Growth

The DOE Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) program experienced tremendous growth in 2023 in part due to the 45L tax credit and expanding industry commitment to high performance building. Of all the 18,400 homes that earned DOE’s ZERH certification in the decade since the ZERH program was established, a staggering 6,500 of them earned their certifications just last year. In other words, 35% of all the ZERH homes across the country were certified in a single year – more than any other year in program history. Program partner registrations also doubled in 2023, demonstrating that interest is ZERH certification is growing exponentially – and three states (Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi) saw their first ZERH certified home constructed, leaving only five states without a certified home.  

DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes deliver superior energy efficiency, high performance, and greenhouse gas emission reductions, which have made the program a natural fit for numerous sustainable housing initiatives. Utility rebates, green financing incentives, and affordable housing programs are increasingly incentivizing ZERH projects, making ZERH homes realistic options for more Americans. Eleven states have ZERH certification built into their incentive programs, including several affordable housing programs. ZERH is now referenced in 16 state Qualified Allocation Plans (QAPs), a tool within state Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) portfolios that set eligibility priorities and criteria for awarding federal tax credits for affordable housing properties.

As we move into 2024 and beyond, we anticipate program growth to continue at a rapid pace. Many ZERH partners are leveraging the program to reduce their environmental impact and deliver on their sustainability goals. Several national production home builders have joined the program and are releasing ZERH product lines in various divisions across the country. For example, Beazer Homes has already opened several 100% ZERH communities across the country and has publicly announced a commitment to build all of their homes to ZERH certification standards by 2025.

Program Updates

In 2022, with the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act, ZERH certification became the highest tier of tax credit available under Internal Revenue Service Section 45L. This incentive, along with significant program growth, further reinforces that ZERH-certification can be a major contributor to reducing energy use and carbon emissions in the residential building sector. To take full advantage of this opportunity, the ZERH program has been working on multiple program requirement updates to provide all residential building types with a pathway to ZERH certification.

While single-family and low-rise multifamily (up to 5 stories) buildings can be certified under existing versions of the ZERH program requirements, until recently manufactured housing and mid- to high-rise multifamily buildings have not been eligible for certification. In late 2022, DOE developed program requirements for manufactured homes as a pilot program, and in 2023, the focus shifted towards multifamily homes. In October 2023, DOE released Version 1, Revision 9.0 to be used for multifamily projects starting on January 1, 2024 (based on Permit Date). This revision serves as a transition to the implementation of ZERH Multifamily Version 2, which was released in late November 2023, and will be required for projects permitted on or after January 1, 2025.

In addition to the newly developed program requirements, ZERH Single Family Version 2, released in 2022, was available for use in 2023 and as of January 1, 2024, is now the required program version for all single-family homes, including attached homes such as duplexes and townhomes (in most cases). For an update on version effective dates, please visit our program requirements page.

Housing Innovation Awards

The 11th Housing Innovation Awards (HIA) were held this year at the EEBA High-Performance Home Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah.  This year the grand award categories were updated to reflect DOE's goals in the transition to a decarbonized building sector by 2050 and recognize the innovative builders who are helping us get there. Read more about the 2023 Housing Innovation Awards and see a complete list of winners here.

New ZERH Marketing Videos

The ZERH program has released a new series of marketing videos available for viewing, download and sharing! The 3-part video series provides viewers with a snapshot of the benefits of owning and living in a ZERH. Check out the videos below!

What is a Zero Energy Ready Home?

Health and Well Being in a Zero Energy Ready Home

The Life Cycle of a Zero Energy Ready Home

 

 

 

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See this newsletter in its original format here.