Green Homes to Get Performance Labels

Buying a home is a big, expensive deal.  It’s important that you know what you’re getting.  Ideally, prior to purchase, you should know about its performance in at least four categories: energy use, water use, indoor air quality, and building integrity.  But, as a nation, we’re not there yet.  We’re getting there, though.

Innovative Philadelphia-based developer Postgreen Homes is on the job in this regard.  The company, developer of the 100k House and Passive Project, introduced this Home Performance Sticker on their blog yesterday.  The sticker is based on the HERS Index, which provides an estimate of home performance and energy bills.

Since the HERS Index rating is derived from a third-party inspection, the information is certainly helpful.  It all depends on how the occupant uses the place.  If a purchaser grows grass in the basement, runs a call center in the loft, opens all the windows while running the HVAC system, and never shuts the fridge, the sticker won’t mean much.

Nic Darling, marketing and PR guy for Postgreen, said in the article: “We have talked about simple, mileage-style window stickers for homes before, but for some reason all that talk never led to action. We never actually created one for our own homes. Well, it’s time that oversight was addressed.

Postgreen’s sticker is clear in that is shows the entire HERS Index spectrum and identifies where the average existing home, new home, and Energy Star home would be.  At a 24, the represented home is a serious stud.  Plus, like a car label, the viewer can see that the home has superior insulation, triple-pane windows, Energy Star appliances, etc.

Compare this to what KB Home unveiled the other day.

KB’s Energy Performance Guide is a step in the same direction and an innovation in the big builder realm.  That said, from my viewing, the guide could be slightly ambiguous.

The way they’ve presented the “Spend More,” “Save More,” red to green spectrum, one might get the idea that a home with a HERS Index of 82 is better than it actually is.  It doesn’t reveal any of the territory from 50-0 in the HERS Index.

In any event, the need for a home label akin to the food nutrition label has been discussed here and other places for some time – e.g., the Energy Performance Score and Home Energy Score.  It’s a downright travesty that homes haven’t had them over the last 40-50 years, but I like where we’re heading. 

What do you think of these home performance labels?

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  • Justin L


  • Forest Chronicle

    There are approximately 120,000 builders in the United States. I think that both firms should be congratulated for their leadership efforts.

    • Preston

      I think you’re right about that …

  • Guest

    This type of “labeling” needs to be uniform across all housing stock, new or existing, across the country, and based on a qualified energy audit for that building only. Only then will it make any sense or any difference.

  • Anonymous

    Energy Trust of Oregon has a nice form as well:

    Kudos to both of them, but clearly everybody needs to get on the same page with this.

  • Anonymous
  • Sampson S.

    The HERS index has been used forever and is very confusing. What does a 24 mean? What is a 0? The Earth Advantage Energy Performance Score seems to be the most consumer friendly as it compares the energy usage of a home to state and local code homes.

  • brute force collaborative

    yikes, me thinks the DE/AT labels (energieausweis) look better.

  • Anonymous
  • KB Home Sucks

    Just another smokescreen from KB Home. My energy efficient KB Home used more than 400% more electricity since KB Home did not know how to wire up a HVAC system correctly. The computer controller blows out every year when the temperature rises over 97 degrees. During the winter the heater runs and runs it never shuts off unless I manually shut it off. It blows freezing cold air unless you go to the other thermostat downstairs to turn it on as well? The 2 main dampers that control the zones were never hooked up to the power? Just Google KB Home Sucks. Maybe the sticker can be used to hold open the dampers in your new KB Home? Look-up the FTC Consent order against KB Home for shoddy construction and false advertising. Maybe then you’ll see the truth behind this important marketing sticker?

  • kbhomeproblems

    Sounds like a bunch of hype to me. Our new KB Home wasn’t even sealed well where outside smells came in even though they claim they spray foam any gaps to seal the home. The insulation was also inadequate. Our attic was supposed to have a minimum of 13″ of blown in insulation but only had about 6-7″ and the other side had no insulation. This makes me think all this going green stuff from KB Home is just really a joke especially when they can’t even properly insulate an attic or care enough to have the foreman or an inspector actually properly check things like that. We’ve also had a lot of other problems with our new KB Home.
    Here’s more information on our experience with KB Home . . .

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