In a landmark survey by Cahners Residential Group in 2004, ninety-one percent of anglers stated that energy-efficient features in a home were extremely or quite important to them. The requirement for new and old homes that use less energy continues to grow from a niche market into an emerging sector of the mainstream home building and remodeling business.

Now traditional builders and contractors can apply scientific techniques to create more energy efficient houses offering better comfort, durability, health, and safety. Best of all, they are able to do it at a practical and reasonably priced method of using building performance techniques and technologies. This means studying how all the elements of the housework together including the thermal shell, heating and cooling equipment, ventilation, doors and windows, and appliances.

For those contractors who have already embraced the building science doctrine, there is always more to find out. The industry is continually evolving with more technology and best practices shared one of construction science specialists. As a result of ACI’s regional and national conferences and a growing array of training and education initiatives, both contractors and builders across the nation are trained to employ a”whole-house” systems solution to new building and home improvement. That means more customers are getting a better overall home environment when contractors and contractors incorporate comprehensive measures to deal with comfort, health and safety, durability, and energy efficiency.

Enhancing the performance of existing houses

Contractors nationally are being trained and accredited in construction functionality, the systematic method of enhancing the indoor environment by applying improvements into the whole house, not just a part of it. These contractors use performance diagnostics to assess the state of a home and confirm the impact of improvements. Blower door tests for building shell leakage, combustion safety tests, duct leakage diagnostics, and infrared thermal imaging are examples of diagnostic tests provided by building performance contractors to help ensure the health, safety, comfort, and durability of a house before and after improvements. Once the initial assessment is done, the contractor will recommend how to remedy any problems they found and can complete the recommended job for the homeowner. The result for customers is lower energy bills and improved comfort and security. See: Quality Home Builders Ontario |Reid’s Heritage Homes

Building functionality techniques benefit contractors too by identifying themselves in the market. Contractors who use these in-depth testing and installation methods to treat the home as a system can distinguish their businesses from conventional contractors by supplying their customers better, more informed solutions to common house problems, including high energy costs, uneven temperatures from room to room, moisture and air quality problems, as well as maintenance and durability. Some contractors may have access to energy efficiency programs, such as Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® and ENERGY STAR Qualified New Homes sponsored by local utilities and state agencies offering technical training, certification assistance, marketing support and even financial incentives such as low-interest funding, cash back, and tax credits for customers investing in recommended, eligible energy efficiency improvements.

Exceeding minimum construction standards

For new construction, builders can achieve significant 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 standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. LEED provides a complete framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals. 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 built 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 may include a variety of energy-efficient attributes, such as insulation, high-performance windows and doors, well-sealed and insulated duct systems, efficient heating and cooling equipment, and ENERGY STAR qualified lighting and appliances. These features give rise to improved home quality and homeowner comfort, and also to lower energy demand and reduced air pollution.

As well as offering a high-quality product to consumers, 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 reach 50% energy savings for heating and cooling over the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). At least one-fifth of the energy savings must come from building envelope improvements.

A bright future

Because the demand for high quality, more efficient homes earnings momentum, more builders and contractors will look to construction performance in order to add value to conventional homes, setting a new standard in the home new construction and home improvement industries and empowering their customers to make better choices for themselves, the economy and the environment.