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Working with ENERGY STAR as a Local Government

Residential energy consumption plays a large role in global climate change. When most people think about carbon footprints and climate change, they think about cars. However, the average home is responsible for more than twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as the typical car and uses more than three times as much energy over the course of a year. In fact, residential energy consumption is responsible for 17% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Because of the major impact the residential sector has on the environment and our wallets, it also offers significant potential for energy savings and emissions reductions. Local governments play a critical role in helping citizens understand how to improve the efficiency of their homes and find homes that are more environmentally responsible. The ENERGY STAR for New Homes Program equips policymakers with proven marketing platforms and technical specifications to help realize energy savings, reduce energy consumption growth, and mitigate climate change. Sponsoring an ENERGY STAR for New Homes program is a unique opportunity for long-term peak and energy demand savings, as well as environmental savings. An ENERGY STAR New Homes program can stand-alone, or complement an existing residential energy efficiency initiative.

Learn More about the Features and Benefits of ENERGY STAR Certified Homes

  • What is an ENERGY STAR Certified Home? �ENERGY STAR certified homes are at least 15% more energy efficient than homes built to current code, and include additional energy-efficient features that typically make them 20�30% more efficient than standard new homes. These features contribute to improved durability; homeowner comfort; lower energy demand; reduced air pollution; and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  • How do new homes earn the ENERGY STAR? To earn the ENERGY STAR, a home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To ensure that a home meets ENERGY STAR guidelines, third�party verification by a certified Home Energy Rater (or equivalent) is required.
  • How Do Your Constituents Benefit from Purchasing an ENERGY STAR Certified Home? ENERGY STAR certified homes offer homebuyers all the features they want in a new home, plus energy-efficient improvements that deliver better performance, greater comfort, and lower utility bills.

Benefits to your Community

Participating in the ENERGY STAR for New Homes Program can contribute to dramatic reductions in energy consumption for your community. Reducing energy use can defer or eliminate energy shortages during peak seasons in your community. ENERGY STAR can also reduce household monthly energy bills for residents. This is especially critical for low income populations who spend a higher proportion of their income on utility bills. The ENERGY STAR Program offers affordable housing stakeholders solutions for cost effectively increasing home energy efficiency. These solutions reduce energy costs and save money by making homes more affordable, sustainable, and livable for lower-income families while helping the environment. State and local governments are motivating housing developers to build more energy efficient homes by making energy efficiency part of their requirements for developers to qualify for public funding.

Because ENERGY STAR requires specialized skills, training and technology, it depends on local professionals such as Home Energy Raters; HVAC, window, and insulation contractors; and retailers and product distributors. Direct savings to consumers, increased investment in local economies, and green job creation—in addition to environmental protection and energy reliability—all make ENERGY STAR a smart choice for local governments.

An Above-Code Program

Note that, while there are great benefits in sponsoring an ENERGY STAR for New Homes program in your area, ENERGY STAR is an above-code program and is not meant to be adopted as a local code by cities or municipalities. If you�re interested in promoting energy efficient buildings through the implementation of advanced codes, consider adopting the 2009 ICC International Energy Conservation Code® (IECC) Exit ENERGY STAR, including blower door and duct blaster diagnostic tests as part of your local building inspection process, and fully enforcing existing energy codes. View a list of ideas on how local governments can make the most of ENERGY STAR as an above-code option. PDF (71KB)

Learn about local ENERGY STAR Partners and Other Stakeholders

Builders: Companies or individuals that plan to construct one or more new ENERGY STAR certified homes for either sale or personal use can partner with ENERGY STAR. This category includes Modular Home Builders, Multifamily Home Builders, Developers, Affordable Housing Builders, and Manufactured Home Plants/Retailers/Installers. Encourage builders in your area who are not currently constructing ENERGY STAR certified homes to join the program. Be sure to mention the benefits to participation, such as increased profits and market differentiation. Local governments can encourage the prevalence of energy-efficient new homes in their jurisdictions by providing incentives to local homebuilders who construct ENERGY STAR certified homes. Incentives may include:

  • Discounted or delayed permit fees
  • Priority with code processing
  • Increased density allowances
  • Expedited plan approvals
  • Priority field inspections
  • Discounted utility hook-up fees or rates

Home Energy Raters: These are certified professionals who provide energy efficiency strategies and on-site evaluation for homes to earn the ENERGY STAR. Homes earn the ENERGY STAR label only when an independent third-party verifies that they meet ENERGY STAR guidelines. Home Energy Raters are trained to evaluate construction techniques, take key measurements, and perform inspections.

Architects and Designers: With the new Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR program, architects and designers can show consumers that their home plans meet the rigorous energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. EPA�s ENERGY STAR program. 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 International Residential Code (IRC), and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30% more efficient than standard homes.

Lenders: Institutions or individuals who loan borrowers money through the use and promotion of Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEM) may partner with ENERGY STAR. Promote local lenders who have partnered with ENERGY STAR to become leaders in your community and promote better products and a cleaner environment through the use of these products.

Other sponsoring organizations: Organizations and companies other than local governments can partner with ENERGY STAR as a sponsoring organization. Organizations such as home builders associations, utilities, and green building programs that promote or intend to promote ENERGY STAR certified homes are all eligible for partnership. Work with these sponsors in your area to expand your ENERGY STAR resources.

Real Estate Agents: While there is not yet a specific partnership category for Real Estate agents, these individuals play an important role in the success of ENERGY STAR home sales in your market. Reach out to agents in your service are to provide educational resources and support in selling ENERGY STAR homes.

HVAC Contractors: To ensure that HVAC systems in ENERGY STAR certified homes are installed properly, HVAC contractors are required to complete and sign a detailed inspection checklist based on the QI Standard. Further, HVAC contractors who wish to install systems in ENERGY STAR Version 3 homes are required to be credentialed by an EPA-recognized third-party training and oversight organization (H-QUITO).

Resources to Increase Availability of Energy Efficient Homes in Your Market

The online Partner Locator is where you can find a listing of all ENERGY STAR Partners in your service territory, as well as list your own incentives for local companies to seek out.

Partnership Agreements can be signed through the ENERGY STAR Web site and must be renewed annually.

Technical Resources: This page provides the ENERGY STAR for Homes guidelines.

  • Help local homebuyers understand the features and benefits of ENERGY STAR. Download useful fact sheets about ENERGY STAR certified homes to display in your office or have available at community events.
  • ENERGY STAR offers free webinar trainings live on the Internet to help prospective and veteran partners get the most out of their partnership.
  • Download presentations and other marketing and educational resources from the ENERGY STAR Web site to educate constituents.
  • Encourage affordable housing developers to build more energy efficient homes.

Not a Partner Yet? Join Now!

Your government office may Partner with ENERGY STAR as a Sponsoring Organization. Eligible offices include regional, state, or local government entities involved in coordinating and/or administering an energy efficiency program or environmental education campaign that promotes or intends to promote ENERGY STAR qualified products, homes, and/or buildings. ENERGY STAR Partners can increase revenue, enhance homebuyer satisfaction, and gain national recognition as industry and environmental leaders. ENERGY STAR and its local sponsors work together to promote the benefits and increase sales of energy-efficient homes.