Revolutionizing Energy-Efficient Living

Leading U.S. home builder, Meritage Homes, is making moves into new markets and staying true to their eco-conscious commitment.
By Carina Calhoun

Going above and beyond to exceed sustainable measures, Meritage Homes is a builder that takes pride in bringing eco-friendly elements to comfortable living homes.

With more than 150 active communities and 2,497 net orders to date, as well as expanding into new markets such as Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., and Tampa, Fla., the builder is believed to be setting their sights high as the home building industry continues to pick up speed.

Meritage is known for offering cost-effective homes with quality craftsmanship. Over the last several years, Meritage has taken a leadership role in utilizing better materials and components to greatly improve the energy-efficiency, indoor air quality and performance of every home they build. According to CR Herro, vice president of Environmental Affairs at Meritage Homes, the company was the first national builder to certify every home to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star for Homes. Meritage has consistently exceeded the minimum Energy Star requirements; building many communities that achieve Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score less than 40 and introducing the first Net-Zero production homes. Meritage also built the first homes in the U.S. certified to all three EPA green programs: Energy Star, Indoor airPLUS and WaterSense. “Meritage Homes are not only built to achieve these certifications, but exceed them to make the best building science available to today’s homebuyer,” stated Herro. Today, any home Meritage builds can have those certifications as a homebuyer option.

Creating active communities in areas such as California, Texas, North Carolina, Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Nevada, Meritage stays commited to the effort to improve home building practices and provide affordable and quality homes. To translate the environmental effect of their homes to homebuyers, Meritage creates a partially deconstructed model home — also known as a Learning Center — in its communities to educate on the performance and materials of a Meritage home and assist buyers to make an informed decision. Herro said, “In building better functioning homes, Meritage recognizes the importance of resetting customers’ expectations on the cost, comfort and healthier environment they should expect in a new home.” He continued, “When we talk to buyers about all of the benefits they experience from how we build our homes, the Learning Center provides the validation of those claims, by showing how the same looking light, window, or piece of insulation doesn’t work the same. The centers offer simple, tactile ways to understand how the components translate into a better quality of life for the buyers.” Allowing the customer to see behind the walls, into the ceiling and to experience the energy-efficient features first-hand, helps the homebuyer understand how these homes save on utility bills and offer technology-advanced living.

The abundant amount of eco-friendly features in a Meritage home include: Energy Starcertified appliances; water-efficient faucets; low-E2 or E3 vinyl windows; programmable thermostat; low-VOC paints and finishes and minimum SEER 14 HVAC system, to name just a few. Steve Hilton, chairman and CEO of Meritage Homes, explained, “Sealing the home with spray foam insulation, and enhancing the performance of our windows and mechanical systems are among a host of features that drive our totally integrated system. We think that over time, not only will buyers pay a premium for energy-efficient homes, but they will certainly justify a premium value over the aging housing stock that makes up the majority of homes in our country.”

Being no stranger to success, the builder has won numerous industry awards for their innovative company outlook and environmentallyenhanced building practices. In 2011, Meritage was named Energy Star Builder of the Year from the U.S. Enviornmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 2012, NAHB’s National Green Building Awards recognized Meritage’s Ploeser Net-Zero in Goodyear, Ariz., for “Project of the Year – Single Family Production.”

Also, the builder was named 2012 MAME “Green Builder of the Year” from the Building Industry Association’s (BIA) Bay Area. Staying competitive is no easy task in today’s challenging market, though Meritage makes it look effortless while continuing to explore and implement green building practices and costeffective approaches to their homes. “The potential of home building is rapidly evolving as materials and technology that was not previously cost effective, is becoming cost-effective through economies of scale as consumers become more informed and make better long term choices for their families and as an investment,” stated Herro. Hilton added, “We’ve created a new standard for energy-efficient home building by completely redesigning how our homes operate and function.”

Meritage builds homes for move-up, move-down, first-time and active-adult buyers, positioning its communities in the most desirable areas and employing comprehensive market research to offer what most buyers want within the appropriate price range for each community. According to Herro, Meritage’s innovation programs are designed to optimize the benefit to the consumer, while maintaining initial cost competitiveness to the market. As for the near future of Meritage, their goal is simple: Acquire new lot positions in the best locations available at reasonable prices, for high-quality communities, according to Herro. Hilton said, “We created a Strategic Market Research function that allowed us to more intelligently underwrite land acquisitions, price our product and design our homes to meet our customers’ true needs and desires.”

With more than 75,000 homes built, from their unique standards in building techniques and the energy-efficient features included in every home, to being able to build Net-Zero production homes and adding a deconstructed approach to allow consumers behind the scenes of green building, Meritage Homes has proven their longevity and leadership in the home building industry. Hilton stated, “Just as some automobiles today are propelled by something other than fossil fuels, some of our homes produce as much energy as they consume, and I intend for Meritage to continue to be at the forefront of that revolution.”

Carina Calhoun is an editor at Builder and Developer. She may be contacted at

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