PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

PATH Case Study

Traditional Builders Find a Niche Beyond Energy Code


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"Clients appreciate that we pay attention to their monthly operating costs. It also helps from a marketing perspective because if a potential client is comparing us to another builder who doesn't include efficiency in their list of services, then it may help us get their business."

[IMAGE: The crew ensures that window replacements are done properly.] "In a small community like ours, people recognize certain business qualities and tell their friends about it. If we treat our customers nicely and educate them in the process, they end up selling our services for us. In the nearly 20 years we've been in business, we've never had to spend much on advertising. Instead, we've just always tried to give our customers a fair price and do the best job that we could, and word of mouth has promoted our business just fine."

"About 95 percent of our work comes from referrals and repeat customers and new clients tell me that they've heard about what we do with energy efficiency. This is the only gauge I have, but with the rate of our business growth, we must be doing something right."

Technology Highlights

This project included the following PATH-profiled technologies:

"Being recognized as energy-efficient remodelers and builders definitely has its business advantages. We are in a very competitive market here and can only get a certain amount per square foot to incorporate energy efficiency. I'd say there's about a 5- to 10-percent increase in profit associated with selling efficiency upgrades. Some of the efficiency upgrades involve utility incentives; the other ones we do just because it's the right way to build."


"There is a small learning curve, so you have to get all your employees and subcontractors on board, but once you've done a couple of jobs, it becomes standard protocol and you donít have to spend any more time or money on it."

"We're fortunate to have built great relationships and can bring the right team to each job. We have electricians, mechanical contractors, and plumbers who have been working with us for many years. They are familiar with our processes and have no problem paying attention to the specifications. Having a consistent team really helps our business run effectively. As long as we keep our clients pleased, the subcontractor's business benefits along with ours."

"My brother and I will attend conferences and if we see an efficiency measure we view as important, we spend a couple hours with our employees during our regular training sessions to explain the new process. We also train our team members to answer questions about the processes in the field."


[IMAGE: A worker inspects the plumbness of a window.]There are multiple utility incentive programs for upgrading heating, air conditioning, and water heating systems. While incentives are usually larger with new construction, even in a remodeling project, homeowners can recover up to 50 percent of their efficiency investment. Typically, utility incentives apply to heating, cooling, and water heating only. In some cases, HVAC and water heating upgrades must be done as a package.

The new federal Energy Bill also gives tax credits and deductions for many of the 12-15 prescriptive measures from ENERGY STAR, which include installing high-efficiency windows; adding insulation to sidewalls, basements, or slabs; adding a programmable thermostat; using high-efficiency HVAC and water heating equipment; and installing at least three ENERGY STAR qualified appliances or lighting.

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Content updated on 9/25/2006

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