Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans spent an average of 90% of their time indoors. Over the past two years, the percentage of that indoor time spent in the home (versus a shared workplace) has only increased. This trend has brought renewed urgency to a longstanding U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) initiative: the Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) program.

The ZERH program offers best-in-class protections for a healthy home. To meet the standards established by ZERH, a home must obtain the Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor airPLUS (IAP) certification for superior indoor air quality—a proven method for improving the health and safety of a home’s occupants.

According to Gene Myers, owner and CEO of Thrive Home Builders, “the pandemic has changed health in our homes from a ‘nice to have’ into a market imperative.” For Myers and other leading homebuilders across the country, the ZERH program is the surest way to provide safe, healthy living environments to their customers.

A Zero Energy Ready Home’s stringent building envelope requirements and high-efficiency ventilation systems do more than just save energy; they improve your home’s indoor air quality. Four main components of every ZERH-certified home help protect the home and create a healthier indoor environment with improved indoor air quality over typical homes.

  • Mold and Moisture Control: Excess moisture breeds mold, attracts pests, and deteriorates building materials. Mold is a common trigger for allergies, as well as asthma symptoms from which nearly 10% of Americans suffer.1 Additional construction features such as roof, wall, and foundation drainage and moisture-resistant building materials help keep water outside and the home dry.  
  • Fresh Air System: HVAC systems are properly designed and installed to industry best practices to optimize the comfort and air quality in the home. Advanced filters are used to effectively remove small dust particles flowing through the duct system, and professional inspection of air handling systems and duct work ensures they are clean and provide adequate airflow. In addition, exhaust fans are installed in kitchens and bathrooms to expel moisture, odors, and particles.
  • Contaminant Resistant Construction: There are several ways in which Zero Energy Ready Homes help protect from dangerous chemicals and gases inside the home. Radon-resistant construction techniques help protect against the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.2 Fuel-burning appliances are properly vented to prevent dangerous gases from back-drafting into the home, and carbon monoxide alarms are installed in every sleeping area in the home. Products such as low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and flooring products are used to minimize dangerous chemicals released by many common building materials.
  • Pest Management: Nobody likes a pest, particularly one in the home. They can cause structural damage to the home as well as trigger allergy and asthma symptoms. ZERH homes are air-sealed and screened to help prevent pest entry and to reduce the need for pesticides in your home.

Combine the ingredients of high-performance design with fundamental building science strategies and you can enjoy the many benefits of cleaner indoor air. Homebuyers deserve this expert-recommended protection for the health of their household. Visit the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home homepage to learn more.