CEE and Habitat for Humanity have partnered together for a long time to create affordable, energy efficient housing options in the Twin Cities. Habitat for Humanity's mission is to bring people together to create, preserve, and promote affordable homeownership and advance racial equity, and have an equitable Twin Cities region where all families have access to the transformational power of homeownership. To achieve these goals, Habitat for Humanity offers programs to help Twin Cities residents access housing. They help construct new housing in the area, repair existing housing, and assist interested homeowners through the purchase process.
CEE’s Background with Habitat for Humanity
Over the years, CEE’s New Homes team has collaborated with Habitat for Humanity to help their homes meet energy efficiency standards. They perform energy ratings and provide recommendations that can make homes more efficient. On average, the team works on about 5–10 new homes and 12+ existing homes a year.
“We really value our long-standing relationship with Habitat for Humanity. They are a passionate group to work with, and it is such a fun and different way of building and updating houses,” said Phil Anderson, New Homes manager at CEE.
When working on new construction buildings, CEE’s New Homes team acts as an energy rater. They conduct energy audits halfway through the building project and at the end to keep the building on track to meet standard energy goals. Once the project is completed, they complete HERS ratings with the following certifications: DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Homes, EPA’s Indoor airPLUS, and ENERGY STAR.
For existing building renovations, the New Homes team still acts as an energy rater, but they also provide recommendations throughout the project. They complete an initial energy audit and give the building an as-is HERs score. From there they recommend ways to improve the building’s energy efficiency, like adding more insulation to the walls and attic, improving air sealing, or upgrading appliances. To make these recommendations possible, they connect the project team with trusted contractors or CEE’s Energy Advisors team and provide information for eligible rebates.
CEE’s Projects with Habitat for Humanity
Energy efficiency is something Habitat for Humanity has always valued in their homes. It improves quality of life for homebuyers, reduces their carbon footprint, and helps lower utility bills which relieves some of the financial burdens that come with owning a home. CEE makes it possible for Habitat for Humanity to achieve greater energy efficiency in their homes, from larger initiatives like solar power to small improvements that can make a big difference to homeowners. “CEE is great at identifying low-hanging fruit to improve efficiency, like air sealing a home, since sometimes larger energy initiatives can be cost-prohibitive," said Moriah Baltz, construction project manager at Habitat for Humanity.
In addition to performing energy ratings on Habitat for Humanity’s homes, CEE also partners with Habitat for Humanity on furthering research. Recently, the two organizations tested a new air sealing technique that uses aero barrier sealing technology, a more efficient way to seal cracks in homes. Habitat for Humanity let CEE test this technique in their homes, which provided Habitat for Humanity with access to new technology to improve their homes that would have otherwise been too expensive.
“We feel very grateful for CEE’s support and guidance. They know the program well, so they are great at identifying new opportunities for us to improve our energy efficiency and providing helpful educational resources,” said Moriah, construction project manager at Habitat for Humanity.