\ CHANGE FOR THE
* ,^V BETTER with
ENERGY STAR
Pinellas County Community
Development, Clearwater
Florida
The Pinellas County Department of
Community Development promotes the
production of energy efficient affordable
housing through its Model Homes
program, where participating builders
and non-profits construct and certify
new homes to Energy Star.
Model Homes is an incentive program
that offers builders zero interest
construction loans and access to low cost
infill land in exchange for a commitment
to meet certain quality standards and to
offer homes at affordable prices to
eligible buyers.
Homes must be offered for less than
$190,000 to buyers making less than
80% of area median income.
Energy Efficiency
Energy Star certification is a key
requirement of the Program. All builders
must agree to meet minimum Energy
Star guidelines and the County requires a
copy of the Energy Star Award
certificate for completion of the loan
contract.
The Model Homes definition of
affordability does not only apply to sales
price. By implementing the Energy Star
standards, Pinellas County is able to
ensure that its low-income buyers will
have lower energy bills and higher
quality homes.
The utility costs for a Model Homes
Program house is estimated at $60-$ 100
per month, around half of the County
average.
Implementation
Participating builders design and build
homes to achieve the Energy Star
certification. The local utility, Progress
Energy, provides no cost inspections and
testing and reimburses builders for
certification costs. Homes certified
before July 2006 were constructed with
13-SEER heat pumps; R-30 attic batt
insulation and interior R-5 foam board
affixed to concrete block walls; partially
enclosed untinted single-pane aluminum
windows; and detailed air sealing at
windows & doors, plates, and
penetrations.
Homes certified to the current Energy
Star criteria are constructed with 14-
SEER heat pumps, In meeting the
requirements for Energy Star
certification the following are mandated
in all Model Homes Program houses:
~	14-SEER heat pump systems
Energy Star dishwashers and
more efficient water heaters
~	Enclosed windows with shudders
and porches
;-,r R-30 attic batt insulation and
interior R-5 foam board affixed
to concrete block walls
Compact fluorescent lighting

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Costs to meet the new Energy Star
criteria are about $400 for upgraded heat
pumps and water heaters, $1,500 for
more fully shading windows, and about
$100 in lighting upgrades.
Financing
The Pinellas County Model Homes
Program is funded through the State
Housing Incentives Program (SHIP).
SHIP provides funds directly to local
governments to increase affordable
housing opportunities in their
communities.
Pinellas provides construction financing
for houses built with income and cost
restrictions in certain geographic areas
covered by his program. Homes must be
3-BR, 2-bath and have 2-car garages
with a target cost of under $190,000.
Buyers must have incomes less than
80% of area median income or 120% in
target development areas. A typical
home is 1,200 to 1,400 square feet.
Construction loans are offered for up to
80% of the anticipated selling price.
Home buyers are supported by non-
profits offering down payment assistance
and home buyer classes. Pinellas has
also pre-approved lenders under the
program.
Upon project completion and buyer
occupancy, the builder also receives a
refund for County transportation impact
and water/sewer connection fees.
Affordability
Pinellas County offers qualified low-
income buyers down payment assistance
in the form of low-interest loans. These
loans are used to bring buyer's monthly
payments down to 32% of their total
income. The loan amount cannot exceed
25% of the purchase price or $20,000,
whichever value is lower.
The County has an income table that sets
upper limits for qualified households.
This limit assures that the houses are
purchased by low-to-moderate income
buyers. Most homes are sold to families
that make 80% or less of the area
median.
For a typical 1,200 square foot home,
one builder estimates average utility
costs are about $80 per month.
Community
Maintaining the character and the quality
of the local community is an important
part of the Model Homes Program.
A key component of builder approval is
that proposed designs and plans are
consistent with neighborhood
improvement objectives. Homes built
under the program must contribute to
upgrading the neighborhood and must
not conflict with stated design or style
preferences of the community.
The program works by creating public
private partnerships to make land
available and to identify participating

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builders and non-profit developers.
Builders participating directly must be
pre-approved based on their track
records and ability to construct homes to
program requirements. Non-profit
developers can apply and do the building
in-house or can partner with turnkey
builders. As with approved builders, the
non-profits must establish a track record
of performance.
To effectively participate, builders must
have good credentials and product and
demonstrate a proven history of
effectively marketing their housing
product to eligible homebuyers.
The Bottom Line
Thus far the Model Homes Program has
overseen the construction of 48 Energy
Star Certified homes since 2002.
Pinellas County and assists construction
of 24-30 homes annually.
With material and land prices rising over
the past few years, affordable entry
homes have risen from around $80,000
to more than $170,000. Pinellas has
implemented a strategy that both lowers
operating costs using Energy Star and
reduces home price, to ensure housing
affordability.
For more information
www.pinellascountv.org
www.energystar.gov

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