Homebuyers are quickly realizing that there’s a new symbol of excellence in energy-efficient homebuilding: the Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) certification from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Currently only select builders meet the levels of excellence and quality required for ZERH certification – but their numbers are growing as homebuyers learn more about the program.
The gold standard in green homebuilding used to be the ENERGY STAR® Certified Homes designation. But ZERH certification goes far beyond ENERGY STAR in every category, including comfort, quality, durability and energy efficiency. A ZERH home is typically 40 to 50 percent more energy-efficient than a typical new home – even without solar or other on-site renewable power. Could this be the future of home construction?
“A lot of builders don’t feel the need to change, but they soon will,” says Scott Sanders, CEO of BrightLeaf Homes, a ZERH-certified custom homebuilder in the Chicago area. “Homebuyers definitely understand the benefits associated with lower total costs of ownership. A ZERH home might cost $5,000 more, but it could save you $100 per month forever in energy bills. It’s easy to do the math.”
BrightLeaf’s homes feature photovoltaic solar panels, passive solar design, R5 windows, attics insulated with blown cellulose and much more. “We target move-up buyers who understand the long-term benefits of exceptional energy savings,” says Sanders.
California’s Title 24 code, which requires all new homes in the state to be zero-net energy by next year, has helped raise awareness about technologies like PV solar panels and radiant barrier sheathing. The ZERH program now takes that momentum nationwide, putting homebuyers directly in touch with local builders who meet DOE’s highest standards.
“Having this third-party certification really helps our marketing efforts,” says Sanders. “The buyer knows that we’re committed to multiple goals like achieving healthy home environments, minimizing construction waste, and reducing energy consumption.”
Likewise, SALA Architects in Minnesota aimed to renovate a 1907 Victorian home to bring it to net-zero energy standards while preserving its look and charm. To renovate the home with zero net energy consumption, the team would need to rip off the existing siding in order to replace the insulation with a more efficient system of materials resulting in a tighter, more insulated home.
The resulting re-side would need to be both durable for harsh Minnesota winters and also match the look of the home’s original siding. During the deliberation, they compared engineered wood siding vs. fiber cement siding. SALA Architects ultimately chose LP® SmartSide® Smooth Texture Lap Siding to preserve the home’s historic aesthetic, while assuring the durability needed to resist hail and extreme weather conditions.
The supply of modestly priced starter homes continues to drop nationwide. A recent report by Realtor.com found that the number of homes priced above $750,000 grew 11 percent last year, while the number of starter homes priced under $200,000 fell by 8 percent.Continue Reading
Any building professional will tell you that the quality of a building material is only as good as its warranty. This is why LP Building Solutions created an industry-leading limited warranty for our line of LP® SmartSide® siding products. One that aims to ensure peace-of-mind for builders and homeowners.
While it’s perfectly alright for a jazz musician to improvise, that approach doesn’t always work as well in homebuilding. Architects, specifiers, engineers and product reps spend many hours collaboratively choosing the right materials for each job – and an abrupt substitution to save a few dollars can ironically be very costly in terms of callbacks, design underperformance and even code violations. “Ideally, all parties involved – the architect, builder and developer – have reviewed the spec before it’s final and have agreed on all the products being used,” says Karen Alves, LP Brand Marketing Associate. “That’s because finding an ‘equivalent’ for siding or fire-rated sheathing involves not just the substrate but the codes that the product meets as well.”