AMH (formerly American Homes 4 Rent) is a Maryland real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on acquiring, developing, renovating, leasing, and managing homes as rental properties. The company’s goal is to simplify the experience of leasing a home and deliver peace of mind to households across the country. The average HERS® score among the 2,183 AMH single-family rental homes built in 2022 was 61.9.
In this month’s feature, we asked Robert Broad, AMH SVP of Development, to share some insight on building HERS® homes for their customers.
Q: What is special about a HERS® Rated home?
A: Robert: The HERS® index allows us to deliver purpose-built single-family rental homes that are significantly more efficient than homes built 15 to 20 years ago. What we like about HERS® is that it’s metrics-driven and prioritizes substance over flash. The rating comes down to meaningful statistics around how efficient each home is to light, heat, and cool. This quantitative feedback helps us continue to advance building practices and technology that enhance home efficiencies across our nationwide development footprint.
Q: Why should consumers ask for the HERS® Index Score on homes?
A: Robert: Consumers should ask for the HERS® rating to ensure they’re getting a home with enduring value, comfort, and savings in mind. Understanding the energy efficiency of a home is a key component for residents to estimate their potential long-term utility costs. Homes that are built for efficiency tend to cost less to heat, cool, and light over the long term than those that aren’t, which can also support a more comfortable living environment. At AMH, securing the HERS® rating is an extra step we take in both stewarding the environment and investing in a better resident experience, and it allows us to substantiate that effort year after year with an externally validated score.
Q: Why does AMH choose to have its homes HERS® Rated?
A: Robert: As a leading national builder of single-family rental homes, we recognize the importance of implementing environmental sustainability into the design and construction of new homes. On one hand, our residents living in HERS®-rated homes can benefit from a home designed to be more energy-efficient, which often results in lower utility costs as compared to a home that was not built with these metrics in mind. Durable, sustainable construction also reduces the amount and frequency of renovation and redevelopment activity that will be required over time, which is important to us because we build our homes to lease and own for the long run. By submitting our homes to HERS® rating, we can quantify our sustainable development efforts and develop homes built for long-term performance and endurance.
Q: Why consumers should expect energy-efficient homes?
A: Robert: It’s widely known that an energy-efficient home is built to a higher standard and is typically less expensive to operate in the long term. On a micro level, this can support increased comfort and lower utility bills for residents. On a macro level, energy-efficient homes are often a better, more economical choice for residents as we face continued changes in weather patterns nationwide due to climate change. Excessive heatwaves, increased drought periods, and record-breaking snowpack levels can affect homeowners and renters alike, even in historically temperate climates, and significantly increase their utility usage. An energy-efficient home will have unique features related to insulation and HVAC that can keep a home running more efficiently, lower energy use, and reduce residents’ monthly costs.
Q: How many homes does AMH build with HERS® per year?
A: Robert: As part of our commitment to sustainable development, since 2022, all of our purpose-built single-family rental homes delivered by our internal development program are certified and third-party validated using HERS® ratings. Our average HERS® score was 61.9 among our 2,183 newly built homes in 2022, 0.9 better than the prior year. In other words, those houses are designed to use 38.1% less energy than a home built to the 2006 model energy code and less than 50% the energy of a typical home in this country. In 2023, we are on pace to deliver 2,200 to 2,400 additional new HERS®-rated homes.
Q: How do you market HERS® Rated homes?
A: Robert: The HERS® index can be easily understood and communicated to residents and other stakeholders. We like to use the analogy of miles per gallon in a car: It’s easy to understand how efficiently a car uses fuel by its miles-per-gallon measurement. The HERS® rating of 1-150, with lower being better, communicates that same efficiency. Additionally, the HERS® Index doesn’t mandate the use of third-party vendors or impose a checklist for development, so the builder can use the free market for materials to get the lowest score with respect to regional differences such as climate zones, energy codes, building standards, and home orientation. That distinct advantage is important because a home built in the desert landscape of Nevada will require a different approach to energy efficiency than a new build in Ohio.
Q: How do your customers feel about HERS® Rated homes?
A: Robert: We work to create a sense of community at every step of our new home development. On average, our residents live in our communities for 3 to 4 years and express satisfaction in the overall value, efficiencies, location, and experience of our homes and services. Our communities are well-amenitized and proximate to city centers and attractive school districts. By enhancing this offering with a single-family home that’s performing optimally with regard to energy efficiency, we’re able to provide greater overall resident satisfaction and stability for our valued residents and their families, reinforcing our above-average rental tenures.