Industry Trends5 min

Strong Demand for “Zero Energy Ready” Homes

Homebuyers are quickly realizing that there’s a new symbol of excellence in energy-efficient homebuilding: the Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) certification from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Currently only select builders meet the levels of excellence and quality required for ZERH certification – but their numbers are growing as homebuyers learn more about the program.

The gold standard in green homebuilding used to be the ENERGY STAR® Certified Homes designation. But ZERH certification goes far beyond ENERGY STAR in every category, including comfort, quality, durability and energy efficiency. A ZERH home is typically 40 to 50 percent more energy-efficient than a typical new home - even without solar or other on-site renewable power. Could this be the future of home construction?

“A lot of builders don’t feel the need to change, but they soon will,” says Scott Sanders, CEO of BrightLeaf Homes, a ZERH-certified custom homebuilder in the Chicago area. “Homebuyers definitely understand the benefits associated with lower total costs of ownership. A ZERH home might cost 5 000 $ more, but it could save you 100 $ per month forever in energy bills. It’s easy to do the math.”

BrightLeaf's homes feature photovoltaic solar panels, passive solar design, R5 windows, attics insulated with blown cellulose and much more. "We target move-up buyers who understand the long-term benefits of exceptional energy savings," says Sanders.

California’s Title 24 code, which requires all new homes in the state to be zero-net energy by next year, has helped raise awareness about technologies like PV solar panels and radiant barrier sheathing. The ZERH program now takes that momentum nationwide, putting homebuyers directly in touch with local builders who meet DOE’s highest standards.

"Having this third-party certification really helps our marketing efforts," says Sanders. "The buyer knows that we're committed to multiple goals like achieving healthy home environments, minimizing construction waste, and reducing energy consumption."

Likewise, SALA Architects in Minnesota aimed to renovate a 1907 Victorian home to bring it to net-zero energy standards while preserving its look and charm. To renovate the home with zero net energy consumption, the team would need to rip off the existing siding in order to replace the insulation with a more efficient system of materials resulting in a tighter, more insulated home.

The resulting re-side would need to be both durable for harsh Minnesota winters and also match the look of the home’s original siding. During the deliberation, they compared engineered wood siding vs. fiber cement siding. SALA Architects ultimately chose LP® SmartSide® Smooth Texture Lap Siding to preserve the home’s historic aesthetic, while assuring the durability needed to resist hail and extreme weather conditions. 

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Business Advice6 min

On the Cutting Edge of Cost-Cutting

There are only two ways to boost your bottom line: increase revenue and cut costs. In this blog, we'll explore innovative ways for builders to cut costs in order to increase homebuilder profit margins - and we'll examine revenue enhancement in a future post.

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Industry Trends6 min
Where the Construction Labor Shortage Is Most Severe

According to the latest American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, about 4 million people now work in residential construction (both single-family and multifamily) - down from the 5 million who were employed just before the Great Recession. Although the workforce has shrunk by 20 percent nationwide, some parts of the country are experiencing less pain than others. Similarly, light commercial construction has been reportedly back on the rise post-Recession, with IBISWorld reporting that the recovery started just before 2014 and continuing steadily through 2019 (source).

Industry Trends7 min
A Commitment to Product Availability

It's frustrating when factors outside of your control cause you delays or unexpected expenses during a project. Those factors could be weather delays, insufficient staffing, breakdowns in cash flow and unreliable product availability. LP devotes significant resources each year to ensure that its product availability is second to none. Because even the most innovative building solution is useless to customers unless they know that it's available when they really need it.

Business Advice10 min
How to Prevent Lap Siding from Buckling by Using a Butt Joint

It's a silly name, but a "butt joint" is an application technique where two pieces of material are "butted" up against each other. It is the simplest joint to make, and a butt joint can be either end to end or end to face. Depending on the width of the wall, butt joints will occur where two pieces of lap siding come together, creating a vertical seam. LP® SmartSide® lap siding products are available in 16' lengths, and can help reduce the amount of seams where a butt joint would normally occur when using shorter pieces.