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U.S. Department of Energy Challenges U.S. Homebuilding Industry

February 14, 2008 - 11:29am


Government calls on private sector to build 220,000 energy-efficient homes by 2012

ORLANDO, FL - U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today launched the Department's Builders Challenge, a voluntary national energy savings program calling for the U.S. homebuilding industry to build 220,000 high-performance, energy efficient homes by 2012.  A high-performance home would use at least 30% less energy than a typical new home built to meet criteria of the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code.  As part of DOE's Builders Challenge, 38 homebuilders have already pledged to build an estimated total of 6,000 high-performance homes.  Ultimately, DOE aims to see 1.3 million homes of this high standard constructed by 2030, allowing Americans to save $1.7 billion in energy costs, or the carbon equivalent of taking 606,000 cars off the road annually.

"The Department of Energy's Builders Challenge aims to redefine the way homes across this nation produce and use energy," Secretary Bodman said while delivering remarks at the International Builders Show.  "The Challenge expands public-private sector cooperation to propel the market toward building and selling homes that produce at least as much energy as they consume, and furthers the President's call to change how we power our homes and businesses by utilizing cutting-edge technologies that increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions."

In order to meet Builders Challenge requirements, a high-performance home must score a 70 or lower on DOE's EnergySmart Home Scale (E-Scale), which rates a home's energy performance, enabling homebuyers to make smart energy decisions when purchasing a home.  An E-Scale label would be placed on a home's electrical panel to identify it as a DOE Builders Challenge home and to provide an understanding of the home's energy efficiency.  Typical homes built today average a score of 100 on this scale.  The Builders Challenge aims for a rating of 70 or lower, making them approximately 30 percent more energy efficient than a typical new home.  The ultimate goal is to have all new homes rate a zero on this scale, also referred to as a zero-energy home - meaning a home produces at least as much energy as it consumes.

In addition to the Department's Builders Challenge making available "builder option packages," which provide guidance for building high-performance homes specific to different climate zones, meeting particular criteria outlined in theses packages can also allow homeowners to qualify for a $2,000 federal tax credit enacted in section 1332 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  In order to qualify for this credit, each home must have a level of annual heating and cooling energy consumption at least 50% below the annual level of heating and cooling energy consumption of a comparable home.  Learn more about the tax credits available for the construction of new energy efficient homes.

Read more about the Department of Energy's Builders Challenge which has information for homeowners, homebuilders and prospective partners.

Media contact(s):

Julie Ruggiero, (202) 586-4940