This article was originally published in the July/August 1998 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.


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Home Energy Magazine Online July/August 1998

ICFs and HERS: Guaranteed Performance, Easy Financing

by Steven Bodzin

For the last 10 years, Reward Wall Systems, a manufacturer of insulating concrete forms (ICFs) in Omaha, Nebraska, has offered an energy guarantee: their ICFs save homeowners 70% on heating and cooling compared to the 1992 Model Energy Code (MEC), or Reward pays 110% of the difference in energy costs. Reward recently decided to promote homes built with their walls by getting them the Energy Star label. To qualify for the federal Energy Star Homes program, homes need only surpass MEC by 30%, so Reward's executives were confident their walls could pass the standard. However, Energy Star requires each home's performance to be verified by certified home energy raters.

In order to get the homes verified, the company recently partnered with the National Home Energy Rating Organization (National HERO) to make many of its distributors and dealers into certified energy raters. The partnership will allow Reward to make all of its homes Energy Star-compliant, and the dealers will be able to help buyers set up energy efficiency mortgages (EEMs).

From May 2 through 5, Steven Lowrie of National HERO was in Omaha, training 13 Reward dealers and distributors in energy ratings. Now, before a home is built, the dealers can collect data about the proposed floor plan, roof system, and mechanical systems, and send the information to Lowrie's office. National HERO will then run the computer simulations to provide an energy rating. Once the home is built, the rating will be confirmed with home diagnostics equipment.

The dealers will then be able to help buyers apply for an EEM. They will have a one-page form that buyers can fill out to see if they qualify for the basic requirements of the EEM. Because most EEMs only require that homes comply with the Energy Star standard of a 30% savings over MEC, Reward is confident that homes built with their wall systems will have no problem qualifying.

For more information, or to get involved with National HERO, contact Christine K. Lowrie, 804 Morrefield Park Drive, Suite 101, Richmond, VA 23235. Tel:(800)373-2416; Fax:(804)560-9139; E-mail:; Web site: For more information about Reward, call Carl Martens, Director of Educational Services, 4115 S 87th St., Omaha, NB 68127. Tel:(800)468-6344; Web site:


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