It’s no surprise that in today’s ailing market, new home sales are down. What is surprising is that construction is on the rise for six Florida homebuilders.
In partnership with one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America teams, led by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), these successful homebuilders are building super energy-efficient homes. They are achieving a standard met by fewer than one of every 1,000 new homes built in Florida since 2007.
Homes consume about 35 percent of the electricity produced in the United States. Homes are also responsible for more than 20 percent of the U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, a significant contributor to global warming. Building America’s goal is to develop cost-effective solutions that reduce the average energy use of housing by 40 to 100 percent.
Similar to an automobile’s miles-per-gallon sticker, energy-efficient homes can have an energy-efficiency rating called the EnergySmart Home ScaleSM (E-Scale), which is based on the nationwide Home Energy Rating System’s HERS Index. A home with an E-Scale of zero generates as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis. While most existing homes have an E-Scale of 130 or higher, typical new homes in Florida have an E-Scale of about 90. Read more
As homeowners cope with rising utility bills and declining income, the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) has responded to a challenge from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help produce homes 30 percent more energy efficient than typical new homes.
Additionally, these new homes will meet other stringent “quality criteria” for indoor air quality, durability and comfort set forth in DOE’s new Builders Challenge program (www.buildingamerica.gov/challenge).
The Builders Challenge is backed by two decades of research conducted by DOE’s Building America program (www.buildingamerica.gov) that proves this goal can be achieved cost-effectively all across the country. FSEC, located on the UCF Brevard campus in Cocoa, leads one of DOE’s Building America teams (www.baihp.org) and has worked with a dozen of the first builders to achieve the Builders Challenge.
FSEC researchers will co-host the unveiling of LifeStyle Homes’ first Builders Challenge home this Saturday, April 25, at 2 p.m. The public and home building community are invited to the event, which will include a tour and testing demonstrations. Look for signs in the Whispering Winds community off Dairy Road in West Melbourne. For directions, visit the LifeStyle Homes Web site: www.BuildingALifeStyle.com.
LifeStyle Homes – based in Melbourne, Fla. – is the first Brevard County builder to achieve the Builders Challenge with its new line of SunSmartSM models. FSEC’s Building America researchers provided technical assistance and third-party certification to LifeStyle Homes, which is required by the Builders Challenge criteria.
“We are extremely proud of our collaboration with LifeStyle Homes,” says Dr. Subrato Chandra, FSEC’s Building America program director. “We look forward to many more of these high-performance Builders Challenge homes being built. We plan to work alongside LifeStyle Homes every step of the way as they work toward our mutual goal of building zero energy homes, which provide their total energy needs from the power of the sun.”
Larry Hufford, founding partner of LifeStyle Homes, echoes the thoughts of many Builders Challenge participants.
“Increasing the energy efficiency of our homes offers solid benefits to our customers,” Hufford said. “It helps them save on their monthly and annual energy bills, and it is the right thing for us to do in moving our country toward energy independence.”
For more information, contact
Neil Moyer, FSEC Building America researcher, 321-638-1409
Jake Luhn, LifeStyle Homes, 321- 727-8188 extension 303
Just as President Barack Obama steps up his campaign for energy efficiency, the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) celebrated the opening of its new Hot Water Systems Laboratory in Cocoa.
Water heating is the second largest home consumer of energy, and the performance of some systems on the market today have never been tested under realistic and extreme weather conditions. Testing in the lab will help provide answers the solar industry, utilities and home builders are looking for to increase energy efficiency.
“This project is an important part of Building America’s goal of zero energy buildings by year 2020,” said Robert Hassett, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Heating and Cooling Technology Manager. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America Program funded the lab at FSEC, a research institute of the University of Central Florida.
The facility, which opened on Wednesday, will be a hub to test solar, tankless and conventional domestic water heating systems for efficiency.
“Solar water heating is an excellent way to save energy on water heating and reduce whole-house energy use, but utilities are specifically interested in knowing whether or not solar is providing relief to the power grid during peak times. Our testing will answer their questions,” says Subrato Chandra, the Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership project manager. This information is key to utility “buy-in” to more aggressively sponsor solar water heating systems.