Homestar: Finally a Job Creation Program
On Tuesday, March 3, 2010 President Obama announced his Homestar Energy Efficiency Retrofit Program. This new version addresses the very thing that was missing from the Energy Tax Rebate program – job creation. CertainTeed president and CEO, Peter Dachowski was present at the announcement, illustrating CertainTeed’s support of the Homestar initiative.
The Energy Tax Credit program has been available for several years but was given a boost last year by President Obama. The maximum $1,500 dollar rebate did not provide enough funding for the average homeowner to invest upfront in a professional audit to achieve the maximum improvement in whole house performance. Nor did it cover the cost of installation labor.
The key aspect of this new initiative is the Gold Star Rebate provision. This enables consumers to be eligible for a $3,000 rebate if they achieve a 20 percent energy savings in their homes. Doing this will require a whole home energy audit and performance confirmation.
The average homeowner does not have the knowledge of building science to make the best or safest choices in this arena. The proper application of insulation to achieve maximum performance and life safety requires knowledge and thought. In the attic, for example, there are many issues to be aware of when adding insulation. Care must be given not to block roof ventilation, to not create cold vapor resistive surfaces, to not cause fire hazards by insulating against unrated recessed lights, flues, or knob & tube wiring, etc.
By doubling the money, the homeowner now has the funding to bring in a professional to evaluate what they need and provide the expertise to suggest next steps. This aspect of the Gold Star program actually creates new green professionals. It will require the training of construction professionals to become energy raters and professionals who can become skilled in efficiencies. This now has meaning because it creates the very jobs discussed in a previous Blog on the need for energy auditors.
The fact that consumers are gaining knowledge about the importance of energy efficiency and the need to upgrade older dwellings will continue beyond the life of any rebate program and the need for green professionals will only increase. The addition of the Gold Star aspect starts us on the way by creating an initial demand for this knowledge and service which goes beyond the previously existing programs.
Homestar jumpstarts the process and all I can say is, it’s about time.Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications at CertainTeed Corporation.