March 08, 2013 at 08:00 AM EST
Meritage Homes Awarded U.S. EPA's Prestigious 2013 ENERGY STAR(R) Partner of the Year - Sustained Excellence Award for Outstanding Energy Efficiency in Production Homebuilding

PHOENIX, March 8, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Meritage Homes has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2013 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year–Sustained Excellence Award. The award recognizes ongoing leadership across the ENERGY STAR program, including energy-efficient products, services, new homes, and buildings in the commercial, industrial, and public sectors.

An innovator in production homebuilding, Meritage was recognized for its continued leadership in protecting the environment. Meritage received the EPA's 2012 ENERGY STAR Leadership in Housing Award, the 2011 Energy Star Builder of the Year award and the 2010 Department of Energy's Building America Partner award. Meritage's accomplishments in earning these awards include being the first 100% ENERGY STAR production builder; offering the first fully EPA-certified home for ENERGY STAR, Indoor airPLUS and WaterSense; and the first Net Zero Energy production builder in the U.S.

"Meritage has redefined the way homes can and should be built, setting a new standard in production homebuilding," said Steve Hilton, the company's chairman and chief executive officer. "Through our work with customers, engineers and ENERGY STAR, we've continually advanced our initiatives by giving specific consideration to all features, systems, materials and construction methods to bring homeowners unparalleled energy efficiency and both short- and long-term savings."

With a variety of homes across the southern and western states, Meritage Homes integrates advanced technologies into their design and building from the ground up. Together, these technologies can save homeowners, on average, 50 percent on their home energy use, compared to standard homes. With optional upgrades, Meritage offers cost effective Net Zero Energy throughout its markets. In 2012, with more than 4,000 home sale closings, the company reduced homeowners' utility bills by more than $3.5 million every year. These homes eliminate nearly 30 million kWh of electrical demand every year – the equivalent of a 60 watt light bulb being lit for 57,000 years or the emissions from over 4,000 cars.

"EPA is recognizing Meritage Homes for earning EPA's highest ENERGY STAR award - the 2013 Partner of the Year - Sustained Excellence Award," said Bob Perciasepe, acting administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Meritage leads the field with their commitment to energy efficiency and demonstrates how all Americans can save energy, save money, and create a healthier environment."

With every home it builds, the company is focused on creating value and improving family lifestyles through dozens of features that work together to provide improved home function. The results are homes that are quieter, cleaner, healthier, and have reduced pollution, allergens and dust in the indoor air. The energy-efficient features save money without sacrificing lifestyle or compromising design.

Meritage Homes is the only large national homebuilder to earn the EPA's ENERGY STAR seal of approval on every home it has built since 2009. These homes meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the EPA and be at least 20 percent more energy-efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC). A third-party certified home energy rater must perform an independent audit and verification to ensure that a home meets ENERGY STAR guidelines.

Meritage will be honored at an awards ceremony on March 26 in Washington, D.C., with other award winners selected from the nearly 20,000 organizations that participate in the ENERGY STAR program.

About Meritage Homes Corporation

Meritage Homes is the ninth-largest public homebuilder in the United States based on homes closed in 2011. Meritage builds a variety of homes across the Southern and Western states to appeal to a wide range of buyers, including first-time, move-up, luxury and active adults. As of December 31, 2012, the company had 158 actively selling communities in 15 metropolitan areas, including Northern California, East Bay/Central Valley and Southern California, Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Phoenix/Scottsdale, Tucson, Las Vegas, Denver, Orlando, Tampa and Raleigh-Durham. In 2012, Meritage also announced its entry into the Charlotte market.

Meritage is an industry leader in innovation and energy efficiency. Meritage was the first national homebuilder to be 100 percent ENERGY STAR(R) qualified in every home it builds, and far exceeds ENERGY STAR standards in most of its communities. Meritage has designed and built more than 75,000 homes in its 27-year history, and has a reputation for its distinctive style, quality construction, and positive customer experience. For more information, visit meritagehomes.com.

The Meritage Homes Corporation logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=2624

About ENERGY STAR

ENERGY STAR was introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1992 as a voluntary market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through increased energy efficiency. Today, ENERGY STAR offers businesses and consumers energy-efficient solutions to save energy, money, and help protect the environment for future generations. Nearly 20,000 organizations are ENERGY STAR partners committed to improving the energy efficiency of products, homes, and buildings. For more information about ENERGY STAR, visit energystar.gov or call toll-free 1-888-STAR-YES (1-888-782-7937).

CONTACT: Brent Anderson
         (972) 580-6360 (office)
         brent.anderson@meritagehomes.com

         Mary Little
         (602) 417-0682 (office)
         (480) 586-5134 (mobile)
         mlittle@c-k.com
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