DIY : Certifying Performance – Habitat X Journal – Medium

Certification, appraisal, and finance: Each is a critical piece if we’re going to see widespread implementation of high-performance housing. It turns out that it’s all about the money.

It’s an oft-noted conundrum in the North American home performance industry: we know how to build decent buildings, we have a solid network of contractors willing to do competent work on both the new and existing buildings, but we lack the reliable demand that would signal we’re achieving any significant market transformation. In some up-markets, it’s easy to see the outlines of success, but in many regions it feels as if the home performance industry is all dressed up with nowhere to go.

And in covering this this first — certification of a home’s performance — we’ve seen that some of most hopeful work is being done by the organization known as Pearl Certification, based out of Vienna, Virginia. Chris spoke recently with Pearl’s Robin LeBaron, Bethany Profaizer, and Casey Murphy about their organization. What we heard is very, very hopeful.

Habitat X Journal: Help us understand how the Pearl Certification works in the marketplace. Who buys it and who uses it?

Robin LeBaron: We’e built two channels to market: through building contractors, and through real estate transactions. For the contractor, this certification allows them, and ultimately the homeowner, to capture the value of home performance improvements. For the real estate agent, and their sellers, we provide a marketing package that gives them some differentiation in competitive markets.

As we spoke with real estate agents, we came up with the marketing package that includes 1) a one pager for the kitchen counter, 2) placards hung around the house (air sealing, HVAC, attic hatch), 3) a social media package, and 4) a list of green features that match up with fields in the local MLS listings.

HXJ: It sounds like a great idea to evaluate and certify the performance of homes. Yet we’ve seen over and over that North American homeowners don’t seem to care about the bloody details of their home’s operation. How are you addressing this apparent apathy towards home performance?

RLB: In communicating with homebuyers, our goal is to make the process and reporting as interesting and exciting as possible. We use a lot of color and large photos in our reports, for example, because we’ve found that it appeals to the majority of buyers. It may be boring to us, but people like it. We’ve found that homeowners have two buckets for home upgrade tasks: things that are sexy, and things they just want fixed. Our goal is to get everything related to home performance into bucket #1.

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