Energy-efficient home designs showcased at annual competition

Winners of the third annual Energy Star and The House Designers’ Residential Design Competition were announced in Austin, Texas on June 1, with top designs aimed at tackling energy efficiency and the potential weather threats associated with global warming.

The annual competition showcases innovative methods and designs that can be applied in the real world to new home construction.

Sponsored by Energy Star, a rating system that measures environmental impact, and a host of other industry leaders, including appliance manufacturers and construction companies, the competition attracts designs from architects across the country.

Winning designs are offered through The House Designers, an exclusive provider of ready-for-construction energy efficient house plans.

"This competition was designed to encourage the leading residential designers and architects in the U.S. to design fresh, original, cutting-edge house plans in support of our partnership with Energy Star and to encourage consumers and builders to implement sustainability and energy efficiency in the design phase before construction begins," Tammy Crosby, Cheif Operating Officer of The House Designs, said in a news release.

The first place design featured energy efficient aspects that also addressed flood concerns, targeting areas most at risk during hurricane season. The other finalists also followed the theme of energy efficiency and potential climatic disaster.

According to design guidelines, the homes must be 20 to 30 percent more energy efficient than the average property currently on the market to qualify for the Energy Star label.

Energy efficiency is not just an option for homebuyers starting construction of their house from the ground up. Owners of older houses can utilize new energy efficient materials and techniques when renovating their homes that can help lower energy costs with relatively low ecological impact. By getting an energy audit from a home inspection contractor, waste can be identified and homeowners can take the proper steps to make their properties more environmentally friendly.