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Guides and Case Studies for Hot-Humid Climates

Map of the Hot and Humid Climate Zone of the United States. This zone covers eastern Texas through Florida and reaches up to mid-Georgia it also includes Puerto Rico and Hawaii.The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Building America program has developed a series of best practices and case studies to help builders improve whole-house energy performance in buildings found in hot-humid climates.

Best Practice Guides

New Construction Case Studies


Project: Ravenwood Homes and Energy Smart Home Plans, Inc. – Cape Coral
Builder: Ravenwood Homes
Profile: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Florida HERO, and Energy Smart Home Plans helped Ravenwood Homes achieve a HERS 15 with PV or HERS 65 without PV on this Florida home with SEER 16 AC, concrete block and rigid foam walls, high-performance windows, solar water heating, and 5.98 kW PV.

Project: Volusia Habitat for Humanity - Edgewater
Builder: Volusia Habitat for Humanity
Profile: This case study describes an affordable, Habitat for Humanity Challenge Home in coastal Florida with ICF walls, PV, solar water heating, and fur-up duct chase.

Project: Hope Landing Lot 2 — Ellenton
Builder: Manatee County Habitat for Humanity
Profile: In this 18-home community, all homes are LEED Platinum and meet ENERGY STAR for Homes Version 3 requirements, HERS 23–53.

Project: Initial Performance of Two Zero Energy Homes - Gainesville
Builder: Tommy Williams Homes
Profile: This builder worked with PNNL, Florida HERO, Energy Smart Home Plans, and Florida Solar Energy Center to design and test two zero energy homes. Energy use was 30% lower in one home and 60% lower in the other.

Project: Habitat for Humanity Palm Beach County – West Palm Beach
Builder: Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County
Profile: PNNL and Florida Solar Energy Center helped Habitat for Humanity build three <60 HERS prototype homes, 30% better than their typical homes at a cost of only $1,500 more.

Project: e2 Homes - Winter Park
Builder: e2 Homes
Profile: The first certified DOE Challenge Home in the United States—the Wilson Residence in Winter Park, Florida—produces more energy than it uses with construction costs one-third less than originally proposed..


Project: Proud Green Home - Serenbe
Builder: Imery Group
Profile: The first certified  Zero Energy Ready Home in Georgia features advanced framing, spray-foamed walls and attic with rigid foam and coated oriented strand board, minisplit heat pump, solar water heating, and PV in a sustainable community.

North Carolina

Project: Heritage Buildings and Energy Smart Home Plans – Leland
Builder: Heritage Buildings, Inc.
Profile: PNNL worked with North Carolina Heritage Buildings and Energy Smart Home Plans to design zero-energy ready homes that score under HERS 60 for less than 2% added cost over code construction.


Project: HVAC Design Strategy for a Hot-Humid Production Builder - Houston, Texas
Builder: David Weekley Homes
Profile: In this project, Building Science Corporation worked with the builder to develop a cost-effective design for moving the HVAC system into conditioned space and increase the energy performance of future production houses in anticipation of 2015 IECC codes.

Improvements to Existing Homes Case Studies


Project: Applying Best Practices to Florida Local Government Retrofit Programs - Central Florida
Builder: Various
Profile: In this project, researchers from Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction worked with the City of Melbourne, Florida, and other agencies to develop and implement best practices for renovating distressed homes to achieve annual energy savings of 15%-30% and higher.

Project: Habitat for Humanity Palm Beach County – Lake Worth
Builder: Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County
Profile: PNNL and Florida Solar Energy Center worked with Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County to upgrade an empty 1996 home with a 14.5 SEER AC, heat pump water heater, CFLs, more attic insulation, and air sealing to cut utility bills $872 annually.

Project: Habitat for Humanity South Sarasota County - Venice
Builder: Habitat for Humanity of South Sarasota County
Profile: PNNL and Calcs Plus helped Habitat for Humanity retrofit a 1978 single-story home by stripping old drywall, air sealing concrete block walls, and installing rigid insulation, furring strips, and new drywall. The attic was sealed and insulated with spray foam to house a new heat pump.

Project: Pilot Demonstration of Phased Retrofits in Florida Homes - Central and South Florida
Builder: Various
Profile: In this pilot project, the Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction and Florida Power and Light are collaborating to retrofit a large number of homes using a phased approach to both simple and deep retrofits. .


Project: Build San Antonio Green – San Antonio
Builder: T & J Builder
For this gut rehab, PNNL and Florida Solar Energy Center replaced the old roof with a steeper roof and replaced drywall while adding insulation, new HVAC, sealed ducts, transfer grilles, outside air run-time ventilation, new lighting and water heater.

You may also find case studies and guides that work across all climates on the All Climates page.

For additional, updated information on hundreds of building science topics that can help you build or retrofit to the most recent high-performance construction criteria, including the latest version of ENERGY STAR and the DOE Challenge Home requirements, see the Building America Solution Center.