The City of Decatur has a new High Performance Building Program where homes need to be built to a certain “green building” standard. One of the most popular seems to be the EarthCraft House (ECH) program, which is administered by Southface Energy Institute along with the Atlanta Area Home Builders Association. This means that builders not only have to put up with city hall, they have to put up with people like me: a friendly EarthCraft House Technical Advisor. However, our role is of not only to be a third party verifier to ensure the program standards are achieved, we work closely with the builders from the design phase through certificate of occupancy to ensure they achieve the ultimate goal of having a home certified as an ECH.
What does this mean to be an EarthCraft House? Does this mean you have to spray foam insulation in every corner of the home and use only recycled flooring? Well, sort of. The ECH program has a set of requirements that must be met like achieving properly installed code levels of insulation and having a dedicated “fresh air” strategy. Beyond the requirements, a builder can choose from a wide array of many alternate high performance building measures to feature in their home. Each measure has a separate point value and as long as the total point value adds up to a minimum of 75 pts, the home can achieve the ECH certification. This means that a builder has control over which features they can focus on during the design and construction phase.
What does this mean for the homeowner? This means that their home, purely by a local ordinance, will be a healthier, more durable, more efficient and a more comfortable home than a newly built home down the road in a neighboring community. During any home building process, code officials will come to a home only twice and literally say “this is good enough to meet the code minimum”, which is perfectly acceptable for many people. With the City of Decatur and the ECH program, a third party verifier comes to ensure that additional, more stringent aspects are included the “code minimum”. This also means for people who own an existing home in the area, their homes become more valuable by default. Therefore, along with some of the best schools in the state, Decatur has established a system of ensuring they have the best new homes built in the state!
Imery Ratings have now certified well over 1,100 homes and apartments in Georgia and we now bring this wealth of knowledge and experience to the builders in Decatur!