August 2007

Building America Program Honors Two Florida Builders

When two Gainesville homebuilders were honored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in April for their commitment to building energy-efficient homes, it was also public recognition of FSEC, since the Center has led the Building America team that works with these builders since 1999.

Photo of roll of chemochromic film.
Mr. Steve Chalk (center), Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy at DOE, Mr. Bill Haslebacher (right) with DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory and home energy rater Ken Fonorow of Florida H.E.R.O. (Building America team member) review insulation details of a Building America home under construction.

The DOE Building America program is a nationwide research and technical assistance partnership that brings together teams of energy-efficiency experts to work with homebuilders.  The goal of the program is to cost-effectively reduce whole-house energy use by 20 percent or more compared to code minimum homes while improving indoor air quality, durability, and comfort.

G.W. Robinson Builders, Inc., and Tommy Williams Homes were honored by DOE for their leadership in making their homes energy-efficient.  Robinson has been working with Building America since 2001 and his CobbleField community of 265 homes was the first in Florida to have all the homes meet the Building America standards.  The company has now built more than 350 Building America homes.  Tommy Williams has been a Building America builder since 2004 and has built more than 180 homes to Building America standards so far.

Among the features typically found in these builders’ homes are double-pane, low-e vinyl frame windows, extensive use of compact fluorescent bulbs, high-efficiency HVAC equipment with properly sized equipment and ductwork that ensures outstanding comfort, R-30 ceiling insulation and indoor air quality features that include ducted exhaust fans, air handlers in conditioned spaces and air sealing to reduce infiltration. Detailed features on the builders’ homes can be found at

Photo of roll of chemochromic film.
Mr. Steve Chalk (center) gets a look at behind the scenes features that go into exemplary Building America homes with G. W. Robinson (left) and Bill Howard (right) both of G. W. Robinson Builders, Inc. - one of the two Building America partners recognized for building homes that meet Building America standards.

The results of these features are Home Energy Index scores significantly better than those required for ENERGY STAR® status. The systems engineering and rating of each of these homes is performed by the Florida Home Energy Resources Organization in a cost-shared partnership with the builders and FSEC.

Presenting awards to the builders at the April 25 ceremony was Steve Chalk, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy at DOE. William Haslebacher of DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory was also on hand for the ceremony.  Subrato Chandra, director of the FSEC Building America project, noted that “All of us on the FSEC team are very proud to be a part of this effort.  Our research efforts are helping DOE and this program and it’s clear that many builders all over the country are following the Building America program and its guidelines.  It’s a win-win for everyone, since the consumer gets a home that is very comfortable with low utility costs and improved indoor air quality, and the builder gets a more marketable product while we all make a significant contribution to lowering greenhouse gas emissions.  I’m just so proud that FSEC has been a key player in this program over the years.”

More information on the Building America team led by FSEC, along with case studies of other energy-efficient homes, is available at