Eastbrook Homes Achieves Recognized ENERGY STAR® Status, Maintains Commitment to Helping Customers Conserve Energy

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Local builder/developer helps customers lower heating and cooling bills in face of higher fuel costs.

Eastbrook Homes, West Michigan’s largest home builder, announces that it has made a commitment to building 100% of their homes and condominiums to ENERGY STAR® performance guidelines going forward.

“Eastbrook Homes has always worked hard to provide our customers with the most value in their home buying dollar,” says Mick McGraw, CEO of Eastbrook Homes. “Five years ago, we took our commitment one step further by introducing into our construction process a procedure which helps our home owners continue to save money even after they close on their home – by consistently lowering their heating and cooling bills.” In partnership with D. R. Nelson and Associates of Lake Orion, MI, Eastbrook added a two-step energy seal process to new construction homes beginning in 2001, a process which historically has helped homeowners conserve energy. Today, the company announces that they have gone one step further, making slight production changes, and submitting the paperwork and undergoing the necessary governmental testing and evaluation processes required to receive certification as a 100% partner in ENERGY STAR®.                                

ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency. It identifies new homes and more than 40 types of products that are energy efficient and which offer the features, quality and personal comfort that today’s consumers demand. The ENERGY STAR® label on a new home means that it is significantly more efficient than a home built to energy code minimum requirements. ENERGY STAR® designation is achieved by using any combination of building products and services that exceed a point rating on a scale that is determined by the local climate. Building science software developed by the U.S. Department of Energy is used to predict the performance of each home.

By purchasing an ENERGY STAR® qualified home, a homebuyer can have the best of both worlds - all the features they desire in a new home plus lower utility bills. They also can feel good about the fact that they’re helping to reduce air pollution. It is documented that 16% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are generated from the energy used in houses nationwide. ENERGY STAR® homes prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficient guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Nelson Energy Seal Two-Stage Sealant Application

is Key Component in Eastbrook Homes’ Production Process

One key component to achieving this governmental seal of approval is the inclusion of the Nelson Energy Seal in Eastbrook Homes’ construction process. This unique two-stage application of sealants – applied at both rough frame and drywall - eliminates sources of air leakage through the home’s walls and ceilings. Not only does this reduce noise, dust and insect infiltration to dramatically improve the interior air quality and living comfort, but it allows the resident to save substantial money on heating and cooling bills over the course of their stay in that home.

“Even in the finest construction, hundreds of holes and cracks are made in the framework of a new home. Left unsealed, these air leaks cause discomforting drafts, condensation, frozen pipes, and insect, dust and noise infiltration. If grouped together in one spot of a typical home these holes would create an opening of over six square feet. Collectively, it’s like leaving a large window open all year long, winter and summer,” says Don Nelson of D.R. Nelson and Associates.

To counter this, the entire home, including all bond joists, mechanical and plumbing penetrations, overhangs, door jambs, window frames and other problem areas, is sealed at rough frame stage. After drywall installation, the home is sealed a second time around the edges of the openings made for electrical outlets, plumbing fixtures and other intrusions through the exterior walls and ceilings. This reduces air leakage and moisture migration into the exterior walls. To insure that homes are performing at their peak energy-efficient level, a blower door test is performed in accordance with procedures described in the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard E-779. This final check insures that the sealants have been properly and effectively applied, allowing for healthy and comfortable air ventilation.

Insulation alone does not stop air leakage and house wrap products do not counter heat loss out of the ceiling, which is the single largest source of air leakage in any house. The Nelson Energy Seal System uses U.L. Listed, fire-rated materials to reduce air leakage by about 70% on the average house.

Eastbrook Home Augments Nelson Service with

Additional Products to Attain ENERGY STAR® Status

“In addition to the Nelson Energy Seal Service, Eastbrook has added high efficiency furnaces to their single family homes and Low E/Argon Windows, programmable thermostats and R-38 insulation (in lieu of the industry standard R-30) in their single family homes and condominiums to increase our customers’ notable energy savings to as much as 30% over houses built to the Michigan Uniform Energy Code Standards,” says Ed Pynnonen, President, Eastbrook Homes - Grand Rapids Division. “The energy conservation package that Eastbrook puts in every home provides our customers the best return on investment for their housing dollar – maximizing that balance point between monthly energy bill savings and out-of-pocket construction costs.

Eastbrook, whose corporate offices are in Kentwood, has built thousands of homes for families throughout Kent and Ottawa counties since 1967. Its Grand Rapids Division currently has developments in Bailey’s Grove, Ada Moorings, Arbor Hills, Cook’s Crossing, the Meadows of Cannon Farms and Saddle Ridge. Its Lakeshore Division includes Lowing Woods in Georgetown Township, Bayou Meadows and Hathaway Lakes in Spring Lake, and Windflower Bay in Norton Shores. Michael McGraw Homes, a division of Eastbrook Homes which builds executive homes, are featured in Stoneshire near Ada.

Don Nelson, founder of D. R. Nelson and Associates of Lake Orion, Michigan, completed his research in “Building Performance” with scientists at Princeton Universities’ Center for Energy and Environmental Studies. Since 1981, the company has energy sealed over 75,000 homes across the country and has used their expertise in air leakage measurement and reduction for hundreds of diverse applications around the world. The company has worked on projects involving air leakage and building performance throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Mexico, Columbia, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic and Kuwait. Additional information can be found at their web site, http://www.energyseal.com.

ENERGY STAR® is a voluntary partnership between the government and more than 7,000 organizations, including more than 2,500 of the nation’s home builders. Together with home buyers and their families, the group is working to achieve a common goal – protecting the environment for future generations by changing to more energy-efficient practices today. For more information, visit http://www.energystar.gov.

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Kristy Harrington
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