CBS Newsletter
Summer 1998
pg. 8

Aerial view of Washington D.C.

News From the D.C. Office

Regional Builder Option Packages: A Simplified Guide for Constructing

Energy Star® Homes

ENERGY STAR Homes is part of a family of voluntary market-transformation programs sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy. The goal of the various Energy Star programs is to help energy users save money and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by increasing the efficiency of various energy end uses, such as appliances and office equipment. Residential energy use accounts for approximately 20% of the carbon dioxide gas emissions in the U.S., from direct fuel combustion (natural gas, oil, wood) and emissions from electricity generation. The EPA estimates that the average house is responsible for emitting twice as much carbon dioxide as the average car. Energy Star Homes will reduce emissions from new housing.

Through the Energy Star Homes Program, EPA has formed partnerships with builders and developers and alliances with mortgage lenders, product manufacturers, utilities, and other industry stakeholders, to encourage the construction of new homes that consume at least 30% less energy than those built to 1993 Model Energy Code standards. Energy Star Homes use the 100-point scale of the draft Home Energy Rating System (HERS) as the performance standard. To participate in the program, builders must have an independent party rate their homes in accordance with the Guidelines. For homes that rate 86 or higher, the builders submit documentation to EPA and receive Energy Star labels that they can display on these homes. Builders who have signed Memoranda of Understanding with EPA also receive permission to use the program logo in advertisements, technical and marketing assistance, and access to preferred mortgage products.

EET Division Provides Program Support

Since April 1995, the End-Use Forecasting Group of Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division has performed technical analyses on ventilation, air conditioning heat recovery units, cool roofing materials, and duct sealing for EPA in support of the Energy Star Homes Program. In July 1995, the role of the EET Division was expanded to provide on-site program support through the Washington, D.C. Project Office. Part of the program support is account management, which involves the EET's D.C. Office staff working directly with partners and allies to foster market penetration of the program and the construction of Energy Star Homes.

Although the labeling process is simple, many builders are uncertain what home improvements are necessary to meet the Energy Star guidelines. This uncertainty has prevented some builders from joining the program. EPA recommends that builders contact a HERS rater in their area to analyze house plans and recommend improvements specific to their needs and location. Some builders are willing to do this; for many others, a simpler approach is needed.

Regional Builder Option Packages for 14 Cities

In response to its partners' needs, EPA asked Berkeley Lab's End-Use Forecasting Group to develop Regional Builder Option Packages (ReBOPs). Using computer simulations and cost data, we developed lists of cost-effective improvements builders can make to their homes to meet the Energy Star guidelines. ReBOPs have been prepared for several housing prototypes in 14 cities across the United States.

In addition to developing ReBOPs, the EET Division staff is disseminating them to program partners and allies. Drawing on our account management experience, the EET staff is preparing a ReBOP User Guide, a list of anticipated Frequently Asked Questions, and a builder comment form. By both developing and implementing the ReBOPs, Berkeley Lab has a unique opportunity to get feedback from the intended users. Direct contact with program partners and allies will also be beneficial in the development of additional ReBOPs. We hope this direct link will improve Berkeley Lab's understanding of the home-building industry so that future technical analysis and program support efforts can better serve EPA and its program partners and allies.

—Donald Mauritz

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Donald Mauritz
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
1250 Maryland Avenue, SW, Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20024
(202) 484-0884, x118; (202) 484-0888 fax

For questions concerning the development of ReBOPs, contact Richard Brown in the End-Use Forecasting Group at (510) 486-5896. For questions concerning the implementation of ReBOPs, contact Donald Mauritz in the Washington, D.C. Project Office at (202) 484-0884, x118.

This research is supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


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