Front Royal home builder believes in saving energy

Clint Pierpoint, owner of Sustainable Homes LLC of Front Royal, points out energy efficient insulation in one of the homes he has under construction on Apple Mountain in Linden. Rich Cooley/Daily

Britton Bowman, of Middletown, began saving money the minute he moved into his new energy efficient house and turned on the electricity.

His all-electric home’s monthly bill was close to $300, which meant in the course of a year he would now save roughly $2,400 in electric bills compared to his prior home.

Two years ago Bowman went to Sustainable Homes in Front Royal and upscaled from a 1,500-square-foot home with a bill averaging just over $200 a month to his newly constructed home of roughly 4,000 square feet to add living space for his mother-in-law.

Success showed up immediately in the electric bill, said Britton, one of more than a dozen homeowners who have purchased a home over the past four years through Sustainable Homes. Without the energy savings, Britton’s bill would have averaged more than $500 a month.

“We make sure any house we build meets U.S. EPA’s home building requirements,” said Sustainable Homes President Clint Pierpoint, 32, who was raised in Front Royal with a family and relatives all involved in the building industry — carpenters, plumbers, contractors, electricians, etc.

Pierpoint’s company was selected as Best Home Builder in 2014 by Virginia Living Magazine, and uses Energy Star, a voluntary program designed to save money and protect the environment through superior energy efficiency.

Energy Star inspects Pierpoint’s home construction during the building process to make sure it is meeting the Environmental Protection Agency requirements designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — two-thirds of which come from homes, buildings and industry.

Pierpoint invites the homebuyer with him when Energy Star representatives show up to do an inspection. Following their suggestions typically makes a home 20-30 percent more efficient.

“Clint kept me up to date on what was going on and why they were doing certain things, sealing up air flow and those little things you might not have thought of,” said Britton. “Seeing the building process helped me understand what goes into that Energy Star certification.”

Some energy conservation tips include  properly installed insulation; locating ductwork without tight turns; sealing air leaks around electric outlets, windows, wall frames and foundation; putting a high efficiency heat pump in a shaded area; stacking bathrooms to conserve water usage and hot water loss, and directing drain water runoff away from the house.

Energy Star describes its checklists as examining thermal enclosure, water management, heating, ventilation and air conditioning so that they use “building science practices that promote improved comfort, indoor air quality and durability in certified homes.”

Pierpoint now has seven employees, some of whom are relatives, building homes for him — four are in construction now — and they, like he, “don’t like to see builders doing it the old way just because it is easy and cheap.”

“A home is the largest investment many people make,” said Pierpoint. “Our credo is, ‘Build it once, build it right.’ We have made a commitment to high-quality workmanship and materials so the owner will recoup his investment and live in comfort knowing his house was well built and saves money due to the way it was built.”

Doug Saylor, who built a 2,260-square-foot-house two years ago in Oak Hill using Sustainable Homes, said, “It holds the temperature inside better than any other house I have been in.”

When Saylor talks to friends or neighbors who have a house of comparable size he says their electric bills are almost double the $140 of his average monthly bill.

Katrina Williams, the company’s executive assistant, noted,  “It’s like getting an interior decorator when you build your home.”

Pierpoint started his career as a real estate salesman with Weichert Realtors and after nine years decided to start his own construction company after buying distressed homes, fixing them up and then selling them.

“We started in 2010, in the heart of the recession,” said Pierpoint. “I thought we could survive building one or two houses a year. We have been averaging four.”

Located at 824 John Marshall Highway in Front Royal on the second floor of Weichert’s Front Royal office building, Pierpoint says his success has been mostly from word of mouth and referrals from real estate salespeople.