By: Steve Schreiner, President of Schreiner Design and NCBPA Board Member
As a green builder/developer and Board Member of North Carolina Building Performance Association (NCBPA), our state’s not-for-profit trade association representing building performance companies and professionals, I’m committed to sharing the great work of the association and how it’s benefiting our member companies, industry stakeholders and North Carolina’s citizens.
At the start of 2017, NCBPA adopted a strategic plan that prioritizes advocating for responsible building and energy codes that dictate the minimum energy efficiency standards of new homes and buildings. As a Board Member, I am proud of the commitment we have made to the building industry and our customers. Justification for this commitment is the fact that residential and commercial buildings account for approximately 50% of North Carolina’s total energy demand, roughly double what the transportation sector requires. The key to lowering our state’s current and future energy usage is to look at how we build and that starts with building and energy codes.
With more than 40 years of experience in creating environmentally sensitive communities and the energy efficient homes they include, I strongly support moderate increases to minimum energy efficiency requirements that can be integrated into homes during new construction, which is less costly and more effective than doing so later. I share deep concerns about housing affordability in light of today’s increasing labor and material costs. I am experiencing these issues firsthand. Improving energy efficiency codes and addressing the important appraisal issue are how builders should address their up-front cost concerns.
Improving our state’s strategy and resources for high performance construction are important goals that we should all support. A major challenge to improving the financial picture for both builders and buyers is the need for appraisers and lenders to accurately account for the lasting benefits and increasing buyer demand of high performance measures. Toward that end, earlier this year NCBPA’s annual market inventory report identified a 9.5 percent sale price premium for high performance homes in the Charlotte, Triad and Triangle areas. All that’s needed to improve this financial picture is a concerted effort to educate the various stakeholders.
As an example of up-front cost and long-term return, a high performance building program called Passive House can generate substantial energy savings through its required building program standards. Assuming a 3% upgrade cost due to its enhanced building specifications, it will generate reduced energy savings that cover the increased initial down payment and monthly mortgage payments in a little over three years. After that point, the homeowner pockets the energy savings for the duration of their ownership.
The time is now to plan for the future of North Carolina’s residential construction market and, with the interests of consumers at the forefront, NCBPA is spearheading efforts to ensure that improved codes and standards are adopted that will ensure that North Carolinians make sound, sustainable investments in new homes that are designed and built to higher standards and will provide benefits to the homeowner and the environment for years to come.