DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) program in EERE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) has released Version 2 of its national program requirements for single-family homes (ZERH V2), the most significant overhaul of DOE’s energy and environmental performance benchmarks in history. Since 2013, the DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes program has consistently set the federal government’s highest standards for the U.S. housing industry to follow. The over 12,000 zero-energy certified homes across the country are so energy efficient—often 40 to 50% more than a typical new home—they can offset most or all the energy they consume with renewable power. Now with ZERH V2, homebuilders across the country have a new North Star to follow.

“DOE’s specifications for new homes have led the housing industry into the clean energy future from Day One, and today we’re proud to elevate the standard for what a high-performance home can do,” said Alejandro Moreno, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “From custom dream homes to affordable housing and everything in between, DOE’s Zero Energy Homes Program and certification requirements are designed to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to live in a healthier, more efficient, and more resilient home.”

Read Assistant Secretary Moreno’s Blog to see where he thinks zero energy ready homes are headed.

With today’s announcement, DOE is updating the value proposition for high-performance homes and positioning the ZERH program for substantial growth. DOE’s ZERH program accelerates the adoption of cost-effective building technologies by establishing guidelines for and recognizing energy-efficient and demand-flexible residential buildings. Its annual Housing Innovation Awards recognize the nation’s top builders of homes certified to ZERH’s specifications, and DOE periodically improves its certification requirements to help homebuilders keep pace with the growing demand for zero energy ready homes, the rapidly evolving homebuilding market, new technologies and construction processes that redefine continually what’s possible, and the accelerating speed of climate change.

Video: What is a Zero Energy Ready Home?

Some of the new features in Version 2 in include:

  • Making homes “ready” for high efficiency electric technologies for space heating, water heating, and electric vehicles.
  • Maintaining a tiered relationship with ENERGY STAR Single Family New Homes.  ZERH V2 will require and build upon Version 3.2 of the ENERGY STAR Single Family New Home program.  
  • Emphasizing a highly efficient thermal envelope by aligning insulation levels with the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code.
  • Enhancing the indoor air quality benefits in ZERH homes by incorporating the Indoor airPLUS program.
  • Boosting the efficiency threshold for ZERH certification. Qualifying homes will generally have Energy Rating Index scores in the low- to upper-40s.
  • Expanding the use of PV-Ready features so new homes can easily accommodate a PV system in the future.

Visit DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home Program to read Version 2 of DOE's National Program Requirements for Single-Family Zero Energy Ready Homes, to take a virtual tour of a zero energy home, and see what owners of zero energy ready homes have to say about what it’s like to live in them.