High Performance Home – Program Requirements

High Performance Home Program Summary:

  1. HERS Index of 70
  2. High Performance Home Framing & Insulation Inspection Checklist
  3. Insulation Installed Properly (RESNET Grade II or better)
  4. Advanced Framing
  5. Envelope Leakage Test Confirmed 5 ACH or less
  6. HVAC Duct Leakage Test 6% or less
  7. HVAC Manual J Review
  8. Mechanical Fresh Air
  9. Home Energy Monitoring System

Detailed Requirements

  1. HERS Index of 70 or Lower

Through energy modeling the home must be at least 15% more efficient than a home built to the state energy code minimum requirements, thus will meet a 70 HERS Index or lower. This offers builders the flexibility to deliver greater energy efficiency at a lower cost.


Example suggestions of upgrades that will help improve a home’s HERS Index:

ü  Radiant Barrier Roof Sheathing

ü  100% High Efficacy Lighting

ü  ENERGY STAR Appliances – Refrigerator and Dishwasher

ü  Slab Edge Insulation

ü  14 SEER (or Higher) HVAC

ü  Meet RESNET Grade I insulation or better.

ü  Hybrid Water Heaters

ü  Improved Windows with .32 U-Factor and .25 SHGC

ü  Locating HVAC and equipment in conditioned space.


  1. High Performance Home Framing & Insulation Inspection Checklist

Our 41 point checklist ensures alignment of the home’s air and thermal boundaries, which will improve comfort, durability, energy efficiency and air quality.   Our certified HERS Raters or BPI Building Analyst professionals will verify compliance with High Performance Home Framing & Inspection Checklist as well as state energy code compliance.


  1. Insulation Installed Properly (RESNET Grade II or better)

Insulation shall be properly installed, free of gaps, voids, compression, misalignment, and wind intrusion. Grade III insulation will not be allowed. Grade II or better insulation will be required and will mean that insulator will need to install insulation per manufacturer’s guidelines, which too often is not the case. Batts must be split around wires, plumbing, and other anomalies in building cavity.


  1. Advanced Framing

Advanced Framing details shall be incorporated at Corners, T’s, and Headers to allow for insulation where possible. We encourage builders to also use greater spacing for walls, floors, and roofing systems where possible. Architect, engineer, or code official may over-ride this requirement on as needed basis.  High performance wall systems like SIP’s and ICF’s meet this requirement.


  1. Envelope Leakage Test Confirmed at 5 ACH or less

A HERS Rater must confirm through a blower door test that the envelope of home meets a 5 ACH 50 or .30 cfm per square feet of envelope. No visual inspection optional path.


  1. HVAC Duct Leakage Test 6% or less

HERS Rater must confirm that the HVAC system and duct work not exceed 6% duct leakage to the outside.


  1. HVAC Manual J Review

A copy of the Manual J 8th Edition must be submitted to Above and Beyond Energy during the Preliminary stage for a review to ensure that the HVAC equipment is Right Sized. With a high performance home it is critical that the system be designed to run long enough to dehumidify air in the home.


  1. Mechanical Fresh Air

Fresh air must be introduced to the home utilizing a regionally appropriate strategy. When building a tight home it is important to provide clean, dehumidified, filtered fresh air for the occupants.


  1. Home Energy Monitoring System

Home must incorporate a home energy monitoring system that will allow the homeowner to view in real-time how much their home is costing them. Home energy monitoring systems connect homeowners with their High Performance Home and allow them to view in real-time how much their home is costing them to operate.


High Performance Home Process

                  Phase I: Preliminary Rating

During the preliminary rating process, we work with the builder to confirm that the energy related features of the home will ensure that the home is at least 15% more energy efficient than a home built to minimum code.


A review of the Manual J load calculation will ensure that the HVAC system and duct work is sized properly for the home. This critical step is often overlooked and homes with systems that are too large will not dehumidify the air properly and moisture issues can result. If, during our review we find problems with the load, then we work with the HVAC designer to correct the issues to ensure the equipment is Right Sized.

                  Phase II: Framing and Insulation Inspection

At the insulation stage, all homes must be verified to meet the High Performance Home Framing and Insulation Inspection Checklist by a HERS Rater or BPI Envelope Professional. Prior to plumbing, mechanical, and electrical rough-ins, a framing walk-through must be completed for all unique model types in order to address specify building details in the proper sequence.


                  Phase III: Final Inspection with Blower Door and HVAC duct leakage test

At the final stage of construction, ideally at least a week prior to closing, a HERS Rater will confirm that all of the designed energy features are installed in the home. They will also confirm other program requirements such as the blower door test and HVAC duct system test.


After the field inspections are completed the HERS Rater will produce a Confirmed HERS Rating and it must have a HERS Index of 70 or lower in order to earn the High Performance Home Certification.


We also provide documentation for energy code compliance at this stage and post the energy efficiency certificate in the homes electrical panel.



High Performance Homes Checklist

Phase I: Preliminary Review

  1. Plan Review confirming HERS 70 or lower
  2. Manual J – HVAC load calculation review
  3. Mechanical Fresh air design review

Phase II: Rough Inspections – Framing & Insulation Inspection Checklist

Insulation Grading

  1. Wall Insulation is Grade II or better
  2. Floor Insulation is Grade II or better
  3. Ceiling Insulation is Grade II or better

Walls – Six sided air barriers for:

  1. Walls behind showers and tubs
  2. Walls behind fireplaces
  3. Attic knee walls
  4. Wall adjoining porch roof
  5. Staircase walls
  6. Double Walls

RIMS and Floors

  1. Garage rim / band joist adjoining conditioned space
  2. Cantilevered floor
  3. Insulation in contact with floor above garage
  4. Floor above unconditioned basement or crawlspace
  5. Blocking under all knee walls


  1. Dropped ceiling / soffit below unconditioned attic
  2. All other ceilings
  3. Rigid insulation dams at attic access and soffits
  4. Access doors insulated and air-sealed


  1. Duct / flue shaft
  2. Plumbing / piping
  3. Electrical / data wiring
  4. Other plate penetrations
  5. Bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans
  6. Recessed ICAT lighting with gasket and/or caulk

Other Envelope Requirements

  1. Sill plates sealed to floors over unconditioned space
  2. Continuous top plates
  3. Top plates sealed to sheetrock
  4. Windows and doors sealed with caulk or foam
  5. Multi-family common walls air sealed

Advanced Framing

  1. Advanced Framing – Insulated Corners, Headers, T’s
  2. Stud spacing 16” o.c. minimumand limited framing per structural code, no additional
  3. High heel truss achieves R19 over outer edge top plate
  4. Optional: Increased spacing Joists, Trusses & Studs

Phase III: Final Inspections

  1. Confirmed rating with HERS 70 or lower
  2. Blower Door Test confirmed at 5 ACH50 or less
  3. Duct Leakage Test confirmed at 6% or less
  4. Mechanical Fresh Air system installed
  5. Home Energy Monitoring system installed


High Performance Home +

High Performance Home Program dovetails:


ENERGY STAR certified new homes are designed and built to 15 percent more energy efficient compared to typical new homes built in the Carolinas. A new home that has earned the ENERGY STAR label has undergone a process of inspections, testing, and verification to meet strict requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), delivering better quality, better comfort, and better durability.


ü  Duke Energy Progress – HERO Program

With rebates up to $4,000, Duke Energy Progress Residential New Construction Program provides generous cash incentives to builders and developers who build new energy-efficient homes and multi-family residences in Duke Energy Progress service territory.

ü  NC and/or SC Energy Code compliance testing

The North Carolina energy code requires testing of the homes envelope and HVAC duct system and is included with High Performance Home Certification. Energy Efficiency certificates are posted in the electrical panel of the home demonstrating compliance with the energy code.



High Performance Home – Glossary of Terms

ACH 50

Air Changes per Hour at 50 Pascal’s, commonly referred to as ACH and is the main unit of measurement for a blower door test.


Advanced Framing

Framing in such a way where insulation is allowed at corners, interior / exterior wall intersections, and headers without compromising any structural integrity.


Air Barrier

An air barrier is usually a solid material, such as plywood, thermo ply, or foam board that stops the flow of air through the homes envelope. House wrap is only considered an air barrier if it is sealed at the perimeter and seams.


Air Sealant

An air sealant is a flexible material such as caulk or foam that fill gaps or seams in air barrier materials to stop the flow of air through the homes envelope.



Typically framing members are added to the structure in specific locations to create proper air barriers.


Blower Door Test

A blower door test is the industry standard tool to quantify a home’s air leakage rate and is a measure of leakage at a specified pressure of 50 Pascal’s compared to the home’s volume.


CFM 50

Cubic Feet per Minute at 50 Pascal’s.


Duct Blast Test

The HVAC and duct system test is performed through the use of a “Duct Blaster”. This tool quantifies duct leakage volume in CFM at 25 Pascal’s. This is the test method used to demonstrate compliance with the duct leakage requirements of High Performance Home Program and North Carolina energy code and HERO code.


EnergySmart Builder

Builders who commit to 100% HERS Ratings for all of their homes are licensed to use the EnergySmart Builder logo and other marketing resources offered by RESNET.



Sometimes called a home’s Shell or Thermal Envelope, we are referring to the boundary of the home that follows the conditioned space as it abuts unconditioned space.   is usually comprised of the floors, walls, and ceilings. Ideally the homes insulation (thermal barrier) and Air Barriers are working together to create an effective envelope. Unfortunately many homes built today will have significant failures in the homes envelope and is often the reason for high energy bills, uncomfortable rooms, moisture issues, and air quality issues. We believe getting the home’s Envelope right is essential! To get the home’s envelope right, it must be done before drywall is hung.


HERS Rating

Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rating is the standardized process for evaluating and estimating a home’s energy consumption.



North Carolina’s optional HERO code stands for High Efficiency Residential Option code. This is a more stringent optional code that some utilities and builders can choose to follow.


HERS Index

Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index is a number given to a home after a “Confirmed” rating has been performed by a HERS Rater. The HERS Index indicates how much more or less efficient a home is as compared to the 2006 International Energy Codes (IECC). A home with a HERS Index of 70 means it uses 30% less energy than a Standard Home built to the 2006 IECC which would score a 100.


Home Energy Monitoring System

A home energy monitoring system provides instant feedback to occupants about energy use and costs of home operation. When appliances are shut off, occupants can see how much money they are saving.

Knee Walls

Vertical walls of homes envelope with conditioned space on one side and attic space on the other. Like other exterior walls, we want effective air barriers on all six sides of these walls.



Solar Heat Gain Coefficient is a rating for windows which expresses the amount of solar thermal radiation that is rejected and not allowed to pass through the window. A SHGC of .30 means that 70% of the radiant heat coming through sunlight is blocked and not allowed to enter the home.



A rating of the thermal performance of material, typically for windows and doors. Expressed as a fraction, the U-Factor is the inverse of R-Value and the lower U-Factor, the better thermal performance of the window.


Manual J

This is the manual that specifies the process to determine how to produce a load calculation for a home, which in turn, determines the size of the HVAC equipment for the home.


Mechanical Fresh Air

A mechanical fresh air system provides clean, dehumidified, filtered fresh air for the occupants. We don’t want a home to leak just enough, we want to build it tight and ventilate it right.


Right Sized

Right Sized is the process for ensuring accuracy in determining the load for the home, which determines the equipment size. Particularly in Hot Humid climates, we want the HVAC system to run long enough to dehumidify the air in the home. Too often, homes have over-sized HVAC systems and they get to set-point temperature quickly, but don’t run long enough to reduce humidity. When the occupant isn’t comfortable due to high humidity, they drive the thermostat down and the cycle continues until dew point is met and moisture issues take their toll on the home in the form of condensation, mold and mildew, nail pops, and on. In this climate it is critical that the HVAC system is Right Sized!




Residential Energy Services Network or RESNET is the governing body for our industry and HERS Ratings.


Standard Home

                  A home built to the minimum energy code.