Ensuring your home meets the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Quality Guidelines


A Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) is not only extremely energy efficient but provides exceptional comfort and durability. There are several standards that must be met to ensure your home meets the highest quality guidelines set in place by the Department of Energy (DOE) as well as several other quality assurance systems.

Quality Assurance Systems Guidelines:

1. Home Energy Rating System - HERS

The HERS index (Home Energy Rating System) is an industry recognized standard by which a home's energy efficiency is calculated. This scoring system can be used as a guideline for building a home and can also help you make renovations to an existing home. There are several essential aspects of the HERS index that are necessary to understand.

  • Zero Energy Ready Homes -The HERS index is based on a scale from 0 to 150. A zero would represent a Zero Energy Ready Home that is so efficient that it offsets most energy consumption.
  • Standard new homes - A standard new home would rate 100 on the scale when built to basic specifications.
  • Older, existing homes - Older homes, which use more energy, would normally rate somewhere between 100 and 150.

2. National Green Building Standards

The National Green Building Standards (NGBS) Certification focuses on the following attributes during home construction.

  • Healthy homes - A healthy home provides fresh air ventilation that will improve indoor air quality while limiting pollutants and contaminants. A builder should work to prevent moisture problems that can attract pests and contribute to mold growth.
  • Lower operating costs - A Zero Energy Ready home can reduce utility costs through cost-effective water and energy practices. The builder can also provide educational and technical resources to ensure a home's optimum performance.
  • Sustainable lifestyle - These standards in the housing and energy industry are reducing home maintenance through enhanced durability. They're also helping to preserve natural resources through responsible land development practices.

3. Energy Star Certified Homes

To be Energy Star Certified, a builder must meet the standards under what is called Version 3. Version 3 elements include items such as a thermal enclosure checklist, quality HVAC checklists regarding installation and performance and checklists for water management in roofs, walls and foundations.

It's important to note that individual states have different guidelines in order for a home to be Energy Star Certified. For example, the states of California and Washington adhere to regional standards, not national. Both of the regional guidelines for these states, however, follow higher standards than Version 3. It's important to discuss with your builder the requirements for your state and to make sure your home is constructed to the highest energy standards possible.

DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes, Energy Star and standard homes each provide different levels of quality and energy efficiency. A standard home is good, an Energy Star Home is better, but a Zero Energy Ready Home is constructed to the highest possible standards. Zero Energy Ready Homes build on the requirements already in place for Version 3 Energy Star Homes.

4. Zero Energy Ready Homes

A home must have all of the following 7 systems or qualifications met to be a Zero Energy Ready Home.

  1. Thermal enclosure system - Comprehensive air sealing, high-performing windows, roofs and walls, as well as quality insulation are all part of an excellent thermal enclosure system.
  2. Water management system - This includes the highest quality water resistant materials and a system in place to protect the foundation, the roof and walls. This will prevent future problems with leaks or mold.
  3. Energy efficient appliances and lighting - Lights and appliances should be installed that provide high-quality performance while reducing utility bills. This is accomplished by using the most technologically advanced systems.
  4. Heating, cooling and ventilation system - A system that is installed for optimum performance keeps a home both comfortable and energy efficient.
  5. Comprehensive air quality - A home must meet or exceed EPA standards for indoor air quality. This will provide a healthy environment for you and your family.
  6. Enhanced quality assurance - Zero Ready Energy Homes are constructed to the highest standards of quality so they are performance ready.
  7. Solar ready - A home should be constructed so that it includes components that are solar ready. This means the cost of putting solar components in at a later date will be less expensive.

When building a Zero Energy Ready Home it's necessary to have a third party rate the construction or renovations of your home. They should conduct and complete a variety of tests and submit these to the DOE and the NGBS.


5. Certifications for Quality Assurance

There are several types of certifications that are awarded for homes that meet or exceed quality standards. These include Indoor Air Quality Certification, Energy Star Certification, NGBS Certification and DOE Zero Energy Ready Certification.

Certification is necessary so the features of a home are clearly stated to buyers and sellers. In order to receive these certifications and meet the highest standards in home building, builders would use a variety of systems. These would include HERS as well as the guidelines for Energy Star Version 3 and DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes.

High Performance Homes can design your dream luxury home while exceeding current energy efficiency standards. They have the expertise to combine gorgeous design with the latest innovations in home technology. HPH has 100 percent commitment to construct homes according to the DOE ZERH program as well as the NGBS. Contact HPH to get started today.