In an effort to stay ahead of advancing model energy codes, the EPA Energy Star for Homes program released its draft of a proposed new specification this spring. Slated to take effect in 2011, the new spec goes beyond previous Energy Star upgrades. While earlier moves to toughen the program focused on lowering the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score required to earn the label, the draft 2011 standard takes a different approach, introducing a new set of prescriptive checklists for particular building components and systems.

Program director Sam Rashkin says the new prescriptive rules are intended to build on the program’s existing success in transforming building industry practices. In markets like Houston, he says, where as many as 40 percent of new homes have received Energy Star labels in recent years, building trades have improved their practices even on...

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