The Seven Strategies

 

KB Home's Double ZeroHome demonstration house, which incorporates a range of energy- and water-saving practices, will save an estimated $4,452 in energy and water costs annually.
KB Home's Double ZeroHome demonstration house, which incorporates a range of energy- and water-saving practices, will save an estimated $4,452 in energy and water costs annually.

Although many builders believe high-performance techniques add to the cost of a project, building science–based approaches can conserve a considerable amount of time and money, while also cutting down on customers’ energy bills. For example, advanced framing techniques save on lumber and labor while maximizing structural integrity, says Dean Gamble, technical manager for the EPA’s Energy Star program. These include designing homes on 2-foot modules to reduce wood waste and labor; spacing out wall studs, floor joists, and roof rafters up to 24 inches o.c.; and using two-stud corner framing and inexpensive clips for drywall instead of studs.

“Advanced framing techniques usually save builders money because they’re putting in less wood,” Gamble points out. The DOE estimates that fully implementing advanced framing techniques can result in materials costs savings of up to $1,000 and labor cost savings of up to 5 percent for a 2,400-square-foot house.

But a well-engineered building shell is more than just another way to save money and woo energy-minded customers—it soon will become essential as more rigorous state and national energy codes take hold. Meeting the new requirements will require upfront planning, says Tom DiPrima, KB Home’s executive vice president for Southern California. He’s already working toward 2020, when California’s net-zero energy standard will go into effect, requiring all new homes to produce as much energy as they consume.

“Someone thinking that they’re going to wait until 2019 to jump into learning about this is making a huge mistake,” he says.