Survey: Many Builders Lack Knowledge of Window Efficiency

February 8th, 2018 by Trey Barrineau

A new survey shows that single-family home builders put up a lot of residences that meet green building requirements. However, because many builders lack basic knowledge about the energy-efficiency properties of windows, doors and skylights, the number of houses that meet one or more green certifications could actually be much higher.

Fifty-one percent of survey respondents in the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) 2017 Green Practices Survey said their typical home achieved one or more green certifications such as the National Green Building Standard (NGBS), Home Energy Rating System (HERS) or Energy Star. While the survey shows that 25 percent of typical homes scored high enough to meet some level of NGBS certification, the NAHB says those percentages could be much higher if more builders understood many of the mandatory features required to achieve certification, particularly when it comes to fenestration.

In the survey’s question about exterior windows and glass doors they install on their homes, 74.8 percent of builders checked “unknown” for solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) and 53.3 percent checked “unknown” for U-factor. (U-factor measures a window’s rate of heat loss; SHGC measures the amount of solar radiation that a window lets  in.) Based on those answers, many builders likely received zero NGBS points for fenestration. NAHB says “an alternate method of capturing this data may yield better information in future surveys” and boost the percentage of homes that qualify for one or more green certifications.

According to the NAHB, the NGBS is approved by the American National Standards Institute and is “particularly comprehensive.” In addition to energy efficiency, it has separate standards for green lot design, water efficiency, overall resource efficiency and indoor environmental quality. The NGBS also requires builders to give homeowners information on how to operate and maintain their homes efficiently.

The data is based on 246 usable responses to a survey that was sent to more than 2,400 builders in the first half of 2017.

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  1. The builders probably have similar, or less, familiarity with DP ratings and Performance Grade ratings.

    Many may know a little about a DP rating but not the difference between R, LC, CW or AW ratings

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