EcoHome checks in with Tony Callahan, senior vice president of national purchasing, planning, and design for Beazer Homes, an Atlanta-based production builder.
How long has Beazer Homes been in business?
Beazer Homes has been in business for more than 50 years. As one of the country’s top 10 home builders based on volume, the company is currently building in about 200 new-home communities in 16 states. Beazer builds single-family homes, townhomes, and condominiums for first-time buyers, move-up buyers, and active adults.
When did Beazer enter the green building market?
In 2006, we partnered with Imagine Homes, an award-winning green home builder based in San Antonio, Texas. We’ve leveraged Imagine’s expertise to help us gain insights into practical solutions for our homes. We’ve taken their best practices—those that have the most impact on a home’s operation—and included them in our eSMART high-performance homes at no additional cost to buyers, on every home we build. Our goal is to deliver homes that provide optimal performance without increasing the end price our homes.
What do customers most want in a green home?
Our research indicates consumers are most interested in features that save energy, followed by features that conserve water and help improve indoor air quality. So these are the three areas where we have focused our efforts.
We’ve also found that people want to do their part to help the environment and they are looking to home builders to make it easier for them to participate. By elevating the performance of all Beazer homes and including a set of standard features at no additional cost, our customers are able to save energy and water and have better indoor air quality without having to make difficult choices.
How does the eSMART program work?
In developing our eSMART program, we took a whole-house systems approach and incorporated building science principles to maximize performance potential. We start by properly sealing and insulating our homes and minimizing air leakage, which is the No. 1 drain on energy in a home. We also use denser insulation within walls and attic spaces as well as energy-efficient low-E windows.
Next, we layer on additional energy- and water-saving enhancements such as programmable thermostats, compact fluorescent light bulbs, Energy Star dishwashers, a home energy monitor, water-saving bath faucets, and native plants, plus features that help improve indoor air quality like low-VOC paints and carpets and high-efficiency MERV-8 air filters.
For buyers who want to accelerate their home’s performance even more, Beazer now offers two optional performance levels: eSMART Plus and eSMART Green. Available in all Beazer markets, the new eSMART Plus option package includes an upgraded home radiant barrier, which reduces heat gain in the summer and loss in the winter, a higher-efficiency HVAC system, dual-flush toilets, and supplementary ventilation that provides added comfort.
Beazer’s eSMART Green is available in select markets with plans for a national rollout through the year. It includes spray-foam insulation in walls and attics in warmer climates and R-49 attic insulation and R-3 foam insulation boards and sheathing in colder climates. Additionally, eSMART Green homes come with a manifold plumbing system, dual-flush toilets, a tankless water heater, a 15-SEER air conditioner, and high-efficiency MERV-10 media filters.
How do you market your homes’ green features?
The first step in rolling out our enhanced eSMART program was to train our employees. We created an eSMART certification program, which included intensive sales training as well as a Web-based application that was available for all employees. Everyone was encouraged to take part in the training, with 100% of our sales team becoming eSMART-certified. Once we successfully launched the initiative internally, we began marketing the program to our Realtor base and the public at large. We’ve developed sales center signage and collateral, and we’ve dedicated a portion of our Web site to explaining the specifics of the program. We’ve also tapped a leading building science expert, Gord Cooke, to co-host a Webinar to explain the benefits of high-performance homes.
Our eSMART program clearly resonates with buyers and it will continue to be a central part of our marketing focus going forward. For example, since its introduction last fall, our eSMART Green homes represent roughly 30% of sales in the Houston market.
Are your homes third-party certified?
To measure the performance of our enhanced eSMART homes, Beazer turned to the NAHB Research Center, which tested popular models in various climate-specific zones and compared them to similar homes built to the Building America Benchmark, which represents a typical home built in the mid- to late-1990s.
For Beazer’s highest-efficiency eSMART Green homes, currently available in Houston, Phoenix, and Tallahassee, Fla., a third-party inspection and testing team analyzes and scores the efficiency of every home.