The EarthCraft home certification process begins with home builders and developers attending a training program through their local EarthCraft office. During training, builders are taught the basics of the certification process and given an overview of environmental guidelines used to build EarthCraft homes. Builders must be accepted to both the local and national chapters of the National Association of Homebuilders, and must also join the EarthCraft program. At that point, they're officially ready to start building.
The Annual EarthCraft Awards
Certification requires several key steps. First, the homebuilder must send plans of the home along with mechanical and other design information for EarthCraft to review. Energy Star compliance should also be filed at this point.
As building progresses, the builder must next request a pre-drywall inspection. This takes place after the building foundation has been completed and basic framing has been done. The building is still just a shell at this point, and inspectors have easy access to most areas. The pre-drywall inspection allows EarthCraft to make sure the home is on track for certification, and also helps catch any potential problems before the job progresses any further.
At the job's completion, a final inspection takes place to make sure the home is built correctly and all systems operate as designed. Duct and air leakage tests are completed, and the results are sent to EarthCraft for review. Finally, the builder must submit the EarthCraft House Worksheet. A minimum of 120 points is required for certification, though homes that earn 200 and 230 points can be labeled "Select" and "Premium," respectively. These labels mean more efficient homes that typically command higher prices.
The fees for EarthCraft certification are surprisingly low. There is a minimal fee for becoming a member of the program, inspections and design review. Finally, EarthCraft charges 10 cents per square foot to certify the home, with a minimum fee of $250. An average-sized home could easily achieve certification for less than $1,000.