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Green Building News

Florida Builder Commits to HERS Labels for All Homes

Claiming that ‘most of its homes’ will be HERS 60 or lower, LifeStyle Homes will use an energy rater to evaluate every new home it builds

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The Capri model, one of several designs offered by Florida-based builder LifeStyle Homes, whose SunSmart line of homes are designed to achieve a HERS Index rating of 60 or less.
Image Credit: LifeStyle Homes
The Capri model, one of several designs offered by Florida-based builder LifeStyle Homes, whose SunSmart line of homes are designed to achieve a HERS Index rating of 60 or less.
Image Credit: LifeStyle Homes
LifeStyle Homes also offers models with solar thermal and photovoltaic systems, including PV systems designed to accommodate masonry roof tiles.

To those who tune in to “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” LifeStyle Homes might be recognized as one of the chief partners in the construction of the Hurston family home, a net-zero-energy house built in Florida’s Brevard County and unveiled on the show in February. At the time, the project was billed by ABC, the network that co-produces the program, as the first NZE “Makeover” home.

LifeStyle Homes continues to ride the energy efficiency wave to help market its offerings, all of which are now built to meet or exceed energy efficiency guidelines set by the Department of Energy’s Builders Challenge, whose goals include driving consumer and builder interest in construction of energy efficient homes that feature third-party performance ratings. The rating tool in LifeStyle’s case will be the Residential Energy Services Network’s HERS Index, and the rating results for each house will be incorporated into an EnergySmart Home Scale label (also known as an E-Scale label) that summarizes energy performance of the home, compares it to that of the existing housing stock, and estimates the building’s energy usage and its average monthly energy costs. (Click here for a look at the EnergySmart interactive tool.)

Adding to the HERS Index fold

RESNET makes no secret about its interest in striking more HERS Index agreements with local and regional builders. It has similar agreements with production builders such as KB Home and Pulte Group, and with Passive House Institute U.S., although LifeStyle Homes is the first builder in Florida to sign up.

Operating in Florida coastal communities from Titusville to Melbourne to Palm Bay, LifeStyle has committed to building most of its homes to achieve a HERS rating of 60 or lower, and has been marketing its lineup through an initiative it calls SunSmart. LifeStyle SunSmart homes are designed to save their owners at least 60% on their energy bills, while the company’s LifeStyle SunSmartPV line of houses feature extensive photovoltaic and solar thermal systems and are designed to operate at net zero energy on an annual basis.

Managing the Cape climate

SunSmart shell-construction material is common throughout Florida: concrete block, although double battens on the walls eliminate the need to penetrate the block for installation of the electrical system. Other features of these houses include a SEER 14 heat pump air-conditioning system with a heating seasonal performance factor of 8.2, R-38 ceiling insulation and a radiant barrier under the roof decking, and Energy Star appliances.

As is common for many builders participating in the DOE’s Builders Challenge, LifeStyle solicited help from independent researchers to develop strategies for cost-effective construction of homes that are more energy efficient. In 2008, for example, the company partnered with the Building America Industrialized Housing Project – now known as Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction, or BA-PIRC, and led by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center – on housing projects in Melbourne.

Fifty homes were sold in 2009, and dozens more progressed to completion in the Melbourne area, with prices ranging from just under $200,000 to the mid-$400,000s.

One Comment

  1. Mike Eliason | | #1

    hmmm. anyone care to wager
    hmmm. anyone care to wager when national home building orgs will lobby congress to make this illegal, much in the way that "big ag" attempted with rBGH-free labels?

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