The Builder of the Year sees the world in green — for buyers, for the environment, and for the economy
By Julia Edinger
Curated by Abby Pittman
The annual Pubby Awards issue is finally here. After much consideration and reader input, we are proud to recognize Meritage Homes as Green Home Builder Magazine’s Builder of the Year. For their commitment to green building, the high demand for their houses, and their commitment to go above and beyond, it is evident that Meritage Homes should be Builder of the Year.
The year of 2018 included many changes, but one of the most prominent is the growing commitment in the industry to green building. Meritage has long been a part of this movement; they are the longest serving production builder certifying 100 percent of their homes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® program. Meritage should be recognized for their quantity and continuity of production as well; they build more zero-energy homes than any other production homebuilder. At this year’s International Builders Show in Orlando, Florida, Meritage built a demonstration home to exhibit some improvements in passive housing, recyclable materials, and more. They built learning centers across the country to educate industry professionals on effective green building. The greatest accomplishment for Meritage this year was that through the efficient construction and design of their homes, they facilitated over 8,000 new homebuyers to save an estimated $9 million in energy costs and avoid burning over 55 million pounds of coal each year. The past year consisted of big green initiatives for Meritage; 2019 is expected to follow suit.
Buyers know that when they buy an energy-efficient Meritage home, it will exceed ENERGY STAR® standards. Meritage’s customers can also expect to be buying a home that includes the use of energy efficiency, thoughtful design, healthy materials, smarter controls, and comfort. As a leader in the green building initiative, Meritage wants to create the best value for their buyers, so they work with experts to consistently improve their homebuilding approach. C.R. Herro, Vice President of Innovation at Meritage Homes, considers homebuilding both an honor and a responsibility— “Homes represent the most significant physical asset most families own. It is where they celebrate, recuperate, and raise their families.”
The past year has also provided a larger focus on affordability for both homebuilders and homebuyers. The new lumber tariffs increased supply costs, which affected everyone. Meritage may have been less affected than some, though, due to their consistent use of recyclable materials whenever possible. Meritage also makes homes more affordable through the use of energy-efficient features. In response to the high demand for affordable homes, Meritage has expanded its LiVE.NOW.® communities throughout the country. These affordable, newly constructed homes offer a streamlined transaction process which keeps the unique needs of first-time and move-down buyers as a high priority; they do so without compromising the energy-efficient qualities that Meritage Homes is known for.
Another major challenge in the industry is the evolution into green building. This affects both builders and buyers, because although energy efficiency can reduce annual and monthly costs for buyers, the initial cost can act as a deterrent for many of them. Meritage is attempting to overcome this challenge by enabling and educating buyers and builders alike. To Meritage, green building is not only a smart decision for personal reasons, but it is also the best decision fiscally.
The LiVE.NOW. communities are especially popular in the Southwest. Lack of affordability in California has caused many residents to seek housing in Arizona as an alternative. Meritage has several options for LiVE.NOW. communities in Phoenix, as well as in other major cities across the country. In addition to these communities, throughout the past year, Meritage has created communities that appeal to different markets: first-time, moveup, and move-down. From California to North Carolina, and including many markets in between, Meritage is leading the green building industry.
While other building companies are attempting to follow in the way of the green standards Meritage has set, it is impossible to match the design and craftsmanship that has set this homebuilder apart from competition for over 30 years. According to Herro, “What has been standing out for many of our buyers is the lifestyle once they move in.” Herro notes that in addition to the aesthetics of the home, the improved performance allows buyers to notice the benefits from their residency within a Meritage home such as low utility costs, comfortable second floor living during hot weather, and health. Meritage is focused on a home’s health for both the resident and the environment. Says Herro, “One of the most rewarding comments we receive is from buyers with allergies or other health problems who report feeling better living in a Meritage home.”
In 2019, Meritage will continue to pave the way for the industry. Bringing another Net-Zero Energy community to the market in 2019, CitySquare will open in Irvine, California in February 2019. In addition to opening several more wonderful communities, Meritage will launch the expansion of their home automation system with the M.Connected Home™ Automation Suite. Meritage is able to provide customers with devices that make life more safe and convenient. Herro sees these features as more than a factor of convenience— “Home automation provides a new frontier of not simply helping to reduce waste, but of responsiveness to homeowners’ behaviors to improve function, empower homeowners, and sneak in a little education to get the most from their new green home.”
Julia Edinger is the Editorial Assistant for Green Home Builder Magazine. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abby Pittman is the Editor for Green Home Builder Magazine. She may be reached at email@example.com.
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