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ENERGY STAR 3.2 – What Builders Need to Know

The EPA recently rolled out Version 3.2 of the ENERGY STAR Single-Family New Homes program. The updates are to ensure that certified homes will keep delivering meaningful energy savings vs. non-certified homes in states that adopt the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Here’s a quick look at what builders should know:

Earning Tax Incentives

Thanks to the expanded Section 45L New Energy Efficient Home Credit, builders who meet ENERGY STAR or DOE Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) program requirements could qualify for big savings. For new single family and multifamily construction, builders could receive up to $2,500 in tax credits per dwelling for homes that pass ENERGY STAR requirements, and up to $5,000 per dwelling for homes that meet ZERH requirements.

Understanding the Timeline

All homes permitted after January 1, 2025 must move to ENERGY STAR Single-Family New Home (SFNH) v3.2[i]. To maintain eligibility for the § 45L credit, builders must transition to ENERGY STAR SFNH v3.2 for acquisitions beginning January 1, 2025.

That is, to remain eligible for § 45L and maximize revenue, builders must prepare for the shift to ENERGY STAR SFNH v3.2 months before the January 2025 deadline to accommodate potential plan updates. Understanding these changes and determining the best way to achieve the requirements will help builders prevent delays in earning an ENERGY STAR v3.2 certificate and tax credit.

Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) Program

As noted above, the § 45L credit also offers builders up to $5,000 per dwelling for homes that meet ZERH requirements. Since January 1, 2023, the 45L tax credit for ZERH certification has been based on the date the home is acquired. However, the ZERH Program is transitioning to Version 2, which will be required for homes permitted on or after January 1, 2024. For more information on the 45L tax credit and eligibility, please visit the DOE’s ZERH Program Requirements page. 

Supporting Documentation

The EPA accepts the following documents to demonstrate proof of certification for the ENERGY STAR SFNH program. Eligible documents must originate directly from an EPA-recognized oversight, or Quality Assurance Provider; or be generated with approved rating software by an energy rating company performing third-party verifications[ii].

  • ENERGY STAR Certificate
  • RESNET Rated Home Label
  • BSI 45L ENERGY STAR Report

Key Changes from 3.1 to 3.2

  • Target HERS Score Reduced

ENERGY STAR Version 3.1 had a typical scoring range of 65-55 points. Version 3.2 generally falls within 55-45 points. For reference, a score of 50 represents median energy performance, while a score of 75 or higher indicates top energy performance.

  • Thermal Envelope Minimum Requirements

Mandatory thermal envelope minimums reference the 2021 IECC. Version 3.1 referenced 2009 IECC. However, this does not mean the 2021 values are required. Instead, a builder can use the Total UA calculation to meet or exceed the performance of the 2021 IECC thermal envelope table.

  • There are NO new checklist or additional program requirements.

Henry Can Help

Whatever the energy performance requirements, Henry Building Envelope Systems® can help you meet them with solutions that control the flow of water, air, vapor, and energy. As part of Carlisle Weatherproofing Technologies, our portfolio includes air and water barriers, spray foam, EPS insulation and HVAC sealants.

We’ve produced a quick guide to help you navigate your builder benefits. Download it here today.

Talk to a Henry expert for building envelope advice and product support.

[i] ENERGY STAR Program Versions Eligible for the § 45L Credit: https://www.energystar.gov/about/federal_tax_credits/federal_tax_credit_archives/tax_credits_home_builders

[ii] https://www.energystar.gov/sites/default/files/ENERGY%20STAR%20Policies%20in%20Support%20of%2045L%202023-09-26%20508.pdf