PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

PATH Case Study

Traditional Builders Find a Niche Beyond Energy Code


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[IMAGE: Workers level and set a window before caulking.]

"Sometimes, there is an initial hesitation from our clients. They want to know how much it's going to cost them. We try to make them realize that the measures we're proposing will pay them back. We're very persistent because we think it's important that our customers recognize both the short- and long-term benefits of energy efficiency."

"Many of our clients don't consider how a remodel can affect their energy use, so it's an education process. But we don't mind spending the extra hour explaining the benefits because it's usually during this last hour that they decide to use us for their project. When customers learn about the benefits they hadn't thoughtabout--the intrinsic value of the end product--it helps close the deal. Especially now that energy costs have been rising for the last few years, it's a very easy sell."

"People often say they don't want to do it if it will cost more or take more time. However, incorporating efficiency into our projects doesn't really increase the construction schedule because it's totally integrated into the building process. Depending on the measures involved, the time difference between an energy-efficient remodel and one that's not is minimal."

"We probably lose about a quarter of the jobs we bid on to contractors with a lower bid, which is fine, because we'd rather focus on building our niche as opposed to worrying about jobs with minimal profit."


High-impact energy features to consider when building or remodeling include:


"We feel that the building envelope is the most important thing to consider when remodeling or building a home. Create a good building envelope with the right combination of insulation, windows, and caulking to minimize air infiltration. Even if the existing HVAC equipment isn't the most efficient, it will work better in an environment that is well insulated, well sealed, and has good windows. Basically, we create a good, tight building envelope to ensure that less heating and cooling will be required."

"Often, we have to sit down and explain that an older home with less insulation and an antiquated HVAC system might have 12-15 air changes an hour. After making the building envelope tighter, air changes can be lowered to once every three hours. The customer then realizes the importance of not letting that conditioned air out. Once they understand this concept, people recognize how energy-efficient retrofits pay for themselves over time. We don't get too technical on payback methods. We just keep it nice and simple."

"We also try to explain that we look at the home as an interrelated system. When we make changes to that system, we have to take all the pieces into account and make sure that when we leave, the home operates better than it did before we started. There are a lot of different factors to consider. Air intake, windows, doors, solar orientation, roofing and insulation come into play. We also assess older equipment that they may not have thought of replacing. Often, we can do the addition with no extra energy costs to the client."

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Content updated on 9/25/2006

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