Green (shown) and Energy Efficient logos on Excel's Web site help buyers select eco-friendly options.
Green (shown) and Energy Efficient logos on Excel's Web site help buyers select eco-friendly options.

Factory-built homes are gaining a lot of attention lately as a smart option for green building, with the controlled environment offering an opportunity for more durable, efficient structures. Modular builder Excel Homes is taking the green mission a step further with the Jan. 11 launch of its Green Building Scoring Tool, an online tool that will make it easy for pros and home buyers to select designs and specifications that meet their efficiency and sustainability needs. Based on the ANSI National Green Building Standard, the online scoring tool allows customers to maintain a running total of green building points as they add or delete product and design options. Starting with a base of points gained by a home’s standard features, builders and their clients then choose additional selections that will help the completed design qualify for one of the Green Building Standard’s four levels.

The process doesn’t end there: To ensure goals are met, the factory-produced homes are performance tested by an energy rater following installation and receive a HERS rating.

“As we approach initiatives like Energy Star and green, I think our builders and more importantly consumers are looking to us to be experts,” says Steve Scharnhorst, CEO of Excel Homes. “So we’ve taken a very cautious approach in how we roll out these programs.”

This new green-building option is in addition to the company’s existing partnership with Energy Star, in which Certified Energy Raters review plans and test homes for gray and blue certification.

The two programs, which fall under the labels “Energy Efficient” for Energy Star homes and “Green” for homes working toward ANSI standards, are designed to be straightforward turnkey solutions. “Our intent is to make the green approach to home building simple,” Scharnhorst says.

Alongside its customer tools, Excel says it is continually looking to green its operations and the transport of homes, as well as working with suppliers to specify the most appropriate products. Scharnhorst reports, for example, that the company’s plant in Liverpool, Pa., is close to achieving zero landfill discharge.

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Katy Tomasulo is Deputy Editor for EcoHome.