EPA Marks 1M Energy Star Homes

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday announced a milestone for its Energy Star, marking the 1 millionth Energy Star qualified home.

Since the program began labeling new homes in 1995, Americans have saved $1.2 billion on their energy bills, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 22 billion pounds, EPA said. This year alone, families living in Energy Star qualified homes will save an estimated $270 million on their utility bills, while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from about 370,000 vehicles.

“We’re going to keep the number of Energy Star homes growing, because every new Energy Star home is a step towards lower costs, cleaner air, and communities that are environmentally and economically sustainable,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said.

To earn the Energy Star label, a home must meet energy efficiency guidelines set by EPA. Those guidelines include effective insulation systems, high-performance windows, tight construction and ducts, efficient heating and cooling equipment, and high-efficiency lighting and appliances. In addition, an independent home energy rater conducts onsite testing and inspections to verify that the home’s performance meets Energy Star requirements.

There are more than 6,500 builders across the nation building homes that earn the Energy Star label, EPA said.

In Related News…

Waste management is the second most important aspect green building, behind energy efficiency, according to the latest report released yesterday by McGraw-Hill Construction at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Phoenix, Arizona.

The U.S. generated 143.5 million tons of building-related construction and demolition debris in 2008, but only 28% (40.2 million tons) was reused, recycled or sent to waste-to-energy facilities. The study shows that contractors recognize the substantial impact that sustainable construction waste management can have on their businesses, and a growing number are adopting practices to reduce contributions to landfills.

While total construction starts are expected to fall another 25% in 2009, green building has grown dramatically in recent years and is expected to continue its upward trend. By 2013, McGraw-Hill Construction projects that the green building market will be up to 25% of all new construction starts by value, equating to a $140 billion market.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Most contractors place sustainable waste management (61%) and responsible use of materials and resources (57%) as two of the three most important aspects of green building, behind energy efficiency. This importance is expected to increase in five years to 80% and 78%, respectively.
  • Waste diversion activity is increasing despite the recession; 20% of firms are diverting half of their construction waste on 60% or more of projects, and 25% of firms expect to do so within the next year.
  • The biggest drivers behind sustainable construction waste management practices include client demand (82%) and government regulations (81%). Competitive advantage (77%) and increases in education and awareness (75%) are also cited as major influencing factors.
  • Already, 57% of contractors have set sustainability positions and diversion goals, and 43% plan to divert more than 50% of waste from projects this year.
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