When you buy a car, the seller can't pretend it has fewer miles than it does. That's a law in most States. You also know the mpg of that model, so you have a pretty good idea what caliber of vehile you're buying. Unfortunately, the same isn't always true about buying a home--especially when it comes to energy efficiency. Typically, a buyer has to guess at its energy efficiency based on the square footage, the size of the furnace, and the recollection of the seller.
But any builder knows those aren't the determining factors in a home's energy demands. Insulation, window installation and glazing, roofing material--virtually every choice in construction has some impact on a home's actual energy needs--as do lifestyle choices by occupants.
Clearly, mandating lifestyle won't go anywhere politically. But mandating model energy building codes already has in states, such as California, is clearly the way of the future. This morning, I received a new document from the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partners, a non profit that works with Vermont Energy Investment. They're pushing a plan to require open book report on any home that's sold. For example, when an owner (or presumbably a builder) sells a home:
"he must disclose a valid energy rating to potential buyers. The rating indicates current
performance and potential improvements, providing meaningful information to consumers.
Consider the implications of these policies, not only for new home sales, but also for the sale of existing homes. A buyer comparing two similarly priced homes would be able to instantly compare the long term energy costs that each will incur. He or she will, for the first time, have a clear financial incentive to do the right thing and buy the better built house.
These types of policies will benefit not only auditors but green builders and eco-friendly realtors--setting them apart from those who tend to shrug off the green revolution as some sort of fad.
But right now, there's a huge gap in the ability of realtors to carve out a green niche. The MLS listings they use have no way to compare and contrast a home's energy footprint (although I just heard a rumor from a realtor friend that they're working on some kind of green search feature).
We're expecting an ever tightening web of green building mandates in coming years. Let the party commence.
Read the NEEP press release HERE.
More Detailed Document HERE.
Also Earth Advantage Institute has developed a prototype Energy Rating System. View a prototype card HERE.
UK Building Rating System (already in place) is shown below.