NEEA, utilities and Northwest builders test the market with new homes pilot

Portland, Ore. – Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), in collaboration with its utility and energy efficiency partners and regional builders, is piloting a new residential homes program to lay the foundation to increase the energy efficiency and comfort of new homes across the region.

The voluntary pilot takes energy-efficient homebuilding to a new level with strategies including tighter home envelopes that incorporate advanced framing techniques, increased insulation and more efficient windows. The pilot homes also incorporate advanced HVAC systems that use technologies such as ductless heat pumps and heat recovery ventilators. The end results are homes that offer consumers more comfort, better air quality, and lower monthly energy costs.

A select group of regional homebuilders, including Billings, Mont.-based McCall Homes, Vancouver, Wash.-based New Tradition Homes and Seattle-based Dwell Development, are taking leadership in the market to build test homes that incorporate advanced building practices that meet the pilot specification.

Builders of all types, from production to custom, are participating in the pilot in rural, urban and suburban areas across the Northwest in different types of homes.

The pilot home in McCall Homes’ project in Billings was built for a retired couple who downsized but wants a walkable community, amenities and comfort and energy savings

In Seattle, at Columbia Station, Dwell Development built a unique, contemporary pilot home for the homeowners to enjoy their local community via open communal spaces that open up to the street.

In Portland, New Tradition Homes built their pilot home for a growing family that wants extra space with the ability to save energy and increase comfort.

Participating builders in the pilot have the opportunity to learn how to incorporate advanced building products and practices in a cost-effective manner while staying ahead of state energy code requirements.

For instance, McCall Homes’ project demonstrates available strategies, technologies and products under the pilot including a double-wall system to minimize thermal bridging, super-efficient windows, radiant floor heating, and polyisocynurate sheathing on the exterior for additional insulation.

“McCall Homes is focused on building community, not just homes,” said Brad McCall, owner of McCall Homes. “We are also committed to emerging building sciences and energy efficiency. Building Willow River under the pilot is important to us. It lets us lay the groundwork for building even higher performing homes for customers while the region benefits in potential future overall energy savings.”

NEEA continues to work with its utility and energy efficiency partners throughout the region to advance building practices in the market through the Next Step Home Pilot. Many local utilities are offering additional support to builders with a pilot home in their territories.

“The pilot is an important step to make newly constructed homes across Montana even more energy efficient and perform better for homeowners,” said Bill Thomas, manager of regulatory support services, NorthWestern Energy. “By participating in the pilot and working with NEEA, we can help our builder customers be more competitive and help set the stage for Montana to lower home energy use.”

Once the homebuilding market is in a position to embrace more stringent codes, NEEA advocates for an even higher level of stringency in future codes throughout state and federal code adoption processes while providing education and training throughout the region to increase compliance.

“These higher performance homes will be used to identify the most cost-effective methods for achieving the greatest amount of energy savings while paving a pathway for future code adoption,” said Neil Grigsby, who manages NEEA’s homes initiative. “The best practices and technologies of the pilot will help get builders ahead of code changes, achieve greater cost-effective energy savings and increased comfort for customers in the long-term.”

Utilities and energy efficiency organizations participating in the pilot include Energy Trust of Oregon, Bonneville Power Administration, Seattle City Light, Clark Public Utilities, NorthWestern Energy, and more than 100 regional utilities.

“Utilities, energy efficiency organizations and NEEA work as an alliance to transform the market with a 40 percent energy savings by 2030 as a result of increased codes and standards,” said Grigsby. “We estimate that homes built for the pilot have the potential to be at least 30 percent more efficient than those built to state energy code requirements.”

About the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is an alliance of more than 100 Northwest utilities and energy efficiency organizations working on behalf of more than 12 million energy consumers. NEEA leverages its strong regional partnerships to effect market transformation by accelerating the adoption of energy-efficient products, services and practices. Since 1997, NEEA and its partners –  including Avista Utilities, Bonneville Power Administration, Chelan County PUD, Clark Public Utilities, Cowlitz PUD, Eugene Water & Electric Board, Energy Trust of Oregon, Idaho Power, NorthWestern Energy, Pacific Power, Puget Sound Energy, Seattle City Light, Snohomish County Public Utilities, Tacoma Power  –  have saved enough energy to power more than 600,000 homes each year. Energy efficiency can offset most of our new demand for energy, saving money and keeping the Northwest a healthy and vibrant place to live.

About NorthWestern Energy
NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serving approximately 673,200 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. More information on NorthWestern Energy is available on the company's Web site at

About McCall Homes
McCall Homes’ mission is empowering people, from our team who bring homes to life, to our neighbors who bring life to homes. We create unique, sustainable and affordable homes in an environment where community it nurtured.

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