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SolarSmart Homes Sell Faster

Climate Solutions Special Issue
This article originally appeared in the Climate Solutions Special Issue issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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January 01, 2008
The housing industry may be in a slump in parts of the country, but in and around Sacramento, California, one type of housing is selling at twice the rate of its competitors—the SolarSmart Home. These solar-powered, super-energy-efficient new homes are the brainchild and brand of the local Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). To earn the SolarSmart designation, home builders must install a checklist of cost-effective energy efficiency upgrades, combined with solar generation. Started in 2007, the brand is meeting with surprising acceptance from local builders. With agreements to build 1,900 homes so far, SolarSmart homes will constitute about 35%—and maybe more—of all new homes built in SMUD territory in 2008. “If we had gotten 15% of new homes [to meet SolarSmart qualifications], we would have felt great,” says Wade Hughes, SMUD’s SolarSmart new- homes program manager, “but we are doubling that. Now we think 60% of new homes might be a better goal.” Hughes attributes his program’s success to its ease—just 12 required measures (see Table 1). He says builders prefer a prescriptive approach with simple instructions, rather than messing around trying to meet an energy savings target. Simple as these qualifications ...

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