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Solon homebuilder meets DOE energy efficiency challenge

SOLON– A recently constructed home in Solon is really pushing the envelope.
The home constructed by Legacy GreenBuilders at 3978 Macbride Place in west of Solon has earned certification under the US Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home® (ZERH) program. The home is the first of its kind in Iowa to achieve certification under this prestigious program, and Legacy GreenBuilders is the first homebuilder in the state to build to this standard.
“We wanted to do something different with this home and all future homes. Both the homebuyer and Legacy GreenBuilders were passionate about making this home an example of what is possible to achieve with conventional construction. That’s why we chose DOE ZERH,” said Chris Mottinger, owner of Legacy GreenBuilders and Mottinger Real Estate Group based in Solon.
The ZERH program is the next step in the evolution of energy efficient home certification programs. For years, Iowa has been a leading state in homes certified under the US EPA ENERGY STAR® New Homes program. With ZERH, certification under ENERGY STAR is a prerequisite; to earn the ZERH label the home must go beyond ENERGY STAR to achieve further levels of efficiency through increasing insulation levels, reducing drafty air leakage, and installing higher efficiency mechanical and lighting systems. The end goal is a home that can be easily converted into a net-zero energy home - one which produces as much energy as it consumes to operate – at a future point where the cost of onsite renewable energy systems such as solar panels are less expensive.
The result is that a home built to the ZERH standard is designed and verified to achieve optimal comfort, efficiency and quality of life for its occupants. ZERH also incorporates additional important high performance criteria that should appeal to any homebuyer. A special focus on water heating efficiency ensures that occupants have the hot water they need when they need it, while mandatory certification under the EPA Indoor airPLUS New Homes program results in a home that is not only comfortable and efficient, but has good indoor air quality as well.
“For many years, the energy utilities have offered strong incentives for homebuilders to build to the ENERGY STAR standard,” said Troy Zimmerman of Preferred Energy Consultants, the Marion-based Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Rater and ZERH verifier for the project. “What makes this project special is that the builder decided to take it to the next level without any incentives to do so. The ZERH program is the next, important step, and Legacy GreenBuilders is leading the market. This home’s HERS rating is an incredible 39!”
To achieve ZERH certification, the homebuilder must first sign a partnership agreement with the program. Next, they must choose a ZERH verifier partner. The verifier must also be a Certified HERS Rater who can perform required field inspections and testing to verify that all program criteria is met, as well as software modeling to produce the HERS Index score for the home. If the home achieves the level of efficiency on the HERS Index required by the program and passes all site inspections and diagnostic tests, the home becomes a certified ZERH project.
For more information on ZERH, visit the DOE’s website: http://energy.gov/eere/buildings/zero-energy-ready- home
To learn more about the information in this release, contact Chris McTaggart, Building Efficiency Resources, Chicago, at www.theber.com.