Buildings Energy Rating Systems
Home Energy Rating Systems (HERS) Programs
HERS programs rate the energy efficiency of new
and existing homes and make recommendations for energy improvements.
These energy ratings are often used in obtaining energy-efficient
mortgages (EEMs--see below) Several states have HERS programs,
which operate under Energy
Rated Homes of America, a national nonprofit organization.
The U.S. Department of Energy, in accordance
with the Energy Policy Act of 1992, published a set of voluntary
HERS guidelines. DOE is encouraging utilities and the mortgage
industry to adopt them. The guidelines rate new and existing
homes according to how closely they follow the insulation requirements
of the Council of American Building Officials’ Model Energy
Code, as well as other requirements. The homes are then awarded
an energy efficiency rating between 0 and 100, with 100 being
a home that is completely energy-self-sufficient.
In 1995, the National Association of State Energy
Office Officials and Energy Rated Homes of America founded the
Residential Energy Services
Network (RESNET) to develop a national market for HERS
Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) Programs
An EEM is a type of mortgage that allows energy-efficiency
features to be included in a mortgage loan. EEMs can also allow
a buyer to qualify for a higher mortgage, because the reduction
in utility bills allows more debt.
Energy Rated Homes of Colorado is the state's home energy rating
system, and provides E-Star energy ratings for both new and
existing homes. The program's Web site, E-Star,
provides useful information for consumers and industry professionals,
as well as a number of tools and information pieces.
An excellent primer on HERS and EEMs can be
found at RESNET’s
Web site. This site also provides contact information for HERS
programs across the country and lists certified home energy
raters and lenders offering EEMs.
The Alliance to Save Energy
offers on its Web site consumer
and lender resources for energy-efficiency financing
and HERS. Included are a brief overview and a lender's guide
about energy efficiency financing, a national directory of lenders,
links to HERS/EEM organizations, and an energy-efficient mortgage
guide for the homeowner.
Other Rating Systems and Mortgages
Efficient Mortgage (LEM) is an innovative
mortgage product that is being offered in Seattle, Chicago,
and several California communities to low- and moderate- income
borrowers who are interested in living in urban areas served
by public transportation systems. NRDC offers a helpful
to Location Efficient Mortgages.
The LEED rating system developed by members of the U.S.
Green Building Council provides a national certification
for several levels of green buildings. The U.S. Green Building
Council is a nonprofit coalition of 1,500 leading companies,
organizations, and federal/state/local organizations advancing
buildings that are "environmentally repsonsible, profitable,
and healthy places to live and work." USGBC also offers
LEED training workshops and accreditation.
Utility Report Cards (URC) is a web-based Energy Information System
that reports and graphs monthly utility data for schools. In addition to helping school staff track and compare energy use, the
URC is also intended for teachers and students to use as an
instructional tool to learn about school energy use as a complement the
energy education materials available through the U.S. Department of
Energy's EnergySmart Schools program (ESS).
Last Updated: June 2, 2004
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