By EcoFellow Sonja Favaloro
As you may know, Massachusetts is a great place to build an energy efficient home. The state has been ranked fifth in the nation for sustainable-building design, construction, and transformation by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2014. Massachusetts has recently increased its base energy code requirements for new buildings by instating the IEEC Building Codes and offers many rebates and incentives to homeowners and builders who prioritize energy efficiency. The Center for EcoTechnology’s New Construction team works with contractors to help them comply with the state’s energy codes. We also help builders achieve LEED or ENERGY STAR® certification for high performance buildings, and conduct Home Energy Ratings (HERS.)
People often wonder if building an energy efficient home will be more expensive. Usually, it is not! Though building in an energy efficient way may seem like an added expense, it frequently results in significant cost savings down the road for both contractors and homeowners. Homeowners will see cost savings on electricity and heating, and contractors will receive benefits such as equipment and lighting rebates through the Mass Save program that can offset initial costs.
The first step in the process is having a Home Energy (HERS) Rating, which is a standardized measure of a home’s energy efficiency. If you are building in a Massachusetts Stretch Code town, your home is required to have a HERS rating. The good news is that this rating can help you qualify for Mass Save Incentives. The state provides incentives for energy-efficient new construction ranging from $275 – $7,000 per unit. A HERS report contains data obtained by a certified rater during the examination of the building plans and home including insulation levels, solar orientation, heating, cooling, and ventilation systems and controls, appliance efficiency, and window type. The rating is an “index” score between 0 and several hundred, with a lower score indicating lower annual energy consumption and 100 representing a “typical” new home built with minimum code compliance. During the HERS rating process, the rater works with the building team to keep them on track to meet energy efficiency goals by doing a series of site inspections and tests. A HERS rating is also the first step towards achieving ENERGY STAR certification, which is a set of strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ENERGY STAR certified homes can save the homeowner approximately 20% savings on annual utility bills.
CET’s New Construction team has a wealth of experience, having performed over 2000 Home Energy Ratings to date. Additionally, our team has been a part of many unique projects including retrofitting an old mill building in Easthampton. The building is a high-rise affordable housing project with many units, making the benefits of energy efficiency even greater. Our team has also worked with Soldier On, a non-profit organization providing housing to veterans, to build a 44 unit development in Lee, Massachusetts that is ENERGY STAR and LEED certified.
If you are a Massachusetts contractor or homeowner interested in energy efficient building, contact our New Construction team at 413-586-7350 or visit us online!