2023 Housing Innovation Awards Highlight DOE Goals

The 2023 Housing Innovation Awards (HIA) marked the 11th year of the DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes (ZERH) award program. Since 2013, 97 builders have been awarded a prestigious Housing Innovation Award for their leadership, bringing ZERH homes to American homebuyers across the country. Each of these builders has played a role in the growth of the ZERH program, raising the bar for new home construction in the United States.

For the first 10 years of the Housing Innovation Awards, builders competed in award categories based on the type of home they had built. Categories included awards for affordable homes, custom homes, production homes, and multifamily projects.  In recognition of the program’s growth (over 18,000 certified homes) and the commitment and investment the federal government has made to fight climate change, the 2023 grand award categories were updated to align with the DOE’s building decarbonization, market transformation, and workforce training goals. This year’s awards aimed to recognize the innovative builders who are leading the charge towards the goal of zero emissions new homes.

Below are the award categories for the 2023 Housing Innovation Awards.  

Blazing the Trail – Awarded to the builder with the most innovative use of technologies, materials, sensors, automation, and advanced controls to optimize performance of the home, driving market transformation by demonstrating the leading edge of what is possible.

Class is in Session – Awarded to the builder who demonstrates excellent use of building for educational outreach and to inform the building industry, the homebuyer, and the public and/or local community about DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes.

Decarbon Copy – Awarded to the builder whose innovative approach to decarbonization in Zero Energy Ready Homes produces the most replicability and predictability in results.

Off the Shelf– Awarded to the builder who best leverages readily available, off the shelf materials and systems to achieve advanced building science results. 

The Total Package – Awarded to the builder with the best mix of all award categories, showing well-rounded achievement in ZERH.

ZERH Champion – Awarded to the builder with the most DOE Zero Energy Ready one- and two- family homes built this past year.

The 11th Housing Innovation Awards highlight the leadership from ZERH builders in the most critical areas in the fight against climate change. The construction strategies, technologies, systems, and educational efforts these builders have deployed have the housing industry on the right path to zero emissions and will go a long way towards decarbonizing the housing stock, building a strong and capable workforce, and raising the bar for all homes across the country.

The 2023 grand award winners are listed below. Click the links to view fact sheets and a virtual tour of these homes. Click here for a complete list of 2023 Housing Innovation Award winners.

2023 Grand Award Winners

Off the Shelf Winner: Healthy Communities: Today’s New Living Experience (Williamsburg, VA)

Healthy Communities employs an innovative approach using building integrated modeling to create a “digital twin” of every home – allowing zero waste through exact prediction of material needs.  Their homes are panelized and delivered onsite, including floor systems, roof trusses, and walls ready for windows, doors and siding. This approach allows them to maintain control over pricing and materials waste.  In addition, with their adaptable design, they are able to adapt to supply chain shortages by easily switching to equivalent materials, achieving zero energy or near zero performance at a production scale.

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Fact Sheet

Blazing the Trail Winner: Affordable Housing Concepts: Zero Place (New Paltz, NY)

Affordable Housing Concepts was selected as the grand winner in this award category for their Zero Place project that employed the most advanced systems in every assembly.  Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) construction, a combined heating, cooling, and water heating ground source system, energy recovery ventilation, an indoor air quality sensor array, and advanced energy monitoring combine to achieve zero energy performance for this 46-unit apartment building and its first-floor retail space. According to one of the building’s tenants, this project has it all. “Zero Place goes beyond renewable energy; it is attractive, comfortable, spacious, well-lit. I am a young woman who has disabilities. Zero Place is so accessible; it is a dream come true.”

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Fact Sheet

Class is in Session Winner: Habitat for Humanity North Central Connecticut: Cleveland Avenue (Hartford, CT)

Workforce development and education is a critical piece in the high-performance home puzzle. Habitat for Humanity North Central Connecticut internal education was provided to staff and volunteers.  As an affordable housing organization, this Habitat chapter used the home to promote affordable zero energy ready home design and construction to the public. The project was presented at multiple industry conferences, was used to provide on-site training to local trades, and was used specifically for training related to ICF construction.  The homeowners were educated on how their new affordable zero energy ready home and its components and systems work to achieve maximum performance and ensure exceptional comfort and health. 

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Fact Sheet

Decarbon Copy Winner: CGA Studio Architects: Forever House (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY)

CGA Studio Architects earned the grand award in this category for a complete home retrofit project. This project converted a 1905 home using oil and gas fuels to an all-electric cold-climate home that reached advanced levels of efficiency.  Increased efficiency and electrification contributed to significant operational carbon reduction, while solar and battery storage, as well as an energy monitoring system, were included to optimize production, use, and storage of energy.  This project stood out from other entries because of the enormous potential it exemplifies in the industry’s ability to address inefficient, carbon-heavy existing homes.  The strategies and design elements of this remodel, if replicated, could have wide-reaching effects on the climate crisis. 

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Fact Sheet

The Total Package Winner: Affordable Housing Concepts: Zero Place (New Paltz, NY)

For their work on Zero Place, Affordable Housing Concepts was also named the grand winner of the “Total Package” award. This well-rounded project performed well across all categories. It showcased the potential to achieve the highest levels of performance through its design and approach and showcases the use of the most advanced systems across all assemblies.  The project serves as an educational tool due to the research data gained from advanced energy monitoring and publication of results. Lastly, it showcases the possibilities of all-electric cold-climate design to minimize operational carbon and support the fight against climate change.

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Fact Sheet

ZERH Champion Winner: K. Hovnanian Northeast Division: The Cove at Asbury Park (Asbury Park, NJ)

K. Hovanian Northeast Division earned this award by certifying the most ZERH homes in a single calendar year. The competition for this award was closer than ever, a year that saw nearly double the number of certifications from 2022, the year with the most certifications prior. With most of their homes constructed in New Jersey, K. Hovnanian Northeast Division has significantly raised the bar for the housing market in the state, providing residents with a better, healthier, more durable option when it comes to buying a new home.

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Fact Sheet

Multifamily Green Building Incentives Webinar

Multifamily projects have new resources to help them go green! Learn how multifamily projects that meet ENERGY STAR, Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH), and LEED requirements can earn financial incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). This session will feature the new Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance on the Section 45L tax credit for energy-efficient new homes.

View the Webinar