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The Value of Checklists

2012 December 6
Certified New Homes

By: Ga-Young Choi

I was driving around the other day and listening to the radio when a commercial for certified used cars came on.  The announcer was enthusiastically talking about how these used cars are practically new because they undergo a 160-point checklist to ensure that they are in top-working order.  I usually change stations when ads are on, but I found myself paying attention to this one.  It made me realize how great it is that ENERGY STAR is pioneering the use of checklists in the construction of new homes.

While this radio ad was just a sales pitch, I found myself agreeing that checklists are important. I have learned this in both my personal and professional life. To be fair, builders have always used various checklists during construction. They use material checklists to check that they have the right amount of lumber and windows. They compile punch lists during construction to note anything that was left undone by a subcontractor.  The difference with ENERGY STAR checklists is that builders are now using a checklist to ensure that the home is not only built to be energy efficient, but also comfortable for the homeowners and their family.

Homebuyers generally assume that their new home will be comfortable simply because it’s new. However, building a home is complicated, and even the smallest of mistakes can greatly impact the home’s efficiency and family’s enjoyment.  The ENERGY STAR checklists involve nearly all of the subcontractors playing a part in the construction of a home – the framers, HVAC contractors, and even the drywall installers. All of them have an important role in building a home that is energy efficient and comfortable, and the checklists give home builders an opportunity to verify that their subs are doing their job properly.

Since I began working for the ENERGY STAR Certified Homes program, I have a new appreciation of checklists. I use them frequently in my everyday life – when I go grocery shopping or pack for a trip. I’ve especially found them to be important in planning special events; I planned my wedding this year, which would’ve been a disaster without my trusted checklists.  With how busy we are nowadays and the amount of ever-present distractions, having checklists helps me to organize priorities and confirm that I’m getting tasks done on time.

Understanding how important checklists are in my life makes me even more aware of how important they are for homeowners and builders across the country. When someone buys an ENERGY STAR certified home today, they know that their new home has gone through a rigorous process that ensures that it lives up to EPA’s stringent requirements for energy efficiency, quality and comfort. Now that is what I call peace of mind.

Ga-Young Choi has been the Program Manager of Partner Support on the ENERGY STAR Certified Homes team for the past four years.  Prior to joining the EPA, she consulted for a variety of federal agencies on environmental policy and management.  She holds a Master of Environmental Management degree from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. To learn more about ENERGY STAR for New Homes, go to the ENERGY STAR website.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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