Building America Case Study: Meeting DOE Challenge Home Program Certification, Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; Devens, Massachusetts

Stacey Rothgeb, P. Jr, H. Loomis

Research output: NRELFact Sheet


The purpose of this project was to evaluate integrated packages of advanced measures in individual test homes to assess their performance with respect to Building America Program goals, specifically compliance with the DOE Challenge Home Program. BSC consulted on the construction of five test houses by three Cold Climate production builders in three separate US cities. BSC worked with the builders to develop a design package tailored to the cost-related impacts for each builder. Therefore, the resulting design packages do vary from builder to builder. BSC provided support through this research project on the design, construction and performance testing of the five test homes. Overall, the builders have concluded that the energy related upgrades (either through the prescriptive or performance path) represent reasonable upgrades. The builders commented that while not every improvement in specification was cost effective (as in a reasonable payback period), many were improvements that could improve the marketability of the homes and serve to attract more energy efficiency discerning prospective homeowners. However, the builders did express reservations on the associated checklists and added certifications. An increase in administrative time was observed with all builders. The checklists and certifications also inherently increase cost due to: 1. Adding services to the scope of work for various trades, such as HERS Rater, HVAC contractor. 2. Increased material costs related to the checklists, especially the EPA Indoor airPLUS and EPA WaterSense Efficient Hot Water Distribution requirement.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages2
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Building Science Corporation (BSC), Somerville, Massachusetts

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/FS-5500-62535

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102014-4483


  • BSC
  • Building America
  • challenge home program
  • DOE
  • ENERGY STAR for homes
  • EPA indoor airplus
  • EPA watersense
  • HERS index
  • new construction
  • production builders
  • residential
  • residential buildings
  • single family homes


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