Build Smart Newsletter

Welcome to the latest edition of the Build Smart newsletter, brought to you by the Nicor Gas and ComEd® Residential New Construction Service. This communication is designed to update our builder partners on current services, provide insight into the new construction energy efficiency industry, and serve as a resource to assist you in achieving above-code levels of efficiency for your homes.

Program Participation Update

The prior program year closed on December 31 and provided incentives for over 1,400 energy efficient new homes. Program year energy savings as a result of these new home completions was 463,568 therms and 1,414,320 kWh. Builders and HERS Rating organizations earned over $875,000 in incentives.

Each house qualifying for a residential new construction incentive is verified by a HERS Rater as being at least 20 percent more energy efficient than is required by the state energy code. 

Participation Summary: 

  • 1,424 completed houses
  • 463,568 therms of natural gas saved
  • 1,414,320 kWh of electricity saved
  • $879,100 in earned incentives to builders and building performance consultants
  • 57 participating builders
  • 10 participating building performance consultants 

Our new Program Year began on January 1, 2018 and ends on December 31, 2018. The residential new construction offering is currently planned to continue through at least December 31, 2021.

Thank you for your participation and continued support of the residential new construction offering!

Building High Performance All-Electric Homes

The ComEd Energy Efficiency Program has recently sponsored the completion of the program’s first high-efficiency all-electric new home!  
Constructed by Kinzie Builders, LLC and tested by building performance consultant partner Energy Diagnostics, Inc, this project featured a high-efficiency ground source heat pump and tested at 61 percent better than the 2015 Illinois energy code.    

Through the residential new construction offering, ComEd is providing incentives to builders who construct high-performance all-electric homes that are at least 20 percent more energy-efficient than the current energy code requirements. In addition to the first all-electric home to be completed, ComEd has sponsored seven others to date, each designed with a combination of high-efficiency heat pumps for heating, cooling and water heating. They  have an average savings of 49 percent over code, thereby qualifying for the top performance tier and largest available rebate. 
While all-electric construction may not be feasible or cost effective in every situation, when there is no access to natural gas, or if the goal is to supply energy on site, it becomes an attractive option. Through ComEd’s inclusion of all-electric homes, the residential new construction offering and its benefits are now available to a wider range of home types.

The Benefits of HERS Ratings

A primary requirement of participating and earning incentives through the residential new construction offering is for a HERS Rating to be completed by a certified building performance consultant for each enrolled home. The HERS Rating serves as the measurement and verification component, and for good reason; In order to perform HERS Ratings, building performance consultants (HERS Raters) must meet rigorous certification criteria and are well-equipped to help builders achieve performance targets and navigate local energy codes, voluntary above-code programs such as ENERGY STAR®, and local utility offerings. 

It’s difficult to know the right actions to take until a baseline is established, and once an action is taken, a measurement is needed to determine its effectiveness.  This principle can certainly be applied to achieving energy efficiency in new homes. Will incorporating a new technology or technique help meet and exceed a new energy code or program criteria? HERS Raters can run projected ratings to estimate the impact of certain actions, but the real proof is in on-site performance testing conducted to determine inputs into the energy model such as air infiltration, mechanical ventilation airflow rate, and duct leakage. 

However, HERS Raters provide much more than just energy modeling, testing, and data collection. A recent article posted by the Insulation Institute says that the number one thing that builders can do to make the transition to better-than-code construction is to consult with a HERS Rater early on in the design phase of a new home. Additionally, on-site inspections during construction can reveal potential air leaks in the building envelope and in the duct system, poor insulation installation, and water drainage issues on a home’s exterior. HERS Raters identify these kinds of issues early in the construction process while they can still be remedied, which improves the final performance of the house. 

Energy performance data collected from over 4,500 homes completed through the new construction offering proves that energy efficiency of participating homes is continually increasing. It’s likely this improvement can be credited to the consulting work done by HERS Raters, which identifies areas that can be improved during construction. Over the last four program years, participating builders have reduced the average energy consumption of their homes by over 7 kBtu/sq. ft.  

Enjoy the Benefits of Contractor Circle

Contractor Circle members can take advantage of exclusive benefits, and enrolling is easy…and free!

When you join Contractor Circle, you can take advantage of many exclusive offers from energySMART, a Nicor Gas program. Benefits include:

  • “Find a Contractor” search tool:  Customers are able to search for Contractor Circle installing members on the energySMART website, increasing visibility to your business. Customers can search by company name or by location, customer type and desired equipment/service.

  • Free marketing materials: Order free marketing materials and have them shipped directly to you. Some materials can even be customized with your company information and logo.

  • Yard signs: Show your commitment to building high-performance homes by placing our free promotional signs at your job sites.

  • Logo use and co-branding opportunities: Only Contractor Circle members are allowed to use the energySMART Contractor Circle member logo and Nicor Gas name on their company websites and marketing materials.

  • Training: Access to energySMART-sponsored trainings and webinars on a variety of technical, business, sales and related topics.

  • Communications and updates: Be the first to find out about updates and special offerings.

  • Opportunities for media exposure: As a Contractor Circle member, enjoy opportunities to be featured in case studies, Contractor Circle web spotlights, and other social media exposure. Get your name out there and be known as a builder of energy efficient homes!

Don’t miss out on the chance to provide more visibility to your business and increase sales. Enroll in Contractor Circle using our online form today!