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SystemVision™: 20 Years of Results for North Carolina Families

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The annual transition from heating to air conditioning is a reminder that housing affordability doesn’t stop with a mortgage payment. Energy costs can contribute substantially to the overall financial burdens of home ownership, and high energy bills can lead to difficult trade-offs for many families who may be forced to choose between paying for energy and other necessities. The most recent Residential Energy Consumption Study, conducted every five years by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, found that one in five households reported reducing or forgoing food, medicine and other necessities to pay an energy bill and more than 10% of households kept their homes at unhealthy or unsafe temperatures to reduce their energy costs.

Thousands of families in North Carolina have not had to make those choices thanks to SystemVision™, which celebrates 20 years this month as the nation’s only affordable housing energy and comfort guarantee program. The partnership between Advanced Energy, a nonprofit energy consulting firm in Raleigh, and our Agency has led to more than 6,000 energy-efficient homes for working families across 62 North Carolina counties. SystemVision™ has not only helped families save money, but has also helped them maintain healthier home environments with its heating, cooling and comfort guarantee.

Advanced Energy began this work in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd in 1999, supporting recovery efforts by educating builders and local officials on how best to renovate flooded homes and build energy-efficient new ones. We joined forces in 2001, providing incentives for developers and builders to participate and helping to expand the program to the robust network of nonprofit and local government partners that have helped make it the success it is today.

The program’s impact has extended beyond the thousands of families it has directly helped by sparking innovation in the affordable housing industry and educating builders and advocates across the state. In some North Carolina counties, SystemVision™-certified homes have been used to demonstrate how to meet new energy-efficiency building codes to market-rate builders, as each new iteration of the Systemvision™ standards have exceeded the energy efficiency of current building code by 15%. The program has also expanded to retrofitting existing homes and in 2009, began contributing to our Agency’s Supportive Housing Development Program. Most recently, SystemVision™ adapted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic by using a remote approach to continue building and certifying homes, a process that has been adopted as a nationwide alternative rating process.

The continual growth and innovation of SystemVision™ over the past two decades has well-positioned it to take on the challenges of the future. We congratulate Advanced Energy for its accomplishment on this anniversary and look forward to our next 20 years of work together keeping home affordable for North Carolinians.