Guidelines for Participating in the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Program

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The DOE Zero Energy Ready Home is a compelling way to recognize builders for their leadership in increasing energy efficiency, improving indoor air quality, and making homes zero energy ready.

The program builds upon the comprehensive building science requirements of ENERGY STAR® for Homes Version 3, along with proven Building America innovations and best practices. Other special attribute programs are incorporated to help builders reach unparalleled levels of performance with homes designed to last hundreds of years.

DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes are verified by a qualified third-party and are at least 40%-50% more energy efficient than a typical new home. This generally corresponds to a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index Score in the low- to mid-50s, depending on the size of the home and region in which it is built.

DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Partner Requirements

The first step to becoming a Zero Energy Ready Home partner is to register. The Zero Energy Ready Home program offers partnerships for builders, verifiers (raters), architects and designers, and innovation partners (manufacturers and organizations). Upon registration, all partners are required to take the Zero Energy Ready Home Orientation Webinar.

Once you have registered as a partner, and completed the Zero Energy Ready Home Orientation Webinar, you will be listed on the Partner Locator tool. For more information on registration and the partnership visit our Partner Central page.

DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Requirements

DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes must meet all DOE Zero Energy Ready Home National Program Requirements (Rev. 07) for homes permitted on or after June 1, 2019. Note that the Rev. 07 program requirements may also be used for projects permitted before June 1, 2019. For a summary of the differences between Rev. 07 and Rev. 06 of the national program requirements, view the Rev. 07 Highlights document.

Homes permitted prior to June 1, 2019, but on/after July 20, 2017, have the option of using the Rev. 06 specifications. For projects permitted earlier, partners should adhere to the effective dates included on the revisions of the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Requirements. 

DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes must:

Chart graphic of program requirements for hot climates, mixed climates, and cold climates.
  • Meet 2015 International Energy Conservation Code levels for insulation.
  • Follow the latest proven research recommendations by installing ducts in conditioned space or in an optimized location as defined in the program specs.
  • Conserve water and energy through either an efficient hot water distribution system or the use of a high-efficiency water heater and fixtures.
  • Provide comprehensive indoor air quality through full certification in EPA’s Indoor airPLUS program.
  • Accomplish savings on the cost of future solar PV installations by following the PV-Ready checklist for climates with significant solar insolation. This checklist references EPA's solar electric guide. (Note that the solar-hot water provisions of the checklist are no longer mandatory and can be found below with encouraged items.)

DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Builders are encouraged to:

100% Commitment

Commit to constructing 100% of your homes to the U.S. DOE's Zero Energy Ready Home requirements.

PHIUS+

Take the next step on the continuous path to Zero Energy Ready Home by meeting the additional requirements of the Passive House Institute US.

WaterSense

Minimize water use by participating in the EPA WaterSense for New Single-Family Homes program.

Fortified for Safer Living

Embrace disaster resistance by following the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) FORTIFIED for Safer Living or FORTIFIED Home provisions for regionally specific natural hazards.

Quality Management Program

Implement comprehensive quality management practices.

Solar Hot WaterAccomplish additional savings by using the solar hot water-ready checklist and EPA's solar thermal systems guide. These requirements are no longer mandatory but encouraged.
 

Ask buyers to sign a waiver allowing DOE Zero Energy Ready Home access to one year of utility bill data.

 

Certify Zero Energy Ready Homes

Builders can follow two different paths in qualifying a home for the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home initiative.

Prescriptive Path

To use the prescriptive path, follow the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home National Program Requirements. A registered verifier should submit the prescriptive compliance report after verification that the home meets the challenge.

Performance Path

Registered verifiers can use RESNET-accredited software programs to qualify homes to meet the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home requirements. The software will create a DOE certificate specific to the certified home.

IMPORTANT: All homes certified through the Performance Path shall be submitted to DOE by submitting the home to the RESNET National Registry or by submitting the DOE ZERH compliance verification report to zero@newportpartnersllc.com.

State-Specific Requirements

State energy codes that exceed this program's requirements always take precedence.  

In the following cases, there are additional state-specific requirements for the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program:

California Requirements

DOE has updated its specifications for California to stay current with recent changes to the California energy code and ENERGY STAR Certified Homes for California. The DOE ZERH – California Rev. 07 requirements go into effect for buildings with a permit date and a plan approval date on or after October 1, 2018. The plan approval date is the date that a jurisdiction approves a home plan and its efficiency features for use on a specific lot or tract. The permit date may be defined as either the date that the permit was issued or the date of the contract on the home.

Savings & Cost Estimate Summary

The DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Savings & Cost Estimate Summary gives builders, contractors, utilities, energy programs, and other stakeholders a general sense of the magnitude and type of added costs for constructing DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes and how these costs compare to the energy savings. Actual energy savings and incremental costs will vary.

Public Input

The rationale for the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program requirements:

  • Sound science
  • Sound data to back up provisions
  • Widespread availability of required products/systems
  • Reasonable adaptability to typical builder practices

Interested parties can offer feedback on the program requirements to DOE by emailing zero@newportpartnersllc.com