Guidelines for New Home Construction
With new home construction, the opportunities for including green concepts are even greater. With gut-rehab, projects are constrained with an existing shell, building size and orientation on the property. These constraints prevent the use of some Green Building concepts and techniques. With new construction, there is a clean slate and the ability to expand the possibilities for going green. As with gut-rehab, energy efficiency should be the starting for low-income housing. Thus, all new construction (single and multi-family housing) will earn the Energy Star label.
How to Earn the Energy Star Label
To earn the Energy Star label, a home must be tested and shown that it meets guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These homes include energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30 percent more efficient than standard homes. This certification is appropriate for low-income housing projects and represents the starting point for affordable housing projects. Find information about the Energy Star qualified construction and how to earn the Energy Star Label.
ENERGY STAR qualified homes include a variety of proven energy-efficient features that contribute to improved home quality, comfort, and lower energy use. These features include:
Effective Insulation: Properly installed and inspected insulation in floors, walls, and attics ensures even temperatures throughout the house, reduced energy use, and increased comfort.
High-Performance Windows: Energy-efficient windows employ advanced technologies, such as protective coatings and improved frames, to help keep heat in during winter and out during summer.
Tight Construction and Ducts: Sealing holes and cracks in the home's "envelope" and in heating and cooling duct systems helps reduce drafts, moisture, dust, pollen, and noise.
Efficient Heating and Cooling Equipment: New HVAC equipment are on the market that use less energy to operate, can be quieter, and improve the overall comfort of the home.
Efficient Products: Energy Star products (such as lighting fixtures, compact fluorescent bulbs, ventilation fans, and appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines) help to achieve the Energy Star label for homes.
Third-Party Verification: Independent Home Energy Raters help identify the most appropriate energy-saving features and conduct onsite testing and inspections to verify the installed energy efficiency measures.
The majority of projects qualify as affordable housing and should go beyond just energy efficiency. Given the flexibility of design with new construction, the ability to achieve a required level of green should not be difficult. The recommendation for single and multi-family housing projects is to use the appropriate US Green Building Council’s LEED guidelines and achieve no less than a Silver certification.
As an alternative to the US Green Building Council’s guidelines, large scale multi-family projects can use the Enterprise Foundation's Green Communities program guidelines.
Revised November 27, 2012