This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
The Importance of Homeowner Education
A builder can do only so much when it comes to how the home will perform. Inadequate maintenance can defeat the designer’s and builder’s best efforts to create a healthy, resource-efficient home, which is why homeowner education is arguably the most important aspect of Green Built North Texas. Homeowners play a big role in the house performance and, therefore, should take the utmost care to operate their Green Built North Texas home as it was intended. As an example, homeowners may not change air filters regularly or keep doors and windows closed while the HVAC system is operating, which, in short order, could eliminate much, if not all, of the energy savings and indoor air quality improvements offered by Green Built North Texas homes. Following the old common sense adage, “If you’re not using it, turn it off,” will go a long way towards making the most of the efficient features of a Green Built North Texas home. With sprinkler systems, you can add the phrase, “If you are using it, use it effectively,” since drought tolerant and native landscapes not only survive, but thrive in hot Texas summers and therefore require much less water. In fact, overwatering oftentimes is very detrimental to these landscapes, and to homeowners in the form of unnecessary and costly water usage. Homeowner maintenance and care for the home’s systems will help ensure that a home built to the Green Built North Texas protocol operates at peak performance throughout its lifetime. Therefore it is necessary to walk the homeowner through the basic operations of the home’s systems and also provide the homeowner with information and resources on their proper maintenance. In addition to guidance on system care and maintenance, the information distributed by Green Built North Texas will provide homeowners with information on local recycling opportunities, green energy service providers, how the home obtained the EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification and the Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC).
The Role of Builders and Green Built North Texas
Information contained in this document is an example of what will be provided by the HBA (along with a cover letter) to buyers of homes built in compliance with the Green Built North Texas program’s construction guidelines after the home has been entered into the program’s home registry. The purpose of this document is to provide builders with an overview of what Green Built North Texas has established as necessary elements of homeowner education. Builders can elect to provide this information to the buyer themselves and may customize this document to meet their own business needs (e.g. add company letterhead, logo, etc). Nothing in this document shall be construed as a warranty (express or implied) or an endorsement of any product, service, or practice by the HBA as the information provide is only meant to serve as a guide to builders wishing to provide information to buyers of Green Built North Texas homes and to facilitate compliance with the homeowner education requirement of the program’s construction guidelines. In addition to the information provided by the HBA, the builder should utilize the Homeowner’s Checklist promulgated by the TRCC and explain the how to control all of the mechanical systems of the home as well as how and when to perform maintenance necessary (according to manufacturer’s specifications) to ensure that the home operates at peak performance throughout its lifetime.
The Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC) is the state agency responsible for oversight of the residential construction industry. In addition to handling complaints arising from post-construction defects, the commission also assists builders and homeowners by providing a checklist to help facilitate the walkthrough of a new home as well as a schedule for typical home maintenance. Green Built North Texas will provide the homeowner with the maintenance schedule promulgated by the TRCC (listed below) and have the commission’s walkthrough checklist available online.
-Texas Residential Construction Commission, publication, Puzzled about your New or Newly Remodeled Home?, page 23.
Provide Homeowner with Local Recycling Opportunities
SEE Less Trash Program www.timetorecycle.com
Green Built North Texas endorses the North Central Texas Council of Governments’ (COG) SEE Less Trash Program. The COG’s SEE Less Trash program prides itself on promoting recycling and waste minimization throughout the region. The program’s website, www.timetorecycle.com contains detailed information on over 35 municipal recycling programs. Green Built North Texas will invite the homeowner to visit www.timetorecycle.com where they can find information about their local recycling program and how to implement waste reduction efforts in their home.
Provide Information on Green Energy Service Providers
Texas Electrical Choice is an educational campaign created by the Public Utility Commission of Texas to inform Texans about electric competition and changes in the way consumers buy electricity. Texas’ electrical market is open to competition, giving most Texans the opportunity to choose their electrical service provider. Green Built North Texas encourages homebuyers to consider obtaining their electricity services from a provider committed to environmentally-sound practices. Green Built North Texas will inform homeowners that they can visit www.powertochoose.com, enter their zip code and browse the list of service providers in their area. Many providers will list environmental information like the example listed below in order to provide customers with information on the source of the electricity provided.
Provide Basic Information on ENERGY STAR
Energy consumption is of paramount concern to today’s homebuyers due to financial and far-reaching environmental impacts, which range from the mining of fossil-fuel energy sources to environmental emissions from burning non-renewable energy sources. In addition, each home consumes energy year after year, meaning that the environmental impacts associated with that use accrue over time. Therefore, energy conservation is an integral part of all Green Built North Texas homes. In an effort to lower energy consumption and reduce the homeowner’s annual utility expenses, all Green Built North Texas homes are, at a minimum, built to the EPA’s ENERGY STAR performance standard, which requires that the home be at least 15% more energy efficient than a typical home built to the International Energy Conservation Code’s (IECC) requirements. The additional requirements of Green Built North Texas’s construction guidelines raise this threshold to 17% more energy efficient than homes built to the latest IECC. To meet this performance standard, Green Built North Texas homes include a variety of energy-efficient features such as: 1. Effective Insulation: Properly installed and inspected insulation in floors, walls, and attics ensures even temperatures throughout the house, reduced energy use, and increased comfort. 2. High-Performance Windows: Energy-efficient windows employ advanced technologies, such as protective coatings and improved frames, to help keep heat in during winter and out during summer. These windows also block damaging ultraviolet sunlight that can discolor carpets and furnishings. 3. Tight Construction and Ducts: Sealing holes and cracks in the home's "envelope" and in heating and cooling duct systems helps reduce drafts, moisture, dust, pollen, and noise. A tightly sealed home improves comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility and maintenance. 4. Efficient Heating and Cooling Equipment: In addition to using less energy to operate, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems can be quieter, reduce indoor humidity, and improve the overall comfort of the home. When properly installed into a tightly sealed home, this equipment won't have to work so hard to heat and cool the home. 5. Efficient Products: ENERGY STAR qualified homes may also be equipped with ENERGY STAR qualified products — lighting fixtures, compact fluorescent bulbs, ventilation fans, and appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines. Green Built North Texas will provide information about common features (both seen and unseen) that contributed to the attainment of the EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification.
Green Built North Texas homes include a variety of products that carry the ENERGY STAR label. All contribute to the home’s obtainment of the ENERGY STAR certification.
Provide Information on How the Home Obtained the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Certification
With the help of independent Home Energy Raters, Green Built North Texas builders choose the most appropriate energy-saving features for their homes in order to obtain ENERGY STAR certification. Raters conduct onsite testing and inspections to verify the energy efficiency measures, as well as insulation, air tightness, and duct sealing details. Upon completion of the verficiation process, the home is certified as ENERGY STAR and scored on the HERS (Home Energy Rating Systems) Index. The HERS Index is a scoring system established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) in which a home built to the specifications of the HERS Reference Home (based on the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code) scores a HERS Index of 100. The lower a home’s HERS Index, the more energy efficient it is in comparison to the HERS Reference Home. Each 1-point decrease in the HERS Index corresponds to a 1% reduction in energy consumption compared to the HERS Reference Home. Thus a Green Built North Texas home, which must obtain a HERS Index of 83 or below is at least 17% more energy efficient than the HERS Reference Home built to the 2006 IECC. Green Built North Texas will inform the homeowner how their home’s energy performance was tested and verified by an independent third party Home Energy Rater. Builder should provide the homeowner with a copy of their home’s ENERGY STAR certificate that includes it’s HERS Index.
A blower door test (left) pressurizes and depressurizes the home to measure air leakage. Duct blower tests (right) use a variable speed fan to measure air leakage in the duct system.