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Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR

Home plans that are certified as Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR include requirements for the energy-efficient features and construction details typically found in ENERGY STAR certified homes—tight construction and duct systems, properly installed insulation, high performance windows, efficient heating and cooling equipment, and ENERGY STAR qualified lighting and appliances.

When built, Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR home plans will result in a home that is at least 15 percent more energy efficient than a home built to the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC), and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30 percent more efficient than standard homes.

How are home plans certified as Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR?

Residential architects and designers who want to label a home plan as Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR must submit it to a Home Energy Rater for review.

These raters are experienced in evaluating home plans to help you choose the most appropriate and cost-effective approaches for meeting ENERGY STAR guidelines.

Find a Home Energy Rater near you.

Each home plan can be evaluated in one of two ways:

  • Using the performance path, the home plan is modeled with specialized computer software to estimate the as-built home's energy use based on the specifications of the home plan. The results of this analysis help you identify the most effective upgrades needed to meet ENERGY STAR requirements
  • Using the prescriptive path, the home plan is reviewed for consistency with an EPA-developed climate-specific construction specification called a Builder Option Package (BOP). Based on extensive analyses, BOP specifications have been determined to result in homes that consistently meet ENERGY STAR guidelines.

The rater will also verify that your home plan contains all other elements required for it to be labeled as Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR using the Plan Review Checklist PDF (122KB). You can download this Checklist as a fillable PDF that you can complete electronically.

ENERGY STAR Label

Does qualifying a home plan as Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR mean that the home will be ENERGY STAR certified?

A home built according to a Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR home plan does not automatically earn the ENERGY STAR certified home label (image right). Field verification, including onsite inspections and testing by a Home Energy Rater and completion of a Thermal Bypass Checklist, is required to ensure that energy-saving measures specified in the home plan are incorporated into the as-built house. This field verification may or may not be performed by the same rater who reviews the home plan.

Materials needed to qualify home plans as Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR

Attached Documents:

  • Projected HERS rating or appropriate prescriptive path.
  • ENERGY STAR Thermal Enclosure Checklist with all N/A items checked.
  • HVAC Contractor Checklist with all N/A items checked
  • HVAC Rater Checklist with all N/A items checked
  • Any required specifications not already included on the plan
  • Plan Review Checklist PDF (122KB)

Information on Plan (Floor Plan, Specifications, or Details):

  • Inclusion of the following required text:
    • Note: This house must be field inspected by a Rater to be labeled as ENERGY STAR.
    • Note: HVAC sizing calculations for the heating and cooling equipment must be provided and verified for this home to be labeled as ENERGY STAR.
    • Note: This house was rated using the size adjustment factor including the basement area. OR
    • This house was rated using the size adjustment factor excluding the basement area.
  • Inclusion of climate zones that this plan can be built for ENERGY STAR qualification
  • Wall sections delineating complete thermal boundary of home
  • High-Performance Window specifications including window and door SHGC and U-value(s)
  • Quality-Installed Insulation specifications including R-value of insulation assemblies and proper installation details.
  • Reduced Thermal Bridging specifications and the details intended to achieve them.
  • Air Sealing performance specifications and the details intended to achieve them.
  • Fuel type of HVAC equipment and hot water systems
  • Water heater capacity (gallons), and minimum energy efficiency rating
  • HVAC equipment capacity (tons or kbtu/h), and minimum energy efficiency rating
  • Duct insulation and leakage performance specifications9 (or layout for ductwork and air handlers within the thermal and pressure boundary ) and the details intended to achieve them, including those in the HVAC Contractor/Rater checklists.
  • Water Management Checklist details and specifications regarding foundation and site, wall assembly, and roof assembly.
  • Where using the prescriptive path or required under the performance path, specifications requiring, ENERGY STAR qualified products, such as:
    • Heating or cooling equipment;
    • Windows;
    • Appliances;
    • Ventilation Fans;
    • Ceiling Fans; and
    • 80% of lighting fixtures (% might vary with performance path) and installation locations, ceiling fans equipped with lighting fixtures, or ventilation fans.

Additional Resources on Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR: