Home Builders Green Washing – Energy Efficiency

I return to blogging with a rant that has been rankling with the home building industry.  Again, I know it is not good to burn bridges, but the home building industry is taking advantage of the uneducated home buyer so they can make some extra money.  This is all in regards to their claims of energy efficiency.

Builder Energy Efficiency Claims

Builder Energy Efficiency Claims

I borrowed this image from a home builder here in Ohio (I removed any reference to the company’s name).  Take a look at what they are claiming that is going to protect our investment and on another page our environment.  They even created their own cute little “Energy Wise” logo.  The materials listed are standard building materials found in every building in the United States.  And don’t get fooled by the Thermo-ply, its name has nothing to do with thermal efficiency, it more of an air barrier.  Standard structural sheathing has a higher R-Value.  The SEER rating on the air conditioning unit is the minimum size you can even purchase now.  The biggest kicker is the insulation levels that they state.  If you see the attached chart from the Ohio Building Code, R-38 ceiling and R-13 is code minimum for climate zone 4. Well most of Ohio is Climate zone 5.  So that R-13 does not cut it according to the chart. Still time after time I see homes going up everywhere that is 2×4 wall construction and no exterior insulation.  I mean the easiest thing a builder can do is to switch to 2×6 wall construction.

TABLE 1102.1 INSULATION AND FENESTRATION REQUIREMENTS BY COMPONENT

TABLE 1102.1 INSULATION AND FENESTRATION REQUIREMENTS BY COMPONENT

However, the average home buyer has no knowledge of building and energy codes. So this list sounds good to them.  Therefore if this rant can do more than just provide a means to vent, I hope that a new home buyer stumbles upon this post to realize what their builder is trying to sell them is just standard construction and energy efficiency.  Anything less would be illegal.

So I ask any home buyer that may stumble upon this post, to do a little research into a home builders claim for energy efficiency.  Are you getting a code minimum  or a more energy efficient home.  And ask the difference between the standard and “Energy Wise” model.  In the meantime I will provide some links from the U.S. Department of Energy that provides a wealth of information on home building and energy efficiency.

U.S. Department of Energy – Building America
U.S. Department of Energy – Energy Savers
Oak Ridge National Laboratory – Zip Code Insulation Program

About: Joshua Lloyd (115 Posts)

Joshua has a degree in architecture and is a LEED Accredited Professional that has worked in the design and construction industry for over 10 years, focusing his efforts on energy efficiency and building science. He has organized multiple events in Ohio to give young designers the opportunity to learn about “green” home design and produce actual projects. He was also a key player in Ohio’s first LEED for Homes Platinum project. Joshua is also a certified Building Analyst through the Building Performance Institute and performs home energy audits, assisting home owners in reducing their energy usage.