Promising New Tool for High Performance Home Sales

The Meeting Map aims to disarm prospects' status quo bias
Promising New Tool for High Performance Home Sales
High-performance and Zero Energy homes are a growing percentage of the housing market. But while these homes offer tangible benefits—including a healthy, comfortable environment and enough energy savings to offset any extra construction costs—some people still balk at the price premium. According to James Geppner, resistance persists in large part because of how architects and builders communicate those benefits. He says that buyers will embrace high-performance homes if those homes offer solutions to real-life problems, but that most salespeople aren't doing a great job helping them see that connection. Now, he thinks he has just the tool to open their eyes, a tool that will help buyers conclude that their most important needs can only be met by a high-performance or Zero Energy home. Geppner is Executive Director of Erase40, a company whose mission is "to use behavioral science to speed the adoption of low and zero energy buildings." He believes that the application of... read more
 

High Performance Builders Seek the Next Frontier

Many are coming to the conclusion that energy efficiency may no longer be enough
High Performance Builders Seek the Next Frontier
As code requirements and consumer demand raise the performance of U.S. homes, energy efficiency isn't the marketing differentiator it once was. Just ask Brandon DeYoung of DeYoung Properties. When he, along with his brother and sister, took over the family's Fresno, Calif. homebuilding business a decade ago they had a vision: build super energy-efficient homes with low electric bills and minimal environmental impact. They've succeeded. Their latest project is a community of 36 Zero-Energy production homes, the state's largest. But while that community is newsworthy, it doesn't put the company as far ahead of the pack as they would like to be. A new rule from the California Energy Commission will require all homes built after 2020 to have rooftop solar panels, so the DeYoungs did what all marketers always do: find additional ways to set themselves apart. The result was the DeYoung Smart Home. Every home is outfitted with a Samsung home automation hub, as well as a smart light... read more
 

Refuge From the Storm

Resilience is another reason to build Net Zero Energy homes
Refuge From the Storm
When winter storms put the lights out in Matt Coffey's neighborhood he doesn't worry. "My house can stay in a comfortable temperature range for days," he says. That's because his 3-bedroom zero energy Cape-style home combines a high-efficiency building envelope and HVAC system with rooftop photovoltaic panels. Coffey is one of five staff architects with South Mountain Company (SMC), an architecture, building, and energy firm West Tisbury, Mass. The company is one of a cadre number of builders who realize that while energy-savings and healthy living remain the top selling points for high-performance construction, these homes can also be made resilient enough to keep going when the power goes off. Resilience in the face of weather events and power outages could shape up as the cutting edge of performance building. It's a benefit that builders of Net Zero Energy homes can easily offer with just a few adjustments. And outages are a fact of life. Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards... read more
 

Home Battery Q&A

Answering the most common builder questions
Home Battery Q&A
You've decided you want battery storage. How do you go about choosing the right one for your customers? Battery makers will help you through the process, but you're more likely to make the right choice if you go into those discussions with some basic knowledge. According to Adam Weinstein, a regional sales manager with battery-maker Sonnen, builders tend to ask a lot of the same questions when deciding what battery type and system to choose for their homes. We asked him what those questions are and how he generally answers them. Q: What main types of home batteries are on the market today? A: The two most common types for home storage are Nickel Magnesium Cobalt (NMC) and Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP). NMC batteries are made for rapid charge and discharge, and also pack a lot of power into a small, mobile package. Those qualities have made them popular with some electric vehicle manufacturers. However, news stories about thermal runaway, or explosions, in electric... read more
 

Healthy Growth for Solar Battery Storage

While the West Coast still accounts for most installations, the technology is taking hold in all parts of the country.
Healthy Growth for Solar Battery Storage
It used to be that a typical grid-tied solar electric system only worked when the grid worked. If a storm took out the power lines the homeowners ended up in the dark, despite those shiny panels on the roof. That's changing thanks to more efficient and cost-effective battery technology, as well as to utility involvement. Greentech Media Research (GTM) estimates that for the first time, total installed home battery capacity of 15.9 megawatts has reached near parity with utility-scale deployments of 16 megawatts. It's on track to get even bigger. "The residential [storage] market this year is going to be over five times the size of the market last year," said GTM Senior Analyst Brett Simon. And while California and Hawaii account for 74 percent of that capacity, installations are also growing elsewhere, with products from companies that include LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sonnen, and Tesla. Distributed Grid Electric utilities are helping to drive this growth. For instance,... read more
 

Zero Energy Goes Mainstream

Wisconsin's first net zero neighborhood is selling ahead of schedule
Zero Energy Goes Mainstream
Do you question the appeal of Zero Energy Homes to mainstream homebuyers? Then you may be missing an opportunity. Tim O'Brien Homes, which builds in the Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin metro areas, is finding a strong demand for such homes if they're well designed and if buyers understand the financial and lifestyle benefits. The company just started work on the state's first Zero Energy neighborhood, Red Fox Crossing in New Berlin. All homes in the 34-lot development will be certified under the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home Program, a well as the ENERGY STAR, WaterSense and Indoor airPLUS programs. Buyer interest has been encouraging. As of May 2018, before drywall work on the model home had even been completed, a full one-third of the homes had been pre-sold. That's seven months after sales opened, which is a faster sale pace than in the builder's other neighborhoods. That success is supported by a four-legged stool that includes the right market, the right ... read more
 

At the Cutting Edge of Home Warranties

Is electronic monitoring part of homebuilding's future? This builder has used building science training to get ahead of that trend.
To some builders, a perfect world is one where they get through the warranty period without issues, then never hear from the homebuyer again until it's time for another new house. Greenville, SC builder Todd Usher calls that shortsighted, and has begun differentiating his company with a bolder approach. Usher is founder and president of Addison Homes, which builds 15-20 semi-custom homes per year, and he is rolling out a series of technology enhancements that will provide homebuyers with value for years after the sale. The first enhancements will consist of sensors that monitor critical home systems and alert Usher or his staff to potential problems that require follow up. It's the seed of what will eventually grow into a long-term warranty program that will benefit his buyers and bring in extra revenue. What has given him confidence to offer such a program? He gives much of the credit to ongoing training in high-performance building for himself and his employees. Health... read more