Palo Duro Homes: a Lifetime of Commitment to Zero Energy

Father-son team Jerry and Tom Wade of Palo Duro Homes have built a legacy for advancing energy efficiency in housing

By Sam Rashkin, Chief Architect Building Technologies Office, U.S. Department of Energy | January 30, 2015
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“Every year we look ahead to see what we’d like to do in the coming year. The question always comes up: Should we cut back on the energy performance and offer a cheaper house? We always decide we just can’t do it. If we have a 2,000-square-foot home with 800 cfm of air leakage, it makes me sick because I know we can build it with 600 or 300 cfm of air leakage. And we laugh because a few years ago that same house was coming in at 1,500 cfm.”  
—Tom Wade, president, Palo Duro Homes

This is the story of father-son team Jerry and Tom Wade of Palo Duro Homes (formerly Artistic Homes) based in Albuquerque, N.M. Jerry and Tom have built quite a legacy for advancing energy efficiency in housing, as evidenced by their recent recognition by the Department of Energy during the 2014 Housing Innovation Awards. Since 2008, the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) program and its Builders Challenge predecessor have recognized hundreds of leading builders and partners for their achievements in energy efficiency—resulting in more than 14,000 energy-efficient homes and millions of dollars in energy savings.

In 1986, when Jerry Wade founded Artistic Homes, the company’s aim was to give first-time homeowners a decent house for a decent price. Building code–minimum homes, like other local builders were doing, quickly lost its appeal, so the Wades set out to find a better way and became one of New Mexico’s first production builders to build Energy Star–certified homes.

In 1998, Artistic Homes jumped at the opportunity to workclosely with the DOE’s research partner Building Science Corp. to incorporate building science and high efficiency into the builder’s construction methods.

When the department launched its first home-certification program, Builders Challenge, Artistic Homes signed on and certified 235 homes from 2008 to 2013. Tom Wade, with his new building company, Palo Duro Homes, has continued this commitment as a participant in the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program. This year Palo Duro Homes earned the DOE’s ZERH Leadership award as part of the Housing Innovation Awards program. In addition, Jerry received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his commitment to advancing energy efficiency in housing. 

Palo Duro Homes are unique in that they meet the target of the ZERH program in several climate zones, from the cold climate of northern New Mexico to the hot, dry deserts of the south. They also navigate varying municipal codes, such as in Santa Fe, where Palo Duro Homes has just started sales in a subdivision of 400 new homes.

Artistic Homes built its first net zero–energy home in 2008 and was the first production builder in the country to offer a net zero–energy upgrade on every home it builds—an option that Palo Duro Homes continues to offer. To make that possible, the builder starts with a very efficient building envelope, so that net zero can be achieved with a reasonably sized photovoltaic (PV) system on the roof. Palo Duro Homes is now achieving HERS scores of 48 to 58 on all of its houses, before PV is added. For comparison: A home built to the 2006 IECC would have a HERS score of about 100, and most existing homes score well over 120.

Palo Duro Homes is committed to achieving the highest performance levels within the Zero Energy Ready Home Program. It is one of the qualified companies in the exclusive 1 percent of builders across the country that have integrated high performance into their production processes in a variety of climate zones consistent with DOE guidelines. Learn more about the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program qualifications.

Look for the Label: As a symbol of excellence for new homes, the Zero Energy Ready Home label identifies the house as a certified Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home that meets the program’s energy-efficiency standards.

2014 Housing Innovation Awards

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Housing Innovation Awards recognize the best in innovation on the path to zero energy– ready homes. The 2014 Housing Innovation Awards ceremony was held Sept. 23, 2014, at EEBA’s Excellence in Building Conference, in St. Louis. The awards recognized 28 industry leaders from the Building Technologies Office DOE Zero Energy Ready Home (formerly DOE Challenge Home) program and Home Performance With Energy Star. Click here for more information about the awards, or to see profiles of the winners. PB


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