Members of area home-building associations are offering their own seven-point program as an alternative to national or state regulations governing insulation and other energy-saving construction standards.
The commitment to energy conservation in construction of new houses now is endorsed by hundreds of area builders who subscribe to the E-7 seven energy-saving procedures) originated several years ago by the Suburban Maryland Home Builders Association.
It is estimated that more than 8,000 new area homes now are covered by the E-7 program, which also is used by home builders in Northern Virginia and the District.
Louis Best, chairman of the SMHBA energy committee, said that the E-7 construction standards are "six paces ahead of proposed federal regulations on energy-conservation for homes and are done without any federal grants." He added that the specifications of E-7 meet or exceed national thermal peformance guidelines for building energy performance standards proposed by the Department of Energy.
The E-7 standards represent energy and a recovery of dollars spent for energy conservation within seven years at today's utility rates. The standards include ceiling and wall insulation, windows and doors, sealants and caulking, domestic hot water heaters and water flow conservation.
Best, who is a vice president of a Montgomery County homebuilding firm, said that E-7 houses, which are so identified by their builders, have an "energy envelope" that extends from 16 inches below ground level to the top of the roof. Included are perimter insulation, plus requirements for ceilings, attics, masonary wall cavities, vents and waste lines, hot water lines and heaters.
E-7 requirements also include double-glazing for windows and sliding glass doors, magnetic weather stripping for metal-insulated doors and sealants for exterior cracks and holes.
Best suggested that prospective new home buyers shop for insulation and energy-conservation features because builders now indicate thickness of insulation and resistance values of products and construction in compliance with Maryland laws.
In the builder association E-7 program, stars are awarded builders who offer more than the required energy-saving standards.
"We really distilled and adapted the thermal performance guidelines promulgated several years ago by the National Association of Home Builders for use in this climate," Best said. He added that participating builders pledge compliance with standards and are "unofficially monitored."
Adoption of national building energy performance standards, proposed by the Deaprtment of Energy and opposed by organized home builders who regard the program as overcomplicated and administratively costly, has been delayed by Congress until August 1982.
Meanwhile Ryland Homes has completed a showcase energy-saving houses in the Dorsey Hall area of the north section of Columbis, where sophisticated anti-infiltration systems and products are used in a demonstration program.
The house, which can be seen by appointment only, uses three passive-solar energy techniques, along with other features that will be monitored and evaluated for two years. The Ryland house is one of 10 similar test houses built across the country as part of a program sponsored by NAHB.