Builders may be tasked with complying with green certifications in multifamily buildings for a variety of reasons.  The most common reason today is due to HUD Financing Requirements.

Our goal is to make complying with this certification as simple as possible for our clients and that includes builders as well as ownership.

Desert Skies Energy has partnered with Home Innovation Research Labs to offer NGBS Certification (ICC 700) for multifamily buildings.  We have chosen to offer this certification in lieu of others (e.g. LEED) due to the comprehensive nature of the program and the affordability of the program.  

NGBS Certification requires a certified inspector to inspect 100% of multifamily units at rough for air sealing, insulation and duct sealing details.  This requires significant coordination between the builder and our team but we are well equipped to handle frequent trips and scheduling. We want to keep your project on schedule.

Costs can be controlled because we are only performing visual inspections.  This also keeps the length of our site visits to a minimum. Diagnostic testing (e.g. blower door, duct testing) is reserved only if the project is seeking advanced certification.

We have developed a mobile application that allows us to instantly provide inspection reports via email to all members of the project team.  Should something need correction, a report with photographs can now be forwarded to the respective subcontractor in real time.


  • Satisfy all lender and owner requirements
  • Instantaneous reports to project team
  • All photos and reports stored on shared Dropbox
  • Quick scheduling to keep project on track


While best performed before permits are issued, value engineering is still possible in many cases even after construction has started.  Because the general contractors are actively bidding the project, they may know from experience that there is another more cost-effective way to insulate the building.  Or perhaps the window package specified by the designer was too ambitious– we can help.

When engaging our team, all we need is to understand what type of change you are looking to evaluate and, if applicable, the potential spec that you would like evaluated.  We can run a handful of scenarios with the energy model to tell you how you might be able to comply with the proposed changes.

A classic Phoenix example of this would be the removal or reduction of K-13 podium insulation.  Builders are often huge advocates for value engineering this out for cost and aesthetic reasons.  If available, we can work with the architect to receive their COMcheck model to save costs. In 2018, we were able to save a local contractor $65,000 on their K13 bid by performing this service.  Because we were able to work with the architect’s energy model, our service cost less than $1,000. We worked with the MPE design firm to ensure there were no changes in load calcs.

If you are looking for advanced energy audits beyond COMcheck, Desert Skies Energy has a partnership with Quest Energy in Tempe, AZ.  Quest Energy provides detailed ASHRAE 90.1 models that can evaluate whole building features.  This would allow your project to use high efficiency mechanical equipment or lighting systems to offset building envelope features.  If your project can be better served by their firm, we can make the introduction for you.

We also provide value engineering for aluminum and steel window and door systems.  Our approach allows you to utilize lower cost non-thermally broken aluminum products.


Local Arizona utility rebates can be available for your project through APS or SRP.  

The most common local multifamily rebate is APS MEEP.   Rebates through this program either qualify for the Prescriptive Path (checklist) or Performance Path (via HERS Rater).  We provide a means to obtain rebates through the latter. The benefit is that you are not locked into any particular specification and are free to build the way you intend.  You also are able to work directly with our team for the inspections and we are able to expedite our scheduling.

Many projects will qualify for the BOP3 Performance Path without upgrading your project specs.  This situation is ideal for ownership and builders because you can obtain extra quality assurance via our HERS inspections, achieve your rebates and potentially also satisfy any local energy code testing. Our past qualifying projects have ranged from 3 story low-rise market rate projects to 14 story high-rise student housing.

APS MEEP delivers a dollar per unit rebate that is issued once construction is complete.  For more information on current MEEP rebate levels and availability, contact us.

Both APS and Desert Skies Energy will be on site during construction at insulation (rough) and final.  Our team has been able to work with several builders helping successfully deliver rebates for over a thousand units in the past two years alone.

Our team is a RESNET Sampling Provider meaning we can provide low cost HERS testing and inspecting for your project.  If your current HERS Rater isn’t a Sampling Provider, this means they will have to inspect 100% of units– typically at a significant increase in cost.


If your project simply needs energy code testing for the IECC (versions 2012 or later), we can help.  The two core tests that are necessary are:

  • Envelope Leakage – Blower Door Test
  • Duct Leakage – Duct Leakage Testing

Blower door testing is required for all projects that were permitted under the 2012 IRC or later.  However, this means that your project may be exempt if the submittal was under commercial (IBC) codes.  We can look at your plans to help you determine if you need the testing for no cost.

Duct leakage testing is typically exempt in multifamily projects due to ducts located within the building thermal envelope.  For example, if ducts are located in capped drop soffits, they would qualify as exempt because the building envelope is defined at the capped top of the soffit.  However, a top story unit with ducts run in the truss space of a vented attic would not qualify and you would need to test.

Because our firm is a RESNET Sampling Provider, we are often able to test less than every unit in a building.  This can relate to significant cost savings for the builder or owner. Typically, sampling requires around 15% of units to be tested.

Proactive builders will often have our team also walk units at rough to ensure the insulation is installed properly.  These inspections are part of the IECC but are often overlooked by building inspectors. Desert Skies Energy is capable of sampling these inspections which can prevent comfort concerns and high utility bills.  It is recommended due to the high percentage of insulation failures in multifamily buildings.


Our team is proud of the excellent relationships we’ve developed with Phoenix-area multifamily builders.  We’ve been able to uphold the stringent requirements of energy codes and programs without slowing construction or contributing to builder-paid change orders.

Out of client demand, we developed a specialty mobile application that allows project managers and others to instantly receive the inspection reports before we leave the jobsite.  If repairs are required, photos of the problem area are included with a caption for the repair instructions. The idea is that the builder can easily forward this to the respective trade saving significant time.

After our pre-construction meeting with trades (typically HVAC and insulation), we exchange numbers with the foreman for each trade and often communicate with them directly throughout construction.  The benefit here is that the general contractor’s project manager does not need to be a middle man. The builder stays up to date but can focus on their other tasks.

If there are issues with the design that we’ve seen that might create a problem with the green building certificate or energy testing, we bring this to the attention of the builder as soon as possible.  This allows us to submit an RFI to the architect or ownership. We will make our case for the change order but these are typically done to save money, improve performance and/or reduce the likelihood of inspection failures.

Working with Phoenix and Tucson area multifamily builders, we have brought energy and green building certifications to thousands of units since 2014.


  • Quick scheduling (1-2 Days)
  • Pre-construction meetings with trades
  • Instantaneous reports to project team via email
  • Walk the site with HVAC and insulation foreman to call out repairs
  • Able to predict challenges, submit RFIs early (if needed)


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