One-quarter of all single-family homes built nationally in 2010 earned the federal Energy Star designation, up from 21 percent the previous year. To earn the designation, a home must meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for energy efficiency, be at least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC), and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30 percent more efficient than standard homes.
In 2010, more than 108,000 single-family homes earned Energy Star status across the U.S., and the estimated Energy Star market share totaled at least 25 percent in Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, and Vermont.
Since 1995, approximately 1.2 million new homes have earned EPA’s Energy Star, representing savings of nearly $350 million on utility bills while avoiding greenhouse-gas emissions equivalent to those from more than 450,000 vehicles, according to EPA.
Homes earn the Energy Star by meeting EPA energy-efficiency requirements through, among other things, effective insulation systems, high-performance windows, quality construction to reduce leaks and drafts, efficient heating and cooling equipment, and Energy Star-qualified lighting and appliances.
EPA introduced Energy Star in 1992 as a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions through energy efficiency. More than 20,000 organizations are Energy Star partners.
EPA Provides Additional Details to GBI
In response to Green Building Insider’s (GBI) request for additional details, EPA provided the following information:
GBI: What specific performance standards must be met for a home to qualify for the Energy Star Homes designation?
EPA: To qualify for the Energy Star, a home must be independently verified to meet strict energy-efficiency requirements set by the EPA. These requirements are cost-effective, climate-specific, and work together to provide whole-house energy-efficiency that is significantly better than code-built homes. These requirements cover the major systems and components of a home that impact its energy-efficiency, including effective insulation, high-performance windows, tight construction and ducts, efficient heating and cooling equipment, and Energy Star-qualified lighting and appliances. New, more stringent requirements will be implemented starting in January 2012. More information on Energy Star features and benefits can be accessed athttp://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=new_homes.nh_features.
GBI: While 25 percent is a significant share, why isn’t the share higher, and what could be done to raise that percentage? Why isn’t Energy Star the norm instead of the exception?
EPA: Energy Star is a voluntary market transformation program that promotes the construction and sale of homes that provide meaningful, cost effective, whole-house energy efficiency that is significantly greater than homes built to code. Energy Star provides market differentiation to those who voluntarily participate in building homes that are above “the norm” in terms of energy efficiency. As building codes change, Energy Star also changes to stay at the forefront. To continue having a significant market share impact, Energy Star will continue to demonstrate to home builders the added value that exists in building Energy Star-qualified homes as well as demonstrate the added value to consumers buying these homes. Energy Star will also continue having the support of energy-efficiency program sponsors such as utilities who are looking for ways to meet regulatory obligations, reduce peak demand, and contribute to environmental protection.
GBI: What projections, if any, have been made about what this market-share percentage will be in the future? About how many Energy Star homes are expected to be certified next year?
EPA: Energy Star has not made projections about market penetration. As the energy-efficiency requirements of building codes and equipment standards increase over time, Energy Star changes and evolves to provide stakeholders cost-effective and meaningful energy savings over standard construction as well as to incorporate lessons learned. Starting in January 2012, Energy Star will implement changes to its requirements. More information on Energy Star can be accessed at http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=next_generation.ng_qualified_new_homes.