At Green Building Advisor, we urge readers who are planning to build a new home to seek out a builder who understands energy-efficient construction methods. Is this advice easy to follow? And once the new owners move into their energy-efficient home, are they happy with the home’s performance?
Answers to these questions were provided recently at a conference presentation by Matt Sargent, a senior building energy consultant at Efficiency Vermont, and William Kallock, a vice president at Integral Analytics. Sargeant and Kallock gave their presentation on February 7, 2018, at the Better Buildings By Design conference in Burlington, Vermont.
Researchers interviewed owners of high-performance homes
Sargent reported the results of research project that included interviews with 11 owners of recently completed high-performance homes in Vermont.
From the perspective of Efficiency Vermont, a nonprofit “efficiency utility” that provides financial incentives for energy-efficiency improvements by homeowners, builders, and businesses in Vermont, the term “high-performance home” has a specific definition. To be certified under Efficiency Vermont’s “High-Performance Home” program, a new home has to meet specific prescriptive requirements. (For more information on Efficiency Vermont’s “High-Performance Home” program, see Three Superinsulated Houses in Vermont.)
Sargent told the Burlington audience, “The program assumes that these will be all-electric homes heated by a heat pump, so we need envelope specs that are good enough for point-source heating.” The criteria were developed for the Vermont climate.
Sargent continued, “We needed feedback for the program and the contractors. Researchers wanted to know, who are these homeowners — the owners of high-performance homes? What was the construction experience like? What’s it like living in this type of home? To get answers, we conducted kitchen-table chats with 11 homeowners. Each interview lasted between one and two hours.”