From the outside, you wouldn’t know that the two-story house on quiet Raptor Court in Woodbridge, Va., was any different than the other homes in the Eagles Pointe development. But inside—and, more important, inside the walls—the house is swelling with construction details and products that set a standard for efficiency while setting aside home buyers’ preconceived notions about what “going green” means. K. Hovnanian’s Building America Concept Home, which was unveiled April 16, builds on the company’s existing high performance standards by serving as a laboratory for even greater energy- and resource-efficient technologies.
The house starts with all of the features of the High Performance Home (HPH), Hovnanian’s standard in its Mid-Atlantic markets. The HPH standard, which the builder implemented over the past year without raising prices, includes improvements such as a 90% AFUE furnace, a 14-SEER heat pump for the second zone, sealed ductwork, supplemental spray-foam insulation at critical areas, optimized framing, and advanced drainage planes. The dwelling is 32% more efficient than the DOE benchmark for new homes, and Hovnanian estimates that it saves $1,659 per year in energy costs.
“What we did was look at the house as a system,” explains Chris Payne, purchasing manager for Hovnanian’s Landover Group.
The Concept Home takes those system-wide improvements and adds technologies such tankless water heating, a 96% AFUE furnace, energy recovery ventilation, and photovoltaics, among others, for a dwelling that scored a 50 on the Department of Energy’s E-scale.
“It’s not only a demonstration of the energy efficiency and high performance that we build into every home, but also features methods that we’re testing and will be able to implement going forward,” said Tom Pellerito, Landover Group president for K. Hovnanian, during the grand opening. Despite the down housing market, “we still are committed to being able to improve the homes we deliver.”
“We think that it’s a home that’s been well designed and engineered and built to a higher standard of performance with the goal of creating a better place to live,” Jeanie Brandt, home design gallery manager for Hovnanian, described during a tour of the project.
K. Hovnanian’s efforts are one result of its nine-year partnership in the Department of Energy’s Building America research initiative; the builder also has taken the DOE’s Builders Challenge, a voluntary outreach program that aims to build the most energy-efficient, high-performance homes on the market with the eventual goal of net-zero energy for all homes by 2030. K. Hovnanian’s participation as a member of Building America’s IBACOS (Integrated Building and Construction Solutions) research team has allowed the builder to test out new technologies, such as the Concept Home, to determine which are appropriate and cost-efficient to mainstream into the company’s standard offerings. “It’s the first Builders Challenge home in the area,” the DOE’s Jerry Dion said, “and it represents a real step forward in our goal toward net-zero energy homes.”
In addition to serving as testing ground for Hovnanian, the Concept House in Woodbridge provides an interactive showcase for home buyers to experience the features that make High Performance Homes energy and water efficient, durable, and eco-friendly. A mockup of the framing structure demonstrates details such as T-corners, drywall sealing, and spray-foam insulation that consumers typically do not see nor know they need to care about. Finally, one section of the basement is a living laboratory demonstrating the tankless water heater, photovoltaics, energy recovery, and other products.
“There are going to be thousands of people who are going to come through this home and learn what it’s all about,” said Nate Kredich, vice president of residential market development for the USGBC, who was on hand to award the home LEED certification. The home also was recognized for achieving Energy Star and a Gold level rating under the ANSI National Green Building Standard.
The home tours also allow Hovnanian to gauge buyer interest in the technologies it’s testing.
The builder’s efforts are one more part of a swell of changes ongoing at builders around the country, a trend that likely will drive even further advancement.
“When a builder like this adopts it, it drives the marketplace,” noted Steve Bolibruck, research manager for IBACOS.