WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that four newly constructed homes in New Orleans are the first in that city to meet the energy performance goals of the Builders Challenge. DOE’s Builders Challenge is a voluntary national energy savings initiative that calls for the U.S. homebuilding industry to build 220,000 high-performance, energy-efficient homes by 2012.
The four new homes, located in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans, are the first of 20 pilot homes that are being built by Project Home Again of New Orleans, a nonprofit development group created by the Riggio Foundation of New York. DOE provided technical assistance to Project Home Again through its National Renewable Energy Laboratory and one of DOE’s Building America research partners, Building Science Consortium, to identify cost-effective strategies to achieve the Builders Challenge energy goals. The strategies included developing an efficient building envelope that includes spray foam insulation and low-e windows; installing an efficient heat pump with whole-house dehumidification; constructing ductwork within the conditioned space; and using Energy Star-certified lighting and appliances.
In order to qualify as a high-performance home under the Builders Challenge requirements, a home must use at least 30 percent less energy than a typical new home built to meet the standards of the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code, which is a generally recognized voluntary industry standard. The Builders Challenge initiative is part of the Building America program, DOE’s industry-driven research program designed to work with the building industry to accelerate the development and adoption of advanced building energy technologies in new and existing homes. DOE has been working with the city of New Orleans since shortly after Hurricane Katrina, providing support and technical assistance to encourage energy efficient construction in the rebuilding of the city.