EPA is pleased to announce that a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score for multifamily housing properties will be available in the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® tool in Fall 2014. The score will enable owners and managers to compare the energy performance of their multifamily housing properties against similar properties nationwide, and will provide valuable information to help prioritize energy efficiency efforts and track improvements. The 1-100 ENERGY STAR score will be based on analyses of nationally representative survey data collected by Fannie Mae under an MOU with EPA signed in 2011, and we expect to share details of the technical methodology and requirements for use of the score with you in the coming months to help you prepare for the launch of the score.  Along with the score, we’ll also release the supporting technical documentation, as well as details about ENERGY STAR recognition opportunities for both new construction and existing properties. We thank you for your interest and support for the development of an ENERGY STAR score for multifamily housing properties, and look forward to sharing more details with you in the coming months. In the meantime, if you would like information on Portfolio Manager, the ENERGY STAR methodology, or approaches to reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, we invite you to visit our website at www.energystar.gov/buildings  And for information about qualifying new and substantially rehabilitated multifamily buildings through EPA’s ENERGY STAR residential program, please visit www.energystar.gov/mfhr

Governor’s Energy Development Summit on June 4, 2014

Held at the Salt Palace Convention Center, the Governor’s Energy Development Summit, hosted by the Utah Office of Energy Development, is the largest energy conference in Utah. This year [they] expect over 1,500 attendees to participate, including leaders from business, government, academia, industry, non-profits and national and international organizations. This year [they] will feature a full day conference with breakout panel sessions and keynote speakers, along with an evening reception and networking event the night before, all of which will address critical and emerging energy issues. With an agenda filled with over 100 energy experts from around the world, the Governor’s Energy Development Summit will be the premier energy conference to attend this year. The Summit has sold out in its first two years, so don’t miss out on early bird savings and register today!

Greener Living for All?

Originally posted on www.greenbuildermedia.com  02.2014, by Mike Collignon. There are a number of decisions that were made in 2013 that I feel point the residential homebuilding industry in a clear direction toward sustainability.  Better still, some of these decisions will reinforce the importance of sustainability to homebuyers and homes owners.  I’ll break this down into three categories. REGULATION As I’ve reported elsewhere, building officials voted in favor of adding an ERI compliance path to the 2015 IECC.  Given the flexibility of an ERI (energy rating index), I believe we’ll see many builders choose this options, when states start adopting the 2015 IECC in two to four years.  It requires strong performance levels, so the average builder will have to step up in order to comply.  Meanwhile, the above-code builders will retain their market advantage by continuing to market their outstanding ERI scores.  Also, they will face little to no disruption to their day-to-day business, and could face the very real possibility of expansion.  Click here for more information. MARKET-DRIVEN INCENTIVES The Green MLS continues to appear in many parts of the United States.  Some MLS are adding a field for HERS scores, regardless of their move to formal green status.  This accomplishes two things.  It brings green features to the attention of appraisers and realtors, which historically have been an audience slow to tout green characteristics.  (There are exceptions: green appraisers and EcoBrokers.)  It also calls green features to the attention of the home buying public.  While some may be aware of their benefits, for other is may spark questions.  In a new-home situation, this opens the door for the home builder (or their sales staff) to expand their marketing message.  Click here for more information. FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS As any reader of our publications knows, we’ve been adamant that Congress needs to pass the SAVE Act.  There is no logical reason why this hasn’t passed yet!  Legislatively, it looks like they will drop the ball.  The administration might act on its own, but not before the end of the year.  We encourage you to keep in touch with your elected official regarding the importance of energy efficiency and the positive cash flow it can generate. Fortunately, Genworth Mortgage Insurance is looking to reward homeowners with energy-efficient homes.  In Canada, they already offer a 10% premium reduction and more flexibility in the debt-to-income calculations. This is similar to the short-lived energy efficient mortgages (EEMs) of the mid-‘90s and early 2000s. Hopefully, this practice will spread to the U.S. market.  If it does, it may spurn it competitors to follow suit.  Click here for more information. There’s a multi-faceted convergence happening.  For some, it may have taken too long, while for others it might be occurring too fast.  Regardless of where you stand, it’s happening, with great momentum. For the complete article, click here.

Appraisal Institute’s Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum Now Available as a HERS Report

The Appraisal Institute has developed the Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum.  The Appraisal Institute’s Green Addendum is the first residential green and energy efficient appraisal report addendum developed by appraisers, for use by appraisers.  The Appraisal Institute Green Addendum provides items of high performance house features for consideration by appraisers.  The Green Addendum will provide appraisers a tool for selecting comparable sales for the property they are appraising. If an appraiser had a completed Appraisal Institute Green Addendum on every high-performance house used as comparable sales, it would leave little question on the comparability of the data.  It may also aid in a more accurate valuation of the property. Through an agreement between RESNET and the Appraisal Institute, one can generate the Appraisal Institute Green Addendum and auto-populate it from the data collected in the home energy rating. Any RESNET National Building Registry user can now produce the Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum at the time a home’s energy rating is entered into the RESNET registry.  It will automatically generate and start downloading a PDF form and auto-fill it with the data we currently have in the registry.  Raters can use the PDF form to fill out additional information manually then print it. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America provided great assistance in the Appraisal Institute and RESNET entering into the agreement.

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