About six months ago, Kurt Ridley, a certifier with Texas Energy Logistics in Amarillo, was evaluating houses built by Betenbough Homes, which is active in Lubbock, Odessa, and Midland. Ridley told the builder’s owners they should get their homes certified as energy efficient pronto because “he said we were already there,” recalls Ron Betenbough, the builder’s 70-year-old co-founder and vice president. Today, Betenbough Homes is one of only three regional production builders in the U.S. from which the NAHB Research Center has commitments to certify 100% of their homes through the Center’s National Green Building Certification program. (The other two builders are The Jones Co. in Tennessee and Shugart Enterprises in North Carolina, confirms the Center.)
Betenbough Homes committed to the Research Center’s certification on November 1, and through February 16, the builder had permitted 48 “green” homes, on its way to a projected 410 closings in 2011, which would make it the largest builder by production volume in the Southwest submitting to the Center’s program.
Next Tuesday, the company will launch a “green awareness” marketing campaign, for which it has already started running teaser ads and is finalizing a television commercial. In support of that campaign, the company will spray-caulk its new green logo and its “Live Healthy, Built Smart” slogan on the driveways of its quick move-in houses. (Special promotions are also planned for St. Patrick’s Day at the company’s models in Lubbock and Odessa.)
Upon the campaign launch, interactive tools will be added to Betenbough’s website that allow visitors to click onto 13 different parts of the house to get more information about their respective green qualities.
Betenbough admits his customers aren’t beating down his company’s door for greener homes. But he contends “everyone would be on board for green if they didn’t have to pay for it. And if you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing from the beginning, you shouldn’t have to charge more” for energy efficiency.
The builder’s homes sell for between $104,000 and $300,000. And the company is absorbing the $600-per-home certification fee, which covers the third-party verifier and paperwork. Betenbough says his company had to make only a few changes to its construction to qualify its homes for certification. For example, it needed to tighten the caulk seal around its return-air plenum and switch to 1.28-gallon low-flush toilets, from the 1.5-gallon models it had previously installed.
Its houses, though, were already energy efficient, thanks to an engineered framing system that Betenbough Homes has been using since 2001. North Texas Truss of Littlefield, Texas, manufactures wall panels and roof trusses for Betenbough Homes in its two plants. Those components are aligned every 24 inches (instead of the usual 12 inches in stick-framed houses), ensuring structural integrity and leaving more space for insulation between the studs.
This construction method helps the builder control its construction quality and labor costs, says Betenbough.
Aside from this framing system, Betenbough Homes’ houses include low-VOC paint, low-flow plumbing, recycled materials, Energy Star-certified windows, and a protective ZIP system between the framing and exterior brickface.
John Caulfield is senior editor for Builder magazine.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Lubbock, TX.