Energy Performance in Residential Green Developments: A Florida Case Study

Article excerpt

THE COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL SECTORS both have an important role to play in any worthwhile attempt to decrease the overall energy consumption of the United States. Often, the residential sector is too fragmented to provide real, economically sound returns on investment in increased efficiency or overall decreased consumption of energy without direct or indirect subsidization. A good example is the common use of demand side management programs, administered and funded by local and regional utilities, in conjunction with various state-funded subsidies. Until recently, the use of either direct or indirect subsidies was the chief mechanism to push for change in the residential market. This paper addresses the situation in a Florida context, but the issues have national application.


"Green certification" programs at both the national and local levels are trying to provide an avenue for increasing brand power for premium pricing while attempting to encourage appropriate energy and resource reduction options. In our studies we have concentrated on the ENERGY STAR® certification developed and administered by the U. S. Department of Energy and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency because of its longer track record and robust building performance concentration. ENERGY STAR has the largest number of residential units certified, with an estimated 12 percent of new homes achieving the certification.1 This is important because it allows a large enough number of data points to obtain meaningful statistical outcomes. We also selected ENERGY STAR because of its robust third-party verification through the use of Home Energy Raters (HERS) trained and certified by Residential Energy Services Network, a respected industry standard-setting body for residential energy efficiency. The ENERGY STAR system has been in operation since 1992, and a version applying to homes was started in 1995. Other rating product certifications include the National Association of Home Builders Model Green Home Building Guidelines, the U. S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Green Building Rating System(TM) for Homes, and the local Florida Green Building Coalition's own building standards for residential construction, as well as numerous green building programs nationwide.

ENERGY STAR is often referred to as a performancebased program, but in fact it is more accurately a prescriptive path program using the HERS index to model predicted performance. The term "performancebased" could be misleading in that actual energy consumption of homes is not measured post-occupancy or required for ENERGY STAR certification.

The homes that earn the ENERGY STAR designation must meet guidelines for energy efficiency set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. ENERGY STAR-qualified homes are designed to be at least 15 percent more energy efficient than conventional homes. The ENERGY STAR Qualified New Homes program applies to total energy consumption for heating, cooling, domestic water heating, lighting, appliances and on-site energy production. ENERGY STAR-qualified new homes can include a variety of energy-efficient features such as upgraded insulation, high-performance windows, tight construction and ducts, efficient heating and cooling equipment, and ENERGY STAR lighting and appliances. These features contribute to improved home quality and homeowner comfort, and can lower energy demand and reduce air pollution.

LEED for Homes is a green building rating system product released by the USGBC that covers some performance, environmental and social welfare issues. Based on a highly successfully marketed green building rating system for new commercial construction, the hope is to achieve equal success in the residential market. LEED for Homes is aimed at a new home market interested in including sustainable design features. …


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