Three Reasons Builders Should Incorporate High Performance Attics and Walls Now

While California’s 2016 building code mandates construction of high performance attics (HPA) and high performance walls (HPW) in all new single family homes, many builders elect to build to the performance path, which allows for conventional attics and walls if the builder installs other above code measures, most often solar photovoltaics (PV).

However, there are many factors for builders to assess when considering whether to incorporate these design features into new homes now—including the fact that the 2019 code is just around the corner. Below are three reasons California builders should start incorporating HPA and HPW into new homes now.

Be Prepared for 2019 Code

On January 1, 2020—a short 15 months away—2019 California building code will come into effect. 2019 code not only requires more efficient energy measures (including more stringent HPA and HPW requirements in some climate zones), it also removes commonly used HPA and HPW tradeoffs such as quality insulation installation and solar PV. With these code updates, builders overwhelmingly will have to include HPA and HPW in new construction to comply with code requirements.

The California Advanced Homes Program’s (CAHP) experience informs us that builders should start incorporating HPA and HPW into their design as soon as possible. Every builder has a learning curve when it comes to understanding, training, and executing new design into construction. For example, CAHP projects that incorporate HPA and HPW into the conceptual design phase, before schematics, are the most successful from both an operations and profitability perspective. Learning such lessons before code is in effect can significantly reduce design and profitability issues for your projects. Furthermore, including these measures in your design now will qualify you for increased incentives through CAHP during the 2016 code cycle.

Builder Benefits

Incorporating HPA and HPW into home design can allow you to market units as high performance, and they can even help you on the path to third-party certifications such as ENERGY STAR® or the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Homes program.

For example, CAHP assisted DeYoung Builders’ Sierra Crest in Clovis with incorporating HPA and HPW into all units. These design features allowed DeYoung to differentiate their homes as more efficient, healthy, and comfortable than code-built homes, which helped DeYoung sell all planned units before they completed construction.

Get Incentives While they are Available

Last, programs such as CAHP provide incentives for the construction of HPA and HPW. In fact, CAHP provides additional bonus kickers for HPA and HPW: $200 per home for the installation of HPA and $200 per home for HPW ($400 per unit if you install both). This is in addition to your normal incentive based on Delta EDR, which rewards builders with deeper incentives for deeper energy savings.

However, as 2019 code kicks in, programs may limit, decrease, or phase out such incentives, or prioritize funds for other measures. Contact CAHP today to take advantage of incentives that help make these designs more cost effective for builders.


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