Natale, builder of 15 to 40 homes a year in Buffalo and surrounding towns, relies on ENERGY STAR Homes as its competitive edge. Most are single-family houses but some are patio homes and townhomes. Natale highlights the value of New York ENERGY STAR Certified Homes to homebuyers. Due to the homebuyer response to that marketing approach, nearly all homes now constructed by Natale are New York ENERGY STAR Certified. The ENERGY STAR Homes Program in New York State is administered by the New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
LaDuca feels that customers who purchase a New York ENERGY STAR Certified Home will appreciate the lower utility costs. Builders can benefit because it sets them apart. “I think we will get business that builders who aren’t participating in NYSERDA’s program won’t get,” he said.
Builders are offered high-quality program and technical support through NYSERDA’s program. These factors help Natale’s employees understand how to build a better-quality and more efficient home.
LaDuca pointed out the large supply of well-built, available homes constructed in the past 10 to 20 years. With this abundant supply in the market, he said, “If you’re building that same product today as years ago, you don’t have much of a marketing advantage.” Comparing the ENERGY STAR brand as a value akin to endorsement by the Better Business Bureau, he said, “We believe in the product, we believe in being green. It’s better for the environment and it’s better for the client.”
New York ENERGY STAR Certified Homes have a tight thermal envelope to keep cooled and warmed air inside the house. Natale uses composite panel construction with insulation sandwiched between structural elements and thorough taping and sealing. The company builds with R40 roof insulation, R25 wall systems and R12.5 basement insulation, insulating the home from top to bottom. LaDuca stressed the need to buy the right products, such as compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode (LED) lighting and proper ventilation. Ventilation is important to avoid health hazards such as moisture build-up that could lead to mold issues. Meeting New York ENERGY STAR Certified Homes standards, LaDuca maintained, makes a house healthier.
Long-term, it’s also more affordable. “You can’t control your taxes,” he noted, “but you can control how much energy you will use in a year.” When selling a home, Natale includes the cost associated with meeting New York ENERGY STAR Certified Homes program standards in the budget, explaining to buyers that Natale doesn’t charge more for meeting those standards.
When conducting its standard six-month and one-year follow-ups with buyers, the company finds that homeowners are pleased with their energy savings. “One question we always ask is: are they surprised by their energy bills. And they’re always surprised at how low they are,” said LaDuca.
To LaDuca, a simple comparison of New York ENERGY STAR Certified Homes with conventional homes is persuasive. “If one house is a New York ENERGY STAR Certified Home and the other is a conventional build, I would show the energy costs over 30 years. The difference is thousands and thousands of dollars over time.”
“I wouldn’t build any other way,” said LaDuca.
Download Natalie Builders Case Study [PDF]