Production builder McGuyer Homebuilders Inc. (MHI) recently announced it will pursue LEED certification for all houses built under its Wilshire Homes brand in the San Antonio, Texas, market. The commitment will lead to the completion of 200 to 250 LEED-certified homes within the next 12 months and 400 to 500 homes annually within three to four years. The company’s engagement with LEED in the San Antonio market is its second such commitment in Texas; in 2011 it pledged LEED certification for all homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth market under its Plantation Homes, Coventry Homes, and Carmel Builders brands.
All Wilshire Homes/MHI houses built in the San Antonio market will be part of the company’s Energy Guarantee Program, featuring dollar-amount guarantees of energy- and water-use savings for each home. The company will also continue its commitment to the Energy Star and Green Built Texas programs. Below, ECOHOME talks to division sales manager Ken Gezella about the company’s commitment to green building.
What led the company to decide to build only LEED-certified homes in the San Antonio market?
MHI/Wilshire Homes has always been a leader in the San Antonio market, not only from a customer satisfaction aspect where we run a 98 percent customer recommendation rate, but from a home design and livability standpoint. LEED for Homes is just a natural extension of our commitment to bring our buyers the best new home value in the greater San Antonio area with a verified, third-party, high-performance home program.
Verification is crucial. We believe if it is not verified it is not high-performance or green. Some of the world’s most important buildings are built to LEED standards and we feel the most important building in our customers world--their new home—should be too.
How much will the LEED-certified homes cost? What size are they?
Specifically in San Antonio MHI/Wilshire Homes builds a wide range of homes generally from 1,600 square feet to over 4,000 square feet, and are competitively priced from the $140,000s to the $400,000s.
Does it cost more to build a green home?
At MHI/Wilshire Homes, we embraced high-performance building techniques over a decade ago and have incrementally raised the bar ever since then, as an early adopter of Energy Star and then building to the Green Built Texas protocol, so making the commitment to LEED was a step and not a jump.
What we need to discuss is not so much the cost associated with following a program like LEED for Homes, but what the program does for our customer. MHI/Wilshire Homes builds a cleaner, healthier, and more cost-efficient home for our customers. It comes down to a lower cost of ownership for our homeowners and the added benefits of a better living environment in and around their home. The icing on the cake is that we also then become an environmentally sensitive alternative for a new home in San Antonio.
You did something similar a few years ago in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market. Did that pay off for you?
Absolutely. What we found was more and more customers came in asking about high-performance homes and the benefits associated with them. Our sales team was able to separate ourselves even further from the competition through LEED and the verification process. Customers embraced the fact that a third party was certifying the homes and to us that is the key.
Anyone can claim to be green or high-performancem but at MHI/Wilshire homes we quantifiably deliver to our customers exactly what we say we do.
What is your Energy Guarantee program?
We are so confident in our ECOSMART program, which features components of LEED, Energy Star 3.0, and Green Built Texas requirements, that we back it up with a limited two-year written heating and cooling guarantee through empower/Veritas Building Systems, our third-party rater.
What are some of the company's favorite green products?
Definitely products like engineered lumber. Not only is it stronger, but a much better utilization of our natural resources as well. Low-VOC paints have made a big difference in our indoor air quality, especially when coupled with our mechanically controlled fresh air intake and high MERV media filters. Fresh water is a big issue for us here in Central Texasm and our focus on water-saving systems like PEX plumbing with manifolds help enable our homes to save enough water to fill a backyard swimming pool every year.