For nearly a decade, we’ve been providing third party verifications for several green, sustainable, high performance homes programs. We’ve enjoyed working with our Athens clients as well as clients from the Golden Isles to the North Georgia Mountains. We now are enjoying serving clients in the City of Decatur, thanks mostly to the High Performance Building Ordinance, which necessitates all new homes and buildings reach a certain certification level in a sustainable building program. EarthCraft House has by far been the most popular choice in our area as it is a regional program that serves as a blueprint for energy, water and resource efficient building throughout the Southeast, catering to the region’s specific high performance building criteria. It’s also administered locally in a joint effort by the Atlanta Home Builder’s Association and Southface Energy Institute, people we’ve developed working relationships with over the years.

Through these years, the EarthCraft House Program has presented many challenges in certifying and has received some minor tweaks and adjustments, but we’re now seeing a full program update for the first time. Through efforts of EarthCraft Builders and Technical Advisors working in conjunction with program administrators, a new, more straight forward path to certification has been created and will go into effect January 1, 2018. The program will remain an above code program, but will have a much more streamlined approach to meeting the ultimate goal of a third party certified “Green” home. These changes and upgrades to the program will not only increase the popularity of the program amongst current EarthCraft Builders, but will also increase the market place presence of the program.

Builders who enter the program will be given a simple prescriptive approach to certification by following a short checklist, complemented by straightforward guidelines that don’t require any energy modeling or the headache of “chasing points”. Most building programs are points driven where builders need to reach a minimum points total to achieve certification. This becomes daunting and confusing for both builder and verifier as it’s difficult to know point totals until the very end in addition to creating a large amount of line items to track. Certification in the new version is achieved by following specifics steps that apply to the home, and will guarantee an efficient, green home.

As with certified homes in the past, all projects will still need a design review, a pre-drywall inspection and a final inspection. The design review will be to establish the project’s goals and to ensure all required items and project registration have been completed. At the pre-drywall inspection, there will still be verification of insulation grade and verification of all other features that need to be checked prior covering up with drywall. The final inspections are to verify the remaining required items and will also include all the same performance testing such as blower door (envelope) testing and duct blaster (duct tightness) testing.

For those builders that would want to separate themselves from the pack, the program has included additional measures where builders’ homes can receive up to four “program badges”, to show the home will have an increased level of comfort, be more environmental friendly, have an increased level of performance or be more healthy than a home that has achieved the certified level. The badges are simply called Comfort, Environmental, Performance and Health, and can earned by following specific criteria, in addition to meeting the program minimum requirements.

A new era of durable, healthy, efficient, comfortable sustainable construction is upon us in the Southeast and all signs point to EarthCraft leading the way!