Energy-Efficient Homes Can Meet ‘Builders Challenge’
NAHBGreen at the end of this month will enable builders to receive dual certification to the National Green Building Standard and the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE’s) Builders Challenge.
Spearheaded by the DOE, the Builders Challenge provides certification of a home’s energy efficiency. The program invites home builders across the country to build a new generation of high-performance homes using proven innovations, and to work toward the ultimate goal of providing affordable, net-zero energy homes nationwide by 2030.
DOE designed the Builders Challenge to work with existing energy and green building programs by providing a standardized metric for whole-house energy performance that is easier for consumers to understand and increases credibility for a builder’s efficiency claims.
There are two different paths to meet the Builders Challenge. Qualifying homes must either receive a rating of 70 or better on the EnergySmart Home Scale “E-Scale” (based on the HERS Index), or build to a climate-appropriate Technology Information Package. In addition, a home can comply with Builders Challenge through a Challenge Partner Program — like NAHBGreen — at a specified level.
All paths require third-party verification by a qualified professional and the Builders Challenge Quality Criteria (BCQC). The BCQC will be addressed in the NAHBGreen dual certification through the NAHBGreen Scoring Tool.
Following is a brief description of required BCQC, with a more detailed explanation available on the Builders Challenge Web site:
- Project Documentation: Develop and store construction/design and energy rating documentation in project records.
- Building Envelope Moisture Management: Develop construction plans with details on moisture management — including flashing, wall system details and foundation details.
- Space Conditioning Design: Analyze load and duct sizing and keep it in the project records.
- Windows: Install at least Energy Star-qualified windows.
- Whole Building Mechanical Ventilation: Design and install an exhaust, supply or balanced mechanical ventilation system to provide outside air to the indoor environment.
- Kitchen Ventilation: Provide mechanical kitchen ventilation with an exhaust fan that can provide at least 100 cfm (intermittent use).
- Bathroom Ventilation: Provide mechanical ventilation for all bathrooms via exhaust fans that can provide at least 50 cfm (intermittent use) or 20 cfm (continuous use).
- Clothes Dryer Venting: Vent the clothes dryer directly to the outside (condensing dryers are exempt).
- Duct Leakage: Make sure duct leakage to the outdoors is less than 5% of the conditioned floor area when measured at 25 Pascals using duct pressurization methods.
- Air Barrier and Insulation Integrity: Either the builder or a third-party verifier must complete the Energy Star Thermal Bypass Inspection checklist for the home.
- Filtration: Equip the central air handler with a MERV 8 filter or higher.
- Combustion Safety: Fossil fuel-fired furnaces or water heaters installed in conditioned spaces must be sealed combustion, direct-vented or power-vented units.
- Carbon Monoxide: For homes with combustion appliances or an attached garage, at least one carbon monoxide alarm should be installed in the central location outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.
- Air Handler Location: Central air handlers should be isolated from the garage by a thermal barrier and an air barrier.
- Building Envelope Moisture Management — Field Verification: Document that foundation details, vapor barrier selection and water drainage space details noted in “Building Envelope Moisture Management” are installed according to the construction plans and specifications.
Builders Challenge provides an opportunity to build homes with increased energy efficiency, durability and indoor air quality. Builders participating in Builders Challenge have access to technical and marketing resources provided through the program to help them successfully build and market these high performance homes.
The first step is registering online to become a Builders Challenge builder or verifier.
‘National Green Building Standard’ Available at BuilderBooks.com
“The National Green Building Standard,” available through BuilderBooks.com, provides “green” practices that can be incorporated into multifamily and single-family new home construction, home remodeling and additions and site development.
The standard covers lot design, resource, energy and water efficiency; indoor environment quality; and owner education.
Currently the first and only ANSI-approved green building rating system, the National Green Building Standard is the benchmark for green homes.
To view or purchase this publication online, click here.
The Future of Residential Construction Is Green
The Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation teaches builders, remodelers and other industry professionals techniques for incorporating green building principles into homes using cost-effective and affordable options.
Earning the CGP demonstrates to clients and peers your commitment to the best and latest in green building practices and techniques. More than 3,500 people have earned the CGPdesignation to date.
For more information, visit www.nahb.org/CGPinfo.
‘Build Green and Save’ Available at BuilderBooks.com
“Build Green and Save: Protecting the Earth and Your Bottom Line,” available through BuilderBooks.com, is a comprehensive, easy-to-read reference that shows builders how to identify and select green building materials; implement green construction techniques; explain the benefits of green housing and offer affordable green building solutions to consumers; and use resources wisely and reduce water and energy consumption.
To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.