The views expressed in these articles are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of EEBA staff, officers, or board members. EEBA welcomes guest articles from qualified authors, and we offer these articles as a service to the high-performance housing industry as a way to encourage discussion and collaboration between industry professionals on relevant issues.

The Homebuilder Protects the Health of the Nation

By Aaron C. Smith

In the early 20th century, when diseases like typhoid and polio were prevalent in the United States, America’s plumbers adopted a new slogan: “The Plumber Protects the Health of the Nation.” With a sharp poster and marketing campaign, plumbers successfully rebranded their professional image from “dirty and menial” to “heroic and essential.” Ever since then, generations of plumbers have rightfully taken pride in the notion of protecting the health of their country.

Today, the homebuilding community needs a similar upgrade to our public- and self-image.

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Healthier Homes Awareness for Building Professionals – New Cutting-Edge Designation Course

Allergy Standards Limited (ASL), Construction Instruction and EEBA are delighted to launch a new, cutting-edge, educational program on Healthier Homes Awareness (HHA) that bridges the gaps in medical and building science knowledge around the growing issue of health in the home. The course will help direct practitioners to the issue of poor indoor air quality and deliver practical solutions to improve the lives of people impacted by asthma, allergies, and COVID-19.  

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With Electric Cars Rolling, Washington Should Now Turn to Electric Homes

By Aaron Smith

In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama set a goal for the United States to become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road, pledging a historic $2.4 billion in federal grants to make it happen. Flash forward to today: Tesla is the most valuable carmaker in the world, and America has at least 1.5 million plug-in vehicles on the road.

The federal government clearly has the power to advance sustainable technologies. So where should President Joe Biden look next for a cleaner, healthier future? To where Americans spend most of their lives: the home.

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TEAM ZERO Inventory Shows Robust Growth and Pipeline in Zero Energy Housing Market

Zero Energy units in the US and Canada total nearly 28,000 with more than 30,000 in the planning stage.

The residential Zero Energy (ZE) market continues to grow across the United States and Canada, according to the TEAM ZERO 2019-2020 Zero Energy Residential Buildings Inventory. The study, which shows significant increases in multifamily units and overall energy performance, was released by TEAM ZERO, in cooperation with the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA).  

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The Virtue of Disruption

By Aaron Smith
The Virtue of Disruption
The history of innovation is one of scrappy smaller competitors wielding disruption like a pickaxe—steadily chipping away at the old order. Ten years ago, Tesla was a nobody in an industry defined by legacy players. Today, the legacy players can’t keep up. Tesla’s market cap is almost five times Ford and GM’s combined. A similar story has played out across industries. Airbnb “happened” to hospitality, Uber happened to transportation, Netflix happened to Hollywood, Robinhood happened to stock trading, and so on. But somehow, homebuilding has remained a stubborn exception. Industry incumbents have clung to their old ways. But any safety they still feel in this paradigm is a false sense of security. I’m not sure I could have said that with confidence even just a year ago. But 2020 has changed everything. As the pandemic raged, Americans did not turn to LEED-certified office buildings. They turned to their houses as the last line of defense against the virus. As the worst... read more
 

The Real Way to Manage Basement Moisture

Sponsored by Dörken Systems Inc. -- by Joe Lstiburek, Ph.D., P.Eng., ASHRAE Fellow, Principal, Building Science Corporation

Basements were never intended to be lived in. In the old days, we called them cellars. We stored vegetables and coal and wood in them. They smelled damp… they were damp. Now we put bedrooms, entertainment centers, and nurseries in them. We began to live in every cubic volume of space rather than just on the main levels of houses. We expanded the conditioned space and basements were the first priority of making that conversion (Figure 1). Figure 1 Building above grade is tough enough, but below grade? It is the most difficult space to get right. Space in basements is cheap, right? Nope. The basement has to hold the building up. That alone is a big deal. The basement has to keep the groundwater, soil gas, and water vapor out, and keep the heat in during the winter and the heat out during the summer. We are going to avoid the structural part…mostly. Instead, we are going to focus on the other parts. Basement foundations need to be water managed. Water-managed basement... 

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The End of The Beginning

High performance builders are poised to lead a rapidly changing industry, but the leaders will need to become formidable competitors. EEBA is helping them do so.
The End of The Beginning
I learned a lot at this year's virtual EEBA Summit, but two things stand out. One is that sustainable, high performance homes, the homes EEBA has promoted for 38 years, are mainstream. Buyers at all price points expect them. If you're a forward-thinking designer or builder, that's a great opportunity. If you're new to the game, however, it's also a threat. The second point that became clear during the Summit is that many builders need to improve their business acumen if they want to take advantage of this opportunity and avoid being left behind. The opportunity is the demand for homes that tread lightly on planet and climate, homes that are healthy, energy efficient and durable. My company, Thrive Home Builders, hears this demand all the time but as a healthy, high-performance builder we expect to. The Summit confirmed that more builders than ever are hearing it. That shouldn't be a surprise—the motivating imperatives have never been more clear. Wildfires, pandemic-related ... read more
 

How Big Is the Zero Energy Movement?

The Inventory of Zero Energy Homes aims to answer that, and to get more builders on the path to Zero

Zero Energy homebuilding has garnered lots of attention from the trade press in recent years. Homes, communities, and builders have been profiled in e-newsletters like this one as well as in print magazines such as Professional Builder. Trade journals have published countless how-to articles on topics like advanced framing, insulating, air sealing, HVAC, and indoor air quality.  No surprise there: cutting edge projects and technologies are always newsworthy and make for good reading. The question is how much actual growth that attention reflects. Signs from around the industry are encouraging. The International Energy Conservation Code has been gradually lowering acceptable home energy use.

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Building The High-Performance Customer Experience

How do you stay ahead of the market as homes move closer to zero? By getting customers to rave about how great you are to work with as well as about your homes
That should come as no surprise—customer expectations have been ratcheting up for years. Not long ago the mere fact that you offered ENERGY STAR appliances put you on the cutting edge; today, buyers expect them. Now the same is happening with ratings, as the Real Estate industry works to raise public awareness of HERS scores and other energy-efficient and healthy home certifications and incorporate them into appraisals. The hope is that homes with these certifications will become the baseline. This is great news for housing quality, but it only confirms the need to further differentiate yourself. One way is to provide a great customer experience—known by the acronym CX in marketing circles. This is an experience that leads people to enthusiastically embrace your homes' performance benefits. "Homebuilding has become commoditized," says Jimmy Diffee of Bokka group, a CX agency for homebuilders. "There's a lot of room for the high-performance builder to create a premium experience and ... read more
 

Consumer Perception and Willingness to Pay for Extended New Home Warranties

Todd Usher is the owner of Addison Homes and pursuing his PhD at Clemson University. He serves on the boards of Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). and Joe Burgett, PhD, is an assistant professor at Clemson University’s Construction Science and Management. Dr. Burgett is on the Board of the American Institute of Constructors and a member of the Exam Writing Committee. INTRODUCTION Innovation is discussed frequently in business as a way of driving continuous improvement and economic growth. The home building industry has been slower than most industries to undergo disruptive innovations. In the study Characteristics of Innovative Production Home Builders by Koebel and Cavell, the authors explain that industries that are not as dependent on science and technology tend to have extended periods between disruptive innovations and focus primarily on refining existing technologies (2006). Home building is clearly one... read more