Below is the text version of the webinar Selling Zero Energy Ready Homes Made Easy, presented in October 2015. Watch the presentation.
Presentation cover slide:
Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home technical training webinar series. We're really excited that you can join us here today for a session on tools and resources that are available for selling Zero Energy Ready Homes. Our presenter today is Sam Rashkin, who is the chief architect of the Building Technologies Office at Department of Energy and director of the Zero Energy Ready Home program. Today's session is one in a continuing series of technical training webinars to support our partners in designing and building Zero Energy Ready Homes. My name is Lindsay Parker. I'm the coordination support for the program, and I'll be covering some general notes on webinar housekeeping. All attendees today will be in listen-only mode, however, we invite you to ask questions throughout the webinar through the questions section of the GoToWebinar program. We will monitor these questions throughout the webinar, and at the end of the webinar, we'll be going through the questions and selecting the ones that are -- we'll take the time to answer your questions. This session will be recorded and placed on the resources site of the Zero Energy Ready Home page. Please allow some time for the recording to be processed and added online. It takes a week or two. And after the webinar, I will be sending out a PDF of the presentation for you to have as a resource. So now I'm going to hand it over to Sam Rashkin to dive fully into the presentation.
OK, thank-you, Lindsay. Let me know when my screen's up, and we'll be good to go.
It's up, ready to go.
OK, excellent. Thank-you, everyone, for coming. Lindsay, want to do that first poll for us, before we start? We're going to find out who you all are, and then we'll start.
Alright, I've launched the poll. The question is, are you a builder, HERS rater, engineer, architect / designer, or other? I'll leave the poll up for a couple more seconds. Alright. Thank-you so much for participating. I'm going to go ahead and close the poll. Share it with everyone. It looks like 18 percent of you are builders, 12 percent are HERS raters, we don't have any engineers, but 24 are architects and designers, and 47 are other.
Oh, great. A very common profile for our audiences for Zero Energy Ready Home training. Welcome today. We're going to cover the more marketing / sales side of things. We're going to talk about how selling Zero can be made easy. And that's a bold statement given how heavy a lift it is to get builders to achieve Zero Energy Ready Home performance. So today what we're going to cover, over the next 45 minutes or so, is first a quick background about the Zero Energy Ready Home program. What is a Zero Energy Ready Home? How is it defined? Why is it better? And then we'll move on to making selling easy. Basically we'll focus on a very impressive array of resources that have been developed to help partners and program stakeholders go out and engage interest in this level of excellence. So let's move on with the background.
And first what I wanted to speak to is, our new reality for the housing industry. If you're a builder, an architect / designer, HERS rater, anyone involved in home construction, everyone has noticed that the energy codes have gotten increasingly rigorous, and particularly two very substantial jumps in 2009 and 2012 IECC. Now if you build a home -- even a minimum-code home -- you're building a very efficient home. And look where we plan to go in the future. We plan to push further across the country to energy codes that approximate a Zero Energy Ready Home performance. So let's understand this risk reality and in fact appreciate that we have hit a building science wall that has to be managed for us to address the technical challenges moving forward and even addressing the current codes. So let's look at that challenge and what drives the risk that we have as an industry. And so we used to build homes with very minimal insulation, very minimal air-sealing, fairly low-end windows compared to what we can do today. And then along came these more rigorous codes. And many of you may have observed that the HERS rating scores have gotten lower and lower. In fact, last year there were 135,000 HERS ratings, and the average HERS index score was a 63, well below code levels above 80. So we're building much more advanced enclosures. And that's our new reality, and that's also our risk driver. So I'm going to look at three main risk functions that relate to this advanced enclosure.
And the first one is that -- first I want to address what is an advanced enclosure. And it begins with a complete insulation system. So not only are we putting more insulation into our walls, roofs, and foundations, we're installing it properly so it works more effectively. Much, much more thermal protection, if you will. And we're also making sure that the system's complete, that the air barriers and thermal bridging network often not addressed in older construction are now part of the complete insulation system. And secondly, the windows have gotten much better. We're moving to 0.3 U-value windows and shading coefficients are getting much lower -- 0.27, 0.3. And on top of that, the air-sealing keeps getting tighter and tighter as a matter of standard practice. We're building much, much tighter enclosures, even as a matter of code. So this is our new reality. Let's look at each of the risk factors that relate to this advanced enclosure. And the first one has to do with comfort. Go figure that here we have all this additional insulation and air-sealing and better windows, and yet we have a comfort challenge. What's driving that is that the HVAC or heating / cooling loads have gotten so small that we have much lower airflow that has to be managed to ensure complete mixing throughout the house, and we have much, much longer swing seasons. The enclosures are better able to protect from the outside heat and cold conditions. So what that means is that we have to have an optimized low-load comfort system to ensure comfort in a high- performance enclosure. And the first thing we need to think about is the right size of variable-speed systems. And that includes also right-sizing the duct systems, particularly, as I mentioned with the lower airflow. We have to know that the ducts really now work with this lower airflow and keep permit it of movement to ensure delivery and often address something that we never thought about with heating and cooling system installations, which is the grills and how they're selected to ensure a good mix in each room. And also we need proper installation. Ducts have to be installed better, the HVAC systems have to be managed in terms of refrigerant charge, and static pressures and proper airflow throughout the system. And the systems have to be complete. You need complete pressure-balancing solutions. You need solutions that ensure adequate airflow across filters, so that you have adequate airflow across the coils. And we have to test all of these performance elements to know that the whole system is meeting requirements to ensure comfort. So the reason this is such a significant technical challenge is the HVAC industry has not been able to invest in this kind of skill; because their installations have been big at such low price points, we often found that the training and infrastructure to deliver this kind of quality installations has not been consistent around the country. So this is a whole new risk that we have to manage in high-performance enclosures.
The second risk relates to moisture management. And the advanced enclosure also increases our wetting risk. And the reason why we have a high wetting risk is, the outside sheathing facing the cavity in cold climates is much colder with that additional insulation stopping the thermal flow through the assembly, and in hot climates the inside of the sheetrock facing the cavity is much colder, again with the superior insulation reducing thermal flow. So that means that colder surfaces are more prone to getting wet because they have condensation happening at lower temperatures below the dew point. At the same time, we have less drying potential with the additional insulation. So we need comprehensive water protection and that includes managing water at the roofs, the walls, and openings, site and foundation, and selecting materials where wetting conditions can happen that better protect from moisture flow. So all these things now are no longer extra credit. Often they were included in codes but not followed meticulously, and now there's no room for error. In high-performance enclosures, you need comprehensive moisture management.
The third risk is, we have much tighter enclosures, so what we have to do is recognize that we have to manage indoor air quality more proactively. We kind of did it by accident; we didn't get great results to begin with. It often explains the epidemic of respiratory illnesses in homes. But now with tighter construction, we need to well-manage the indoor air quality risk. And so we need a comprehensive indoor air quality system. We don't need points. We don't need pieces of indoor air quality. We need a whole system. And that starts with source control. It's selecting materials, managing radon from entering the house in the first place, biological contaminants outside of our home, protective screens. And so source control is the first step to managing air quality by keeping contaminants outside our home. The second step is then to dilute whatever contaminants do make their way into the house, maybe through furniture we bring in ourselves, and just normal, everyday washing, cooking, cleaning. So we need to have a fresh air system or what most people call a ventilation system that's effective at diluting the contaminants that do make their way into the house. And the third part is, particulates are such a significant contributor to air quality risk, we need a high-capture filtration system. And as I mentioned earlier, one that also ensures adequate airflow across the coil or the fresh air unit. So the old days of fiberglass filters that will let anything pass through don't work in an advanced enclosure homes. You need a MERV 8, 10, 12, higher filters. And we need thicker filter racks that ensure the airflow.
So we have those risks, but I'd be remiss not to say that we have some amazing differentiation opportunities at the same time. And the first opportunity is for us to distance ourselves from our competition -- either minimum-code homes or, predominantly, existing homes. 85 percent of homes sold roughly are existing homes. And we have this opportunity to take new housing way beyond any experience consumers have had, and to make it really clear to them that they are getting a special house of the future. And the way that works is we start with the advanced enclosure, and then we optimize it. We actually even use more insulation than the current codes require. We go to the next code, looking at the fact that in three or four years, there'll be a new code that will require that next level of construction. Why would we ignore the ability to put that in today and not make the house obsolete in a very short timeframe? We also use better windows than are available in the market today cost-effectively. And we use even more effective air- sealing practices to further reduce infiltration. And so that is our opportunity to do the optimized enclosure, and if we do it, we have the house of the future. We have the house it won't be illegal to build in three or four years, as the next cycle of codes comes into play, but a house that meets or exceeds those code requirements. So being able to say you have this house of the future is an amazing differentiation opportunity for a small investment to take the enclosure to the next code cycle or beyond.
The second differentiation opportunity is to capture this aspirational goal and excitement all around the zero energy space in the marketplace. If you do any Google search on the term "zero energy homes," you'll see hundreds of thousands of resources and sites of information. This is an incredibly significant movement that's happening in the marketplace. So starting with the optimized enclosure, the way to be zero energy ready is to then have ultra- low HVAC loads served by ultra-efficient HVAC equipment, then to use energy-efficient components throughout the rest of the house: water heaters, appliances, lighting, fans. Have all the rest of your components that require as little energy as possible. And lastly, make your house ready for solar, because low-cost / no-cost details eliminate most if not all the cost penalty for installing a solar electric system in the future. And so when you do all that, now your house is truly ready to enable the occupants to experience an energy bill that virtually is zero or close to zero. And what a differentiation opportunity that is to be able to say you have a house that's zero energy ready.
So now we can put all this together and answer the question, what, how, and why. So what is a Zero Energy Ready Home? It's a home that delivers the housing industry an incredibly effective way to manage risk and achieve impressive differentiation. So starting with the advanced enclosure, we go to the optimized enclosure, and now we have a future-ready home, a home that won't be illegal to build in three, four, five years, but meets or exceeds future code requirements. Then we go to the optimized comfort system. And we now manage our risk of low-load homes that need to be carefully engineered for their HVAC solution, for proper mixing in swing season comfort. So that is all managed with the optimized comfort system. Then, to manage the risk of very little drying potential in the construction assemblies, we have a comprehensive water protection system. Then to manage the risk of less fresh air coming in these homes, and capture the differentiation to have a health- ready house that's uniquely comprehensive in its approach to healthy living, we have a complete indoor air quality system to the EPA Indoor airPLUS specifications and certified to those specifications. Then, to ensure that we can meet zero ready, we have the efficient components throughout the house that lets us differentiate the house as having advanced technology throughout the home. And lastly, we put in the solar-ready details at no or little cost so that we could be zero ready and differentiate our house around that aspirational goal. So this is what a Zero Energy Ready Home is, and in fact, this is the specification for the DOE program for Zero Energy Ready Home.
Now the next question is, this is a house to the power of zero, and it's easily going to be recognized more and more in the marketplace, with a label that speaks to this impressive array of excellence and superior experience. So OK, the next question, how is a Zero Energy Ready Home defined? We need to keep this very simple for consumers. We want to avoid complexity with terms we don't need, like "net." We want to make them understand the responsibilities but understand the amazing difference in your experience. And the way we do that is with the simple definition of a Zero Energy Ready Home as a high-performance home that's so energy efficient, all or most of the annual energy consumption can be offset by renewable energy. And these terms are so important and the way this definition is ordered is so important. You start with high performance and energy efficient. It can't begin to be zero ready if you don't do those first. Those are the 200-year opportunity costs you don't want to lose when we construct the enclosure. And then, once you have done that, you can offset all or most energy consumption, and it's so important to set the expectation "all or most," because there are weather years that will be more aggressive and make it difficult to achieve zero performance that year. People may move more people into the house than was anticipated in terms of number of occupants. People may add a whole array of different equipment and features in the home, like swimming pools that are very energy-consumptive. So there are lots of factors that can contribute to that, not to mention the fact that utility costs to purchase solar electric power are very substantial in many markets and likely to increase over time. So we plan this whole situation very carefully with these words. And we have a definition, I think, that still captures the cache around zero energy homes. So that's our definition.
And lastly is why Zero Energy Ready Homes. Why are they better? Why is the experience completely at a new level for homeowners? And it starts with first that these homes live better. The reason they live better is because you've done something we've never done before in new home construction when we build homes to this level of excellence. You now have complete control of surface temperatures throughout the house. And surface temperatures are so dominating in terms of how they impact the perceived comfort. The fact that you have this advanced optimized enclosure that manages surface temperatures, along with the optimized heating / cooling comfort system, will result in an experience in the home that probably is like nothing these homeowners have ever had. And secondly, the health experience in these homes of all this comprehensive approach to minimizing the risk of indoor air quality problems, also leads to a completely different health experience. The next reason it's better is they work better. They're so ultra- efficient, these homes. Again, you have the ability to have no or such small electric bills, it's like nothing you've experienced in any home you've lived in prior to this home. And again, the advanced technology throughout the house with all the components means that you have lots of other benefits besides more efficiency, with ENERGY STAR®-qualified appliances, lighting, fans, and equipment, often featuring other performance benefits, as well as energy efficiency. And then they last better. There are so many additional quality control requirements in these homes compared to code homes, and even beyond ENERGY STAR homes. Additional quality checklists, additional verification requirements. Things that lead to a very strong ability that tend for a greater quality experience. And the fact that you're managing a lot of the water management risks, that leads to better windows and better equipment also improves the durability of the home.
Then these homes just feel better, if you're buying a home from a builder who's in the top 1 percent of his or her field, because this is certainly a leading builder movement right now. And think about your experience going to a doctor for a complicated medical procedure, and knowing your doctor's in the top 1 percent of his or her field. The peace of mind and confidence is so much greater. The same is true for builders. Buying a home -- the largest purchase of a lifetime -- from a builder in the top 1 or 2 percent of his field also leads to excellence. And I may add for the architects in the audience, position yourself as an architect who knows or has expertise in Zero Energy Ready Homes also positions you as an exclusive architect. And the other reason these homes feel better is you're making the largest investment and purchase of a lifetime and it's in a product that will stand the test of time, not one that will be obsolete in a very short timeframe. And it's smart, because so many builders are demonstrating that the incremental cost of the mortgage can easily be exceeded by the monthly energy savings. In other words, a better home for lower costs of ownership.
And lastly, it often feels great for an increasing number of homebuyers to be participating in a sustainable home that is worthy of lasting hundreds of years because it has such a small carbon footprint. And exudes such a small impact on the environment, on the air quality. It just feels better to live in a home that's better for all of us. So this is why it's better.
Which leads us to how do we convey that and make this resonate with homebuyers? And so let's talk about how we can make selling Zero Energy Ready Homes easy. And I'm going to go through a whole array of Zero Energy Ready Home resources designed to capture the latest, most effective sales and marketing techniques to engage and connect with consumers. So the first thing we have to talk about is trust. The only research study I could find that classified trust in the housing industry said that 1 in 3 consumers indicated they do not trust the home-building and real estate companies. I would submit that that sounds awfully conservative to me. I cannot believe it's not more like 2 in 3 or higher of consumers that don't trust homebuilders. Not because homebuilders are bad. They're walking into the most overwhelming purchase experience of a lifetime, something that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. They're buying a product that they often don't understand or understand substantially, in terms of many of its more critical elements. And they're about to work with builders who advertise one price and then the actual price is often $100,000 more once you actually look at the cost of the options that most people want. So there's a lot about the experience that kind of affects the trust factor for the buyer of homes. And again, it's not that builders are bad. It's just the stress inherent in the transaction of buying a new home.
So, a lot of trusted labels can help cut away at some of those trust concerns. And we're just one of them, Zero Energy Ready Home. But we also bring along some other labels. ENERGY STAR Certified Home is a prerequisite of our label, as is the EPA Indoor airPLUS. So you have multiple labels that build a lot more confidence and trust in homebuyers, which is a very important thing. And trust also is built with an official certificate that now says "Zero Energy Ready Home" and documents that your home meets this level of excellence, it's in this exclusive club of builders and homes that are certified. So that's your first and foremost tool, to recognize that you have this label behind your house. And labels are a big deal. Now admittedly, lots of labels have amazing command of consumer interest and recognition by consumers. And we're not suggesting that the Zero Energy Ready Home label does that, but what it does do, and in an amazingly important way, is something we hear from builders more and more as a critical part of being a partner with a program, is that it introduces an independent voice of authority, versus just you the builder saying, "Trust me." And it's a voice of authority on so many aspects of home ownership that are so critical to each buyer. Clearly, architecture, floor plans, or schools -- they're a whole separate end of the spectrum in terms of attributes that people look for. But people also care about health, they care about energy bills, they care about comfort, they care about the investment and the value of that investment in the future. And this label speaks to so many of these other concerns in such an impressive way. It is a very effective way to differentiate your product.
And the key now is to use the label. So more and more we love examples of builders like this, who will feature the label very prominently and take advantage of all the differentiation that's available to each and every partner in the program. And I love when I see partners actually feature the multiple labels that are associated with achieving Zero Energy Ready Home. Also the (inaudible) plus label, ENERGY STAR label. And many builders participate in other kinds of green programs, and those could be featured, as well. But I would suggest that looking at this plaque, coming into this home, is a different experience than going to any other builder. There's a lot going on here. It may not be front and center when I'm first buying a home, but certainly if the builder does a good job capturing my interest in the location, the architecture, and the floor plan, it's an amazing way to justify all the emotion going on, to have all this excellence standing behind that emotional decision.
Now we also help builders market and differentiate their place as an exclusive builder with the Zero Energy Ready Home locator tool. And it's designed to link buyers who have become aware that this is an amazing opportunity for them to get a great investment in their next new home, and helps them find these leading-edge builders. It gives them their contact information, it tells them how to get to their website, and it's available for all active partners. And the way it works is you click on a state, and then it lists all the builder partners in the state. And if you click on one of the partners, it opens the information about the partners: the location, the number of homes that they have certified. And also homes they certified under the former program, which was called Challenge Home. But most importantly, if you click on a partner of interest, you go to their profile. And the Zero Energy Ready Home locator has a profile for each builder that features how long they've been a partner, and their location, and the number of homes they've certified, and how to get a direct link to their website. So this is a great resource to find consumers who truly understand the importance of buying high-performance homes, connected to you, the builder. Very important marketing tool.
Now a reading assignment I love to give to most of my sales training class attendees is to read a new book by Daniel Pink called "To Sell is Human." Lots and lots of great points in this book, but I'll highlight one about clarity and how clarity depends on contrast. And this is fundamental to almost everything that we do with our key marketing materials and sales materials. We often understand something better when we see it in comparison to something else than when we see it in isolation. And so the key here is how do we leverage contrast on concepts that are difficult? Virtually every program that has a label will generally tell consumers it's more comfortable, it's more healthy, it's more durable, and it's more efficient. We don't know what that means as a consumer. More efficient? More healthy? I don't know what that means. So our job with our marketing and sales material is to add that clarity that's missing. And so this looks like a very simple little fact sheet, but in fact it's an amazingly powerful sales tool. Let me explain, but first let me tell you that you have to be very transparent with everything you do. So a sales tool like this has three comparison bars, contrasting Zero Energy Ready Home with its most likely other consideration for consumers, the ENERGY STAR Certified Home. And 85 percent of homes sold are existing homes, so a third gray bar would show the contrast to an existing home. So the green bar is Zero Energy Ready Home, the blue bar is ENERGY STAR Certified Home, and the gray bar is an existing home.
How would these bars be calibrated? What was the quantitative basis for how those would be determined? And there we have our full analysis available on our website. Because the program when it began was called the DOE Challenge Home, that's the name on the cover. But this is the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home methodology for how the comparison bars were calculated. Anyone interested, I encourage them to go through and see the detailed analysis of how these bars are calibrated. But now let's look at how impressive they are in terms of communicating contrast and clarity. So let's take this fact sheet -- and by the way, do notice that it's a partner resource, and like most of our partner resources, it can be customized. So at the bottom you see an example of how it's customized, with New Town Builders and their contact information. And if I'm in a sales process and I have a homeowner coming to the sales office and I do the right sales skills and actually ask good questions, uncover that the homebuyer is very, very interested in a healthy home for their family because their kids are on inhalers and have lots of difficulty with asthma. That's going to trigger me to take out a very thick, broad marker, not a ballpoint pen but a marker, and do a big circle around "Healthful Environment." And from here the message is really important to get the wording right. "Mr. and Mrs. Smith, I truly understand and appreciate how important it is to you to manage the health of your children, particularly since they have to use inhalers every day. What I'd like to tell you is that every single Zero Energy Ready Home we build has 100 percent of the requirements that the national authority on health in new homes says should be in every new home. In contrast, you get about half of those requirements in an ENERGY STAR Certified Home, and hardly any in the existing home. Wouldn't you agree, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, it'd be great for your children to breathe easier with a Zero Energy Ready Home? And just to make sure you understand how valid these improvements are, they meet all the requirements of the EPA Indoor airPLUS qualified homes program." Now that was a very simple way to show a consequence if Mr. and Mrs. Smith don't buy your Zero Energy Ready Home. I'm getting half or hardly any of the recommendations that should be in every new home to protect the health of families, and that I can understand. There's no numbers on these bars. There's no calibrations. There's no metrics. I'm not wasting any time trying to inform Mr. and Mrs. Homebuyer about some very complex health measures. I'm simply asking them how much protection they want: all the protection that should in the home, or a very small part of it. That, they will understand.
And all the other bars work the same way. "Do you want all the energy efficient improvements that lead to incredibly low costs of ownership, in your next new home, Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Do you want 30 percent less with the ENERGY STAR home, hardly any with an existing home?" "Do you want all the advanced technology throughout the house that's recommended by the leading experts from the Department of Energy that should be in every new home, or half of those with the ENERGY STAR home, or hardly any with an existing home?" "Do you want all the durability features that come along with a Zero Energy Ready Home, based on the best experts in the nation on what should be included in new construction, or do you want 30 percent less with an ENERGY STAR home, or hardly any with an existing home?" Attribute by attribute, you can with clarity now explain the consequence of compromise that's being made when the other choice is made not to take a Zero Energy Ready Home. That is the purpose of our sales material, to explain the contrast so it's crystal-clear.
And we follow through and use the same strategy on most of our marketing material. So this is, for instance, our consumer brochure. And you'll notice the same bars. In the brochure you have a little more room to explain the bars, so you have a short description below each. And again, if Mr. and Mrs. Smith come in and help us understand a need, a compelling need that they have because their kids have health management issues, then take that broad marker and circle it, circle "Healthful Environment." Here, using the brochure, the sales person has a little more guidance on language. "Every DOE Zero Energy Ready Home has a comprehensive package of measures to minimize dangerous pollutants, provide continuous fresh air, and effectively filter the air you and your family breathe. In other words, we have all the recommendations by the leading authority, not half as you get with ENERGY STAR, or hardly any with an existing home." And so everything is about creating this contrast, helping the homeowner understand how they get so much more value with a Zero Energy Ready Home.
Now let's say I had a buyer who was a first-time homebuyer. They're about to make a purchase like nothing they've ever made before, the largest purchase before made in a car for $20,000, $25,000. Now they're making a $200,000 purchase, so they're all concerned and need some -- they need to be confident and trusting of the builder. I take my marker out and I circle, "The Future of Housing Today." And the language again is DOE saying this: "Only a select group of the top builders in the country meet the extraordinary levels of excellence and qualities specified by the U.S. Department of Energy. In fact, you're getting the future of housing today, because these homes are built to future expectations. Buying your first home, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, wouldn't you agree what a great investment to have a home that will stand the test of time?" The language, the information, it's so much more compelling with contrast. And again, like all the material, you can customize it with the builder's logo and contact information. So these are resources partners have access to with their passwords, and then produce these customized information using contrast.
Now a lot of our other resources are developed to back up this contrast. If Mr. and Mrs. Smith really connect with this value message, I may want to pull out again a customized sheet, in this case for a builder called Vivid Living, that lists all the innovations that help ensure healthful living in this house. This is a fact sheet that's produced by our Building America Solution Center sales tool. Too little time in today's webinar to explain that; there's another webinar on that Building America Solution Center, and the sales tool. I encourage all of you to go look at it. In less than a minute, you can produce customized information listing all your innovations. In this case, it's multiple sheets with images to show all the health innovations and a description. It lists the technology innovations, the energy efficient innovations, the quality innovations, the durability innovations. And again, customized, you do it in hardly any time. In addition to having it where it's just listed on multiple pages, you can list them on one page as another option, where it's just a "long list of 40 innovations, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, that help you understand why our home has all the requirements by the U.S. EPA for healthful living." And like I mentioned, you could do it for comfort, you could do it for ultra-efficient, you could do it for advanced technology. You could list all your innovations for quality-built, and enhanced durability. And you pull out the list that's relevant to each and every buyer after you've made that connection. Again, hardly a minute it takes to produce this material with our Building America Solution Center.
And the Building America Solution Center also has very useful technical content. And what you could do is within that technical content, which is nine tabbed guides about each and every measure that goes into Zero Energy Ready Homes. Notice that the ninth tab is called "Sales." And you could actually collect all the sales information from each measure that you include in your house and create an effective sales reference for your sales agents, for the realtors who sell your home, and just combine all the sales content. And each sales page translates a technical feature from the jargon to an experience-based language. So you notice a double-wall framing. In this case, it's translated into a double- wall thermal blanket. It's not an experience to have double-wall framing; the experience is to have a thermal blanket. I can relate to that, because I know how a blanket makes me feel warm and cozy. Then a technical description is all that you need for a sales person to understand the basics of what that measure is. Then you have the ultimate terms, because we had many ways of referring to a measure, not just one way. It could also be a quiet double wall for a person who wants a healthy environment that's quiet. It could be advanced double-wall technology for a technology-based customer. And then at the bottom you have the script, if you will, for the sales agent that they can learn to speak, much like I'm trying to speak right now, to convey the value of the double-wall thermal blanket. So again, you can collect 20, 30, 40, 50 of these sales sheets for all the measures that you have, customized for your home, your subdivision, whatever it may be.
The next resource we have is the Housing Innovation Awards. This is an amazing way to get national and regional recognition for the excellence achieved by building Zero Energy Ready Homes. So the awards and the plaques are one way, of course, of being recognized. But thereafter, it's up to you to figure out how all the different opportunities, how to leverage that. So here's one builder, Cobblestone Homes. And you go to their website, and you click on it, and it announces that they're the 2014 national Housing Innovation Award recipient, what that means. It's not just them saying they're a special builder. There's a national recognition from a recognized authority, the U.S. Department of Energy, saying this is an incredibly special builder. Some of the recognition just falls in your lap. In this case, New Town homes won a grand award, and they're featured in the development Stapleton in Denver, and Stapleton has on their website a whole feature about New Town because they won this national award. So when you go to Stapleton, you have lots of builders to buy from, and you see this special builder stand out because of this recognition, that's a very compelling marketing advantage. And of course, that was New Town's website; this is Stapleton's website that shows the congratulations of their builder.
Now all the awards we give are designed as part of a system of educating consumers. So we take all the winners of the Housing Innovation Awards and we populate what we call the Tour of Zero, which is a vehicle for consumers to take a virtual tour of zero energy homes in every single climate zone in the country. You can go to six, a dozen, 15 different homes demonstrating cost- effectively or in a very impressive way how Zero Energy Ready performance is being achieved in their climate zone. And they can go through these homes and really come to understand that it doesn't take crazy designs, it doesn't take crazy costs, it doesn't take anything totally eclectic to achieve this level of performance. The way it works is you can click on a location -- again, I'll go with Denver in this market, or I click on Colorado. That will pop up the cold and very cold climate Zero Energy Ready Home award winners for the Housing Innovation Awards. And again, if I would click on New Town, who we've been featuring in the sales presentation, up would pop the Tour of Zero for the home that was listed. Now the web page isn't this long vertically, so you get mostly the tour part, the images first. And what you can do is tour the outside of the home, the inside of the home next, and then for those that may like the technical details, there are often technical shots that show the technology and innovation that went into enabling this home to achieve this level of distinction. So you can go through a tour just like you would if you were visiting any other real estate website. But the next part is really important. It's the information you get, and the most important piece I'll point out right now is first the homeowner testimonial. The homeowner testimonial brings the homeowner experience that's so completely different from what most people have experienced living in their new homes. And in this experience, you hear important statements like, "We couldn't imagine living anywhere else." And we'll use that, by the way, as a banner that goes below the pictures in bigger font on each and every home. The other thing besides the consumer experience is we have key statistics that people like to look at. Square footage, number of bedrooms. More and more today, people are interested in HERS score. Here's one that's a negative HERS score, -3. Utility bills are $0 a year; that's an actual utility bill from the HERS rating software. The savings are almost $2,000 a year, and the savings over 30 years are almost $100,000. So those are very powerful statistics that help grab consumers' interest. Then we list all the innovations going into the home. We use names that are the translator terms, not the technical jargon -- the experience terms. So there's comprehensive draft protection, instead of air-sealing details. And there's a fresh air system instead of a ventilation system. So you'll notice that all the improvements, innovations are listed in the much more consumer-friendly terminology. And then if you click on "Read more," we actually have four-page profiles about each and every home, for the tour visitors who want to dig much more deeply into what went into each and every home. Then, for people who want to see the floor plan, they can click on the floor plan and see the floor plans. For people who actually want to buy one because they're so interested, they click on "I Want One!" and they go to that Zero Energy Ready Home locator page for that builder that I showed you earlier.
Now the key for us is to get this Tour to consumers who are working with manufacturers, associations, NGOs, hopefully financial institutions, to all partner with us. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of organizations partnering with us, where they get to showcase the fact that they are working with DOE to bring the home of the future to their families today. And the key action message is to take the Zero Energy Ready Home Tour, and the link in the middle. And so if this appears on hundreds and hundreds of websites and advertising and signage and store displays all across the country, we're hopefully building a movement of interest in Zero Energy Ready Home performance.
The other thing we do in terms of resources is we provide drop- in messaging, because a lot of builders either won't be able to be as effective as we are in crafting messages, or they may have concerns about what they can and can't say. So we make it easy for them and give them very powerful messages. All they do as a partner is go to the drop-in messaging page and pull the messages. And where you see a partner name, drop in their name as a partner. And DOE cannot endorse any builder, but we can objectively indicate that they're part of this program. We can objectively say they're helping, leading the industry to achieve Zero Energy Ready Home performance. We can say the objective statements that come across still as very effective, information that consumers will think is very important about that builder. So as an example, here's a builder who has in their PR efforts been able to insert one of our messages: According to DOE, Zero Energy Ready Homes are the homes of the future because they meet or exceed next-generation energy codes and include substantial innovations, best practices recommended by leading housing experts. So it's a very effective way to punch a PR release and have a statement from DOE to help, again, grow the trust.
Here's another builder, again New Town, and they have this message, that Zero Energy Ready Homes provide a vastly superior homeowner experience that lower ownership costs. Again, very effective to have these messages and quotes to drop in your messaging or PR releases. Another thing that may be very effective for some builders, and we did in response to request by some of our partners, is to also provide ways to recognize our partners. So we have a resource where you can go into our website as a partner, pull it up, and list all the subcontractors who are part of delivering this kind of leading-edge performance, and have their names and signatures, and give it to your consumers and say, this is the team that made this kind of exclusive performance possible in your home. And you can do it for an address, or do it for an entire subdivision, if it was the same set of contractors for the entire subdivision.
OK, we also want to talk about some resources that builders have at their disposal, on their own, that we encourage them to take advantage of. People retain 90 percent of what they experience and only 10 percent of what they hear. So creating experiences is really important. And I'll give you just a few examples how experiences can be used to dramatize contrasts, much like we tried to do with the Zero Energy Ready Home materials that we developed. So here is the typical builder billboard, basically a price and a location and "trust me, we're a builder," to a builder who's doing the Zero Energy Ready Home. An actual message from Garbett Homes is, "My power bill is $5. What's yours? -- Heather Robbins, Garbett homeowner." So in contrast to this builder "trust me," Garbett's homeowner is telling you an amazing experience that you probably have never come close to experiencing in your home. Which would capture your attention? The contrast between every other builder is huge. So this is a substantial resource for you, is to actually work with your buyers, get their billing data and help them message to your future buyers their experience.
And here's another example, how DeYoung Properties does that: "My cool mom's August electric bill is -$60. What was yours?" Same effective technique to create contrast. Another way to create contrast is, I've heard from upwards of six to 10 different builders -- they've had homeowners who've been able to throw away their inhalers because their home was built to these rigorous requirements for healthy living. And so: "Our daughter couldn't breathe without discomfort for years, and within two months of moving in, we threw away the inhaler That was priceless." And so not leveraging that kind of experience is a big opportunity loss for builders. You're going to see so many buyers really benefit from all the health features. Work with them to be part of your sales force and help get that message into your communications; the contrast is huge between how people are living today and the ability to throw away an inhaler.
Here's one from last winter. Bob and Suzanne Campbell did a nice piece in a video that was featured, that the builder used to feature the experience difference in their homes: "You feel like you're wrapped in 100 wool blankets. It's so warm, you would never know it was below 0 degrees the last two weeks here." Again, other people living in homes are just putting up with cold rooms, drafty rooms, cold surfaces that make them feel cold all the time, and this home is a warm cozy blanket.
The other way to create contrast is action, show off your technology compared to what others do. And too often, we'll just show what we're doing. We miss the contrast with what is typical construction. So if you're doing advanced, a high-efficient wall system, you want to make sure you show a contrast to conventional technology. The visual difference is striking. Any consumer will see, technology has come a long way. The fact that so many builders still build that way is a risk that many homebuyers would want to avoid making. There's a very big difference, to show off your technology. And how do you convey the power of having ducts inside the conditioned space? And what consumer would register with that? You have to create the contrast in a way that they would understand. So if you're in a very, very hot climate, like Phoenix, where the attic can be 150 to 160 degrees, simply turn the oven to 160. And when it's cooking, take out a piece of ductwork and say, "Mr. and Mrs. Jones, 90 percent of builders in our market install their comfort system outdoors, worse than outdoors, in an egregiously hot attic. In contrast, we put the duct in the attic." Effectively by putting it in the oven and saying, "Wouldn't you agree, it's foolish to put 55-degree air in an oven for your comfort, that your comfort system should be indoors?" That's a very easy concept to understand all of a sudden. And if you're in a cold market, you just flip it. "Mr. and Mrs. Jones, most of our competitors have a large portion of their comfort system outdoors in ducts that provide the heating and cooling. Wouldn't you agree it's crazy to put heating through a freezer before it comes into your house? We run all of our comfort delivery system indoors, where it gets to you with improved comfort and efficiency." Again, now I understand the power through contrast of that feature.
Sometimes just showing your home compared to another home. It's just, "Here's an old home but without all the advanced technology to make enclosures like a thermal blanket. Compare that to our home." And again, do I need to be an expert in infrared imaging to understand the difference? And who cares about drain tile? Find any consumer, and if you ask the question, and they've had an experience where they had a wet basement, you need on your iPad these two images. And you need to explain to them that every house you build, the drain tile you use on the right is wrapped with a fabric filter so they can't clog. In contrast, homes have been expensively built without fabric filter, and therefore the drain tiles clog in seven or eight years often, and that often can lead to more challenges keeping basements dry. "Having lived with the horror of a wet basement for five years in the last house, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, wouldn't you agree you want that kind of diligence and attention to detail on managing moisture in your next new house?" It's not hard to understand when I create the contrast. These are very simple things any builder can do by just having the images.
And I'm going to wrap up today in terms of resources with a new one that's going to come online in the next two months. It's the homeowner manual that's, again, customizable. And again, New Town is one of my favorite builders to showcase in the examples because they've been doing so many good marketing solutions. So I'll show them as an example here. But any builder who is a partner can go into the resource section and when the manual's ready for use, they can populate it with their image on the cover, their logo, and their contact information. In this case, hypothetically for this New Town home, this specific home, they have the picture for the homeowner, they have their contact information, and they have -- after they bought the home, now it's the time to give them your Zero Energy Ready Home story. And what the brochure does is it provides the whole narrative about the complete improvement they're getting, and the whole package they're getting in the Zero Energy Ready Home. "Welcome to your Zero Energy Ready Home. This is your story, the story of your Zero Energy Ready Home and how it leverages advanced technology for a better homeowner experience. In this brochure, you'll learn about the seven complete systems and why they make your house so special." And the seven systems are listed, and incrementally you'll take the homeowner through each system in a way that's simple, easy to read.
Let me give you an example. Let's take the high-performance thermal enclosure. There's the icon for it on top. And there's a simple one- or two-sentence description, what is a high-performance thermal enclosure. "Roofs, walls, windows and doors, and foundation combine to form your home's enclosure. You've got one chance to get it right during construction. before it's locked in for the next few hundred years. That's why your home includes a leading expert recommendations for advanced thermal protection that provides significant utility bill savings along with enhanced comfort and durability." And all I have to read is one sentence below each of the key innovations that enables that enclosure to be an advanced enclosure. Take the middle one -- high-performance insulation. High-performance insulation provides complete thermal blanket -- again, the consumer-friendly term, not the advanced term -- that snugly surrounds your home in comfort and quiet. Comprehensive draft protection is like wrapping your house in money, with much lower heating and cooling bills, while also blocking out annoying dust, pollen, pests, noise, and moisture. And then at the bottom, there's a tip. "Any time work is being done in your home that involves wall penetrations or workers in your attic, make sure the contractor is required to maintain the insulation levels and airtight construction." And page by page, you take them through each of the seven systems. You buy a home, now you're ready for the home narrative. You might not be ready during construction, although many builders like this tool so much from the advanced coming attractions we've been showing, I suspect many may give it before the sale process.
So you can get all your resources right here on our website. And you can see the Tour of Zero, the resources, the locator, the Housing Innovation Awards, and a link to the Building America Solution Center. So this is where you start. This is where all these resources are available, including many of our presentations like the one you just watched, although Lindsay will send you one. I'd love, Lindsay, to do one last survey for those of you still on the line, so Lindsay, could you run that last survey for me? And let me tee it up for you. You all are buying a house today. Hypothetically, that's your reality. You're going to buy a house today. You have three choices. You could buy a minimum-code home, or for $5,000 more, or about $18 a month, you can buy an ENERGY STAR Certified Home. Or for $12,000 more, or about $45 a month, you get a Zero Energy Ready Home. And let's open up the poll and see how many of you would buy the minimum-code home, the ENERGY STAR home, or the Zero Energy Ready Home. So let's do that, Lindsay.
Alright. Sure thing. The poll is launched. We're taking in votes now. So thank-you, everyone, who has participated. Looks like most of you have voted already, so I'm going to go ahead and close it. And see what our results are. They're 100 percent Zero Energy Ready Home.
I've done this survey three or four times, and when I imagine my audience out there in this webinar, I realize you're not the architects and HERS raters and builders that we talked about at the very first poll. I see you as the most educated homebuyers I could ever hope to have on this discussion. And 100 percent of you would choose a Zero Energy Ready Home. This is not a technical challenge. This is a consumer education challenge. If every consumer acted in their own self-interest just like you, the experts that you are, this is what they would choose. They'd go, "For $45 a month, I can get all this experience plus it would cost me less per month because I'm going to save more on my utility bills?" No one would not choose this. This is a consumer education process. And it begins with using these resources. it begins with getting consumers to take the Tour of Zero. And it begins with getting more and more builders to join us as partners and label homes. Thank-you so much for attending. I hope many of you will consider working and promoting this program.
Thanks, Sam. That was a very, very good presentation. You did a great job of listing out all the different tools and resources that we have available, that hopefully people will be utilizing. So we do have a couple of questions that we can pull in shortly before ending the webinar. So thank-you, everyone who typed in your questions and sent them in. Let's see. So there were a few that seemed relatively pertinent. OK, so we discussed a lot about HERS raters. For the HERS average being around 80 for code-built homes, is that based on the IECC 2012?
No, it's based on the 2009.
2009. OK, thank-you.
Yea, let's go with that for now.
OK. One participant asked, how can you find out what the next code cycle insulation levels are going to be?
You can't find out. The process is underway now for 2018. And there's a lot of resistance, admittedly, to how much higher the energy efficient requirements will be. So the code process will do its usual array of hearings and testimonials, hearings for testimony, so we'll have to wait and see what happens to the code cycle. You know, it's like, look around the country and you'll see what's happening regionally -- may be moving further ahead of what's happening nationally. California is going to a zero energy ready code by 2020 for residential construction. There are all these advanced codes in states like Massachusetts, Florida, Washington, Oregon. So a lot of code movement will be happening in regions that you'll have to watch out for. The national codes will been moving, as well. It's a very political process ...
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