ENERGY STAR Rater-Design Review Checklist: 3. High-Performance Insulation



When certifying a home to ENERGY STAR Certified Homes, Version 3.0/3.1 (Rev. 08), the Rater completes and retains the Rater Design Review Checklist to document partnership status, that windows and insulation meet 2009 IECC requirements, that the HVAC Design Report was completely filled out, and that specified equipment falls within the required parameters. The Rater collects from the HVAC Designer one HVAC Design Report for each system design.

This page shows the checklist requirement for Section 3. High-Performance Insulation and applicable footnotes.

For information on installing insulation, see insulation guides linked to the Thermal Enclosure section of the Rater Field Checklist.

For more information on insulation requirements, see the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

Information guide describing section 3 requirements in Version 3.0/3.1 Rev. 08 ENERGY STAR HVAC Rater Design Review Checklist.
Checklist revised  09/15/2015.  Required for homes permitted starting 07/01/2016.12


1. The term ‘Rater’ refers to the person completing the third-party inspections required for certification. This person shall: a) be a certified Home Energy Rater, Rating Field Inspector, or an equivalent designation as determined by a Verification Oversight Organization such as RESNET; and, b) have attended and successfully completed an EPA-recognized training class. See

4. Specified levels shall meet or exceed the component insulation levels in 2009 IECC Table 402.1.1. The following exceptions apply:

    1. Steel-frame ceilings, walls, and floors shall meet the insulation levels of 2009 IECC Table 402.2.5. In CZ 1 and 2, the continuous insulation requirements in this table shall be permitted to be reduced to R-3 for steel-frame wall assemblies with studs spaced at 24 in. on center. This exception shall not apply if the alternative calculations in d) are used;
    2. For ceilings with attic spaces, R-30 shall satisfy the requirement for R-38 and R-38 shall satisfy the requirement for R-49 wherever the full height of uncompressed insulation at the lower R-value extends over the wall top plate at the eaves. This exemption shall not apply if the alternative calculations in d) are used;
    3. For ceilings without attic spaces, R-30 shall satisfy the requirement for any required value above R-30 if the design of the roof / ceiling assembly does not provide sufficient space for the required insulation value. This exemption shall be limited to 500 sq. ft. or 20% of the total insulated ceiling area, whichever is less. This exemption shall not apply if the alternative calculations in d) are used;
    4. An alternative equivalent U-factor or total UA calculation may also be used to demonstrate compliance, as follows: An assembly with a U-factor equal or less than specified in 2009 IECC Table 402.1.3 complies. A total building thermal envelope UA that is less than or equal to the total UA resulting from the U-factors in Table 402.1.3 also complies. The performance of all components (i.e., ceilings, walls, floors, slabs, and fenestration) can be traded off using the UA approach. Note that Items 3.1 through 3.3 of the Rater Field Checklist shall be met regardless of the UA tradeoffs calculated. The UA calculation shall be done using a method consistent with the ASHRAE Handbook of Fundamentals and shall include the thermal bridging effects of framing materials. The calculation for a steel-frame envelope assembly shall use the ASHRAE zone method or a method providing equivalent results, and not a series-parallel path calculation method. 

5. Consistent with the 2009 IECC, slab edge insulation is only required for slab-on-grade floors with a floor surface less than 12 inches below grade. Slab insulation shall extend to the top of the slab to provide a complete thermal break. If the top edge of the insulation is installed between the exterior wall and the edge of the interior slab, it shall be permitted to be cut at a 45-degree angle away from the exterior wall. Alternatively, the thermal break is permitted to be created using ≥ R-3 rigid insulation on top of an existing slab (e.g., in a home undergoing a gut rehabilitation). In such cases, up to 10% of the slab surface is permitted to not be insulated (e.g., for sleepers, for sill plates). Insulation installed on top of slab shall be covered by a durable floor surface (e.g., hardwood, tile, carpet).

6. Where an insulated wall separates a garage, patio, porch, or other unconditioned space from the conditioned space of the house, slab insulation shall also be installed at this interface to provide a thermal break between the conditioned and unconditioned slab. Where specific details cannot meet this requirement, partners shall provide the detail to EPA to request an exemption prior to the home’s certification. EPA will compile exempted details and work with industry to develop feasible details for use in future revisions to the program. A list of currently exempted details is available at:

12. This Revision of the Rater Design Review Checklist is required to certify all homes permitted after 07/01/2016, but is allowed to be used for any home permitted or completed prior to this date. The Rater may define the ‘permit date’ as either the date that the permit was issued or the date of the contract on the home. In cases where permit or contract dates are not available, Providers have discretion to estimate permit dates based on other construction schedule factors. These assumptions should be both defensible and documented.

Contributors to this Guide: ENERGY STAR Certified Homes, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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