As of April 17, all new-home starts by Atlanta-based Beazer Homes—one of the nation’s top 10 production builders—feature standards for improved air quality and water and energy conservation at no additional cost to the home buyer.
With the nationwide launch of the eSMART Homes line, Beazer becomes the first large public builder to introduce a set of mandatory sustainable standards throughout its divisions.
The products and practices of Beazer’s eSMART Homes are designed around three of the core principles of NAHB’s Model Green Home Building Guidelines: energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and water efficiency. Products include Honeywell FocusPro programmable thermostats, GE Energy Star–rated dishwashers, GE compact fluorescent light bulbs, MERV-8 filters, low-VOC carpets, low-VOC paints, and Moen low-flow faucets and showerheads. “This is a tough [challenge] as a large builder who wants to do the right thing,” says Tony L. Callahan, Beazer Homes senior vice president. “What we want to do is raise the bar and raise the baseline standards. As a top 10 builder, we think we can have an influence on the minimum so at least everybody is doing this much.”
According to Mandy Brooks, a Beazer marketing director, consumer demand in part drove the change. In a recent Beazer Homes survey of more than 1,000 homeowners, 75% of respondents said they want greener houses but are “looking to builders” to help them make the transition.
According to Callahan, converting the typical three-bedroom, 2.5-bath Beazer home to the eSMART standard will save home-owners approximately $507 in annual energy and bulb replacement costs (at 9.7 cents/kWh).
Upgrades for eSMART homes also are available and will vary from market to market. They can include higher SEER HVAC systems, media filters, radiant barriers, tankless water heaters, and Energy Star–rated refrigerators and washers. Meanwhile, the company also will make low-E windows available, though the builder already installs them in two-thirds of its markets. Finally, the builder is converting from R22 refrigerant to the more ozone-friendly R410A refrigerant in its HVAC systems.
To defray the upgrade costs, Callahan says the builder is significantly reducing the number of house plans it offers, material SKUs, and suppliers to “better leverage our national scope and scale.”