What is EarthCraft?
EarthCraft Virginia is a green building program and provides a certification process for new, residential construction that serves as a blueprint for healthy, comfortable homes that reduce utility bills and protect the environment. This state-wide program is a partnership between Southface Energy Institute (Atlanta, GA) and the Home Builders Association of Virginia. 

The EarthCraft program was created over ten years ago in Atlanta, Georgia, by collaboration of Southface Energy Institute and the Atlanta Home Builders Association.  With national recognition and respect as a technically sound voluntary green building program, EarthCraft House allows builders to raise the bar in quality construction, growth management and environmental stewardship. 

Throughout the southeast, EarthCraft House has certified over 4000 homes. The EarthCraft House Program was brought to Virginia in 2005 to fill the need for an established green building process.  EarthCraft Virginia has evolved into one of the largest regional green building programs in the country and continues to grow and provide a more sustainable future for all. 

Our Involvement with EarthCraft
Jeff Sowder Incorporated is a custom home builder and has built and certified green custom homes in Roanoke and Smith Mountain Lake to the EarthCraft standard.  Through our association with the EarthCraft Virginia green building program, we were the first EarthCraft Virginia builder to certify a new home (in January 2012) to the recently upgraded ENERGY STAR version 3 requirements.  ENERGY STAR version 3 is considered to be a significant upgrade in the program and we were proud to be a trailblazer along with our partners, Cundiff HVAC and HERS rater Wheat Energy (Leo Watkins).  ENERGY STAR version 3 is a core requirement for EarthCraft certification at the gold and platinum levels. 

How It Works 
Builders are guided through a design review to identify site planning and construction decisions.  A holistic, point-based worksheet is adopted addressing all aspects of:
The worksheet provides an array of options that can be combined in various formulas to make projects certifiably green.  An energy analysis confirms that each home will meet a higher standard and prove a minimum 30% reduction in energy consumption over the 2006 IECC (energy portion of the building code).  Ongoing third-party verification ensures quality, from site preparation to final diagnostic house testing.
Blower door testing (by a third-party inspector) in progress on a custom home in Roanoke 

Why Build EarthCraft?
EarthCraft promotes diligent air sealing of the building enclosure and its mechanical systems while still allowing for fresh air intake.  Air sealing at little additional cost, provides a tighter building enclosure and thus homes are more energy efficient and less costly to occupy.  Because homes are tight and properly balanced, pollutants are eliminated, resulting in better indoor air quality.  Resource efficient materials such as concrete with fly ash, cellulose insulation, carpet pad and carpet containing recycled materials are some of the options builders and homeowners can choose to defer wastes from landfills.  With windows and insulation levels that meet or exceed conventional code requirements, water conservation measures, and the use of ENERGY STAR appliances, utility bills remain low after move-in.  Homeowners boast of comfort and the security of owning a durable home.  Not only is the EarthCraft certification healthy for the environment, but it’s healthy for the homeowner and their wallet. 

For more information, visit EarthCraftVA.org.EarthCraft technical advisor and HERS rater Leo Watkins inputs inspection data into his computer for a custom home at Smith Mountain Lake, VA