2021 Recap: Builders of the Month
The 2021 RESNET HERS Index Builders of the Month series featured a number of builders who achieved a great distinction: builders who built at least 50 homes in 2020, with HERS Index Scores below the national lowest average of 58. These builders are leading the path to net zero energy homes, with homes that are more comfortable for owners, save them an average of $750 a year in utility costs and reduce annually an average of 4.39 tons of carbon emissions.
Many of the builders featured in the 2021 Builder of the Month series mentioned utility savings, comfort, and environmental protection behind their choice to have homes HERS rated. Jacksonville's Riverside Homes Marketing Manager Andrea Johnson noted, “We want our homeowners to build with confidence knowing that their family’s home is in the best hands possible. With decades of experience in the homebuilding industry, we understand the importance of building environmentally friendly new homes that use less energy and deliver improved comfort.” Fellow Florida builder Lifestyle Homes averages 100-120 builds per year and co-owner and Marketing Director Karen Kicinski agreed that consumers expect energy efficiency as a standard in their February 2021 profile.” Today’s consumers are smart and savvy and understand that a home should be built as tight and energy-efficient as possible. There’s no reason a new home’s energy bills should be the same as a comparable older home’s energy bills.” Oklahoma home builder Homes by Taber was founded in 2000 and has built 3,200 homes in Deer Creek/Oklahoma City, Edmond, Moore, Mustang, Norman, Piedmont, and Yukon. In 2020, the average HERS Score for their HERS rated homes was 40.1 Lindsay Haltom, Marketing Director says that score saves their homeowners around $1,500 per year in energy bills, “which for our customers typically equates to a mortgage payment a year.”
For many builders, “green building” is baked into their cultures from the beginning. In 1992, founder Gene Myers, started GreenTree Homes (later becoming Thrive Home Builders) in the Denver area, well before "green" was a thing. Director of Marketing Susan Elovitz says energy efficiency has been an integral part of Thrive’s culture for over 25 years. “Gene believed in building an eco-friendly home as society became increasingly aware of its impact on the environment. It was here where he began to build a national reputation for energy efficiency and innovation.” Innovation was a recurring theme for many of the builders featured. In the May profile of Wisconsin’s Tim O’Brien Homes, owner Tim O’Brien said, “we pride ourselves in always striving to be innovators in our industry. We know that having all our homes backed by a third-party certification would only help us improve our building process and provide assurance to our homeowners. Having partnerships with RESNET and other local entities is an essential part of our commitment to being a National leader in high-performance homebuilding.” A commitment to innovation and energy-efficient building can mean repeat business for many builders. In Utah, approximately 30% of Garbett Homes’ current homeowners are repeat buyers on their second or third Garbett home, since they value owning a Garbett home, not only for its health benefits but the overall ownership savings. Marketing Manager Glenn Hoggan notes in June, "While some sell “green” or energy-efficient features, they cannot compete with efficiency proven in the HERS Scores we have for every Garbett home sold. As a part of our independent third-party certifications, we assure a HERS score in the 40s for single-family homes and 40-50s for attached multifamily homes.”
The HERS rating business is good in Minnesota, with an average of 45 percent of all new homes being HERS rated. In July, we profiled the Twin Cities’ Robert Thomas Homes which achieved an average HERS Score of 48.7 in 2020. Director of Brand Management and Marketing Paige Redford noted that “many of the energy-efficient innovations are hidden beneath the siding and drywall of our homes, and that’s why all of our homes are independently tested and rated by a third-party professional trained in advanced building sciences.” Fellow Minnesota builder Keyland Homes agreed that a HERS score helps to explain what is beneath the surface-level benefits of a home. “Anytime someone today asked about what a quality home looks like or feels like, we can point to the HERS rating of the home as one of those features. It is easy for most to provide a picture-perfect home on the surface, but once you get into the walls and structure of the home is where the true quality belongs. A strong HERS rating helps builders and homeowners alike understand and realize the quality of that structure for not only energy efficiency but for peace of mind,” said Manager Tom Schutz. Simmons Homes of Oklahoma knows using the HERS Index to build more energy-efficient homes meets a local concern; as Simmons Homes Purchasing Manager Dana Stanley explains, “Specifically, in our market, energy efficiency is crucial for keeping a home comfortable. Considering the extreme conditions in Oklahoma, hot summer temps, and raging winds, an efficient home can provide a haven from the elements in a way that older, or less efficient homes cannot.”
Blue Sky Homes of Arizona also uses the HERS Score to serve their customers’ area-specific needs. Marketing Manager Jessica Luchini says, “It is no secret in Arizona that our scorching summers require a lot of energy to keep our homes cool. As the temperatures have soared, so have the electricity prices. Phoenicians have seen over a 30% bill increase over the last 10 years. Green energy is the future and Blue Sky Homes strives to be the future of homebuilding. We want to be part of the solution, not the problem.”
Some of the builders featured as the RESNET HERS Index Builder of the Month have achieved industry-wide recognition as well. The October RESNET HERS Index Builder of the Month, Stanley Martin Homes, was also named the 2021 Builder of the Year by Builder Magazine. DJ Lawson, Manager of Corporate Field Operations says HERS testing has been performed at Stanley Martin Homes since 2011. As the company has expanded from a local to a regional builder, building in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. metro areas, it has included HERS testing in all divisions, and in 2021, 3,700 homes are forecasted to settle which all will have HERS ratings and the builder recently signed an exclusive partnership with rating provider PEG LLC.
As we approach the third year of the Builder of the Month profile series, we at RESNET are pleased to continue to see how builders of all volumes, from across the country, are using the HERS Index to serve their customers, and the environment, while helping to lead the path to net-zero energy future. Stay tuned for more builder profiles in 2022.