To earn an Energy Star label, a home must meet strict energy efficiency guidelines that rely on established building techniques available to middle-class homeowners, including effective insulation systems, high-performance windows, tight construction and ducts, efficient heating and cooling equipment, and high-efficiency lighting and appliances. In addition, an independent home energy rater conducts onsite testing and inspections to verify that the home’s green performance meets Energy Star requirements.
Houston, Dallas and Las Vegas are the top three cities with the most qualified green homes, followed by Phoenix, Los Angeles, New York, Tucson, San Antonio, Sacramento, San Diego, Columbus, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Austin, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Denver, Orlando and Oklahoma City.
“This is an amazing achievement for the Energy Star programme but the real winners are the one million American families who have the chance to save money and keep harmful pollution out of the air,” says EPA administrator Lisa Jackson. “We’re giving everyday American homebuyers the power to lower their bills and join the fight against climate change.”
There are 6500 builders across the USA who build green homes to the Energy Star label, with another 15,000 partners in sectors. Since the green building programme began labelling new homes in 1995, EPA says the homeowners have saved US$1.2 billion on energy bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 22 billion pounds (10 megatonne). In 2009 alone, Energy Star homes will save US$270 million on utility bills, while avoiding GHG emissions equivalent to those from 370,000 cars.
Houston has the most Energy Star green homes with 144,000 constructed since EPA began the programme in 1995, and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is second with 103,000.
“By making smart energy choices, thousands of Texans are saving millions each year,” adds EPA acting regional administrator Lawrence Starfield. “By taking a few common sense steps to conserve home energy use, we can get the most out of our energy dollars and save on utility bills.”