The Mason County Habitat for Humanity affiliate has just been awarded the first Energy Star certificate from the Habitat in house HERS rating program. Michael Lopez, Sustainable Building Specialist, has been working with the affiliate since last year and is happy to report that their HERS Index came in at 64. This means that it is 36% more efficient than a typical house built to building codes alone. A code built house would usually score a 100 on the index’ scale.Michael first contacted the affiliate’s Volunteer Construction Supervisor, Keith Kaan, last May to complete a questionnaire which would allow him to “baseline” their current house plan and design. This service is available to all Habitat affiliates in Texas with the goal of achieving HFHI’s recommended level of construction certification - Energy Star.Mason County had previously engaged a local HERS rater , but as the year went by, it was evident that their previous rater wouldn’t be able to continue his work with the affiliate. So it was determined that Habitat Texas would step in and fill that role. Although the result of this yearlong effort was successful, it wasn’t without some tense moments. For example, the HVAC contractor was a new sub for the affiliate and did not advocate the use of Manual D and J calculations for the sizing of the ducts and equipment.When the contractor finally performed these tests, Keith asked Michael to review the reports to verify the tonnage of the system. The two ton unit recommended seemed excessive and after Michael hired a consultant to do a separate Manual J, the system was reduced to 1.5 tons. This not only saved the affiliate money, but also saved the Partner Family money in the form of lower monthly utility bills for the life of the equipment.The final success should come in the form of $3,000.00 to the affiliate from HFHI a as part of the Partners in Sustainable Building program.