In my last blog, we looked at the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) as a new, potentially viable option for green certifying commercial buildings. But what about options for single-family residential construction?

For the purpose of this blog, I am looking at just two. Energy Star® for Homes and LEED® for Homes have been around for approximately the same amount of time; however, there’s a vast difference in adoption rates.

Here are the figures:

Energy Star certified homes will likely surpass the 2 million mark this year, approaching 10% share of new homes overall and more than 25% in some states, such as Arizona (59%), Maryland (36%) and Nevada (35%).

LEED, in contrast, has in the neighborhood of 30,000 certified single-family homes in the U.S. with some of the larger concentrations in Texas and California.

Why the divide? My guess is that Energy Star has three things going for it:

  1. Consumers know and trust Energy Star and it is an easier, more recognizable sell.
  2. Lower Cost. The overall cost to certify is lower than LEED.
  3. Energy Star provides a comprehensive list that helps trades and general contractors achieve criteria for certifications.

The state of certifications overall.

It is interesting to see how the adoption rates vary and why, but when thinking about green certification for homes overall, I can’t help but ask the question again: Has energy efficiency become an expectation in residential construction? As an add-on to that question: Do certification programs even matter?

Consider that 51% of builders responding to a survey by the NAHB this year say their typical home met the criteria of one or more green certifications (NGBS, HERS, or Energy Star). Yet, only a quarter actually sought certification.

The View from Here then and now is that green practices in residential construction have become so common that consumers expect it, certified or not.

At the end of the day, Energy Star or even LEED has the potential to help homes sell faster and for more money.  But perhaps the most important thing to remember is that green building in the residential market is quickly become a common practice (see Dodge Data and Analytics’ Green Multifamily and Single Family Home 2017 report).  If you aren’t seizing opportunities now, you are missing out.

What’s your View? Email me directly at Eric.Jackson@Quanex.com

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