Renewable Energy Checklist for Homebuilders

Published Jul 29, 2008

Woman giving thumbs-up beside house with solar panels on roof


  • Is the long face of the building oriented to within 30 degrees of due south? (15 degrees is even better.)
  • Is there unobstructed southern exposure?
  • Will trees grow to block the sun?
  • Might a building be built in the future that could block the sun?

Energy Efficiency

  • Are you going beyond the code requirements for insulation? For the performance of windows?

Air Infiltration

  • Are you taking extra care to ensure tight construction?


  • Have you increased the south-facing window area to the maximum for your design choices?
  • Could casement windows be used to capture breezes?
  • Have you planned for cross-ventilation?
  • Are you using energy-efficient windows?
  • Have you considered using different windows for each face of the building?
  • Is there adequate shading on the south, east, and west windows?

Interior Design

  • Are the main living spaces near south-facing windows?
  • Are unused spaces such as closets and storage rooms on the north and west sides of the building?
  • Does the floor plan allow for the movement of heat in the winter and ventilation in the summer?
  • Is the garage located on the east, west, or north side?


  • Does your design maximize the use of natural light?
  • Do you have light-colored interior surfaces?


  • Are you using healthy building materials obtained from local sources?


  • Have you downsized your mechanical system for the decreased energy demand?
  • Have you provided a means for ventilation in all living spaces of the building?
  • Does your open plan allow for ease of air movement?

Solar Water Heaters

  • Have you considered using a solar water heater?


  • Have you checked for financial incentive programs for energy-efficient construction or the use of solar energy?


  • Have you looked for lenders that offer lower-rate energy-efficient mortgages?  

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