Woodborne Design, Inc. is proud to announce its partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program.
Woodborne Design is the first residential design company in the High Country to join the EPA in offering an optional "Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR" label on its home plans. Since Woodborne Design is as committed to quality and value as it is to a healthy environment and a sustainable way of life, the company is extremely pleased to make "Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR" home plans available to its customers.
What is the "Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR" label?
The "Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR" label certifies that a home plan depicts practices that meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA. Plans that are to receive the "Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR" label are independently reviewed by a local Home Energy Rater to verify the satisfaction of all applicable ENERGY STAR guidelines. The Home Energy Rater also conducts a review of the home when it is constructed. ENERGY STAR builder partners can build ENERGY STAR homes from plans that bear the "Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR" label with greater ease and at a reduced cost to the customer than if the ENERGY STAR designation were to be pursued exclusively during construction.
What is an ENERGY STAR home?
An ENERGY STAR home will achieve an energy rating at least 15 percent more efficient than that of a comparable standard home. A standard home, in this case, is defined as being in accordance with the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC). An ENERGY STAR home features high performance windows and other ENERGY STAR qualified products such as lighting and appliances. An ENERGY STAR home utilizes value-engineered construction methods that reduce waste and yield a tighter, more thoroughly insulated "envelope". An ENERGY STAR home employs thoughtfully engineered, highly efficient heating and cooling equipment, which may or may not be complimented by an appropriate ventilation system. Ducts in an ENERGY STAR home are properly sized, sealed, insulated, and are located within the home's insulated envelope. Together these measures add up to a healthier, quieter, higher quality, more comfortable home with improved indoor air quality, lower utility bills, reduced obsolescence, and improved resale value.
Is an ENERGY STAR home worth it? (Answer: YES!)
Kevin Donovan of Celtic Building Co. is a Western North Carolina contractor who has been building ENERGY STAR qualified homes for some time now. Kevin states that pursuing an ENERGY STAR designation increases the overall cost of building by 3 to 5%. Accordingly, a recent survey of local real estate agents revealed that the ENERGY STAR label typically translates to a 3-5% increase in resale value for homes in the High Country. Landon Phillips of Phillips Appraisals, Inc. corroborates these figures.
Phillips, an appraiser who deals with properties in Alleghany, Ashe, Watauga, Wilkes and Avery counties, has gone to great lengths in order to educate himself about the appraisal values of green homes and ENERGY STAR certified homes around the U.S. He is also in the process of trying to locate and document all ENERGY STAR homes in the High Country area so he can build a database to track their values. Although currently High Country ENERGY STAR home appraisals are lower than the national average, Landon believes ENERGY STAR home values in the High Country will increase as more people in the area become better educated about green, energy efficient homes. For the time being, it would appear that anyone looking to build in the High Country of North Carolina can count on at least a 100% return on investment in an ENERGY STAR home right away (in the form of equity at closing). But as more and more people begin to realize the value of having an ENERGY STAR home, these numbers are likely to get even better.
In recent years, ENERGY STAR has become a familiar and trusted label on energy efficient appliances and other products for the home. But the ENERGY STAR designation still has some ground to make up when it comes to popular recognition as it applies to whole homes. The disparity in ENERGY STAR home values around the country is primarily due to a variation in the size of ENERGY STAR homes, improved brand recognition in certain locales, and the quality of finish materials and workmanship one is likely to find from place to place. In fact, ENERGY STAR homes in the Asheville area have already begun to show an 8 to 12% increase in value over their standard home counterparts. When you start looking at national averages, ENERGY STAR homes now typically resell at 5 to 15% more than comparable standard homes. By these numbers, it would appear that someone, somewhere stands to gain 10% or more in equity at closing on a new home if they can manage an additional 5% of up-front costs to build their home as an ENERGY STAR certified home.
The bottom line of all this talk about improved resale value is that ENERGY STAR homes are a wise choice when compared to standard homes. The published EPA data on what qualifies an ENERGY STAR home cites a 15% increase in energy efficiency over a standard home. Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation (or BREMCO) states that they typically see 25 to 35% savings on the bills of customers with ENERGY STAR homes that are primary full time residences. They cite 5 to 15% savings in second homes, where energy use is usually lower anyway since they sit unoccupied for much of the year. Lower electric bills are like a gift that keeps on giving but the deal with ENERGY STAR is likely to get even sweeter still. Caps on carbon emissions mean that utility providers like BREMCO are working to implement special reduced rates for customers in ENERGY STAR homes. As leaders in federal, state, and local office continue to shape legislation that promotes energy efficiency and stimulates green sectors of the economy, incentives to invest in an ENERGY STAR home are growing every day. In light of our nation's need for energy independence and improved environmental stewardship, it would appear that excuses not to make every home and ENERGY STAR home are running out.