Federal and local government officials joined the U.S. Green Building Council in San Juan Wednesday to announce new guidelines developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designed to take the Puerto Rico climate into account in determining energy efficiency for homes.
“An Energy Star-certified home means that the buyer will get an energy efficient place to live and will save money on energy costs over the long-term,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “By committing to build Energy Star homes certified for the Caribbean, builders in Puerto Rico can lead the way in providing home buyers with a choice that is both good for the environment and for their wallets.”
Enck made the announcement at the EPA’s office in Guaynabo accompanied by Puerto Rico Department of Housing and Urban Development Office Director Efrain Maldonado, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz-Soto and U.S. Green Building Council Caribbean Chapter President Vincent Pieri.
Energy Star for new homes helps homebuyers identify residences that are significantly more energy efficient than standard construction. As code requirements have become more rigorous and builder practices have become more efficient, the EPA has periodically modified the guidelines to ensure that homes certified as energy efficient represent a meaningful improvement over homes that are not certified.
The Energy Star guidelines for the Caribbean reflect specifications for Puerto Rico’s tropical climate and year-round moderate temperatures, agency officials said.
Energy Star homes in Puerto Rico will feature a combination of energy-efficient systems that work together. These include completely enclosed systems to seal in air, high quality installation and high-performance windows.
They also include high-efficiency systems for heating, ventilating and cooling; comprehensive water management systems to protect roofs, walls and foundations from moisture damage; and efficient lighting and appliances that perform well, last long and keep utility bills low.
Homes built to Energy Star guidelines are typically 20 percent to 30 percent more efficient than standard homes. Puerto Rico has some of the highest electricity rates in the country at 29 cents per kilowatt-hour by some estimates.
Over the past 20 years, the Energy Star program has helped people save a combined total of nearly $230 billion on utility bills across the country, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 1.7 billion tons.
Last year alone, people across the nation saved about $18 billion on their energy bills while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the annual emissions of 33 million vehicles, the EPA said.