The Environments for Living® program is a rigorous set of home builder requirements to treat a home they build as a "system of systems" working together for greater energy efficiency. There are different levels with the Green program adding benefits in indoor air quality and water conservation.
The greater energy efficiency is accomplished through:
- tight construction
- fresh air ventilation
- better thermal systems
- rightsized HVAC equipment
- air pressure balance
- interior moisture management
- combustion safety.
The program was originated by Masco homes in 2001 collaborating with Advanced Energy Corporation and Building Science Corporation. In 2007, they added the Certified Green providing at least twenty percent indoor energy and water savings and twenty percent less greenhouse gas emissions from the home. All levels of the Environments For Living program qualify for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR® label, but go beyond those requirements. The Gold energy level home must perform twelve percent above the 2009 IECC level. Platinum homes must perform eighteen percent above the IECC energy level. Diamond homes must perform thirty percent above IECC and qualify for the U.S. Department of Energy Builder's Challenge® program.
To qualify for certification, the builder must first submit the home plans to the program for review of compliance with program requirements and then build in strict compliance, with testing and inspection to confirm this. Masco Home Services offers a guarantee on the energy needed to heat and cool the certified home, based on energy use, that the homeowner is refunded one hundred percent of the cost difference when actual use exceeds the estimate. In addition, there is a "comfort guarantee" that the temperature at the thermostat location "will not vary more than +/-3 degrees from the center of any conditioned room within the thermostat's zone." An optional
addition to the Green certified home program is the ecomagination Homebuilder Program™ from General Electric and Masco Home Services, a monitoring dashboard for homeowners to track things like water and energy savings and emissions.
In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, David Weekley Homes have been building Green Certified homes in Briar Chapel by Newland Communities®, a large green community. David Weekley Homes is the second largest privately-owned home builder in the United States. The closest certified builder to Greenville, South Carolina is Shumaker Homes in Columbia at 803.786.9780.
Other builders who participate in the program are Ashton Woods, Beazer Homes, Del Webb, D.R. Horton, Lennar Homes, Pulte Homes, Ryland Homes and Shea Homes. To find a participating builder, enter your state on this website. If you are looking for a green home in the Greenville area, tell homebuilders you want a Environments for Living® Green certified home and see if they will comply with the requirements and provide you the guarantees.