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Green Building News

The Home Stretch for HOME STAR?

Proposed incentives for residential energy efficiency retrofits would help create green jobs nationwide

I participated in a really interesting webinar the other day about the new proposed HOME STAR program. Some call it the “Cash for Caulkers” program, which, according to Efficiency First, “…would provide direct incentives to American homeowners who invest in improving the energy efficiency of their homes.”

Our own GBAdvisor Matt Golden is one of the driving forces behind both Efficiency First and the proposed $6 billion HOME STAR program. He has worked hard to make sure that HOME STAR gets both the financial structure and the building science right in this new program, poised to become federal legislation in the coming weeks.

Here are the key elements to the HOME STAR program:

HOME STAR has two types of incentives for homeowners, Silver Star and Gold Star

Silver Star is the “quick-start” part of HOME STAR program, providing for the installation of new insulation, air sealing, furnace or water heater, each one DONE RIGHT. Silver Star rebates can go up to $1500 per measure capped at 50% of project costs or $3,000, whichever comes first.

Gold Star is the “long-view” part of the program; it’s all about whole house performance retrofits. The energy efficiency measures are queued up based on performance audits and energy modeling, all conducted by approved Building Performance Institute (BPI) or Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) or equivalent providers and raters (BPI or RESNET can do the QA but only BPI can do the actual Gold Star retrofit work). Homeowners can get $3,000 for modeled savings of 20 percent, plus $1,000 for each additional 5 percent of modeled energy savings, with incentives up to $8,000, not to exceed 50 percent of total project costs.

It’s all performance-based, testing in and testing out

Quality assurance is an essential part of the HOME STAR program, with Silver Star requiring a testing rate of 20% and 15% for Gold Star. There is an exception: if 100% of workers are fully trained and certified in high performance building science and standards (such as BPI, Labors’ International Union of North America — or North America Technicians Excellence — NATE), testing QA goes down to 10%. The Efficiency First HOME STAR overview expresses the quality assurance element of the program this way: “This system…ensures that a portion of all jobs are inspected by credentialed professionals, and offers an additional incentive to contractors that invest in a trained and certified workforce.”

RESNET and BPI are combining forces on HOME STAR

HOME STAR is about a TON of work to be done. We will need all of the more than 100 providers and 4,000 raters from RESNET, all of the 8,000+ BPI certified professionals, and more for a program of this magnitude. The HOME STAR webinar included both directors of BPI and RESNET, Larry Zarker and Steve Baden. It’s a great sign that these organizations are working together on this effort, as opposed to competing to protect just their own.

HOME STAR is designed to fit with existing programs

Home Star will supplement (not supplant) existing incentives, so a project could qualify for a local or state or utility incentive AND Home Star rebate.

HOME STAR is a financing/incentive/job creation program

The unemployment rate within the building industry is scary, with 1.6 million jobs lost since December 2007. The strength of HOME STAR is that it ties together solid financing structures, great incentives for homeowners, and excellent opportunities for skilled jobs at the installation and quality assurance levels.

HOME STAR will pick up where American Recovery and Reinvestment Act left off and be a link for the longer term climate-change based Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) program.

Download a copy of the HOME STAR pending legislation.

More information on how HOME STAR works.

One Comment

  1. Anonymous | | #1

    Timely article must read

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