SEE’s primary emphasis is on the energy efficiency of the building envelope or enclosure of a new or existing home or building. SEE does not require specific materials or methods of construction, but does require a certain level of performance. Thus, the guidelines for SEE homes or buildings are intentionally quite simple:
A new home or building can be Certified as a SEE structure, if it is designed and built to use “at least” 75% less energy for heating and cooling than an identical new home or building constructed to the minimum 2006-IECC standards (the base home used for a HERS analysis). A post construction HERS analysis is required for SEE Certification.
An existing home or building can likewise be Certified as a SEE retrofit, if it is designed and renovated to use “at least” 75% less energy for heating and cooling than was used prior to the retrofit. A pre and post HERS analysis is also required for SEE Certification.
SEE Certification is intentionally based on performance and not on prescribed products or methods of construction. This is done for two reasons:
• The first reason concerns the quality of workmanship. Plans for a new or retrofitted home or building can be initially designed, specified, and evaluated to achieve that 75+% savings on heating and cooling energy use. However, the builder’s craftsmanship in properly putting the components together is also part of the equation. Poor craftsmanship can easily lead to a well-designed building having poor energy performance. Thus, a builder’s ability to deliver high quality craftsmanship is stressed by SEE and a building’s performance is checked by a HERS analysis to confirm Certification.
• The second reason concerns SEE’s conscious intent to drive continued innovation and better building performance. This can be achieved by encouraging builders to try new products and methods of construction. This should lead to the development of both higher levels of building performance as well as more economical ways to achieve SEE performance.
Builders can choose to achieve the SEE level of performance in new housing by using double-wall (DW) construction, Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs), Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs), or some other form of high performance construction. Existing housing presents a much more complicated scenario to address. ISEEB also stresses cost containment, so that SEE construction performance can be economically available to all levels of society.