All EarthCraft Homes average a 35% reduction in energy usage compared to a typical code built home. In addition to their outstanding energy performance, EarthCraft homes are durable, comfortable, and both water-and resource-efficient.
The Greater Atlanta Homebuilders Association and Southface Energy Institute developed the EarthCraft House program in 1999 as a response to local demand for a residential green building certification program. The success of the EarthCraft House program led to the creation of additional programs to address other building types and sustainable community development. The EarthCraft family of programs continues to grow and expand its mission of helping professionals design and construct healthy, comfortable buildings and communities that minimize negative environmental impacts.
EarthCraft House certifications are determined through a points-based worksheet, which allows builders to select the sustainability measures that are best suited for their project. Worksheet items address proper site planning, energy-efficient appliances and lighting, resource-efficient building materials, indoor air quality, water conservation, homebuyer education, and all are verified during site visits and inspections. EarthCraft-certified homes must also pass diagnostic tests for air infiltration and duct leakage standards. EarthCraft Technical Advisors provide technical assistance to the builder during the initial design review and throughout project design and construction.
A new, single-page worksheet will be used to certify all single-family, new construction projects beginning July 1, 2018. Here are just a few of the changes you’ll see:
- A streamlined certification worksheet, with substantially fewer line items
- New “badges” that replace certification levels, with four optional “badges” for builders to pursue: Performance, Comfort, Environment and Health
- Reduced costs for the base certification of new projects
To participate in the single-family new construction program, builders first attend a one-day training that provides an overview of the program and basic building science approaches. Builders then apply to join the program. Once accepted, they are partnered with an EarthCraft Technical Advisor (TA) in their area who will work with them throughout the construction process.
Base Certification: $600 plus $0.15/square-foot over 3000 sq. ft. $475 is due at the time of registration.
- Performance Badge: +$375
- Comfort Badge: +100
- Environment Badge: +$50
- Health Badge: +$50
ECH Certification Process Overview
STEP 1: Become an EarthCraft Builder Member
In order to certify EarthCraft single family projects, a builder must first become a certified builder member. Prerequisites:
- Local HBA Member – Builders must be a current member of their local Home Builders Associations. Non-Profit Organizations are exempt from this requirement.
- ENERGY STAR Partner – Only builders pursuing ENERGY STAR certification must register with the Environmental Protection Agency as ENERGY STAR Partners.
- Attend EarthCraft Building Professional Training – This one day training covers the EarthCraft House program including participant roles and responsibilities, program guidelines and requirements, and the project certification process.
- Complete online membership application with the $150 annual membership fee.
Once the application is processed, the builder will receive a builder membership confirmation email and will be listed on our website.
STEP 2: Pre-Construction
To officially start an EarthCraft House project, the builder must register each project online with Viridiant prior to the Pre-Drywall Inspection. The project’s EarthCraft Technical Advisor (TA) will follow up with the builder within two weeks of registration. The next step is for the builder to provide the TA with a Project Information Submittal at least two weeks prior to the Pre-Drywall Inspection. This submittal should include:
- EarthCraft Workbook
- Construction Specifications Sheet
- Site and House Plans
- Manual J Load Calculations
The TA reviews the submission and communicates feedback to the builder and subcontractors as needed. If applicable, the TA creates a preliminary energy model to determine the project’s ability to meet program requirements. Then the TA leads a Design Review Meeting. Project goals, program compliance, and verification and testing schedule will be addressed.
Step 3: Pre-Drywall
It is the builder’s responsibility to schedule the Pre-Drywall Inspection with the TA and to ensure the project is ready for inspection. The TA will perform the field inspection once:
- Framing and air sealing is completed
- Rough-ins and insulation are installed
- Documentation is ready for TA review
The TA provides a Pre-Drywall Inspection Report to Viridiant and the builder. Additional air sealing or insulation may be necessary depending on inspection results.
STEP 4: Post-Construction
It is the builder’s responsibility to schedule the Final Inspection with the TA, ensure the project is ready for inspection, and prepare final documentation for TA review. The TA will perform the Final Inspection when Pre-Drywall inspections notes have been addressed and the home is ready for occupancy. The builder should be onsite for the entirety of the inspection. During the final inspection, the TA will:
- Assess the site and inspect HVAC
- Confirm plans and specifications
- Confirm EarthCraft Workbook and sign
- Perform diagnostic testing (blower door and duct blaster)
The TA provides a Final Inspection Report to the builder. After the Final Inspection, the TA updates the worksheet and the energy model (if applicable) based on as-built home specifications and performance.
STEP 5: Certification
The confirmed energy model (if applicable) and program compliance verification documents are then submitted to Viridiant for quality assurance review. When Viridiant’s Quality Assurance Designee (QAD) approves the project, the certification is issued. The builder will be provided with an EarthCraft certificate and label and a Home Energy Rating Certificate (HERC) (if applicable). A more detailed building file report and tax credit compliance form (if applicable) can be provided upon request.
Affordable Housing through Habitat for Humanity Virginia:
In 2007, a partnership between Viridiant and Habitat for Humanity Virginia was formed to fulfill a common goal, to design and build energy efficient homes. Viridiant has assisted Habitat affiliates across the state of Virginia with design and technical guidance. Together, we have produced healthy, affordable, and sustainable homes and neighborhoods. Through its affordable housing work, EarthCraft ensures that the benefits of green building reach those who need them the most.
If you are interested in further distinguishing your projects, consider these additional designations:
*Header photo courtesy of Stony Point Design/Build