The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched the Builders Challenge on February 14, 2008, calling on the U.S. homebuilding industry to build 220,000 high-performance, energy efficient homes by 2012. The voluntary programme also aims for 1.3 million of these high-performance homes to be built by 2030. DOE ranks all homes participating in the Builders Challenge on the EnergySmart Home scale, or "E-scale", which is based on the well-established Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index and rates a home based on its overall energy performance. Todays typical new homes score 100 on this scale, while zero-energy homes, which produce as much energy as they consume, score a zero. For the Builders Challenge, all homes must rank a 70 or lower to qualify and meet the Builders Challenge Quality Criteria, making them a minimum of 30% more efficient than the average new home built to model energy efficiency codes. DOE and its partners will offer technical information, resources, and marketing tools to support builders across the nation in meeting the Challenge on their own or through a partner programme. Participating builders will also qualify for tax credits and utility benefits.
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