While LEED and other certifications are well-known indicators of commercial buildings’ energy efficiency, there is no such system for homes that have already been built.
That could be about to change.
A Virginia startup aspires to provide a guide of sorts for homeowners to focus improvements on energy features that can boost market values along with updated kitchens and bathrooms.
“The big hole in the certification donut has been on the existing homes side,” said Cynthia Adams, CEO of Pearl Certification in McLean, Virginia.
“If you’ve ever bought an existing home, you know it doesn’t come with a user manual. First-time buyers in particular may find themselves asking, ‘How the heck do I take care of this’?“ said Adams, who is credentialed in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and is Chair of the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council.
“As things break or wear out over time, you typically don’t have a general contractor to help you with those home improvements. Usually, individual trades come in at different times and own a piece of your home upgrade puzzle, but who puts the pieces together?” she also asked.
There are Energy Star and other labeling or rating systems for new home construction. There are some home performance contractors who could serve as general contractors for bundling energy upgrades. But anything approaching whole-house improvements has yet to successfully scale up, efficiency professionals said.
Adams and her colleagues will take a new approach to the problem by focusing on residential real estate transactions, which means working with an entrenched industry that has to comply with myriad state regulations.
“We’re doing a lot of work with real estate agents to understand what their needs are and to provide them a scope of services that can help both home buyers and sellers,” Adams said.