Arizona allows each municipality to adopt their own building codes.  For residential construction, this means some sort of IECC (energy code) adoption.  The early years of the IECC codes were simple, straightforward and relatively lax. Today?  It’s complicated.

Our mission is to educate builders on exactly what they need, when they need it, and to provide those services at an affordable rate.

For 2012 IECC and beyond, energy testing in the form of blower door testing and duct leakage testing was implemented in the codes.  Because building inspectors aren’t equipped to do this testing, the codes require a certified RESNET Home Energy Rater to perform the tests.  All our inspectors carry this certification.


  • Ideally performed before insulation and drywall but can also complete at final
  • Seal all supply and return vents and depressurize system to evaluate for leaks
  • Goat to maximize homeowner comfort, improve indoor air quality and reduce utility bills
  • Test is required unless all air handlers and ducts are located within the building thermal envelope.

Because this is a cornerstone of our business, we have dedicated resources to providing a superior customer experience.  Our benefits include:

  • Reports printed on site for building inspector
  • IECC label provided for electrical panel
  • Emailed report delivered before we leave the jobsite
  • Scheduling typically available within 1-2 days
  • Reports are guaranteed for municipal approval

Beyond these tests, we also recommend performing an air barrier inspection before insulation as well as an insulation inspection.  If you schedule a duct test with us at rough, we include the air barrier inspection at no charge. Check with our team to see if these recommended inspections are mandatory in your area.

Air Barrier Inspection

  • Schedule right before insulation is installed
  • Discuss framing details to ensure a well air sealed home
  • Ensure no major air sealing defects exist that would lead to uncomfortable rooms or high utility bills
  • 22 Point Inspection


Insulation Inspection

  • Schedule after insulation is complete (allow 24 hours to off-gas for foam insulation)
  • Ensure insulation is installed per manufacturer instruction and code requirements
  • Goal to ensure no defects that would lead to comfort problems or high energy bills
  • 13 Point Inspection


  • Performed at final after all weatherstripping, door hardware installed
  • Depressurize whole house to ensure no leaks
  • Goal to maximize homeowner comfort and reduce utility bills
  • Test is required for all new construction and gut rehabs*
    *Not required for additions and some remodels


Builders seeking an affordable way to market their upcoming projects often consider a HERS Rating.  Just like MPG for an automobile, the HERS Index is a rating system from 0-100+ that shows the efficiency of a home.  Without a HERS Rating, buyers will not know what to expect from their monthly bills.

There are several key advantages to this service:

  • We score the project “as is” and there are no mandatory requirements that impact construction cost
  • The certification overlaps with mandatory energy code testing which allows us to reduce the cost of the service
  • Gives us an opportunity to catch problems during construction that might be missed otherwise, reducing warranty claims

We recommend a HERS Rating for the following situations:

  • Spec homes in competitive markets*
    *Exception: modern designs with lots of glazing
  • Custom homes seeking to differentiate their product from competition
  • Production built homes with utility incentives
  • Homebuilders who are looking to transition to more efficient homes or certifications (e.g. ENERGY STAR for Homes, DOE Net Zero Homes)

We recommend a HERS Rating for the following situations:

  • Spec homes in competitive markets*
    *Exception: modern designs with lots of glazing
  • Custom homes seeking to differentiate their product from competition
  • Production built homes with utility incentives
  • Homebuilders who are looking to transition to more efficient homes or certifications (e.g. ENERGY STAR for Homes, DOE Net Zero Homes)

RESNET is the non-profit organization that manages the HERS Index.  Since 1995, over 2 million homes have been rated with 236,000 rated in 2018 alone.  The new construction industry has been continually adopting this rating system due to customer demand.  In addition, select municipalities allow HERS Scores in lieu of IECC compliance making this an attractive offering for a separate reason.


A certified RESNET Home Energy Rater assesses the energy efficiency of a home, assigning it a relative performance score (the HERS Index Score). The lower the number, the more energy efficient the home. The U.S. Department of Energy has determined that a typical resale home scores 130 on the HERS Index while a home built to the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code is awarded a rating of 100.

  • A home with a HERS Index Score of 70 is 30% more energy efficient than the RESNET Reference Home.
  • A home with a HERS Index Score of 130 is 30% less energy efficient than the RESNET Reference Home.

To calculate a home’s HERS Index Score, a certified RESNET HERS Rater does an energy rating on your home and compares the data against a ‘reference home,- a designed•model home of the same size and shape as the actual home, so your score is always relative to the size, shape and type of house you live in.

Additional Benefits of HERS Rated Homes:

  • Increased property value (+8%)
    • Source: Earth Advantage Institute
  • 32% lower mortgage default rate
    • Source: UNC & Institute for Market Transformation


The logical jump from receiving a HERS Score on new homes is the ENERGY STAR for Homes.  This certification from the EPA is popular due to the nationwide brand recognition of ENERGY STAR.  

For custom home builders seeking to transition to ENERGY STAR certified homes, the learning curve can be steep and thus we offer free plan evaluation for existing clients to gauge feasibility.  The biggest challenges are typically HVAC related with additional requirements such as bedroom pressure relief, exhaust fan flow testing, and fresh air ventilation flow testing.

Homebuilders who have successfully transitioned to this program will be able to market their homes as meeting a standard well beyond typical code requirements.  Because the program has a special focus on HVAC design and installation, homes achieving this certification are typically well-balanced with a reduced likelihood of comfort concerns.

Homebuyers can expect ENERGY STAR certified homes to provide:

  • Lower energy bills compared to typical homes
  • Increased comfort within the home
  • Improved indoor air quality
  • Higher resale value
  • Added building and HVAC durability


Our team certifies homes for the NGBS (National Green Building Standard) and EPA Indoor airPLUS.  These certifications are available for homebuilders seeking to market to a specific clientele or to achieve a higher level of building performance.

NGBS Certification

[From Home Innovation Research Labs]  

Certifying your single family homes as environmentally friendly should be about more than checking boxes on some unqualified checklist. Home Innovation Research Labs provides Green Certification to the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard™ (NGBS) to help you employ green building practices that ensure your projects are healthier for residents, cost less to operate, and are better for communities. The menu of practical green building practices in the NGBS is designed to help builders construct higher performing, higher quality homes with reduced environmental impacts. The wide range of point possibilities over the six green categories of the NGBS provides you the flexibility to select the practices that work best for your markets, your customers, and the types of homes you build.

EPA Indoor airPLUS

[From Environmental Protection Agency]
With Indoor airPLUS, EPA offers a way for builders to distinguish themselves by building homes with professional best practices, including the following design and construction features:

Moisture Control: Build in added protection from mold and other moisture problems with water managed roofs, walls, and foundations. Features include continuous drainage planes, proper flashing and air sealing, damp-proof foundation walls, capillary breaks, drain tile, and proper grading.

Radon Control: Provide radon-resistant construction in high radon potential areas, including gravel and plastic sheeting below slabs, fully sealed and caulked foundation penetrations, plastic vent pipe running from below slab through the roof, and an attic receptacle for easily adding an electric powered fan to the vent pipe if needed.

Pest Management: Provide a first-line defense against pest problems by fully sealing, caulking, or screening likely pest entry points. When these physical barriers are combined with proper pest management techniques, pesticide use may be reduced.

Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC): Improve indoor air quality with best practice design and installation of ducts and equipment to minimize condensation problems, whole-house and spot ventilation to help dilute and exhaust indoor pollutants, and improved air filtration to remove airborne particulates.

Combustion Venting: Protect residents from potential exposure to combustion gases by installing direct-vented or power-vented gas- and oil-fired equipment, properly vented fireplaces, garages fully sealed from living spaces, and carbon monoxide alarms in each sleeping area.

Building Materials: Reduce sources of pollutants by selecting and installing materials to minimize risk of moisture damage, specifying materials with reduced chemical content, and ventilating homes prior to occupancy.


We pride ourselves on delivering a wide range of services for our builders.  We recognize that some builders are merely seeking code compliance whereas others are seeking to push the envelope.  We make sure to listen to our clients to ensure that we deliver on exactly what you’re looking for.

Subcontractor Guidance
According to many of our clients, a huge advantage to using Desert Skies Energy is that we work directly with the subcontractors to correct any issues.  Because most builders utilize the same subcontractors on future projects, projects typically evolve and improve over time. This is particularly true for HVAC and insulation subcontractors.   Beyond the improvement, it is refreshing for builders to not have to directly report our findings in all circumstances– especially when complex details are present.

Instant Reports (Printed & Emailed)
In 2018, we developed our first ever mobile application to better manage our workflow.  The result was a tremendous value for our builder clients because reports are now able to be printed directly in the field.  What our competition often delivers days after the testing is complete we deliver within minutes. Before we leave the jobsite, you have a printed copy of your inspection results as well as an emailed PDF copy.  Beyond efficiency, this mobile application has reduced the amount of human error that was naturally occurring with hand written reports.

Next Day & Two-Day Scheduling
Because we are aware that most of our builders need our services on a moments notice, we do everything in our power to provide next day or two-day scheduling.  We are able to deliver on this in most circumstances. While this isn’t guaranteed, we will do whatever we can to ensure your project isn’t delayed. That said, it is always best to schedule early.

Industry Experience
Our team has been involved in energy efficient certifications since 2011 and have been directly involved with local government in an effort to better help their inspectors and plan reviewers understand the adopted energy codes.

We have connections that help us understand common grey areas that occur during complex projects.  We also have a core understanding of the intent of the majority of these programs and can make a case on your behalf if a requirement simply does not make sense for your project.  

Above all, we are a consultant and advocate for your team.


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Receive monthly updates on changes to local codes, best practices and special offers. Stay current and build better for less.