Builders Challenge

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The Builders Challenge [2] is a high-performance housing recognition initiative led by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy through its Building Technologies Program.[1] The voluntary program with incentives was announced by the DOE on 14 February 2008.[2] Through the Builders Challenge, participating homebuilders can more easily differentiate their high energy-performance homes from other less energy-efficient products in the marketplace by means of a standardized energy rating system.[3] “Best energy-performing” is defined by the DOE as scoring 70 or lower on the EnergySmart Home Scale (E-Scale), that is, at least 30 percent more efficient than a typical home built per the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code.[4] The Builders Challenge aims for 1.3 million homes scoring 70 or lower to be constructed by 2030 thereby saving $1.7 billion in energy costs per DOE estimate.[1]

"DOE's ultimate vision is that, by 2030, a consumer will have the opportunity to buy an affordable net zero energy home (NZEH) anywhere in the United States - a grid-connected home that, over the course of a year, produces as much energy as it uses.” [3]

The EnergySmart Home Scale provides a visible means of comparing the overall energy-efficiency of homes, analogous to fuel-economy ratings on new motor vehicles or Energy Star ratings on major electrical appliances. Homes that meet or exceed the minimum standards of Builders Challenge receive an E-Scale sunburst sticker, alerting prospective buyers or renters to the home's energy performance. For example, a 64 on the E-Scale indicates the home is approximately 36 percent more energy efficient than a typical new home built to code. “Builders may place the E-Scale on or near the home's electric panel to show potential homeowners the energy performance achieved by that particular home or model.” [4]

Builders can meet the Challenge through any one of three different pathways: performance, prescriptive, or partner/HERS provider.[5] The Builders Challenge Quality Criteria and Technology Information Packets (followed under the prescriptive path) are based on over a decade of Building America’s building science R&D. Both the Builders Challenge and the Building America programs advance the ability to build cost-effective net zero and high performance homes.[6]

Requirements for builders to meet the Builders Challenge here.[5]

Individuals interested becoming a Builders Challenge third-party verifier can learn more here.[7]

Dual Certification The Builders Challenge program has formed partnerships with the nation’s leading green home labeling programs.

  • National Green Building Standard homes can qualify for both programs using the free online Green Scoring Tool [8]
  • EarthCraft House has aligned their Gold-level certification to meet the Builders Challenge.[9]
  • LEED for Homes
  • Environments for Living

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