WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has launched the Builders Challenge, calling on the United States homebuilding industry to build 220,000 high-performance, energy efficient homes by 2012. Thirty-eight homebuilders have already pledged to build 6,000 high-performance homes under the new voluntary national program. DOE aims for 1.3 million of these high-performance homes to be built by 2030, allowing the owners of those homes to collectively save as much as $1.7 billion in energy costs while avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions equal to the emissions of 606,000 cars.

DOE ranks all homes participating in the Builders Challenge on the EnergySmart Home scale, or E-scale, which rates a home based on its overall energy performance. Today’s typical new homes score 100 on this scale, while zero-energy homes, which produce as much energy as they consume, score a zero. For the Builders Challenge, all homes must rank a 70 or better to qualify, making them essentially 30 percent more efficient than the average new home built to international energy efficiency codes.

To support builders participating in the challenge, DOE has made available “builder option packages,” which provide guidance for building high-performance homes in different climate zones. These packages also outline the criteria for qualifying for a $2,000 federal tax credit per the Energy Policy Act of 2005. To earn the credit, homes must use only half as much energy for heating and cooling as an average home of comparable size. Currently, the credit applies to homes bought by the end of this year for which construction was substantially completed after Aug. 8, 2005.

For more information on the Builders Challenge, visit www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/challenge/.

Publication date:02/25/2008