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Thrive Home Builders

In 2020, Thrive also achieved the lowest average HERS® score (26.9) in the country for a builder completing more than 50 homes. At the RESNET 2021 Virtual Conference, Thrive Homes received the RESNET President’s Award as part of the 2021 Cross Border Challenge


Locations: Colorado
In 1992, Gene Myers founded GreenTree Homes (later becoming Thrive Home Builders) in the Denver area, well before "green" was a thing.

In this month’s feature, we asked Thrive Home Builders Director of Marketing Susan Elovitz to share some insight on building HERS® homes for their customers.

Q: What is special about a HERS® Rated home?

A: Susan: Certified Performance. Thrive builds homes that are fundamentally different than what our competitors can offer, so we cannot afford to allow the market to view our unique attributes as mere marketing claims. Therefore, we have leveraged third-party certification and validation wherever possible to bolster the validity of our marketing message. These certifications mean our homes meet extraordinary levels of excellence and quality and help to ensure consumer confidence.

Q: Why should consumers ask for the HERS® Index Score on homes they are shopping for?

A: Susan: Relate the HERS® Score to monetary benefit. Your mortgage payment is made up of four parts – PITI, but when you add the ‘E’ for Energy to your total cost of homeownership, a high-performance home can help pay for itself through energy savings. The power of a home with a low HERS® Index Score gives you more BUYING POWER for the same monthly payment.

Thrive has worked hard to achieve our incredibly low HERS® scores. While nearly all home builders claim to be energy efficient, the use of the HERS® score to calibrate the value of energy efficiency in a government-approved, third-party validated manner allows our customers to see the monthly dollar benefit of energy efficiency compared to other new homes or resale homes that they may be considering. We tell our customers: “Every home has a HERS® Score. Don’t buy a home until you know The Score!”

Q: Why does Thrive Homes choose to have their homes HERS® Rated?

A: Susan: Culture. Energy efficiency has been an integral part of Thrive’s culture for over 25 years. Our founder, Gene Myers, founded his first home building company in 1992. He believed in building an eco-friendly home as society became increasingly aware of its impact on the environment. And, in 1999, Gene shifted the company’s focus to New Urbanist development. It was here where he began to build a national reputation for energy efficiency and innovation.

Differentiator. Thrive Home Builders is confident in comparing our exceptional standards to those of other homebuilders. Thrive successfully differentiates ourselves from the competition with our low HERS® rated homes and pride ourselves on quality and performance standards. The third-party certification validates that message.

Builder of Choice. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of being a DOE Zero Energy Ready builder is that it helps position Thrive as the forward-thinking, conscientious “builder of choice” for landowners and municipalities. While it’s difficult to isolate the price premium that high energy efficiency commands in the marketplace, we know for certain that Thrive’s reputation as an energy-efficient builder, with third-party unbiased, science-based credibility of the HERS® program, is a key component that helps us secure attractive land positions.

Q: Why consumers should expect energy-efficient homes?

A: Susan: The Energy Star label for new homes was introduced over 25 years ago, so today’s home buyer naturally expects an energy-efficient home. But, homes can earn the Energy Star label if they use at least 30 percent less energy than a home built to the standard energy code. That’s the equivalent of a HERS® 70, a ‘good’ score, but not considered a high-performance home. By comparison, the average HERS® Index Score for a new home in 2020 was 58. An energy-efficient home with a low HERS® Index Score is less expensive to operate, healthier to live in, has increased comfort, and is built to a higher standard. In addition, certified energy-efficient homes also often sell faster and at a higher price. The score allows customers to easily compare the energy-efficiency of the homes they are considering.

Q: How many homes does Thrive Home Builders build with HERS® per year?

A: Susan: While the economy, market conditions, and land opportunities can fluctuate from year to year, Thrive is proud to perform HERS® ratings on 100% of our homes, averaging a HERS® score of 26.9 in 2020.

Q: How do you market HERS® Rated homes?

A: Susan: The three legs of the Thrive brand are ‘Efficient. Healthy. Local.’, and our tagline is ‘Homes that do more.’ The name Thrive represents our commitment to efficient healthy homes and a desire to build a brand that speaks directly to the customer’s prosperity. Our tagline, ‘Homes that do more’ drives our commitment to innovate for our evolving customer base. At Thrive, we also build all our homes to meet the requirements of the DOE Zero Energy Ready program which directly correlates with the Home Energy Rating System (HERS).

The primary message on the Efficient page, “RELAX Your Home’s Doing All the Work” focuses on the peace of mind that comes from owning a home with a low HERS® Rating. The Efficient page also features the RESNET HERS® Index logo along with four other third-party certifications and a link directly to the RESNET HERS® website. In addition, every plan on our website features details including the projected HERS® rating.

Each model home has a framed HERS® Certificate and energy-efficiency statistics for that home. These tools are designed to educate consumers on the sustainable benefits in our homes and enable them to make more informed decisions. We use the HERS® report to highlight the money-saving benefits of a high-performance home. We can estimate monthly energy savings and compare it to the additional monthly payment resulting from the cost of our high-performance homes.

Q: How do your customers feel about HERS® Rated homes?

A: Susan: Initially, many customers aren’t aware of HERS® ratings. But when realizing the power of the HERS® rating as it relates to their estimated energy costs and savings, they feel confident in their purchase. Energy costs matter when considering the monthly operating costs of their home – the PITI + Energy. And, in some cases, knowing the energy cost savings of a home can lead to increased buying power with the savings. The true joy, however, is after they move in and start seeing the actual savings on their energy bills