NAHB Survey on Installation of Energy Producing Equipment and Green Building

Survey data of single-family builders collected by NAHB at the end of 2013 reveal the share of builders who installed energy producing equipment in new construction, highlighting an important trend in home building.

The November 2013 data finds that 23% of surveyed builders installed alternative energy producing equipment in the past year. Of those answering “yes”:

  • 82% installed geothermal heat pumps
  • 26% had installed photovoltaic solar panels

These are two types of property that provide a 30% federal tax credit (under tax code section 25D). Unlike the 25C credit (for windows, doors, and other energy-efficient property), which is only available for existing principal residences, the 25D credit is available for new and existing homes, and primary and secondary residences (except for fuel cells, which can only be claimed in connection with a principal residence). Like the 25C program, the tax credit is claimed by the homeowner/homebuyer.

The 25D credit is scheduled to remain in law until the end of 2016. The 25C credit expired at the end of 2013, although it may be extended along with other “tax extenders,” later in 2014.

Another trend the NAHB survey revealed is that even for new homes not possessing solar panels and other power production equipment, design choices are being made to enable future installation. Of those 77% of builders who answered “no” to the question of power production property installation, an additional 23% (nearly 18% of the survey total) built infrastructure that would allow the homeowner to install the power producing equipment easily in the future (e.g. conduits for wiring the electric system to solar panels).

The combination of currently installed property and infrastructure accommodation for future installation suggests a trend in builder practices that will allow homes to produce some, or all, of their own power. However, it is important to keep in mind that mandates associated with these practices should be avoided because such installations will not be cost-effective or match consumer preferences in all markets and for all homes.

The survey also revealed which green building products or practices are most common among builders. Leading the list were:

  • low-e windows (91%)
  • high-efficiency HVAC systems (90%)
  • programmable thermostats (86%)
  • ENERGY STAR appliances (79%)
  • duct systems designed to minimize inefficiencies (74%)

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