12 Common Terms Used by Energy Efficient Builders

When buying a new home, understanding the language of energy-efficient building, standards, and certifications can be a bit confusing at times. Here are some simple definitions we've put together to help you understand 12 common terms used by builders of new energy-efficient homes.

Building Codes
Building Codes set the minimum standards that builders must meet when constructing a home.
A confirmation that a home or product meets a standard. A home may be certified to the EPA’s ENERGY STAR standard or the National Green Building Standard (NGBS).
ENERGY STAR Certified New Homes
ENERGY STAR is the nationally recognized symbol for energy efficiency.
The EPA introduced ENERGY STAR as a voluntary labeling program to promote energy-efficient products, new homes, and commercial buildings.
You have probably seen the ENERGY STAR label when shopping for energy-efficient electronics and appliances. You can also own an entire home that has earned the ENERGY STAR label.
Green Building
First developed by the National Association of Home Builders, the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard™ (NGBS) is the first residential green building standard to undergo the full consensus process and receive approval from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
HERS Index Rating
The HERS Index is an easy-to-understand approach to measuring a home’s energy efficiency.
Each 1-point decrease in the HERS Index equals a 1% reduction in energy consumption compared to the HERS Reference Home.
Approved by the mortgage industry, the HERS Index Rating serves as the energy rating system for ENERGY STAR New Homes, LEED for Homes, and the National Green Building Standard.
HERS Rater
HERS Raters are building science consultants who calculate, measure, and verify energy performance in new construction. HERS Raters are independent 3rd-Party RESNET certified energy inspectors.
High-Performance Home
A high-performance home may share some similarities with ENERGY STAR. But unlike ENERGY STAR, a high-performance home designation does not require a national certification standard or verification by independent third-party inspectors.
ICC is the International Code Council that reviews and updates the codes every 3 years. The focus is to develop model codes and standards used in design, build, and complacence processes, providing minimum standards for the protection of the consumer, general public and the owner occupants of residential buildings.
Adoption of the International Residential Code (IRC) codes are done on a state or local level. In Colorado every jurisdiction adopts and or makes changes as it sees fit for that municipality or county.
Not every state or municipality or county has adopted the most recent IRC code. There is a review process that every jurisdiction goes through in adopting and updating the building codes.
LEED For Homes
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification program for green building with numerous levels and ratings within this certification program. LEED is more commonly associated with commercial building projects.
The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) is an independent, non-profit organization formed to help homeowners reduce the cost of their utility bills by making their homes more energy efficient. RESNET monitors HERS Raters compliance with quality assurance requirements.
All HERS Rater candidates must pass a national online test and perform 5 ratings under the supervision of certified RESNET Home Energy Rater. Only then can the HERS Rater candidate be certified by a RESNET accredited Rating Provider.
Zero Energy Ready Home
The DOE Zero Energy Ready Home is a new program that builds on the requirements of ENERGY STAR for Homes Version 3. The program improves on making homes zero energy ready which increases the energy efficiency and makes it more cost effective to add renewable energy sources.

20 Years of ENERGY STAR
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