The Energy Star for New Homes program was introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1995 as a way for buyers to identify homes that were more energy efficient than typical new home construction. Over the years, code requirements around the country became more rigorous, and the program evolved to ensure that new homes earning the label continued to significantly outperform non-Energy Star homes in terms of efficiency and comfort.
That evolution continues with Version 3 of the program, which was introduced in April 2010 — at the height of the slump in residential new construction. Some in the construction industry questioned whether it was a good time to implement stricter guidelines which would increase the cost of Energy Star homes. That seems to be a moot point, however, as more than 250 builders around the country have committed to building homes that will meet the new and more rigorous Energy Star requirements for qualified homes in 2012.