Transitioning to High Performance Homes: Successes and Lessons Learned From Seven Builders

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As homebuyers are becoming increasingly concerned about rising energy costs and the impact of fossil fuels as a major source of greenhouse gases, the returning new home market is beginning to demand energy-efficient and comfortable high-performance homes. In response to this, some innovative builders are gaining market share because they are able to market their homes’ comfort, better indoor air quality, and aesthetics, in addition to energy efficiency. The success and marketability of these high-performance homes is creating a builder demand for house plans and information about how to design, build, and sell their own low-energy homes. To help make ... continued below

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Widder, Sarah H.; Kora, Angela R.; Baechler, Michael C.; Fonorow, Ken; Jenkins, David W. & Stroer, Dennis March 1, 2013.

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As homebuyers are becoming increasingly concerned about rising energy costs and the impact of fossil fuels as a major source of greenhouse gases, the returning new home market is beginning to demand energy-efficient and comfortable high-performance homes. In response to this, some innovative builders are gaining market share because they are able to market their homes’ comfort, better indoor air quality, and aesthetics, in addition to energy efficiency. The success and marketability of these high-performance homes is creating a builder demand for house plans and information about how to design, build, and sell their own low-energy homes. To help make these and other builders more successful in the transition to high-performance construction techniques, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) partnered with seven interested builders in the hot humid and mixed humid climates to provide technical and design assistance through two building science firms, Florida Home Energy and Resources Organization (FL HERO) and Calcs-Plus, and a designer that offers a line of stock plans designed specifically for energy efficiency, called Energy Smart Home Plans (ESHP). This report summarizes the findings of research on cost-effective high-performance whole-house solutions, focusing on real-world implementation and challenges and identifying effective solutions. The ensuing sections provide project background, profile each of the builders who participated in the program, and describe their houses’ construction characteristics, key challenges the builders encountered during the construction and transaction process); and present primary lessons learned to be applied to future projects. As a result of this technical assistance, 17 homes have been built featuring climate-appropriate efficient envelopes, ducts in conditioned space, and correctly sized and controlled heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems. In addition, most builders intend to integrate high-performance features into most or all their homes in the future. As these seven builders have demonstrated, affordable, high-performance homes are possible, but require attention to detail and flexibility in design to accommodate specific regional geographic or market-driven constraints that can increase cost. With better information regarding how energy-efficiency trade-offs or design choices affect overall home performance, builders can make informed decisions regarding home design and construction to minimize cost without sacrificing performance and energy savings.

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  • Report No.: PNNL-22375
  • Grant Number: AC05-76RL01830
  • DOI: 10.2172/1084180 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1084180
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc845361

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • March 1, 2013

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

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  • Dec. 9, 2016, 10:29 p.m.

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Widder, Sarah H.; Kora, Angela R.; Baechler, Michael C.; Fonorow, Ken; Jenkins, David W. & Stroer, Dennis. Transitioning to High Performance Homes: Successes and Lessons Learned From Seven Builders, report, March 1, 2013; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc845361/: accessed August 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.