Each spring, the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program honors businesses and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through superior energy achievements. ENERGY STAR Award winners are leaders in their industries for their efforts to reduce emissions and create a healthier environment.
This month, MEEA’s very own Illinois Home Performance program “brought home the gold,” winning the ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award for the first time in program history. This award is ENERGY STAR’s highest honor, recognizing programs that have already received ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year recognition for multiple consecutive years and have gone above and beyond the criteria for recognition. This year’s prestigious win is MEEA’s sixth in just seven years, making it a fitting final celebration of the Illinois Home Performance program which ended on December 31st, 2019.
For those unfamiliar, Illinois Home Performance (IHP) connected homeowners with qualified contractors to make energy upgrades that improved the comfort, safety and value of their homes. Funded by the Illinois investor-owned utilities, the program had a very substantial impact, not only on the efficiency of Illinois homes but on the education of local contractors and real estate professionals.
The centerpiece of the program was the Certificate of Completion, which recognized homeowner investments in energy efficiency. Homeowners who worked with an IHP Participating Contractor to improve their homes were awarded an ENERGY STAR Certificate of Completion, detailing improvements made and the impact the work had on the home’s energy use. Homeowners were encouraged to pass the certificates onto their listing agents if/when they chose to sell their home in the future, ensuring that the energy investment was communicated during the real estate transaction. During IHP’s ten years as a program, MEEA issued 11,924 certificates of completion.
Another major component of the Illinois Home Performance program was the Building Science Training Series, through which MEEA developed and coordinated continuing education courses in advanced building science. The courses covered topics such as Home Performance Sales and Marketing, Air Sealing in Complex Homes and the Building Performance Institute (BPI)’s Building Science Principles course. These courses helped IHP Participating Contractors hone their skills and brush up on their knowledge, while preparing new students to participate in Illinois Home Performance. Throughout the years, IHP’s Building Science Training Series educated more than 1,000 contractors through around 90 different courses.
Illinois Home Performance also focused on educating real estate and appraisal professionals on energy efficiency and how to properly value efficient features when selling homes. The program sponsored continuing education courses for real estate professionals by offering stipends to Illinois Realtor associations and chapters of the Appraisal Institute. These stipends enabled the associations to offer the courses to their members for heavily discounted prices, encouraging increased participation. The National Association of Realtors Green Designation is a two-day course that introduces Realtors to energy efficiency features and ways to distinguish efficient homes from other similar, less efficient homes. Upon completion, agents are listed on the NAR website as having this designation, allowing them to be sought out by potential clients. Similarly, the appraiser-facing version is a two-day course introducing students to methods of appraising green and energy efficient properties. During Illinois Home Performance’s duration, more than 700 real estate professionals were trained through these courses.
The Illinois Home Performance program had quite an impact over its lifespan, not only by improving the energy efficiency of the Illinois housing stock, but also by fostering the education of different professionals involved in the improvement and sale of these homes. MEEA is very proud of everything the program could accomplish over the years, including winning the ENERGY STAR Award six times. Thank you to all the program partners, participating contractors and friends who made this possible.
This year’s ENERGY STAR Awards also honored several MEEA members with Partner of the Year awards! Congratulations to:
- AEP Ohio
- AEP Ohio, Columbia Gas and JadeTrack
- Bradford White
- CenterPoint Energy
- City of Columbia Water and Light
- Consumers Energy
- Emerson Sensi
- GDS Associates
- Lockheed Martin
MEEA is proud to have such innovative and dedicated members who work every day to advance energy efficiency in the Midwest and beyond. Thank you all for your efforts and congratulations on your well-deserved awards!