Wisconsin Energy Star® Changes for 2011 & 2012

The Wisconsin Energy Star Homes program is nearing the end of it’s process of re-evaulating the program and putting in long term updates to the program requirements for new homes. Many of the proposed items have been scaled back but here are some of the changes they are planning to make to the program. The new effective date for these changes will be 2011 but they will not be required until 2012 as it will take time for builders and verifiers to implement these new standards. Keep in mind these changes have not yet been finalized and may be subject to change. Many of the other proposed changes such as water usage requirements were eliminated in the evaluation process and they had more to do with resource efficiency and green building rather than energy efficiency.

EPA’s main Reasons For Change:
Increase in energy codes
Energy Star® homes are now 18% of new housing on the market
More market ready technology is available to improve home performance

Energy Star Program Changes
•Energy Star Product Requirement- Require all installed appliances to be Energy Star® certified
•Energy Star Windows- Windows must have Energy Star® certification
•Wall insulation must be Grade 1 manufacturer specified
•Attics must be air sealed-Sealing the sheet rock to the top-plate with either a foam or a membrane
•HVAC must be Manual “D” calculated duct design- They are very concerned with Building Air Tightness Standards (BAS)
•Wall cavities will not be allowed to be used as supply ducts
•All bath fans must be Energy Star® rated
•Themal Bridge Requirements
•Foundation wall damp-proofing requirements

While most of the proposed changes will increase the cost of the homes somewhat, a few of the changes will require significant costs to participate in the program. The attic sealing requirement could run in the $600 to $900 range. But the most concerning item is the proposed thermal bridging requirements. If this items sticks it is going to make building a home with 2×6 walls very difficult. It will push homes into more advanced framing techniques or SIP panel construction which would be a drastic change for the program and involve some heavy costs. It may push convention or stick built home builders like myself away from the program. Currently we include Energy Star Certification as a standard feature on our homes but if this last item is required we will strongly consider making the certification optional.

Belman Homes has participated in the Energy Star program for the past 3 years and appreciate the certification, the testing, and the verification that the program provides. Link The detailed reports on the efficiency and air quality of our homes is truly amazing and provides us with great feedback on the performance of our product. It also translates into true savings down the road for the homeowner. But some of the new changes proposed are getting away from the true origin of the program which was to provide affordable solutions to increase energy efficiency of homes.

Belman Homes

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