AVR’s Energy-Saving Building Features
• Energy-efficient windows have protective coatings and improved frame assemblies.
• Advanced framing techniques—such as placing studs every 24 inches instead of every 16 inches—result in fewer studs and more insulation, which in turn transmits less temperature.
• Insulation beneath the entire building’s slab exceeds regulations, which require insulation to extend only two feet in from the perimeter.
• All appliances are Energy Star-rated.
• Spray-foam insulation in floors, walls, and attics provides a uniform barrier that is extremely air-tight, ensuring even temperatures.
When most people think of Energy Star, they picture a name stickered on a TV or a refrigerator, but “there’s a lot more to it than that,” says Mark Eickelbeck of AVR Homebuilders, which was honored with the Energy Star Partner of the Year award in 2012 and 2013. “We address the home’s envelope, and by making a more energy-efficient shell, we reduce heat gain and loss, which means the home doesn’t require as much air-conditioning and heating. We also use equipment that is designed to operate as efficiently as possible.”
In 2005, when building the 250-unit Rivercrest Luxury Apartments in West Fishkill, New York, Eickelbeck and AVR had an epiphany of sorts. “In looking for ways to differentiate ourselves from the competition, we settled on energy efficiency and made the commitment to build 100 percent Energy Star construction from that point forward,” he says. What’s more, AVR Homebuilders has applied Energy Star’s methods to large-scale production building rather than the small-scale construction of detached single-family homes. And, “In doing so, we’ve brought the per-unit cost down and made it more affordable to the end user,” Eickelbeck says.
Consider, for example, Rivers Edge at Powell Cove Estates, the final phase of a 202-unit riverfront condominium complex in College Point, New York. In shooting for the highest possible Energy Star rating, AVR Homebuilders went above and beyond what was necessary for the $90 million project. The final five buildings, which represent more than 25 percent of the project, will not only be Energy Star-certified; they will also qualify for a LEED Silver rating. This dedication to energy efficiency has been popular with the building’s target residential clientele, and all but five units were sold as of July 2013.
AVR Homebuilders is now working on Overlook Pointe, a 263-unit riverfront condominium complex also in West Fishkill. This project, too, is designed for LEED certification, which Eickelbeck says is just as important to AVR Homebuilders as Energy Star. “It’s easy to say you’re pushing energy efficiency to its limits,” he says, “but it’s important to us to put our money where our mouth is and validate our claims in every way possible.”
AVR Homebuilders is so committed to its vision that it has hired EPA-certified home-energy raters to provide technical training to its staff. “To meet the requirement of the Energy Star program, you have to hire an independent, third-party energy rater to verify your energy efficiency,” Eickelbeck explains. “But we go a step beyond that and actually hire those raters to train our construction staff and subcontractors as well as our sales team so they can better explain what we’re doing to the public.”
Commenting on the firm’s Energy Star Partner of the Year—New Home Builder awards, Eickelbeck says, “No other builder in the country has done that in our category for the last two years in a row.”