Energy Raters Complete HERS Rating for Habitat Veterans’ Build
By Kelsey Colpitts, Marketing Fellow
The two homes, located on East Street in Easthampton, Massachusetts were planned and constructed with a strong focus on achieving the lowest possible energy bills for the occupants. The green design incorporated energy-efficient features including an electric heat pump heater, ductless mini-splits and ENERGY STAR appliances. Green building experts from the Center for EcoTechnology worked closely with PV Habitat throughout the construction process to improve the energy performance of the units. A critical feature was the installation of thick, cellulose insulated double walls. This feature increases the effectiveness of the insulation and virtually eliminates thermal bridging (the loss of heat through the wooden frame).
A solar electric system, donated by Greenfield-based PV Squared, was also installed on each of the units to reduce each homeowner’s energy costs. As the home was being constructed, the CET’s raters visited the site several times for a framing inspection, insulation inspection, and final inspection and blower door test to determine the final home energy (HER) rating. A HERS index is important because it provides uniform, reliable, unbiased information to home buyers, sellers, realtors, and the mortgage industry about the energy efficiency of any home. The rating “index” is a score between 0 and several hundred, with a lower score indicating a more efficient home. Ratings are required to be performed on new construction projects in the 161 Massachusetts municipalities that have adopted the “Stretch Energy Code, including Easthampton, where a home energy rating of 70 or below is required.
Due to the energy-efficient features in the Easthampton Habitat for Humanity duplex, the final home energy ratings were less than zero: -8 and -18! Superior Home Energy Rating indices like these mean the homes are theoretically capable of generating more energy than they consume! This results in very low utility bills for the occupants, and any excess energy generated from the PV panels will go back into the grid.
Each of the homes is now occupied by a female veteran and their family who moved in this winter. Because each of the women completed the requirement to contribute at least 250 hours of labor, both were able to purchase the homes with an interest-free mortgage. Many other volunteers (a majority of whom were female) from the community helped with the building process. This was Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity’s 36th project in Hampshire and Franklin Counties.
The Center for EcoTechnology’s green building experts have performed over 2,000 Home Energy (HERS) Ratings. You can rely on the Center for EcoTechnology to help you make energy-efficient choices for your next residential new construction or renovation project. Contact us for a Home Energy Rating before construction begins and we will help you make an energy efficiency plan that makes sense for you. For more information on how to get started and what to expect, watch our segment on WWLP Mass Appeal, visit our website, or contact Miira Gates at 413-586-7350 ext. 242.