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Energy Star Certification

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ENERGY STAR Certified Homes Program and Requirements.
The ENERGY STAR Certified Homes program helps homebuyers easily identify homes that are significantly more energy efficient than standard construction in the marketplace. As code requirements have become more rigorous and builder practices have become more efficient, EPA has periodically modified the guidelines to ensure that certified homes represent a meaningful improvement over non-labeled homes.

To earn the ENERGY STAR, a home must be certified under Version 3 of the program requirements, unless it is located in California, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, or Washington. A home in these locations must be certified using Regional Specifications.

EPA has developed an alternative set of guidelines for manufactured homes built to the HUD code andmultifamily high rise buildings.
What is the process for the certification?
A home that meets EPA's strict energy efficiency requirements achieves this level of performance through a complete package of building science-based energy efficiency systems and measures that are third–party verified by a Home Energy Rater.  The blue ENERGY STAR label makes it simple for homebuyers to choose truly comfortable and energy efficient new homes.

Step 1 – Builder becomes ENERGY STAR partner
Through a partnership with ENERGY STAR, a builder commits to constructing and verifying homes to meet all of ENERGY STAR’s strict energy efficiency requirements. The builder also selects a Home Energy Rater to work with to certify their homes.

Step 2:  The Builder and Home Energy Rater work together to select climate-appropriate energy-efficient features
The builder submits their architectural plans to their Home Energy Rater for review and analysis. The Rater looks for key information on the plans to help the builder choose the best combination of energy–efficient features to ensure that the home will earn the ENERGY STAR label when constructed.

Step 3:  Builder constructs home; Rater provides field verification and quality assurance
With the energy-efficient features selected, the builder proceeds with home construction. The Home Energy Rater conducts onsite inspections and testing during and after construction to ensure rigorous ENERGY STAR requirements are met. Homes that earn the ENERGY STAR typically undergo significantly more systems engineering, inspections, and testing than homes built to code.

Step 4:  Rater certifies home and issues the ENERGY STAR label
After the Rater completes the final site inspection and determines that all ENERGY STAR requirements have been met, the Rater will provide the builder with the ENERGY STAR label, which is typically placed on the circuit breaker box of the home.
Approximately how long does it take for a home to get certified?  
It depends on the duration of the construction process.  Two site visits from the Home Energy Rater are required - one pre-drywall and one pre-final. 

What is the cost for a single family home?  
The cost of an ENERGY STAR Certified Home varies according to location, but ranges from $2,000-$2,500 more than a code-built home.   (Free for the certification itself and a cost for the rater). 

What makes you different from other certifications?

The hallmark of the program has always been independent third-party verification using the Home Energy Rating System (HERS).  EPA also requires additional Energy Star-specific, quality-assurance checklists to be completed for homes that earn the label.

Do you focus primarily on energy efficiency or multiple elements for certification and what are they?   
Our focus is energy-efficient new construction: better thermal envelopes, good levels of insulation, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems installed to meet industry-accepted best practices for quality installation, tight ductwork and high-performance windows.   Water management system requirements, which improve moisture control in homes, are also in place to ensure durabilitity.

Approximately how many certifications have been completed?
 1995, more than 1.6 million homes have earned the ENERGY STAR label nationwide.  Nearly 84,000 ENERGY STAR homes were built during 2015. 

Please describe the region you cover, if not national.
The ENERGY STAR Certified Homes program is national.  Consumers can see the state-by-state 2015 ENERGY STAR Certified New Home Market Share map here
2015 ENERGY STAR Certified New Homes Market Share
2015 ENERGY STAR Certified New Homes Market Share. The map and tables provide a state-level breakdown of the market share for ENERGY STAR certified new homes

Are renovations/remodels eligible for certification, or is it primarily new construction?
In most cases, only new homes, constructed per ENERGY STAR specifications, can earn the label.  This is because it is very difficult to retrofit existing homes given the stringent ENERGY STAR construction requirements.  However, there are some alternative approaches for homes undergoing gut rehabilitation that can be found here:
Any other information you’d like to share?
ENERGY STAR is really about other quality benefits such as comfort, construction quality, durability and lower maintenance costs. Air leaks and drafts are diminished, humidity levels are controlled and outside noise is reduced. The bottom line for homeowners is that they get to live in a better home that costs less to own and operate over its lifespan.

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