Beazer Homes announced earlier this month that it is expanding its menu of eSmart energy efficiency and indoor-air-quality options, and that it has launched a website designed to help market its products and demystify the systems and components intended to green its lineup.
Beazer certainly is not alone among big homebuilders in developing a marketing plan around energy efficiency and sustainability. Pulte Homes has done it with its Azure Canyon and Villa Trieste projects in the Las Vegas area. But Beazer’s marketing effort also suggests that the conversation about what makes a home green could be expanding to an increasingly broad audience of current and prospective homeowners.
Beazer’s new website, http://www.BeazerNewHome.com/, is among those attempting to help address a pervasive handicap to marketing green construction to customers who aren’t necessarily predisposed to buy green: the good stuff usually is buried in or behind the walls, or up in the attic. So the Beazer site emphasizes the principal economic virtue of sealing walls and wall-floor/wall-ceiling intersections (low energy costs), the water-saving potential low-flow fixtures and systems (with virtually no diminishment of convenience or comfort), and the health benefits of nontoxic finishes and properly circulated and filtered indoor air.
Steps to whole-house efficiency
At this point, the company, which operates in 16 states, has developed three eSmart construction standards, starting with a basic package whose components are now built into all new Beazer homes. It includes the use of 410A HVAC refrigerant, MERV 8 air filters, “advanced” framing, tighter-than-conventional air barriers, R-15 wall insulation, R-38 attic insulation, low-VOC paints and carpets, low-flow water fixtures, CFL bulbs throughout, programmable thermostats, an energy-use monitor; and an Energy Star dishwasher.
The next tier up, eSmart Plus, is available in all of the markets the company serves. In addition to the features of the basic eSmart package, the upgrade includes a 14 SEER air conditioner, a choice of a high-efficiency furnace or a heat pump with a heating seasonal performance factor of 8.5, Mastic-sealed ductwork, jumper ducts in bedrooms, and an Energy Star water heater.
eSmart Green, the top-tier package, is now available only in Houston and Phoenix but is expected to roll out in other Beazer markets throughout 2010. To the features mentioned above this standard adds a manifold plumbing system, tankless water heater, and spray foam insulation. It also includes upgrades to eSmart Plus equipment and finishes: a 15 SEER air conditioner, MERV-10 air filtration, a choice of a 95% efficiency furnace or a 9.0 HSPF heat pump, blower door and duct blaster testing, nylon 6 recycled carpeting, and a HERS inspection and rating for the completed home.
The company’s marketing director, Mandy Holton Brooks, says that pricing for the three categories will vary from market to market and house to house, depending on its size. Beazer’s builder in Houston, for example, noted that per-square-foot prices on a 2,500-sq.-ft. home in that market would increase approximately $7 to $8 – or about $17,000 to $20,000 – when upgrading from one tier to the next.