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October 2011 News from Training Director Rob DuTeau

Recognizing these are tough times for home builders, and with the stringency of ENERGY STAR version 3 (ESv3) requirements, the prospects for growth in the energy ratings business are limited.  So this might be a good time to reflect on marketing strategies, improve your business model, improve your rating procedures and methods, and to get up-to-date on ESv3.

Notes on getting up to speed for ENERGY STAR version 3:

You may have already taken the training for ESv3 and become qualified.  If so, Nancy Leitnaker needs your ESv3 Certificate by the end of this year to document your qualifications.  If not, our next training is scheduled for November, 2011.  All raters who intend to qualify ENERGY STAR homes must be an ENERGY STAR partner and complete ESv3 training.  There are so many details in ESv3 that most people will not be able to remember it all, even after the training!  KBSI is here for you!

EPA, ICF International, and the ENERGY STAR new homes program has been conducting webinars for ESv3 every few weeks, and more are scheduled:


 The fourth revision of the national program requirements and checklists are published:


Keep in mind that RESNET has updated their standards for performance testing, and the HVAC Raters Checklist requires some tests that may not be in your routine.  See:


Here are a few basics of ESv3:  There are two paths to qualify an ENERGY STAR  home.  A prescriptive path, where no trade-offs are allowed, and a performance path, which achieves a target HERS index.  The reference house for the target HERS index is a home built to the standards of the prescriptive path.  The prescriptive path standards are specified by IECC 2009.  (ENERGY STAR has summarized the IECC requirements for each climate zone in documents available on its website, so you don’t need to purchase the IECC code book.)  For a given number of bedrooms there is a benchmark home size.  If the rated home is larger than the benchmark home, it must be qualified under the performance path, and a size adjustment factor is applied to the target HERS index, which requires more efficiency for larger houses.  There are four comprehensive checklists to document that ENERGY STAR qualified homes are built upon a foundation of building science, which insures greater efficiency, comfort, and durability.

Rating a home that will be ENERGY STAR qualified will take more work on your part.  It will also take more organization, coordination, and commitment by the general contractor and their subcontractors.

As we await the day when all existing and new homes have energy efficiency ratings disclosed for potential buyers, the emerging trend is to market the HERS index to attracting buyers toward energy efficient homes.  The ENERGY STAR label has been a simple approach for marketing new homes, but educated buyers will desire more information.


Do you compare the kWh/yr when you shop for a refrigerator or freezer?  Sure, look for the ENERGY STAR label to narrow the search, and then refine your choice by the features and efficiency numbers.  Will we soon buy houses in a similar way, by narrowing the search by the features and then looking for the best efficiency? 

So, if you suggest to your builder-partners that consumers are prepared to look for a smaller number, a smaller HERS index, and a smaller utility bill, then with or without ENERGY STAR, you will continue to work with these builders.  In fact, with solar thermal, photovoltaic’s, and other renewable energy, the HERS index goes all the way to zero.  Don’t you wish you could buy a vehicle and never need fuel?  Or buy a vehicle and get as many miles per gallon as you choose?

The current housing market may be bleak, but stick around.  If you stay, it will pay.